By morning my tent looked like a sorrowful birthday balloon, droopy and spent. In pre-dawn, I could tell the winds had ushered in low clouds and colder air, so I packed quickly to make sure everything was safe and dry inside my pack in case rain began to fall.Not only did the morning stay dry, but after only 2 miles of walking I found myself in a much more pleasant environment and regretted not continuing on a little further last night. Tough to predict what the future trail will bring! A smattering of strong healthy trees to block the wind and true genuine single track cutting across an open field and sloping hillsides. Just enough comfort here to provide a sense of barrier and home.
Spring also is beginning to make its yearly appearance, and for the first time all trail. Many of the small bushes throughout the valley have tiny green shoots rising from their stiff twig-like branches. The cacti are still without bloom, but give the impression that transformation is imminent–their bodies appearing to blush and grow plump, ripe. Tiny flowers, minuscule even, show up between rocks and look like pin-pricks of blood rising up out of the sand. So bashful are these botanous creatures that one must bend down and tilt ones head to the earth to examine them.I walk on, down the length of Hall’s Creek, aiming for Lake Powell, a day’s journey to the south. And then, stepping up out of a creek bed, backpackers! Only the 2nd pair I’ve seen all trail long! Sue and Will hail from Denver and have spend a few decades wandering these canyons. We have a great conversation and I learn they do some trail-angelling along the CDT, and I inform them of my plans to hike that trail as well this summer. I hope to see thes again, and before I leave Sue hands me a package of bars for some extra calories during this long stretch.By early afternoon I’ve arrived at the highlight of the day and possibly the whole trip (let’s count howany times I can say that) as I step into Hall’s Canyon, an absolute marvel featuring a few narrows and massive sheer rock faces. A stream winds through the whole thing, and a few times I’m forced to wade waist deep when the walls close in tight. Exhilarating!
At night, for only the second or third time all hike, I make camp at a flowing water source. Hall’s Creek is normally very dry, but this year its flowing strong and I pitch my tent on a grassy patch, just above it. What luxury then, to fall asleep on downy soil with a gentle murmuring stream for company.
Surely the greatest day of the Hayduke and possibly one that ranks somewhere in the top ten all time.