A Hack of a way to the Arizona Strip

This morning, we started out in the upper bends of Kanab Canyon with high cliff walls and slip of a view of the sky. Hiking just before dawn, we wanted a jump on the heat of the day and knew it would be a bit of a stretch to make it 30-some miles up the way to our cache and next water.

If one keeps putting one foot in front of the other, eventually they’ll turn out of Kanab Canyon, walk up and out of Hack Canyon, and start crossing the Arizona Strip. Rocky wash travel, cruiser wash travel, sandy wash travel. Horse and cattle trails. Old mining roads. Cattle trails.

We crossed miles of water in upper Kanab Creek, we tried not to begrudge the litters on our backs, instead we embraced the bonus water around Chamberlin Canyon. We stopped to sniff the cliffrose and the prickly pear blooms. And just around the time I thought, now this would be a nice place to live, we found evidence that others have liked the area too.

Going up canyon, we gradually ascended the layers of the Grand Canyon. Going from Redwall to Supai to Hermit to Coconino to Toroweap, and last of all the Kaibab limestone at the head of Hack Canyon. The rocks we’ve immersed ourselves with for the last 15 days exchanged for the formations of the Grand Staircase ahead of us across the Strip. Back to the land of Kayenta and Navajo sandstone. That will all be wonderful tomorrow, but in the last miles exiting Hack Canyon it’s bittersweet to leave the lovely rocks of the Grand Canyon.

Until that is, we seek shade amid some sharp Toroweap limestone and I snag and rip the butt of my pants. Good thing the pockets cover the holes. It wouldn’t be a long walk without getting some sort of hole in the seat of one’s pants.

Once out on the Arizona Strip, a truck drives by us. Darn, now we’ve seen people! Just as I was hoping we’d have one last people-less day. The Strip is a grassy stretch of Arizona between the Grand Canyon and the Vermillion Cliffs along the Utah state line. Bunch grasses, sage, pinyon and juniper. A landscape for pronghorn antelope and coyotes. Also a land popular with cattle.

And so we hiked amid a few herds of cattle on our way out to our cache. The evening colors beautiful across the wide horizon with Mount Trumbull a purple silhouette to the southwest. The last miles coming a little late in the day. I pulled out my phone/GPS to figure out our “crow flies” distance to our cache. We’re close. Just a few more miles, we hearken back to our CDT days and the many a road mile that route entails.

At last, we are back to a familiar stretch of road, a familiar tank, and a familiar pair of pinyon trees that mark the home of cache number four. The last of the trip, the first we stashed. Just two months ago we were here, shovel and buckets in hand. The flowers that had just emerge are now past bloom. Our tracks erased.

We dig out our cache and it’s a festive evening! Tasty Bites, coconut milk, green juice, orange cups, and fizzy water. Fresh undies and new socks too.

Tonight we are cowboy camped on Yellowstone Mesa under a juniper and pinyon pine. The sky is wide open and filled with stars.

Day 55: 34.0 miles; 823.7 miles total. Just north of Jumpup Canyon to cache northwest of Yellowstone Spring.

GPS: used for entertainment in the last miles of the day; people sighted: two folks in a truck; roads: there were many road miles once we got to the Hack Canyon gate.


Some boulder slow going at the start of the morning in upper Kanab Canyon. The Redwall walls are growing shorter.


And just like that, there’s more water.


Upper Kanab Canyon is beautiful. Look at all that red Supai formation!


Lovely Supai walls and grassy cactus benches with mesquite are part of upper Kanab.


Sometimes you stop and look around and there’s something that catches your eye.


Rock art in progress.


Blanket flower along the barbed wire fence that marks the boundary between the Kanab Creek Wilderness and the rest of Kaibab National Forest.


Umbrella time while walking through Hack Canyon – a sunny, warm day with little shade. The umbrellas make hiking so much more comfortable.


A little stretch of shade beckoned us to take a break. 


Hack Canyon: red, white and blue. The canyon has a wide open wash, pretty walls of Coconino, Hermit shale piles, and signs of mining and cattle.


Gabriel checks out Willow Spring.


This is the spring that I got very excited about back in the winter when I was reading through the Hayduke maps and saw that this one is noted as, “Radio active, do not drink!” 


There’s stuff growing in the water, how bad can it really be? But since I still have 4 liters of water in my pack, I’ll pass. 


Nearing the Hack Canyon TH.


There are a lot of Hayduke enthusiasts out on the route this spring. Twelve noted here, at least 10 others.


Globemallow glowing and growing along the Arizona Strip.


The Arizona Strip felt like a beautiful wide open space greatly contrasting to the canyon world we’d been in the last few days. I can see why Dustin Cox finds this to be pretty country.


Some of the most well-behaved cows I’ve ever met while hiking. They didn’t run away from us! Often cattle run away from us, but their escape route is the same path as our hike. 


Glorious globemallow! In the late afternoon light the grassy plains of the strip were a glow with gold and green grasses and the cheery orange of apricot globemallow.


Gabriel strides along as we reach mile 33 of the day.


Catching the sunset as we near our cache. 


A salty marmot, ready to go find the cache before it gets dark. The sun sets fast around here.


Pulling our last cache of the trail. We are excited to get all sorts of nice treats, like non-alkaline water.


Mukmuk was particularly excited about his can of bubble water.