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.