Hayduke Day 13

March 23

Section 4, which begins at Hite (my campground for the night) is a quick one with less than 40 miles to cover until I reach highway 94 to hitch in to Hanksville. I start the day off by engaging in that dangerous Hayduke passtime–cutting corners to shave off miles of road walking. I know I have to cross the bridge over the Colorado River, and I know it’s only about a mile to get there as the crow flies, while it’s about 3 if I take the roads to it.

Disaster. One of the best things to know about deviating from the Hayduke route: do so at your own risk. The entire section I chose to walk was covered in one impassable wash after another and by the time I finally got to the bridge, two hours later, I was completely spent. Turns out you’re supposed to do the road walking for a reason. Thankfully, after a quick scramble up a cliff I reach a 4×4 road so I can turn my brain off and cruise. Along the way I pass a tiny home camped in an open field with two sleepy dogs lazing in a shadow while the morning sun rises high. Some people really know how to live–what a place to park your moveable home.

Eventually I turn off the road and begin following a stream up a wide open canyon. Slowly the walls rise higher and the canyon narrows until I reach the terminus with its coursing waterfall. Huh. How should I get up that? Must have missed my turn, I think, and begin backtracking. Suddenly it dawns on me: I missed the turn because I’ve arrived at one of the greatest cruxes of the entire route–the Class 4 chimney scramble. Its tough to spot because from the stream it looks completely daunting, as if no one should bother looking up there for a way out at all. Good fortune then that I practiced some bouldering before hitting the trail, as I made quick work of it using some of the skills I picked up a couple weeks ago.

Once on top I had to cross a wide plateau called The Red Benches, covered in a thousand tiny washes each filled with more sand than the one before it.

By days end I come to the rim of Fiddlers Cove and made the steep climb down (750 feet in .1 miles!!) into the canyon where a tiny stream flows with only mildly silty water. Climb out of one canyon on the morning, and drop into the next one in the evening. Symmetry. By dinnertime I’ve reached the confluence of Hatch Canyon and the Dirty Devil River to find a sandy beach to camp on with a easterly view down canyon. A nice 20 mile day felt good after all my hitchhiking yesterday, and the canyons seemed happy to have me too–they glowed bright and red in the setting sun and brought on nightfall with hardly a breeze.

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