Short notes for now: A crisp morning walking down Bullrush Gorge. From sandy wash to steep canyon of white and gray sandstone in a few bends. We like to look at the patterns of the cracks in the mud as the wash floor dries.
Ponderosa pines and Douglas-fir leaning into the canyon. The pines on the rim glowing gold in the morning sun. Canyon wrens trilling. Wallflower, Oregon grape, phlox, clematis all in bloom. Gamble oak and maple with fresh spring green leaves. This canyon is a delightful treasure tucked into the White Cliffs.
Out into Park Wash, the going is sandy. But the White Cliffs are gorgeous, 1,000 feet of steep Carmel formation and Navajo sandstone rising above. Cows, a line shack tucked out of the wind in an ampitheatre, a tank full of water. A beautiful setting. If there was more grass, I’d think these cows are lucky. But the browse looks sparse.
On the otherside of the wash is No Man’s Mesa. It is beckoning. There’s a scramble route to the top, the guidebook taunts one to see if they can pick the line. Per Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance the mesa is:
Solitary and remote, a 2,000-acre island ringed by 1,000-foot-high cliffs. The mesa has never been grazed by cattle nor disturbed by agriculture or mining; its occasional small wildfires have been allowed to burn, creating grassy parklands amid the pinyon-juniper forest. It is, in sum, a classic “relict plant area” — a rare example of a pristine plant ecosystem.
I’m all the more interested in seeing the ecosystem at the top.
More sandy walking. Slow going. Part of the Hayduke spa. We slog out of the White Cliffs and into the Vermilion Cliffs with terraces of deep red Moenave sandstone. Slowing descending the Grand Staircase.
Once on to hardpacked BLM roads the walking is easy. The sagebrush is green. In the distance we can see the forests of the Kaibab Plateau. The horizon looks verdant. But it is warm and dry walking out of Kitchen Corral Canyon.
At Hwy 89 by 4:30 we get a ride into town with a kind rancher from Page, Arizona whose family has been working the land for five generations. They still trail some of their cattle from winter to summer grounds. Just like Gus McCrae and Captain Call. He knows the places we’ll be walking when we go out Hack Canyon across the Arizona Strip (~220 miles later in our route). I hope Dustin liked my favorite song. His favorite place to roam these parts is the open grassland and shrubbsteppe of the Arizona Strip, a place that’s good for cows.
In Kanab for a quick turnaround, it turns out Daybreaker will also be in town tonight! Reunion forthcoming. New shoes from the awesome gear shop that carries High Country News and makes a fine cup of coffee. A stop at the natural food store next to Grand Staircase-Escalante Partners offices. Loving Kanab!
I was about to cross the street when I saw Daybreaker in the back of a pickup truck. He finally made it to town (4+ hours to get a hitch)! Much hopping around, giddy chatting, and sillyness ensues. Then it’s time for a few chores before dinner with our friend. Loving Kanab even more.
Day 34: 22.2 miles; 528.7 miles total. Pt. 6771 along Bullrush Gorge to Hwy 89 at Buckskin Gulch with a hitch into Kanab.
GPS: not needed; people sighted: none on trail, lots in Kanab, best of all, Daybreaker!; roads: many a sandy mile, then many a good mile.