Day One: the beginning

10 soft miles

I woke up in Moab this morning to gray-lightening-to-gauzy-blue sky outside the window and the orange glow of Navajo sandstone cliffs. I know this place I thought. I remember you. I haven’t been in the area since I came for a dance event one year ago, but once you’ve been in Red Rock Country, I doubt that you ever could forget it. We (Erin and I, Erin who I drove here from Portland with and who I started the trail with) made a mad fifteen hour drive yesterday until I felt crazed in my eyeballs from all the sitting in a car and just watching the world go by, untouchable, and I remembered to appreciate how fondly I look on car rides in a month or so. We arrived in Moab under cover of stars, which is really no cover at all. The features of the area were obscured in darkness, the stars magnificent. I felt bedraggled. Exhausted and long-faced, missing Dan. We stayed with a friend of a friend of a friend of Erin’s, a family man who’s family was away and I slept in his nine year old’s bunk bed, carefully setting aside the stuffed animals and boxes of crayons and paper to clear a place. I slept great. Rock hard.

This morning I shopped for food, mailed some boxes, shopped and mailed some more, a frenetic start to the first day. So much logistics. I forgot how much food I need, resulting in me forlornly pushing a grocery cart down the aisle and throwing in whatever random items that felt even remotely appropriate: candy and crackers and trail mixes and tuna packets. I’m now simultaneously convinced that I have both too much food and too little. 

After I finished my errand blitz, we met with Mike Coronella. Mike is one of the creators of the Hayduke Trail and since he lives in Moab, he’s sometimes available to help hikers reach the trailhead. Mike has hiked the Hayduke Trail three times. Three! He runs an outfitter business in Moab and is also very active with Search and Rescue. His commentary swung wildly from “best trip ever” to “the desert will kill you”. Both true no doubt. I left his company buoyed by his enthusiasm. 

On the trail at one, hiking over red powdery sand and casting a stubby shadow, I made the first steps today on the Hayduke trail and I’m feeling pretty good. The first ten miles of the trail have been beautiful, hiking past all manner of erosive artworks: hoodoos and arches, spires wearing mushroom-shaped caps of lighter rock, slick rock fins and desert-patina walls. The trail started at the north side of Arches National Park in Salt Valley, so named because the valley was once an ancient dome of salt that eventually washed away. The landscape is serene in reds , creamy whites, and back dropped in blue sky. Very beautiful. 

I’m getting the feel, finding out bit by bit what this is. Sand in my shoes, heaping into mounds under my toes, soft sandy tread under foot, tumbleweed stickers in my pants. I kicked a cactus. That hurt. The gritty slickrock under shoe sole. Clouds of sand whipped into my face in strong gusts of wind. So far I like all of it. So far. 

Well. Here we are. Day one. 



me starting!



La Sal mountains across Salt Valley in Arches National Park





double O arch



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7 thoughts on “Day One: the beginning

  1. Gromit

    Is kicking the cactus one of those things that you just had to do to truly understand the effect? I love it there. Have shed much skin and left blood behind mtn biking around Moab when younger so parts of me are still there…calling me back. Interested to know if you like the “Monkey Wrench Gang”. Listened to it on cassettes driving out there long ago. Enjoyed it.

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  2. John & Janet Cook

    So glad you have hit the trail! Beautiful pictures. I think about you all the time and at times I wish I was with you. I can’t believe you are wearing a WHITE shirt! Soon to be grey and all sorts of colors of the desert.
    Love You! Janet

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  3. Melissa

    Today, I worked in the pouring rain digging trail on squak mtn (King Co. Parks) and I thought of you walking in the sunshine. It was a lovely thought.

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  4. Amy

    Just found out about the Hayduke Hike and starting to read your blog… have to ask. How much does your pack weigh?

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  5. Pingback: Bruce Trail Invasive Species - Eep and Guy

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