walked a lot of roads. Fast miles, uneventful, listened to Serial podcasts (for the second the time–I first listened when they came out but missed or forgot enough that the material is still good the second time around). Lunch at Grosvenor Arch, a double arch, where the site has been improved to include picnic tables and a pit toilet. I love picnic tables. Was very excited for lunch. One car was there, some folks visiting the arch, and they gave water and took away trash. They left. Another car arrived, two photographers with an impressive array of equipment including a drone they used to fly a camera up high and take pictures of the arch from above. One had a very old Polaroid camera. Erin and I are now enshrined in a Polaroid, gleeful and happy. It was lunchtime. We are usually happy then. They left. A man in a Navy cap and his wife arrived in a Jeep. They took a picture of the arch. They took a picture of us too when they heard what we were doing. Things you may have to see to believe in this world: natural arches and Hayduke Trail hikers. Speaking of, two other Hayduke hikers arrived in the midst of this social flurry, a pair of brothers. I’ve been surprised by the number of Hayduke hikers this year. I was expecting fewer than ten for sure but it sounds like there are more. More brave souls getting themselves made over by the sand and wind and rock out here.
Left the arch, more fast roads. Stopping to pee and finding the alkaline water of Last Chance Creek is flying unfettered through me and taking evrything else with it. The more this happens the more I need to drink to water to prevent dehydration. The only water I have is from Last Chance Creek. What a digestive irony, no? Ah well, tomorrow morning we come to water about 6 miles from here and I’ll be able to replace my alkaline water with new stuff.
Arrived in the afternoon at Round Valley Draw Narrows. The slot opens like a rend in the earth before you. Wash beneath your feet and then a ragged stone split stretching into the distance. We had to lower our packs into the slot and downclimb 10 feet to find the bottom. Damp sand and gray clouds over head: I was happy but in a hurry to get through the narrows. Just in case. The rock rose in strange waves off the canyon floor, rounded like carved wood, surprisingly smooth. Multiple down climbs to travel the slot, gripping smooth, slick rock for handholds. I work into a flow, moving with the canyon’s obstacles in a rhythm, all body surfaces available to be used at a moment’s notice so I don’t have to interrupt the flow. I am a human-sized tumbling, leaping, pushing ball of water, carving my own way down this canyon.
The narrows widened, joined Hackberry Canyon. Buff rock with shades of pink, sandy bottom with a riotously colorful collection of small rocks like confetti sprinkled across the sand.
The sky was beautiful today. Clouds never ceased, wind blew, it was barely fifty. This is textured weather. I remind myself that in only weeks I’ll likely feel like I’ve never been cold before and never will be again when I’m on the broiling floor of the Grand Canyon.
Can’t wait for tomorrow. Hackberry, Paria, canyons and water (no more long dry stretches for a bit).