Our intention when hiking/hitching into Tropic was to resupply our food for the next stretch, gorge on massive amounts of town grub and return to the trail that same evening. We got a quick hitch from the main road but the driver was only going the small town of Cannonville about five miles shy of our planned destination. He dropped us at the corner hotel/gas station/small grocery and we quickly decided the food inside would cover our needs and we began to stuff ourselves and Shilo dog. After checking the weather report and realizing the storm clouds we saw rolling in that morning were the start of a predicted two day snow storm, and then finding out a hotel room was only $49 our plans for the day changed as we settled into our room and hopped into a hot shower.
The following morning was cold with signs of snow on the far mountains, but the sky was blue with fluffy clouds and the day looked good for hiking. We dropped some mail at the post office box and walked out of town down Main Street which quickly became a dirt road surrounded by ranching fields and red stone cliffs. As we walked down the the quiet road we heard a car approaching in the opposite direction and we stepped out of the road to let him pass, and as he did I waved and smiled at the driver with his three large dogs in the back of the pickup. The truck slowed and then turned around in the road rolling down his window. He asked where we were headed and then asked if we were hiking the Hayduke Trail. We were surprised as hardly any people we have encountered, even those who live only miles from our route, are familiar with the Hayduke. After confirming we were indeed Hayduke hikers he the offered to take us the the trailhead if we like. We gladly hopped in his truck and were introduced to Roy and his three dogs.
As we drove down the dirt road Roy mentioned the cold weather and possible snow again predicted for the night and then said while he would take us to the trail if we like he would also happily take us to his house for the night where as he said, "I have little to offer but a bed, and if you like some whiskey." We couldn't refuse.
Roy took us to his off the grid "Feliz Ranchitio". A beautiful, modest home he and his wife had built over the past decade. The attention to detail in every aspect of the home and surrounding yard/horse ranch was apparent and Roy had stories for all of the details. Goose and I were both in awe of the home, but it was the garage that we really loved. A room larger than the house that was filled with sea kayaks, insane amounts of climbing gear, bikes and other outdoor recreational items. It turned out Roy was a very well accomplished old school "dirt bagger" who had been "climbing since he was in the womb". A retired teacher, a graduate of UC Berkeley, a Vietnam medic, a previous climbing and kayaking guide and a world traveller; he had amazing stories to share with us all night over bowls of fifteen been soup and glasses of whiskey as we sat by the wood stove. The following morning Roy had mugs heating for us on the same wood stove which he filled with coffee for us to enjoy before dropping us off at the trail.
Our quick grocery stop turned into a two night stay in a tiny little town in Southern Utah filled with warmth, generosity, laughter and wonderful company with a stranger who became an unexpected friend. Sometimes I find that it is the detours that we take that make for the best journey possible.