Monday, May 18, 2015

Day 57: In The Pocket

May 19th
Hack Canyon(851.1)-Hwy 385(879.2)
28.1mi

When we woke up this morning, we knew we had a shot at making it to town, but we weren't sure how the miles would go. It would be over 25mi and we weren't sure that we wanted to go into town that late and waste a hotel stay on a short overnight. We are a half day behind our intended schedule and planned to get into town earlier today to get a full 24hr rest before heading out on the final leg tomorrow afternoon. The clouds were threatening again and that also added an unknown factor to today...so we walked. In the first hour or so, Katherine caught up to us and we all overlapped until the water source at lunch. 

It looks like we all may now be on the same schedule to the finish, which was not the plan. We were trying to stagger our days so Katherine can have her solo time and we've, once again, been fated to possibly overlap. We tried to run the options today and unless one of us zeros, we will probably overlap some. It's just horrible luck that Katherine is on one of the least traveled routes to find solitude and has found herself caught in a bubble much of this hike. I get it and feel bad for being part of the frustration, but even when we plan to stagger, things keep happening to realign our dates. Who would have thought such a thing would happen out on the Hayduke!? 

We all had lunch at a piped spring a rancher had well fenced off to animals. The temperature dropped quickly and the wind picked up as the dark clouds got closer. That made for a quicker lunch and we all packed up sooner than expected. 

The 30mi or so through this stretch of desert is notorious for being oppressively HOT and we have, once again, lucked out. It was hardly 60F...but storm clouds loomed. There is an alternate that adds a few miles to hike through Colorado City, a polygamist town and unique experience to walk through. There isn't a store or motel, so an option is to then hitch to the much larger town of Hurricane just 20mi away. Our plan was to do that and hitch partway along the road walk and finish the road walk tomorrow.  Katherine's plan was to camp outside of town and just drop through tomorrow to get her resupply box and back out, so that's how we will still be aligned. She hung back, not needing to hike much further and we hiked on hoping to make it to the highway to hitch to town. The miles flew by in the cool air! I got service enough to make phone calls and read my emails from the last 9 days. There is an iPhone feature of selecting text and having it spoken aloud to you. Great way to go through emails on a road walk with my headphones in. I love multitasking on a road walk and it gets me a head start on town chores. We hadn't planned on pushing so fast to town, but all fell into place. Sometimes, I feel like I'm in a pocket of hitting things at exactly the right time without breaking stride,  figuratively and literally speaking. Today was one of those days. I also feel like much of this hike, and the way my plans for the rest of the summer have fallen into place, are the same way. I'm in a good pocket and rhythm and all feels in sync. It's nice and makes me feel like I must be doing something right. 

We hit the highway at 4:30pm and had 5mi on the highway to walk before the turn to Colorado City. Having done 27mi already on our 9th day out, our feet were screaming. We decided to hike and hitch and to just start up tomorrow wherever we got the hitch. The temps dropped again and it was windy and 50s. The storm was right in front of us and moving a little too close for comfort. 

After 1mi of hiking and trying to hitch on the very fast highway, a white truck pulled over! Three teenagers kindly let us lie in the back of the truck and it was a cold ride with the incoming storm. We were so happy to be heading to town. They were on their way to see Pitch Perfect two and I badly wanted to go too! Thanks for the ride you guys!

We were all checked into the Roadway Inn (great deal and accommodations!) by 6pm and headed across the street to the restaurant. They had a deal of a warm sandwich with fries and an unlimited deluxe salad, fruit, soup, and dessert bar and we took it! Great deal and so satisfying to all the cravings. Even a taco bar! Hit the spot!

It was 8pm by the time we got back to the room and still had showers and laundry to do...and blog posts. While I blogged, Gavin finally shaved! Treat is back people! Here he is enjoying some late night milk and mini donuts. 

Really a great day and big miles with 28mi done by 5pm. My feet are still quite swollen and I'm very happy to be resting and to have a relaxed leave time tomorrow. Life is pretty darn good in the pocket right now. I want to give a big THANK YOU to HDT 2013ers Buck 30 and Skittles! Their detailed blogs have been an amazing resource and I am sooo impressed with the amount of detail they each wrote. Well done guys and thanks so much for paying it forward. I wouldn't be here in this perfect hotel spot if it wasn't for them. You two are great! Tomorrow, Colorado City. 

