Map Miles: Today: 10.6/ Total: 217.9
GPS Miles: Today: 11.5/ Total: 236.8
Today’s Miles Sponsored By: Elizabeth, Vivian
When I woke up today is was light out- a first for this trail. I took it nice and slow packing up and then headed on my way up the Poison Springs Road.
This road is actually one of the original access points to the “Robbers Roost” hideout for the Wild Bunch, one of the outlaw gangs that consisted of folks like Butch Cassidy, Elzy Lay, Kid Curry, and the Sundance Kid. The hideout was in the canyons a little further up the Dirty Devil from where I was. Some of the residents in Hanksville (where I’m staying tonight) actually helped supply them with horses and cattle while they were back there too. Natives, miners, cowboys, homesteaders, outlaws – it just fascinates me seeing the different marks that people have left on the land I’ve been traveling through recently.
I walked the road for a few miles before turning off on an alternate route described by Nic Barth. I figured I had the time- I was definitely making it to town one way or the other today. The route went through Arsenic Canyon- broad at its base with lots of cooling cottonwoods along the creek through it.
As I continued up canyon I was preceded by a small herd of cattle who kept running a good distance in front of me…until they got to a spot they couldn’t anymore.
Let me tell you, it’s a little unnerving to come around a corner and have six cattle huddled together motionless and facing directly at you. Not making a sound. I stopped and we looked at each other for a bit, and then I climbed up on the slickrock and slowly , single file, they proceeded back by me and on down the trail.
Thankful for a positive outcome I stayed up on the slickrock to get by the section they could not and kept heading up canyon, which proceeded to get narrower and narrower until I found myself in my first slot canyon!
The Upper canyon had two short slots to get through. It was fun shimmying through, sliding sideways and sometimes stemming up a little bit onto the rock walls to get to the next section. Both slots ended in dry falls, the first 8 feet high, the second 13 feet high. I was able to get up the first with no problem, pack on. The second, however, I had to haul the pack up after chimney climbing up. The climb had good friction and was pretty easy, but these pack hauls are still a bit unnerving. I was happy for the little intro, as there will be lots more slots later down the trail.
Once out of the slots it was up and onto the grassland Mesa where you’d never know a canyon lay right behind you. I followed jeep roads all the way to Highway 95, where it was then time to wait and wait and wait for a hitch up to Hanksville.Finally after about 90 minutes, a guy named Bobby picked me up. He was heading back to his home in Port Townsend, Washington from a place in New Mexico where he’d just bought a new home. He was pretty chatty and it sounds like has picked up lots of hitchers- including one Italian guy once that he ended up driving around Utah for a week, basically doing the Hayduke by car.
There’s not much going on in Hanksville. The town consists of 3 gas stations (one of which is built into a “Hollow Mountain”), 2 burger joints, one BBQ shack, a grocery store (that triples as the hair salon and local art gallery), a post office, two motels, and an RV Park. The length of the town can be walked in about 15 minutes. T- shirts sold in the gas stations read “Where the Hell is Hanksville”.
It’s pretty sleepy, and honestly the motel I’m staying in is pretty dumpy- especially for the price, but there’s a bed (with no mattress cover) and a hot shower (as long as you let the water run for 10 minutes first) and wifi (if you leave your room and sit in front of the managers office) so that’s all I really need. I’m really happy for the rest and time off tomorrow. Hoping it does the body good.