Hayduke Day 14

Memories from October 17, 2018.

It rained a long time last night and was still raining this morning. I was going to get to the nearest road 10 trail miles away but guessing from the map, it looks like a rarely used 4×4 road and a hitch would be unlikely. That means the better thing is to go back the way I came. I remembered where I last used the inReach and it was 7hrs of hiking from where I camped. So back I went.

This is where the rain comes in. The ascent onto Tarantula Mesa is steep and muddy at the start. It had been dry, soft, loose dirt the day before and I was initially concerned that it might not be passable. I accidentally ascended in the wrong cove and that was not passable due to cliffs but that’s a different issue. Taken one step at a time and with GPS to help my failing memory, things worked out. Plants make good footholds in the mud. Everything else might move under you. Two sandstone handholds exploded during the course of ascending between cliff bands. Very adventurous.

The walk back from Tarantula Mesa to Pilot Spring where I’d left my inReach was long, rainy, muddy, and eventually snowy. When I found the inReach on an exposed rock down trail from where I’d sheltered to eat lunch yesterday (down trail so I couldn’t miss it on my way out – has always worked before), it was showing yesterday’s forecast for today: warmish and sunny.

At this point, if I’d tried to continue the section, I’d have about 100 miles and 4 days of food. Fine for most of the PCT. Not good for the Hayduke. Plus, the road had degraded significantly from the rain and sleet while I walked and I wasn’t sure I really wanted to try descending Tarantula Mesa in conditions much worse than I ascended this morning.

So I hauled myself back up to Copper Ridge and made it down to the reservoir my the mine just as it got dark. After a very pouty mood this morning (I hate having to re-hike miles and Tarantula Mesa isn’t very interesting) the snow actually made me quite cheery. There was just enough sun behind the clouds to keep things visually crisp and never having had to shovel snow as a chore, I have only fond associations with it.

Tomorrow I’ll get back to Hanksville and figure out my next move. Section 6 is probably a lost cause on account of limited vacation time.

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