Day 56: Farewell Grand Canyon

May 17th
Showerbath Spring(824.4)-Hack Canyon(851.1)
26.7mi

My posts from this leg have been long and I'm happy to get a shorter one to get a break, ha! Today was more straight forward. We woke up from our perfect campsite at Showerbath Spring and just had a bit further to go up Kanab Canyon before reaching Jump Up Canyon and officially leaving the Grand Canyon. Both of us were really groggy and in zombie mode much of the morning. These last few days of rain and difficult terrain has slowly taken its toll. My feet are not happy campers. They are swollen from being wet and on rocks for multiple days. The constant gravel in my shoes from crossing Kanab much of yesterday seems to have tipped the scale to unhappy feet. The balls of my feet have developed something like one big callus and the nerves are prickly. I hoped we'd have less rocks today and sadly we didn't. 




There were some nice game trails off the rocks from time to time and they were filled with what we called cactus gardens. So many and some were still in bloom with other flowers around them. I liked them. 


Kanab did dry out as we hiked up and we knew water would be intermittent up canyon, but it was a gamble when to grab for the long haul of dry for 20-30mi to come. I was frustrated with my feet pain and chose to risk it and didn't get water from camp, like Gavin did. I passed the early streams that were now clear after the clay mud had a chance to settle overnight. I was convinced more sources would come and they did...but they were filled with clay mud again. I started to ration, kicking myself for playing the water roulette game. We turned into Hack Canyon and it was even drier with a wash and then higher game trails to keep you up out of the wash. Soon into the canyon, I noticed brush and trees down in the wash and got hope...It was getting hot now that the days of clouds finally cleared and I saw a shadow under the tree in the wash...then I noticed it wasn't a shadow, it was water! We weren't sure if it would last and be further up the wash, so we bushwhacked down and had lunch at our last source for 20mi. We took an extra long break and I made my dinner there knowing I wouldn't have water to cook tonight. 


As we packed up to leave, I saw Katherine hiking up on the game trail and called over to her to make sure she saw the water. We knew she was about an hour from us from rafters that saw her yesterday and expected to see her today, but had yet to hear how the alternate she took, called "Three Days of Terror" went and how she was already here. Good news is that she's all ok and safe. She did 1.5 days of terror and decided to exit back to the route we were on given the conditions of water, pack weight, and safety. She gave it a good go and so did the guys a couple weeks ahead of us and all exited at the same point. It sounded like the name was justified. Good to know she's okay. Her pants are as torn up as Gavin's, so she's sporting the shorts. 


The frustrating part on her end was that she did that route to not be in the Hayduke herd and needing some solitude, but now she's right in the middle again with Wyoming, Freebird, and the brothers right behind us. With us slowing and her exiting her route early, it's just a poor coincidence and not much we can do about it. She stayed at the water and we hiked on through Hack Canyon. It was a really nice canyon! It is an actual trail and had many large cairns leading the way as the trail went up out of the wash as it zig zagged over it. There was more sand, which helped my feet and some rocky parts still mixed in. 








It was a HOT afternoon and the umbrella and MP3 player were key to my sanity. I listened to more of We Are Not Oursleves. The last couple hours of the day was on dirt/gravel roads and that will be the case for the next 30mi or so into town. Fast and mindless miles, which is a welcomed change. 


We are camped in a gravel wash and it's surprisingly cooler. Great for sleeping. We are setup perfectly to hit the water source for lunch tomorrow. Hope my feet like the roads better tomorrow. Good to be off them now...

Day 55: Grand Canyon: Colorado River & Kanab Creek

May 16th
Colorado River @ Fishtail Rapids (811.5)-Showerbath Spring(824.4)
12.9mi

Alternate Title: No Rest For You!
 
