Memories from October 31, 2018.
I packed my backpack, left the room to check out, went back to the room to get my poles, checked out, attempted to use the ATM to get cash and discovered it was broken, tried to get cash at the store and discovered they didn’t do cash back but recommended I use the ATM in the lobby. At this point, I resigned myself to being almost out of hard currency when I get to Jacob’s Lake and hopped in the shuttle I’d reserved.
The driver introduced himself as Oscar and usually gives tours instead of one-way shuttle rides. He was engaging, curious, and informative and threw in a quick stop by one of the Bryce Canyon amphitheater’s as a freebie since I wasn’t going to see them.
On arriving at Rainbow Point, I discovered that the fire closure for the Under the Rim Trail did end at Rainbow Point. Unfortunately, so did the Under the Rim Trail. The Riggs Trail which picked up where the Under the Rim Trail left off was also under fire closure. I should have put two and two together since the fire was called the Riggs Fire. There was no evidence of ongoing fire and it was very tempting to just hop the barrier. The shuttle driver took a bathroom break to give me time to come up with a new plan and I ran over to a Forest Service truck and asked about a potential reroute on a road marked on my map as administrative only. They told me that I wasn’t allowed on that road and that I didn’t want to be near the Riggs Trail because of burnt trees.
I would up getting dropped off at Whiteman Bench, where I’d exited the backcountry previously. Just for kicks, I followed the Under the Rim Trail as far as the signs marking it’s closure.
This was on the ridge south of Agua Canyon, and since the Hayduke connects to the Under the Rim Trail via a cross country walk up Agua Canyon (technically it follows a double track which fades to a pack trail and while I found evidence of a trail here and there it wasn’t anything I could follow). This got me back to the Grand View Trail which on my map connected to the Hayduke at Lower Podunk Creek. It stays out of Bryce Canyon National Park and I hadn’t seen a closure notice where I’d joined it to head north into Bryce.
The Grand View Trail as shown on the GPS app was jus a line which ran down a valley and then stopped. This is an accurate description of what happens heading north and so I was concerned that heading south would force me to decide about whether I wanted to do 10 miles of cross country on steep ridges which appeared to be heavily forested.
Fortunately, the Grand View Trail matched the map, not the GPS. It’s not particularly well maintained but far from a primitive trail. It went through a lot of burn areas so I’m surprised that it wasn’t closed.
I was full from gorging myself in town and so didn’t think to eat lunch until I came across a trickle of water in a drainage through which the trail contoured. This was a pleasant find because the change of plans had thrown off my water plans and I had been expecting to run dry shortly before my next water source.
From studying the map, it appeared that the Grand View Trail skirted the head of Bullrush Hollow, which the Hayduke joins at a lower point. Despite there being one potentially steep section on the map, I decided to try dropping in early and so cut a few miles. It wound up being relative gentle with deer and then cattle trails constantly on the sides of the drainage to help bypass the few minor obstacles. At first I only saw deer prints, then cattle, and was ecstatic when I found a shoe print. My shortcut had worked. Taking a cross-country shortcut is definitely not something I would have tried before the Hayduke.
In a funny ending to the day, I got up two embankments onto the dirt road which paralleled the stream just in time for it to dive down to just above stream level. I wound up making camp shortly after finding water in Bullrush Gorge.