Tuesday, April 11th, 2023, 0645-1400
Dirty Devil River to UT 95, then hitch to Hanksville
19 miles, elevation 3800′
It was a refreshing start to the day to do another 7 crossings of the river. The water wasn’t too cold since I was wearing my camp shoes with neoprene socks. We only had to go a few miles and were quickly done with the river for good. Still no quicksand to tell stories about. I know how much other hikers hate this river but to me it was pretty straightforward and easy, especially compared to Dark Canyon a few days prior. I was glad we didn’t take the high route to avoid the river section. It was 4 miles longer and required climbing out of a canyon. I felt like the main route was way easier.
We entered Poison Springs canyon for the rest of the day, which involved a hot road walk to the highway. Once again the umbrellas saved the day. We stopped only once to collect water from a cold spring. It was walled-in to protect it from cattle, with a vault opening and also a pipe coming out the wall. I scooped water from inside the vault opening, gazing into the dark recesses. Sky later said it reminded her of something from Lord of the Rings…a place for Gollum to hide. It was very mystical to me as well. I wanted to crawl through the vault opening and go for a swim, the water was so beautiful. The fountain of youth!
The canyon was interesting but the road walk dragged on, especially when the canyon opened and the land became just barrens. The wind also kicked up and we had to put away our shade. So far I’d used my umbrella 3 days and was glad to have it. Many will say it’s too windy and the bushwhacking is too rough to carry an umbrella and to that I say pshhhhhht! I did make a protective plastic cover for it, which had taken quite a beating. But I’d done much worse bushwhacking with an umbrella before (the PNT), and it hadn’t even bothered me yet this trip.
We reached the highway and walked almost a mile up the hill for a better spot to hitch. I’m very particular about hitching spots, if I can help it. Where the route comes out is on a downhill curve with a guardrail. I don’t know if our location helped but I think the 4th vehicle to come along stopped…maybe 15 minutes of waiting. The driver, Cory, was on his way back from his Lake Powell vacation spot. He was a super nice guy with a really nice truck. He loved boating and told us all about the troubles with the receding lake. The marina, where he currently launches his small bass boat from, has already extended the ramp twice. If the lake goes down any more, there simply won’t be enough depth to launch, regardless of ramp length. This was what turned Hite marina in a ghost town. The lake is now miles away from that ramp. It’s funny (sad) that Miami has the exact opposite problem. Because of sea level rise and king tides, I couldn’t launch my work boats because the ramps were underwater.
Cory dropped us off at Duke’s Steakhouse (first town priority is almost always to eat). We texted Sky and they invited us to split their hotel room. We were thinking of just tenting at the RV park but I’m so glad we didn’t because the wind really picked up. While at the restaurant, we struck up a conversation with a nice German family. Earlier I’d had a premonition that a van full of German tourists would give us a ride into town (I like to manifest my own luck). I told them this as kind of a joke, saying we must have just missed them. Then as we were walking to the hotel, they drove up behind us in their rental RV and wanted to fulfill my prophecy. We only needed to go a few blocks but they insisted we jump in. We arrived the hotel in style and everybody had a good laugh about it.
It was so great to take a shower and clean some of my gear. The hotel room was much easier for this than the RV park would have been. In true hikertrash fashion, we hung an assortment of gear and clothes from the balcony railing to dry. Fortunately for everyone else, we were at the very end of the hallway. You can always spot hikertrash rooms by the collection of stinky, trashed trail runners and other ratty items outside the door. I was able to easily locate Mac and Artemis’s room this way. BTW, Artemis is a hiker I met on the PCT as well. She was going by the name Legit then (her first trail name). We shared a ride to Etna in the back of a pickup with a dead deer…a memorable experience.
The comforts of a hotel quickly convinced us to zero (take a day off). Plus, with so many hikers in town, it was fun to hang out. There were 6 of us, then 2 more, Trailcrew and Uncle Don, drove in. They were well ahead of us on trail but had come back to try to snowshoe to the top of Mt Ellen in the Henry mountains. I’d long ago given up on the notion of summiting the peak. It was at 11500′ with 3x the normal snow pack. It was going to be a slog just to get through road walks around the mountains. This was not the right time of year to be going that high. So much for the highpoint of the Hayduke…I’d make up for it later.
Wednesday, April 12th, 2023, Zero Day
This was a much needed day off. I normally don’t feel the need for zeros until much later into a hike but the conditions are so extreme on the Hayduke, extended town stops feel kind of necessary. Plus everyone else was taking a zero. This also meant taking a break from detailing this day, mostly spent eating and hanging out in the room with other hikers. Of course, I was very busy catching up on over a week’s worth of blogging. I sure wish there were libraries in these small towns.
Mac stayed another day since he was waiting on a package. Artemis departed late afternoon, so we were down to just 5. We played some Hiker Olympics by piling our quilts on the bed, then jumping onto them, like a pile of leaves. There’s almost exactly nothing to do in Hanksville but eat, so we had to entertain ourselves somehow. That was about all the excitement for the day.