Hayduke Day 34

April 14-16

Oh you should see red rock canyon country during a calm spring rain, but see it from the warmth of a small room with a cup of coffee in your hand. It’s more soothing that way.

Kanab has been my perch for the last two days–two days that I’ve spent in steady reflection of where I am and what my world has to offer me, and what I in turn can offer back. I’ve thought about the Hayduke Trail, and about the Continental Divide Trail; I’ve thought about endurance and the creative process.

Maybe the most underappreciated benefit of a long distance hike isn’t seeing the natural world, but seeing within one’s own mind. I believe I’ve touched on that subject before in this very space, and its exactly what I’ve tasked myself with over these past couple of days. In undertaking a long trek, the flow of my life seems to stretch out before me and I have time and space to move within that current, unburdened. To latch on to an easy metaphor, I can hike my mind’s trails (there are many of them, some are well-trod and maintained while others are gnarly and sketchy–to borrow some Hayduke terminology). When I’m out here there are no expectations, or demands. There is no wifi or social media. I can reflect and react. I can make decisions apropos of no one, and what a joy to live in a space free of perception and judgement.

All this to say, the course of my Hayduke hike has changed. From Kanab I have roughly 150 miles to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Once there I’ll take on the world famous rim to rim to rim (R2R2R) hike, which is exactly what it sounds like. Start from the south rim of the canyon, descend to the Colorado River, and then hike up to the north rim. Turn around and do it again, in reverse. From there I will deviate from the Hayduke route and hike south on the Arizona Trail towards Flagstaff, rather than continuing on and heading north to Zion National Park. I’ve been sitting with this idea for about a week now, and am happy with it. Not only are the logistics of it easy (getting home will be relatively cheap and simple), but I’ll get to hike on maintained trail, which will be good for my mind and my ankle.

Cross country hiking through canyon country requires an immense amount of care and patience, and the ability to focus solely on Finding The Route. Unfortunately for me, I tend to be a little bit aloof and reckless–lost in thought and charging forward without much regard for bodily injury (sidenote: I believe these traits make me an excellent ultra-runner). My mentality and the Hayduke mentality are perhaps at odds. I’ve been happiest out here when I’ve been on a jeep road or a trail, which is precisely what the Arizona Trail will afford me.

Tomorrow I head back out onto the Colorado Plateau, heading due south into Arizona. I have a little more than two weeks left out here–let’s see what I can find.

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