Grand Canyon to Zion – Day 12: Hitching through cultures and following cougar tracks

May 29th 2016: Jacob Lake – hitch to Colorado City – Broad Hollow

grandcanyontozion484I sleep awful. Kids or whatever play basketball real loud till 12 at night and even back in the woods we wake up from it. Who the fuck plays basketball at midnight? (Alright I gotta be fair, I ain’t got nothing against basketball at midnight but I got something against people being loud.)

We get up early to get a hitch out of Jacob Lake. Most people drive south though. Still after 20 minutes a car pulls over. It’s a belgian!!! Mwuhahahaha such a small world. He’s from the same area I grew up in and so we speak the same dialect (in Flanders almost every town has its own dialect). That makes it much easier for me. After living in Germany for almost 14 years now I sometimes find it hard to speak Flemish. But it’s easier when I can speak the dialect I grew up with. He takes us till Fredonia and there the hitch is much tougher.

Not a soul pulls over. After 45 minutes (guess I’m not very patient) a white truck stops. Praise the lord. A Navajo man rolls down the window and says: “I can only take you to Pipe Springs. I’m looking for my 14year old daughter. She ran away last night.” Poor man. He’s been driving all through the area since 3 am this morning. 14 year olds. He tells us he’s been living here for 47 years already, didn’t go to study, learned from the land instead. “That’s a treasure,” I say and all three we know it is true in this crazy world we live in today. Learning from the land is the biggest gift we can give to ourselves and our children. He drops us of at Pipe Springs, looks for his kid at the gas station and drives off again. Searching. I tell him we will pray and we send him good energy while he disappears out of sight.

We hang around at the gas station. After 20 minutes a tattooed guy goes in and out and I just ask him if he’s driving in the direction of Colorado City. “Ya,” he says, “sure I can take you. Gonna go meet friends there.” Awesome. He’s a mormon (with only 1 wife) and we ask him all about his culture. At one point HQ ask him where all the wives come from when men have more than one woman. And he replies “Well there’s one family in Colorado city that has 46 kids. 45 girls, 1 boy!” O boy! He tells us about the book of mormons and their prophet and no he isn’t going to church today, even though it’s sunday. He’s going gambling in Mesquite! :c) We stop at his friends home in Colorado City, have a short chat, they think of where the best place would be to drop us off so we can start hiking the Colorado City resupply alternate route that will bring us back to the original Hayduke Route. He drops us off at the crossing between the road and the water canyon wash. He saved us 2 miles of road walking. That’s something. Plus it was supercool to talk to member of the mormon community, not a very strict one, that’s true, but still. The “strict” ones don’t even look at us. When we walk towards the dirt road we pass a family, dressed in long yellow, blue and pink dresses, hair in a bun (not the messy bun), the kids look but don’t say a word. The mother doesn’t even look.

We walk on and soon we’re back in the wild. (For future Hayduke hikers: Follow the dirt road till it splits into a road going to the left and another turn off to the right to a parking lot – with wooden poles /don’t know what those are there for, maybe to tie horses on- Take the turn off the the right to the parking lot. At the end of the parking lot there’s a “trail” going down, following the fence of the “forbidden to enter-area”). We’re happy we found the route and there’s even water in Short Creek. So we have lunch and put our feet in the water before heading up Squirrel Creek. Squirrel Creek has water too, but it’s a warm climb in the midday heat. Still frikkin beautiful! Behind the Beehive, we head back down a still damp riverbed, a wash with puddles of water in the rocks. We see Coyote Tracks. And then I see bigger tracks. Cat tracks! A bobcat? No it are mountain lion tracks!!! OmfG! I am so pumped! This is trackers paradise!!!

It’s hot and sandy and we walk and walk an then HQ squeaks and jumps backwards like I’ve never seen him jumping backwards. He almost just stepped on a rattlesnake. Thank god they rattle before they bite! The rattler reminds us to be aware, where our place is, to be humble. Our place is here, just like the rattler, the mountain lion, the hummingbird, the yucca and the dry river bed. But we need to be respectful with each other, treat and walk and live with care. Thank you rattler for reminding us!!! We walk on differently now.

We’re tired. But we got miles to make cause we only have so much water (we are howling water like pack mules) till the East fork of the Virgin River. Finally we reach Broad Hollow jeep track and damn this is a desert sand “road” with deep loose sand. Crazy exhausting to walk through. We take off our shoes and pretend we’re on the beach, except there’s no water next to it, “only” an ocean of sage sage sage (combined with the smell of Juniper, one could call it heaven!) We walk slow. By the time it’s 7 pm we’re spent and we find a beautiful quiet spot under a Juniper Tree.

What a day. So rich. So warm. So beautiful. So full of lessons. So full of encounter. This is what I live for.

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