Nap Time -Craig Fowler - Hayduke Trail

Back in October of 2018 my buddy Marvin and I met for drinks in Salt Lake City. Before we met for drinks I didn’t even know he lived there. I was there visiting my buddy Scott and by chance we stopped at his girl friends place in Park City. Within the first two minutes of conversation she informs me that she and I have a mutual friend. That friend was Marvin.  

During the course of the night with Marvin he invites me on his Spring Break hike of the Hayduke Trail. Marvin is a section hiker, meaning he hikes trails in sections in order to complete them. As a third grade math teacher he doesn’t have enough time to finish most trails in one go.  

Fast forward to March of 2019 and I’m having coffee with another hiker who I met on Instagram. She caught my eye because she is a fellow Triple Crown Thru-hiker and she was living in my home town! Her boyfriend showed up too and he’s a Triple Crowner as well! During our group conversation I find out the third person hiking with Marvin and I, is a friend of theirs who lives 11 miles away in Glenwood Springs. Talk about a chain of coincidences.  

Over the next month or so our hiking group grew to five! You should know I’m not a huge fan of groups ever since the PCT and learning the freedom of hiking solo.  Onna and George who are friends with Marvin were going to meet us in Escalante, UT for the hike.   I made my way to Salt Lake City via Moab and a bit of mountain biking and disc golf, then spent a week with Scott. Marvin picked me up on March 30th and we drove to Escalante that night. Some how we found Onna and George at the dispersed camping area that was our meeting spot.

The next morning we heading into town to find Tank the last member of the crew. After finding Tank at a local motel we shuttled cars to the two trailheads. Along the way Tank pointed out that Spooky and Pee-a-boo Canyons were just 7 miles from camp. We picked on George and Onna, and went for a short day hike in the two slot canyons, where I smashed my iWatch in Spooky which was a huge bummer!

What follow is my recount of my six days on the Hayduke Trail, on Section 7.

Hayduke Trail Facts

  • 800 miles
  • Starts in Moab, UT
  • Finishes in Zion National Park, UT
  • 6 National Parks
  • Travel through UT and AZ

For more on the Hayduke Trail, visit the official website.

Hurricane Canyon TH to Top of Monday Canyon

Day #1  – 3/31/19

11.0 miles – 11.0 Total Miles

Hurricane Canyon TH to Top of Monday Canyon

Sunny, breezy, High 50’s to Low 60’s

8:30 to 5:20pm

Last night wasn’t nearly as cold as the first night when we car camped. We camped right at the trailhead, which meant we climbed almost right away. After getting to camp we all got in one car and drove 7 miles back the way we came to hike two slot canyons (Spooky and Peekaboo).

We were 30‘ from the end of Spooky and I had the thought I should be careful not to scratch my Apple Watch. Seconds later I moved my hand along the rock, it caught the edge of the glass on the watch face and shattered it!

Peekaboo was really tight! It made me nervous for sure.

At camp we met Jamie, a Brit who was thru-hiking the Hayduke. We chatted with him until dark.

We only went maybe a mile and a half before we started climbing 50 Mile Bench. The climb was something like 2900’ over 3 miles. At times it was quite steep.

Towards the top we hit snow. The sun must not hit it during the day as it was rock hard. The sun was out but the cold breeze we had all day kept things cool.

When we topped out it was only 2 miles or so to get to Mud Hole Spring. We hung out there for about an hour. We were supposed to camp there but after getting water we decided to knock out some of the upcoming 30 miles, as it was possibly without water.

We made it to just before the top of Monday Canyon. We didn’t think we’d find many spots to camp in the boulder choked canyon.

The climb was definitely tough at times but overall the hike wasn’t that hard. Lots of sage, some Ponderosas, and Aspens.

My rope belt chaffed my sides and my OR Ferrosi pants are chaffing my thighs. It could be a long week!

Critter List

  • Cows
  • Raven
  • Scrub Jay
  • Chickadee
  • Blue bird
  • Toohee
50 Mile Bench - Hayduke Trail

Top of Monday Canyon to Rogers Canyon

Day #2  – 4/1/19

9.8  miles – 19.8 Total Miles

Top of Monday Canyon to Rogers Canyon

Sunny, High 60’s

8:00 to 6:20pm

Last night the temps continued to drop throughout the night, by 4 am I was awake and never really fell asleep again.

My tent fly was all frost and my bag had a little too. When I shook it out it covered the ground.

I sleep pretty good but woke up a bit sore. My shoulders really hurt from the extra water. I also have some chaff.

We dropped into Monday Canyon and the going was tough from the start. It would only get worse as the day went on. We averaged around 1 mph for most of the day. The canyon was choked by huge boulders and lots of drop offs.

The sun got pretty intense after lunch time and I felt the lack of water as I was trying to conserve it.

As luck would have it there was running water in Rogers Canyon. It’s supposed to be alkaline but Marvin said it wasn’t too bad. Tank and I as suspect of it. I still have three liters of my good water left so I’ll drink it first.

I finally saw something other than birds today. I saw some little lizards. Then at camp bats came out of the rocks to catch insects.

We didn’t make the mileage we planned but Neon and Onna we’re getting tired and the walking was still very tough , which meant things were getting unsafe. We stopped at a wide bend in the canyon and called it a day.

Critter List

  • Cows
  • Lizards
  • Bats
  • Raven
  • Scrub Jay
  • Chickadee
  • Blue bird
  • Toohee
  • Blue Bird
Pee-a-boo Canyon

Rogers Canyon to Reese Canyon

Day #3  – 4/2/19

13.9 miles – 33.7 Total Miles

Rogers Canyon to Reese Canyon

Mostly Couldy, High 60’s

8:00 to 5:45 pm

Last night was much warmer than night one. I slept with no fly on my tent. At one point I woke up and the stars were amazing. I slept well on a nice sandy spot.

There was this giant moth that attacked Marvin was using his phone and was cowboy camping. He shoed it away and it hit me in the head through my tent’s mesh door. I thought it was one of the bats flying around.

The going was quite easy compared to yesterday. Oddly enough the warmest part of the day was in the morning. It was mostly cloudy for most of the day.

We went overland at the end of Rogers Canyon to enter Navajo Canyon. Navajo was very easy hiking except one spot that lasted an hour or so.

The exception wasn’t that tough but it was very cool. The rock formations from the water running through the canyon were amazing.

I was still carrying some of the 6 liters we took from Mud Holes Spring on day one. The water in Roger’s Canyon and Navajo is alkaline and we read reports it gave other hikers the shits. Marvin got them today.

Since I’ve been rationing my water so not to drink the alkaline stuff I was feeling a bit dehydrated tonight.

We didn’t make it to our intended camping spot but we found a great spot next to a cliff out of the wind (which died shortly after setting up camp). Onna of course made a comment about not wanting to camp next to it in case the rocks that over hanged the cliff fell. I have a very large one right near me. Now it’s in my head. Hopefully the thought doesn’t keep me from sleeping.

No new critters today. I did see some more deer and a few coyote tracks.

Critter List

  • Cows
  • Lizards
  • Bats
  • Raven
  • Scrub Jay
  • Chickadee
  • Blue bird
  • Toohee
  • Blue Bird
  • Canyon Wren
Mud hole Spring - Hayduke Trail

Reese Canyon to Paradise Canyon

Day #4  – 4/3/19

21 miles – 54.7 Total Miles

Reese Canyon to Paradise Canyon

Mostly Sunny High 60’s

7:30 to 6:40pm

The ground last night was hard! My hip and shoulder were not happy. It sprinkled off and on all night. It was nice to hear the rain on the tent fly.

I woke up again like every night so far some time in the am, probably around 4 or 5 am. I just kind of tossed and turned until we got up.

The giant rock above me clearly didn’t fall on me either.

The day started easy and it was what we coined “CC”, Canyon Cruising all day. The toughest part of the day was the monotony of flat canyon walking.

I finally started drinking the alkaline water. So far Marvin is the only one to get the shits. The water definitely leaves a weird taste in my mouth.

At morning break we left Neon and Onna. The plan is to get to the car first then drive back and get them. The last 19 or so miles are all dirt road.

The boys and I had a great time bonding. There was a bunch of jokes and teasing each other.

We’re camped right at the entrance of Paradise. We’re all on a sandy beach.

I totally forgot to mention I saw three Big horn sheep while cutting off one of the switchbacks in the river while in Paradise Canyon.

Critter List

  • Cows
  • Lizards
  • Bats
  • Raven
  • Scrub Jay
  • Chickadee
  • Blue bird
  • Toohee
  • Blue Bird
  • Canyon Wren
  • American Kestrel
  • Hummingbird
  • Toad
  • Big Horn Sheep
Deer Skull - Monday Canyon - Hayduke Trail

Paradise Canyon to East side of the Gut

Day #5  – 4/4/19

21 miles – 75.7 Total Miles

Paradise Canyon to East side of the Gut

Mostly cloudy High 60’s

8:05 to 6:40pm

Once again I woke up in the middle of the night unable to fall back asleep. This of course meant I was aware of just how sore my shoulder and hips were each time I rolled over.

Marvin was snoring like a champ this morning so I slept in. We got a late start but with over 2/3’s of the hike on roads it wasn’t an issue.

The hiking was like yesterday and very easy going. Paradise Canyon was much like Last Chance, though it was narrower and had a lot more cottonwood trees on the benches.

The water that had been following down the entirety of Last Chance Canyon was also following down Paradise. The source was what our map called a Seep, which happen to be right where our 19 mile road walk started.

Just before the seep we had to go through our second barbed wire fence of the day. Just inside the fence and feet from the following was we had been drinking for the last day and a half was a dead cow. It was pretty recent but already smelled terrible. I felt bad for it.

We yanked up water at the seep and started the long road walk. Luckily for us the weather wasn’t too hot and it was overcast mostly. If it was hot and clear skies the walk would have been brutal.

Like yesterday we made good time and crushed the miles. At dinner we had a guy from Idaho stop in his truck and talk to us. We also saw a guy on an ATV.

We all managed to get cell reception and I found out every close to me was worried sick. They all somehow didn’t pay attention when I told them my plans. My dad left me a voicemail, text and email. Dave told me he was pissed and when I finally called him on Marvin’s phone I could hear the stress in his voice. The killer was since I broke my watch and wasn’t wearing it he was also not seeing any data of my movement since Saturday. He probably thought I was laying dead someplace on the trail.

Critter List

  • Cows
  • Lizards
  • Bats
  • Raven
  • Scrub Jay
  • Chickadee
  • Blue bird
  • Toohee
  • Blue Bird
  • Canyon Wren
  • American Kestrel
  • Hummingbird
  • Toad
  • Big Horn Sheep
  • Jack Rabbit
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • Swallows
Nap Time -Craig Fowler

East side of the Gut to Round Valley Draw

Day #6 – 4/5/19

5.3 miles – 80 Total Miles

East side of the Gut to Round Valley Draw

Mostly cloudy High 60’s

8:05 to 10:20 am

Marvin got lost last night for 20 minutes because he couldn’t find our camp. He was up on some rocks on the bluff next to camp where there was cell phone service. It was dark when he finished and the result was he wondered around in the dark for 20 minutes trying to find camp!

The hike wasn’t very long and was for the most part uneventful. The first bit of the hike was in a valley in the Gut and it was COLD! Once to the opposite ridge of the Gut the temperature started to warm up.

On the menu was road walking, which didn’t make for an exciting finish but we did stop at Grosven0r Arch to take a look. It’s made up of not one but two sandstone arches. We walk the next few miles of road as a group and actually came a NOBO Hayduke thru-hiker. We would drive by him later picking up George and Onna and the guy didn’t recognize us. It made Marvin, Tank and I laugh.

I got to the truck first, after turning on the jets and falling into a face pace for the last few miles. Once all there we ran into town for breakfast before going back to pick up George and Onna. They made it all the way to Grosvenor Arch.

Critter List

  • Cows
  • Lizards
  • Bats
  • Raven
  • Scrub Jay
  • Chickadee
  • Blue bird
  • Toohee
  • Blue Bird
  • Canyon Wren
  • American Kestrel
  • Hummingbird
  • Toad
  • Big Horn Sheep
  • Jack Rabbit
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • Swallows

My Thoughts on the Hayduke

The Hayduke Trail is a beautiful trail, and I didn’t even see any of the really nice sections during my short section hike of Section 7. With that said it’s an extremely tough trail which lacks water, and the water that is available is high in alkalinity. This section requires at least one 30 mile carry and possibly a second one depend on the conditions.

The toughest section was the middle of Monday Canyon. It is choked with large boulders which require lots of scrambling. We only averaged about 1 mph and on the day only covered 9.9 miles! This section requires time and patience.

Of the 80 miles about 50 of it is canyon walking. If you get bored easily be warned that it can be a bit monotonous walking. Just like water, wildlife is very limited.

When Marvin asked me if I planned on hiking the whole trail I said no. As beautiful as it is, I don’t think I’d enjoy dealing with the water issues the trail presents. With that said it might be your cup of tea so give a section or the whole thing a go!