The Hayduke can start from a few different trailheads north of Arches National Park. Logistically, the easiest is the airport start, just off the highway. Andy drove us from Provo to the start, getting in an hour or so after dark. We laid our stuff right where he parked and quickly fell asleep.
Grace and I took our time packing up, allowing the sun to warm us up before headed out. Our packs are heavy with water for 13 miles, and plenty of gear. I’m not used to this much weight. It’s heavy enough that I even need a hipbelt. How embarrassing!
We walk a dirt road up and over some rock formations and soon can see Klondike Bluffs, an area I’ve seen so many times from far away on the highway, yet never visited. Large fins, several arches, and white bulbous towers greet us at this unique landscape. We explore a bit, climbing some rocks and taking in the views from behind Tower Arch.
Its our window to the Hayduke.
We walk a Sandy dirt two track for a few miles, ducking under barbed wire fences, following a fence line, and eventually making it into Arches NP.
We take a break near some slickrock with beautiful stratification lines like waves, with several shallow pools of water. We pull a few liters, as we know it’ll be a dry camp.
Andy asks Grace how she’s feeling going into such a long, difficult hike.
‘I’m anxious. A bit nervous when I think about the trip on the whole.’ she responds.
She deals with it really well. Attitude is everything out here and she’s got that part down. Andy convinces her that she needs to buy lotion in Moab an I should be rubbing her feet every night. He also convinces her that I should be carrying a jet boil to make her coffee every morning. Bad influence.
When the Hayduke enters courthouse wash, we decide to do the Arches Slickrock alternate that Nic Barth put together. That’s what is so awesome about this hike, you can choose what you want to do. There’s a route, not a trail. And several people have put together fun alternates to the main route. This one stays up high on the slickrock, and has some airy scrambling. But we take it.
After a few miles going up and down slickrock formations, avoiding the fragile soils in the crevasses and the cacti that grow from them, we make it to a lookout above courthouse wash. We can see window arch, the La Sal mountains, and Park Avenue. It’s quite the site. We sit on the edge of the cliff and eat ramen and nuts as the sun sets.
There’s a strong breeze in the night, and grace struggles to sleep through it. It takes some getting used to, sleeping on the trail.
In the morning we’re greeted with a beautiful sunrise over the mountains to the west. Andy and I climbed mount Peal, the high point of the La Sal Mountains a few years back and we laugh about the mishaps of that day. It was a craptastic climb. But the views we’re sweet up there.
The scramble down is tougher than I imagined. A few big drops where I super Mario jump down, and a few ledges where we give grace a hand. She’s tough about it, and I’m proud of her for giving it a go!
We walk the wash to Park Avenue and see the tourists off the road taking pictures below of what we’re hiking through. It’s the first people we’ve seen this whole trip.
Some cross country leads us away from the road and to the cliffs above Moab and the Colorado river. The scramble down is a bunch of loose chose. Pretty gross. A dangerous escape of arches np. The bike path takes us over the river and into Moab for burgers and shakes.
We get Andy an Uber back to the airport and say goodbye. A lot of fun hiking with him, and he gave some great advice for Grace.
Now, it’s on to raft the Colorado river for 70 miles on rafts we bout for $15. The Intex explorer 200. Glorified pool toys. Wish us luck!