After two poor weather days and coming up short on mileage, we knew we needed to really hike today and not fall further behind. Somehow for the third day in a row, rain clouds still hovered above. It rained for at least two hours overnight and we again did not have a very restful night. Gavin and I got going by 7am on the 4.4mi left of the boulder hopping along the Colorado. The brothers are on a more relaxed schedule and were leaving later, so we said our goodbyes and were off...it was slow going as expected. It was very tedious and slow going, but nothing nearly as bad as the bushwhack along the river by the Little Colorado last leg. This one varied with short stretches on the beach, in brush, on large rocks, and over/around big boulders. 


We were lucky that the clouds were out for much of it. As we hiked, many of the boats and rafts we saw camped yesterday floated by. We were again providing some good entertainment and waved as they passed. One supply boat came by and we waved. Someone yelled, "we cheated!" and when we looked closer, we notified it was Jerry and Norm, who we met yesterday! This was their fourth time attempting this boulder hop as part of a backpacking trip to connect Deer and Kanab Creeks. They hitched twice and one of them sprained an ankle another time. We couldn't believe anyone would voluntarily do this once much less four attempts!  It was classic to see the two of them chillin' on that boat! 


Seriously, the best moment of the day since I never saw it coming and the timing was impeccable just as we were completing the boulders. The boat behind them even offered to take us the rest of the way. So tempting, but we resisted. I really think that non purists should just hitch these river traverses on the Hayduke. Sooo much more enjoyable! I'm going to have to do one of those raft trips someday. 

We finally finished the boulders after 4hrs, so it was pretty much a mile an hour. It wasn't horrible, just tediously slow and stressful as you are super focused on each foot placement and using all your limbs to scramble with a pack on. Compounding it was that we've been out for a week and the last few days have been tough. On top of that, having had ankle surgery and knowing what it's like to have an ankle randomly give out completely (it still does and is like jello at times), I am very stressed by boulders. We were both pretty spent after those four hours straight through just to get it over with. 

The traverse along the Colorado was what connected Deer Creek (which we came down yesterday) to Kanab Creek (which we'll go up today). We knew Kanab Creek would be slow going, but it was worse than we had hoped. Maybe we are just spent, but it ended up being a continuation of more rocky hiking with the added fun of countlessly crossing the creek. Due to the recent rain, the creek seemed to be higher than usual and after going up a couple of miles, it became mud water that we couldn't see through. I don't think that is normally the case and it made crossings slower as we had less rocks to step on an had to feel with our sticks in the water wherever we stepped so we didn't walk into an unexpected drop. 




There were short bits on sand bars or rock shelves, but most of it was on medium-sized smooth river sandstone rocks...in shoes that were wet and had sand on them...no traction. 




It was pretty, but there wasn't hardly a single moment that I wasn't intensely focused on my foot and pole placement. There were a couple of sections with huge boulders to climb through and over. Very tiring and time consuming.


As we hiked up, we saw Jerry and Norm one last time and continued to be amazed that they were doing this hike...for the fourth time! We also met some of the boat groups doing a day hike up a bit. One told us they had shuttled Katherine, just a day after us, from the same beach we had hitched to get from the south to north Bass Trail. That was confusing since her plan was a challenging route, that had her starting on the north side of the river with no need to hitch. They also told us she was also on the rocks this morning maybe an hour back from us. We should see her soon if that's the case. We are interested to hear what happened since it seems that she had to bail on the other route, which happens to most who attempt it. 

We did take one side trip today to see Whispering Falls. I was told it was worth the side trip and a guide we asked today also recommended it. It was even waypoints on the track I have, so we thought we'd give it a try. At first, it seemed to look like a small spring and then we noticed we needed to do some climbing to get all the way back there. I went for it since I was already halfway here and was underwhelmed given the buildup to it. It was still nice to go and get some water that was clear since the Kanab was filled with mud. Here's the mini fall and the actual one further back. 


At one point, we heard rocks fall and looked far up to see a herd of bighorn sheep. Pretty cool! They moved fast and I got a shot of a daddy and little one. Yay!


We are actually camped at a really cool spot called Showerbath Spring. It's a lush green spring that drips down like rain. We are camped right in front of it and it's one of my favorite spots all trail: Really unique and I love falling asleep to that sound. 




