May 30th 2016: Broad Hollow – Checkerboard Mesa / Zion National Park, no idea about the miles
I sleep well and we get going at 5:30, hoping to make the most of the day before the heat comes. We always make the best miles in the morning. We continue to walk on sand for a mile or two till we have to leave broad hollow and go cross country to rejoin with the original Hayduke route. It takes us a while till we find the right route (there are so many sand tracks here that are on no fuckin map). But we find it and walk too far on it and eventually just go cross country to get down rock canyon. It’s a bit of a search to find a good way down to the East Virgin river and holy moly I didn’t expect this beauty! We are gonna be wading through the river for the next 4 to 5 miles. Our own personal Narrows. Not meeting a single person the whole day (ya that’s heaven to me!)!
But then dark clouds come over and we hear the thunder rolling in the sky. We hope it will just pass by but o no the thunderclouds decide to just stay there. Both HQ and I think “damn”! A thunderstorm sure isn’t the safest weather condition to be hiking through a river in a canyon for miles. Flashfloods are nothing to fool around with. So we only eat a quick snack and pull through the river section without a break. Raw beauty with thunder above. It’s thrilling and scary and beautiful at the same time.
When we get at the location where the trail seems to leave the canyon we hike up a bit, we sit down and eat snacks. We find a snake skin and then I see the snake that actually lives there and I find another skin. Next to it is a deer skull. I look up and a few meters /feet higher up, there’s an almost rotten deer hanging upside down in a tree. Obviously it has lost its footing and fell down the canyon. Bad omen? Yes. We still think that’s the way up so we climb with hands and feet and notice Fuck this ain’t the way up. There is never a trail here. This is suicide. Even the deer don’t make it. So I look at the maps and I see we should have gone up the other side of the side canyon. I get mad, like really mad, partially out of frustration, partially because HQ didn’t look at the maps well, partially because I didn’t check his route, partially because I am scared one of us will fall down and die. Damn!
So we climb back down into the canyon, passing the dead deer, the skull and the snake and try the other side. This is frikkin fucking crazy. This is just ridiculous. Climbing, holding on to roots, praying the soil and the stones won’t let go, the rocks won’t crumble. I start crying in the middle of the climb. This isn’t the way! But there’s no other way. I’m so frustrated. What if we have to go down again. This side is even crazier. But we push through and eventually we reach a sandy sandle. From the backside there’s a sandy “path” leading up. Fuck! (We only find out about this easier route out of the canyon when we finish our hike in Zion). But we’re up and we are alive and we see footprints. Thank god!!! I’m so done. But so happy. And soo tired. But it’s beautiful. And exhausted. But we hike on till we can see Checkerboard Mesa in the distance. We eat tortilla, put on dry socks and hike on.
We expected the hike to and around Checkerboard Mesa to be easy, no rocks, maybe a trail. No. Just no. Is this like the Grand Finale trying to kill us? We’re hiking for 14 hours already when we reach a sandy saddle next to Checkerboard Mesa. This is it. Stop! We’re dead. I can only still just inflate my mat and lay down. HQ cooks and I eat in my sleeping bag.
When I’m almost asleep I hear rocks falling down. Noooooo! Damn. I don’t wanna be burried. I hurry out and then I see a herd of Bighorn Sheep walking on the walls, kicking stones down, doing acrobatic exercises on checkerboard.
What a day! O Hayduke!
Here comes another shit-ton of pictures: