May 31st 2016: Checkerboard Mesa – Zion Watchman Campground, 13,5 miles
It’s a good thing we didn’t continue hiking yesterday evening. We wouldn’t have seen the beauty out of exhaustion. And boy it’s so beautiful here. We make our way (slowly cause there still ain’t no decent trail) around Checkerboard mesa and meet family Bighorn again. Ha! Abbey is right. You can’t see a thing from a car. People passing by, getting out of their car, taking pics at view points have no idea what the back of Checkerboard looks like, have no idea there’s a Bighorn family living there, that the East Virgin River is flowing way back there… Not a clue (but hey what do I know?)! We reach the street and walk to the East Rim Trailhead where we have burried a cache with water and coke and shower tokens. It feels like treasure hunting.
We cruise on the East rim and the miles fly by. It’s only at the end that the people, ya you might call it “masses”, start coming, puffing their way up, red headed like tomatoes. The scenery is beautiful (so ya I get it why people drag their asses up here)! O those red walls towering high over our heads.
We cruise down and hope to still get a campspot at South Campspot. We’re down by 11 am but no campspot for us. It’s 12 already! What? Damn! This ain’t Arizona, this is Utah. Totally forgot that. We’re still ticking on Arizona time. Luckely Watchman campground has a flow over group site today, so we head over there and the first person we talk to is Joery from Belgium!!!! Just finished the Hayduke Trail. Small world indeed!!! It’s been his tracks we’ve been following and somehow these tracks connect us with him. That run down pair of Inov 8! We got so many questions, wanna know how he got out of the Virgin River (he told us about the easier route out)!
In the afternoon we go to Springdale, drink milkshake, take a shower and check the internet. The evening we spend with Joery, talking about the Hayduke, lightweight backpacking and packrafting (he’s a frikkin pro) and share our adventures.
This hike has been everything we dreamt of! An adventure, a mirror, a blessing!