We are both spent after the last few days and the length of this leg. Or feet have been wet for three days straight and having a whole day on rocks are not helpful. The balls of my feet are quite swollen and the nerves hurt. Our shoes were full of small gravel bits most of the day from walking in the creek. Each step today required a ton of focus and we are both mentally and physically drained. I know I'll sleep hard tonight!

Day 54: Grand Canyon: Tapeats Cr, Thunder R, Deer Cr, Colorado R

May 15th
Tapeats Creek(802.5)-Colorado River @ Fishtail Rapids (811.5)
9mi

Alternate Title: Welp, That Wasn't The Plan...

Here's another long entry from a day with few miles. So yesterday ended with a bit of a cliff hanger. We did not make our goal mileage due to rain on and off all day that slowed us and then swelled the Tapeats Creek where we decided to stop short because I wasn't comfortable with how swift it was. The hope was that it might go down overnight, but we went to bed to rain and then even more rain (and lightning) around 2am. Not good...we went back to the Tapeats this morning after a 6:45am start and we couldn't tell if it was any shallower. We both felt like it seemed deeper, but less forceful somehow. 


We noticed that it was shallower along the sides and much less swift, so I was willing to give it a shot. My theory was that if I did fall in, it was shallow and narrow enough that I wouldn't be completely swept away and would be ok. That did make it less intimidating when I thought of it that way. It ended up being an ok experience and not as frightening as I'd imagined. I'm 5'3" and the water tended to be knee to mid thigh high. It was swift, but the sides were shallower. There were some brief times when we'd walk downstream with the current, but other times we'd cross to do a dry stretch on land. There were many stints of trails along the sides and that was a big relief. I also liked that the Tapeats was pretty narrow, so crossings were done quicker. If there was a deeper part or section with a swift current, Gavin stood upstream of me to break the force some. I don't know how much of a difference it made, but it at least helped me mentally to think it was taking the force out of the current. After about an hour or so, we reached the final crossing where Thunder River joins Tapeats Creek. Thunder River crashed down into the Tapeats in a beautiful yet intimidating way. This was where the final and most warned about crossing was. This picture doesn't do it justice, but I agree with naming it Thunder River. It was powerful. 


From the crossing at the waterfall, it was over 1,000ft climb up along Thunder River. The top is a great waterfall which is actually Thunder Spring. We could also look back into Saddle Canyon, which we spent the last 24hrs coming down through. Take note of those hovering dark clouds...




After we got to the top, we got to cruise a couple miles through the flat and smooth Surprise Valley. It was great to just stretch our legs. While we were going through there, we saw fresh Cascadia prints, which meant that either the brothers or Katherine could be just ahead of us, but neither made sense since we thought both had schedules a day or two off from ours. At the end of Surprise Valley, the trail drops down to the popular campsites of Deer Creek, which continues down to the Colorado River. Halfway down to Deer Creek, I came to the intersection that led to the upper Deer Creek Falls. I paused and heard someone yell my name. When I looked over to the falls, it was the brothers Evan and Chase! We last saw them 10 days ago (Day 44) lounging at the Little Colorado after we got our first hitch across the river. 


It's always fun to see them and have them be part of this hiking bubble. Since we did an alternate and they stuck to the original route, we knew there might be another opportunity to overlap. We chatted a bit, but we were trying to make up for lost miles yesterday and hiked on down to Deer Creek. As we got closer to the Colorado River, we saw groups of rafters hiking up from the river to get a day hike in. The clouds still hadn't lifted from yesterday and the drizzle that had started became a full on rain, so we stopped under a shelf and had lunch a bit early to wait it out. 


We got to chat with lots of people. Two of them, Jerry and Norm, were two older guys backpacking the same difficult route we were about to do over the next few days. They were great! They keep a blog that I think is titled 7 Days, 6 Nights with blogspot. We couldn't believe people other than Haydukers would voluntarily do the rocks and boulders along the Colorado River for 7mi from Deer Cr to Kanab Cr. Jerry and Norm said it was actually their fourth time doing this trip and that twice they bailed on the rock hopping and hitched a ride with a raft, and the other time, they had to bail because one of them sprained an ankle on the rocks...my fear!

As we finished lunch, the rain tapered off and another rafting group came up. One of the guides named Ben said hi and knew about the Hayduke because just a couple days ago, his current group gave a hitch to Busted Magic and Wade across the Little Colorado. He said they were very low on food and that he had helped them out. Then he told us that if we were hiking down to the river, he had extra food to give us. We definitely perked up to that! About this time, Evan and Chase arrived and we all hiked down. This hike up from the river is one of the highlights of the rafting groups and I understand why. Great spot!


As we hiked down the short bit, it really started to rain hard. Not okay for our scheduled boulder hopping. There were great views of the river and a waterfall at the bottom. 


We took shelter under a dry overhang with Evan, Chase, and some of the raft passengers. Ben came down and brought us lots of great food! 


He gave the four of us trail mix, bananas, apples, tortillas, a loaf of bread, lots of sliced cheese, and two cooked and seasoned pork chops each from their breakfast. Thanks to Ben and Western River Expeditions! All of us were sooo happy. 


As it rained, we all ate most of it. It was heavenly! Hiker hunger seems to have set in this week and I've actually had to be careful about not eating all my food. Now that we are behind schedule due to the rain yesterday, and now also today, I had been rationing food in preparation for adding another day to this leg. The food Ben gave us helped ease that worry and the need to push through rain on boulders today. We hung out for maybe two hours as it rained on and off. This pretty much sealed the deal that we were going to have to add a half day to this leg and now we have the food to do that comfortably. 

Gavin and I still needed to get some miles in, so we headed out to start the rock hop. The rain continued on and off all day coming down as sprinkles at times and then turning into a steady shower at others. We had a bit of time on the rocks and then there was a high "trail" to bypass the rocks for almost two miles. The map says to head up the loose talus at the cairns, but we didn't see the cairns, so we headed up where the waypoint was on the GPS...not a great idea apparently. It was ridiculous. We took the better part of an hour precariously hiking up steep loose talus as it rained on and off. On the other side of the river were large guided boat groups that had set up camp. We gave them some entertainment I'm sure. Here's one of the nice camp setups and a shot of Gavin going up the talus. I couldn't zoom out with how close I was, but it was quite a climb. 




When we finally got up top, there was a faint trail and it kept being washed out and we'd have to cross gullies on steep angles with loose sandy debris and more talus. All this was intended to get us up over the time consuming rock hop for a mile or two and I think it was worse. While up there, Evan and Chase arrived and were within shouting distance for awhile. After more sketchy traversing, we got to an area where cairns led up to a real game trail that was smooth sailing. We caught up to Jerry and Norm who are amazing to a) do this voluntarily, trying for the fourth time b) sticking it out in the rain. They were hiking that whole time while we had hung out I a dry spot with the boaters earlier. Jerry and Norm confirmed that we had gone up way too early and we should have waited til we saw the cairns, doih! Here's Jerry and Norm. Great to meet them! 


Right as we finished the high traverse, the rain came down hard again and we ducked into a great overhang. The most difficult part of the boulder section was still ahead and we needed 5hrs to do those 5mi. It was already 5pm, so it wasn't happening. We decided to do the short .6mi to the only campable area in that stretch and call it a day. We waited out the rain about an hour and I enjoyed my apple from earlier. Oh the luxury!


We wondered where the brothers went to since we figured they'd end up with the same plan and we're going to call them over to our sheltered spot out of the rain, but we never saw them. The rain mostly stopped and we decided to make a run for it seeing that it was not gone for good. As soon as we stepped out of our nice sheltered spot, the brothers appeared. They were in the rock overhang right next to us that whole time and neither of us knew it. Great minds think alike, ha! We all hiked the short stretch of biukders to Fishtail Canyon, and it started to rain when we arrived. To avoid wet sand camping on the beach, we went back a bit into the actual canyon and setup tents on some of the shelves. Great spots! 


There were even spots to sit out of the rain, so we did that and hung out a bit until the rain stopped and then setup. It was later than I would have liked, but it was fun to have that communal thru hiking experience of a day like today with other Haydukers that also enjoyed the company. Evan and Chase said they hadn't camped with anyone else all trip. I do think I've been fortunate to have this bubble of Haydukers to give this hike a more communal feel like the other trails. I really did enjoy today despite the rain and few miles. Today had some of the most quintessential experiences of both thru hiking and hiking in the Grand Canyon. Really, one of the more memorable days...tomorrow, we HIKE!

Day 53: Grand Canyon: Saddle Canyon & Tapeats Creek

May 14th
Teddy's Cabin(795.1)-Tapeats Creek(802.5)
7.4mi

Alternate Title: Four By Four!

There are no words to describe the crazy in this day! I swear, it's like an initiation into some club of insanity. There were many times today that we did question our sanity. We joked that we must be part of an experiment to see what stupid crap people would do if told that it was part of the route they'd been hiking for almost two months. Have we been brainwashed into doing anything the Hayduke tells us to? It is sorta like the Hunger Games where you have to face whatever obstacles the game makers throw at you...but we were were crazy enough to volunteer as tributes! This day is the one I've dreaded since hearing about this trail. Lots of sketchy stuff, cross country bushwhacking, plunge pools, and dangerous stream crossings. Very slow miles, and basically whole day just to go a handful of miles. 

The day started out earlier than expected when we woke up at 4:20am to a thunderstorm. It sounded like hail for awhile and the wind was gusting all around us. Somehow, we were mostly sheltered from the wind and the rain wasn't horrible...however there was no sleeping through a storm in a tent. Good news was that if it got really bad, we could go in the cabin for shelter, but that wasn't needed. The rain tapered off just as it was time to pack up and all I could think about was how all this rain would affect the upcoming plunge pools and creek crossings.  With the wet tent and prepping packs to go through wet brush, Gavin needed extra time and we got started 30mins later than usual on a day that we should have started probably 30mins earlier than usual. Deep breath needed on my part knowing that this wasn't a day to start late. 

There was no warm up for the day as we dove right into the "fun" right away. We went down Saddle Canyon. It starts off as a bushwhack (or more of a car wash effect with wet brush) down a drainage for at least an hour. It wasn't as horrid as I imagined it would be and the brush wasn't as thick. It seems like the two pairs of Haydukers ahead of us did a great job of clearing the path, so that helped. Don't get me wrong, the brush was wet and not enjoyable, but better than I imagined and even better than some of the brush yesterday on the climb. 


Soon, we started to see the sandstone rock and the beginning of the next big event...plunge pools! This is where my camera was safely stowed away for the day and the rest of the photos will be taken from my iPhone in its waterproof LifeProof case. We found ways around most the pour offs and only had to submerge into three. I didn't get photos of the first one, but have good ones of the two others we slid into. It was like a small slide into a puddle a couple of feet deep. The problem is that the angle of it made it impossible to walk down and it was kinda like sliding into home base, so there was no way to avoid getting mostly wet. Notice that Gavin's "capris" got completely shredded in the bushwhack and are officially shorts now. 


The storm clouds from the early morning stuck around all day with that ominous presence of danger...especially on a day like today when we were dealing with narrow canyons, water levels, and exposed climbs. Soon after the first pour off, there was an impassible area that required climbing high out of Saddle Canyon and then dropping back in after some sketchy and quite brushy work along a "spit of land" that rose above the canyon. People don't describe this part of the day and we found it to be tiring mentally and physically with really thick brush and steepness with loose rock and dirt. It took well over an hour just to make this move up an over...possibly even two...I lost track. We made the mistake of following the GPS track and found ourselves out on a spit of land that was on top of the one we actually needed to be on. There was a note about this from another hiker that we noticed too late of course and were too lazy to walk back. Imagine a two tiered boat and you're up on the higher tier looking down on the people swimming in the pool on the deck. We needed to get down to that deck after getting atop the higher deck and passed the turn. Apparently many people have done the same since we didn't seem to be the first ones up there and it was the track on the GPS. We wondered if maybe something has eroded or washed out since the track was made. We thought we could get down following the track and we were able to do it, but I would definitely NOT recommend it! It was covered in brush like tough manzanita and the down climb was sketchy with exposure and loose rock and dirt. At one point, I was caught in some brush, and somehow my water bottle fell out and went rolling far down to where I couldn't even see it. Dang! I already lost a water bladder to a cactus this leg and now a water bottle. At least I still had a liter of water in my other side pocket and still two platys for storing water if needed.  Once down and on the correct spit of land, I took a photo of the cliff we were on and came down. Sorry, it was with the iPhone. We came down the right center part and should had walked back further to the right apparently. 


