A delightful puppy and wildflower day

It is very convenient to stroll out of Escalante and take care of pre-hike errands. We checked out of The Prospector, walked over to the Outfitters for coffee and an egg-in-a-basket (in honor of Bubbles and DNR!), and dropped off our package and postcards at the post office all before 8:00 am.

The postmistress was very warm and helpful. But we are still wondering what she meant about the Hayduke when she said, “You’re walking the made up trail.”

Not sure what direction that conversation could have gone we headed on to the gas station with a Subway to get our last fresh veggies for a week. Gabriel also picked up a half gallon of almond milk so he’d start with 800 calories of fluids instead of silly calorie-free water.

All done with errands, we walked to the edge of town and started hitching by 8:50. We had a ride about 15 minutes later! Semi-retired guy from Pennsylvania who regularly comes to Utah in the spring. Before we got in, he had to move stuff around in his truck. He’d picked up a Hayduker last year and knew a bit about the route. He got us about 10 miles down Hole in the Rock Road to his turn off. Thank you!

Less the 5 minutes later the next car down the road stopped and picked us up. The couple and their 13-year old golden retriever, Coogan, we’re driving to the end of the road. They stopped to make room in their jeep and off we went. Recently retired, the couple, took up the RV life and now travel around to the places they love and want to explore more (next winter it’ll be three months in Baja with fellow RVer friends). Long time hikers, they had hitched and shuttled many a time. We had a lot of fun talking about trails, travels, ways to pursue what is meaningful.

Gosh I love hitching and the people we meet along our hikes. Best of all, I got to pet Coogan the whole time! Dog love satiated for a time.

Back to the Hurricane Wash trailhead by 11 am. We got walking. The Hayduke welcomed us back with gusts of wind that kicked up a dust devil. Sand in our eyes and grit in our teeth. Thanks Hayduke, we wouldn’t want it any other way.

We headed up 50 Mile Road to a bench and stock trail that climbed the rest of the way up and over the Kaiparowits Plateau, roughly 2,500 feet of gain. Really pleasant walking. Jackrabbits and a few cows loping in the sage and antelope brush. The sweet scent of cliffrose in a refreshing breeze. Wild flowers everywhere! Purple lupine, pink and white phlox, brilliant red paintbrush, new (to me) vetch species, serviceberry, red-pink Utah penstemon, and balsam root!!!

And the views! A clear day, we could see out across the red domes and cliffs of the Escalante River, the Waterpocket Fold, beyond to the Henry Mountains, and the distant Sierra La Sals.

On top of the plateau we followed stock trails through pinyon woodland to Mudhole Spring. A lovely piped spring tucked into an aspen grove. A cowboy cabin with saddles and tack out front and two horses grazing. I was curious to poke around the cabin, but didn’t want to intrude with someone’s gear around.

Taking a compass baring we traveled stock paths toward Monday Canyon. All the while admiring the ponderosa groves on the top of the plateau and aspen groves in the drainages. Signs it is still early spring up here: the aspen and gamble oak have yet to leaf out.

A brushy scramble into Monday Canyon we followed the dry wash for a bit. The canyon walls are Navajo sandstone with honeycomb formations and forested slopes. A pretty place. When we found a duffy pinyon grove we stopped for the night.

Day 24: 12 miles; 337.3 miles total. Hurricane Wash trailhead to a little ways down Monday Canyon. 

GPS: not needed; people sighted: only in town or at the TH; roads: walked up one for about 4 miles, then on stock trails and cross country down canyons.

Marmot and Coogan! This furry guy got interviewed by rangers before he hiked through Grand Gulch many years ago. A very gentle soul who loves roaming public lands with his pack.

Up the road we go to the top of 50 Mile Mountain and the Kaiparowits Plateau. Up there is some of the high lonesome country of the Hayduke and areas that would be at risk for mining exploration – if not for the national monument status.

Ever cheery Silvery townsendia, found close to the ground.

Utah penstemon found all along the trail. We hear humming birds buzz about when ever we are near these flowers.

Rough paintbrush.

Balsam root!!!! Makes me think of hikes with friends around Leavenworth, Wenatchee, and the Methow.

Looking east back to the Escalante, the Waterpocket Fold, Henry Mountains, and Sierra La Sal. To think, we walked here from the Sierra La Sal, we’re starting to feel like we have covered some ground.

A grassy meadow on top of the Kaiparowits Plateau. Where did our stock trail go?

Yep, this is how we always get our water out here on the Hayduke. I’d told a local who was having coffee at the gas station this morning that for me civilization means I can get water from a faucet. Guess I’m already back in civilization.

Happy horses grazing among aspen near Mudhole Spring.

Into Monday Canyon we go. Bushwhacking through oak requires some adjustments in schwack technique.

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