Hayduke Day 15

Memories from October 18, 2018.

I woke up some time last night to find that the side of my quilt had slid to the edge of my shelter and was getting some water on it. Closer examination showed that snow had bowed the tarp in. That’s what I get for taking my good weather shelter into the rainy, snowy, sleeting desert.

At daylight, I broke camp packing things up without much care as everything was a little damp and headed for the road back to Hanksville in the snow and rain. I unapologetically used the GPS as I just wanted to get back to town. I’d gotten lost in this section on the way out and I wasn’t feeling like extending the hike back.

It took less than an hour to get a hitch but it was something of a cold and miserable hour. Several jeeps pulled in to Poison Spring Wash and an outbound hiker actually got dropped off.

Looking cold and wet apparently increases your pathos among the we-just-want-to-make-sure-you’re-ok-but-don’t-have-any-seats crowd but not the luxury sedan crowd. A local woman and her son gave me eventually picked me up. I haven’t hitched enough to know for sure but is seems like locals are the most generous when giving rides. They also mentioned that they’d gotten as much rain in the last (two?) weeks as in the last two years as there’s been a drought.

I crashed at a restaurant to warm up and dry out. I must have looked the part as another patron asked what had happened as I was walking to the bathroom to clean up. “I was setting out for a 120 miles section of this hike I’m doing and 35 miles in discovered that I’d lost the satellite communicate which keeps my parents from calling search and rescue. After hiking back seven hours in to find it, I was left I only had four days of food for the five days it would take to try and finish so had to bail out” became a pretty well rehearsed story.

I’d spent the morning’s muddy slog figuring out what the criteria would be to quit this trip. There were lots of justifications and rationalizations but eventually it came down to weather. I came out here to have an experience of walking all day in bright, clear weather, cool by day and cold by night with a sprinkle of rain here and a dusting of snow there. That my most valued piece of gear has been neoprene socks and that my greatest difficulty has been moisture management say that this trip has not met expectations. There have been some incredible experiences but I’ve been saving vacation for two years to make this trip happen which means there’s a lot to lose if I’m ultimately unhappy.

Around 2pm the sun first started lightening a section of the otherwise unyielding grey overhead. By 4pm the clouds were beginning to break up. I checked into a motel and started laundry. The hiker who had been dropped off outbound while I was hitching in showed up while I was sitting outside the laundromat in my rain clothes (so everything else can be washed) trying to dry my shoes in the sun. He’d come back in because of the mud was aggravating a foot injury. We hit it off talking trail. He’s hiked the triple crown and has met some interesting personalities.

The forecast shows several days of rain but mostly sun. My mood had changed. Cuts and scrapes which had never scabbed properly on account of the moisture final started forming protective shells. My folks had been planning on visiting at the end of the next section (another reason to rescue the all important satellite communicator) and we rearranged plans. While I could possibly be back on trail the day after tomorrow the logistics are tricky, brittle, and potentially expensive. To stay on schedule I need to skip from Hanksville to Escalante which isn’t an easy connection to make without a car. Better to take a few days off, see my parents, rest and try again in a few days.

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