That climb took an eternity and the clouds got darker as we were up there. We finally made it to the tip of the correct spit of land and needed to go down the nose of it to get back into the canyon having bypassed the impassible section. We were just drying off from the first pour off and this is when the hard rain decided to come down. We fortunately had a flat clear spot and pitched Gavin's tent (for the second time this trail) to sit out the storm. It rained for about 30mins and we decided to have lunch early in the tent since we needed to optimize our time today and things were moving very slowly. 


We got packed up an hiking again after an hour or so, but the dark clouds remained. Throughout the day, thunder would rumble and drops would come down. Sometimes actual rain and sometimes just a few drops. At one point, it poured and we were pretty proud to find a spot up against a cliff wall that angled perfectly to keep us completely dry and up high. The on and off rain made an already challenging day on rocks and in water even more difficult. It was in the low 60s and thankfully, we only had to get in three of the plunge pools and they weren't too cold. Here's some shots from the plunge pools both looking down from the top and some action shots. The last one was the final one and the biggest. It went up to my chest and some years it has been 6ft deep. 







We knew from previous Haydukers that it would take much of the day to make the four miles or so through Saddle Canyon with the bushwhack, cross country climbs to avoid impassible areas, and the pour offs. With the added stops for the rain, we made those four miles by 3:30pm. Four by four, ha! There's a first! Hikers often say things like 10 by 10 or 12 by 12, but to do 4 by 4 has to be a rarity! Here I am at 3:30pm, soaked from chest to toe, and having completed just four miles. 


So after all that, we were only done with one third of the events scheduled for the day...we'd be lucky just to complete two at this rate.  Our next challenge was Tapeats Creek. Another one of those key Hayduke words that make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. The Tapeats is a creek that is known for being swift and we knew we'd be crossing it many times and even hiking in it some. It was mainly dry and slow going on rocks the first three miles, but we got a rhythm going and it felt good to hike with fewer obstacles...other than the smooth rocks. 


All much of the day, I had everything stowed away from water and I had my iPhone in my sports bra while my pants were drying out from the plunge pools. In my pocket, it is waterproof in a Lifeproof case, but it fogs up the camera lens, so I like to keep it high and dry....plus, my wet pants were trying to fall down...I did sew the button over to make them tighter before this leg, but apparently did that while bloated and now they are still a bit saggy, sigh. So, the point in me mentioning this is that while on the Tapeats rocks, I was hiking and reached down my shirt to use my camera, like I did all day, and accidentally yanked my white gold chain necklace with a diamond on it that I wear everyday(my twin sister also has one). It broke and the diamond flew off somewhere in the rocks, shit! We looked for a bit, but it was gone. Aaarrrrghh!!!! Not the best day. 

We continued on to where we'd have to get into the Tapeats and it was intimidating! It was a gorge with no option, but to hike in the swift creek down stream. After a full day of rain, it seemed to be raging, but we didn't know if it was normal. It was 6:30pm and we really wanted to push late to get this part over with, but I wasn't comfortable enough to attempt it. Here is the spot we needed to go down and Gavin testing the waters. 


We decided to wait til the morning and hope that the water level would be lower. We hiked back a bit to a campable area and had to accept that the miles were not happening today and that the weather just made it unsafe to proceed. So, that left us with the longest 7.4mi I've ever hiked. It is raining a bit now, dang it! That creek better be fordable tomorrow....Here's our campsite up above Tapeats Creek.