Hayduke Day 6

March 16

My morning perch allows me to see Canyonlands come to life in the morning. All the cantilevered platforms and mesas of the earth have their own surface characteristics–tilt, shape, size–and each casts it’s own unique shadow so that the earth becomes a bouquet of textures. Have you ever wondered how many things have surfaces? I can tell you–from where I sit–all things, all things.

Soon after I begin walking I enter Lockheart Canyon and quickly proceed to take a wrong turn. I decide rather than backtrack that I’ll attempt to find a way back on route on my own, which leads to my first official sketchy Hayduke moment. It was a few simple moves but the exposure level was high, for sure.

The creekbed through the canyon is full of mineraly alkaline water and I decide to give it a try. Some hikers have difficulty drinking this kind of water as it gives them gastrointestinal issues, but so far it seems to have no effect on me. It just tastes like diluted salt water.

Eventually I have to make my way above the canyon to avoid an impassable pour-off so I climb up to a large bench, covered in green grass, untrappled cryptobiotic soil–and a pair of bleached cow carcasses. The beasts must have inadvertantly stumbled onto this expansive stretch of land, blinded by the luck at the buffet spread out in front of them, and been unable to find their way back up to open range and water. I imagine them pinballing back and forth between canyon rim and impassible rock wall again and again until they lay down in a deathly slouch and finally succumb.

The rest of the afternoon passes in a series daydreams and watery fantasies–Deep clear blue pools! Cascading waterfalls! Rivulets beading and flowing over my own skin!–as I grow thirstier and the sun grows surprisingly fierce.

I’m a day ahead of schedule and by a stroke of luck I pass a couple of locals out here in this lonely wash who give me some tips on how to pass the time. They’re the first people I’ve seen since Hurrah Pass, yesterday morning.

I came out here for the solitude, but wouldn’t you know it, some of the happiest moments on trail are the chance encounters with fellow hikers.

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