A few days outside of Moab entering into Canyonlands and we seem to be getting into the swing of things, our thru hiking life is settling in. We rise at 5am and I tape the multiple blisters on my feet from my sleeping bag as Goose gets to hit the snooze button a couple more times. We then rise, pack up, enjoy a cup of coffee and we are on trail by the first light of the morning.
Mornings especially have been hard for me this first week of hiking. Every step on my blister covered feet (I stopped counting at nine blisters) is excruciating pain in the mornings. I hobble along super slow and try to fight back tears at times. After the first mile or so the ibuprofen starts to work and the pain dulls to a manageable scream which allows me to move at a somewhat normal pace.
We have been walking a series of dirt roads through steep canyons, expansive plateaus and wide valleys and we have been cutting across country and through washes to connect the different canyons that we have been traveling through.The tall stone walls offer shade at times but otherwise we are exposed to the intense sun most of our hiking. We had originally hoped to hike most of the miles in the early morning and evening hours, often by headlamp, but we have found the navigation required on this trail too difficult to do in the dark, which unfortunately means we have been walking in the heat of the day more than we would have liked. Our current routine seems to be working for now. We hike until about 12pm, stop for a lunch break, hike again for an hour or two in the mid day and stop again around 3:30 for another break when the sun seems to be the most intense. We walk again by 5pm until about 7pm when we make camp just before dark.
The earlier darkness of the fall season, as well as my slower blistered pace, along with the constant route finding, has made it hard to hike the 20 plus miles per day that Goose and I are accustomed to. We have been hiking a long, exhausting pace of about 15 miles per day, but we are hopeful that once my injuries heal, when we both have our trail legs back and once we get a little more practiced with our route finding we will be able to push big mile days at times.
It has been hard to be very appreciative about my surroundings or the hike in general with the amount of constant pain that I have been in for the last few days, but there are still moments each day when I am able to ignore the pain long enough to look around at this incredible landscape, to focus on the gratitude I have to be able to be out here hiking in this wilderness and to know the joy deep inside of me that I feel when I am backpacking. Soon my blistered feet will heal to hard calluses and I will be able to spend much more time focusing on all that I love about being out in the backcountry.