Twig Adventures

HayDay 31: The Grand Chapter

Monday, May 8th, 2023, 1230-2030
89A & House Rock Rd jct to mile 21 of alt
21 miles, elevation 5750′

We took it slow in the morning. Sky had just finished a 5 day leg through the Buckskin and lower Paria loop alternate, so understandably had a lot of errands to attend to. I chilled out and wrote some postcards. Our hunger drove us to make another run to the grocery store…I wasn’t sure if I was carrying enough food for what should be about a 5 day leg. This was dependent on getting a raft hitch across the Colorado River, so one can never be too certain. Then we set out to hitch south from town to at least Fredonia, where the road split. I didn’t like our chances after recent attempts. Sky too had a lousy time trying to hitch from Jacob Lake the day before.

We stood for about 30 minutes before a car pulled over. Then I recognized the familiar silver Rav4…the same one I’d been traveling in. Tom had finished caching and just gotten back to town again. He graciously offered to take us all the way past Jacob Lake, where we needed to pick up our alternate route (a road walk that avoided the snow on the North Rim). Technically this was my 6th ride from a fellow Hayduker and it probably saved us from a very slow and frustrating day. In this way, I was whisked into Arizona and our time was set back an hour…no daylight savings time for Arizonians.

Sky and I began the 30 mile road walk in seemingly the middle of nowhere. The Vermilion cliffs stood prominently in the background, while the rise of the Kaibab Plateau loomed to our right. The valley was awash in orange hues from all the globemallow flowers…a superbloom of sorts. We passed a decrepit ranch and many no trespassing signs. The road we started on was faint and quiet, eventually joining the more well traveled and maintained House Rock road. We found a cute horned lizard snuggled in a tire tread, pretending to be dead. It was the first I’d seen all trip.

Can you spot the horned lizard behind the globemallow?
Incredible camouflage plus some good acting!

It felt like a whole new hike…new companion, new state, new animals. We came to a water tank 10 miles in and took a late lunch\early dinner. I ate my Subway half from the day before, which had leaked juices all over my food bag. Gross. I decided it would serve as my dinner, since I was still full from town food. We continued down the road, planning to hike into the dusk to make up some miles lost from the late start. We caught glimpses of the Grand Canyon to our left…a giant chasm in the desert plain. It was easy to forget that it was even there. Slowly the mountains to the south grew closer, an extension of the north rim. We were aiming for a saddle… probably the reason for the name Saddle mountain, start of the Nankoweap trail.

Does the word “desolate” come to mind?

We pulled up short just as it was getting too dark to see without our headlamps. We found a nice spot under a piñon pine and called it a day. It wasn’t the ponderosa I was hoping for but not too bad, especially considering the barren landscape we’d passed through earlier. The stars were really great since there were no towns around for miles. I could see Mars really well. One guy in a truck had passed us all day, otherwise it was dead quiet. I was glad to be back on my Hayduke mission, even if I was way off track from the ‘official’ route. Next stop: the Grand Canyon!

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