Back on trail

After a unintentionally long break in Escalante while we waited for new shoes to arrive we were thrilled to be back on trail. After two quick hitches to get us from town to the trail which was 30 miles down a dirt road, we were hiking by 4pm and quickly ran into two Hayduke hikers, Jen "Spider-woman" and Dan, whom we had met in tow the night prior. We leap frogged each other as we climbed the up what appeared to be a near vertical wall on the Escalante Grand Staircase but actually had a well beaten pack trail for us to follow upwards. As we climbed we stopped many times to gawk at the never ending views behind us. The mountains we had climbed and descended and the maze of deep winding canyons we had followed all glowed in the setting sun. We reached the top of the climb just as the reds and oranges in the sky changed to deep purples and dark blues. Jen and Dan were making camp at the top but Goose and I were still energized so we pulled out our headlamps and continued to hike into the dark of the night. 

We rose at sunrise from our camp near a flowing spring and brought our gear to a picnic table located at the "line shack" which was also located at the spring. From the luxury of the benches we made our morning coffee and got our gear and packs ready for the day. Jen and Dan soon arrived and together we all filled our water bottles while talking, excited to have new people to share stories with. We had a long haul, over thirty off trail miles, to our next water source so we were filled to capacity with nine liters each. Those twenty pounds of water added to the seven days of foods that we carried made for uncomfortably heavy packs. We loaded those packs onto our backs at 10:15am not minding the distraction of other hikers that caused for the delayed start of the day and we began across the open sage brush filled hills.

We soon dropped into Monday Canyon fighting our way through a narrow drainage choked with fallen trees, large rocks and debris to reach the canyon floor. Initially the larger canyon floor made for decent walking but soon we found ourselves scrambling up, down and around huge boulders and large pour offs. We scrambled up the side of the canyon when the floor got too choked with rocks and steep drop offs and we slid, hopped and hiked back down when the floor would clear. Every step was an effort and the climbing was challenging with the huge weight of our packs. We made camp at the end of the night completely exhausted and totally bummed that we had only made it about eight miles the entire day. We could only hope for and early start and an easier hike the following day.