Greetings. Welcome to my blog and the first entry. I start this blog preparing you for my next long distance thru-hike in the spring of 2018: the 800 mile long Hayduke Trail. After having successfully completed the 2650 mile Pacific Crest Trail in 2015, my first thru hike, the Hayduke will officially be my second thru hike. Having lived now in Arizona now for over 16 years, I at first had my mind set on the Arizona Trail, especially being that parts of it are essentially in my backyard here in Tucson. While my mind was set on the AZ trail, I could not deny that my heart and soul were screaming out for the Colorado Plateau’s Hayduke Trail. Please, let me explain why.
It was the summer of 2003 that I embarked on my first journey thru the Colorado Plateau. Having just been laid off again in late May from my flight attendant gig at American Airlines, I had made it a point to just take the summer off and take a road trip to anywhere. Wherever I went, I knew I wanted to just hike and camp, explore national parks, deserts, and forest lands, and sleep out of my truck. In 2003, I was 25 years and still felt very green, like my life was just beginning and that I had so much to see and explore. It was then also that my interest and enthusiasm to explore the natural world was beginning to blossom. I was eager and full of energy. I could not get enough. I would see a mountain and I wanted to climb it, get to the top. I would see a nature trail and wanted to hike it, see where it would lead me to. I began to buy and read nature and outdoor magazines like National Geographic Adventure Magazine, Outdoor, Backpacker, and Arizona Highways, which would give me ideas of places I needed to explore, my bucket list ever so lengthening.
It was, however, an article in Sunset Magazine (I actually still have that magazine in my archives) about a quintessential 10 day road trip thru the very best of the Colorado Plateau. That magazine article pretty much laid out the perfect itinerary for me, which I followed almost exactly, except for some slight modifications that I made along the way. Seeing the pictures in that magazine of Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, Arches, Goosenecks of San Juan, Antelope Canyon, and Havasu Falls, etc, it was difficult not to entice 25 year old me. On this trip is where my love affair with the Colorado Plateau began. I have returned to the Colorado Plateau so many times since my mid twenties to explore and or rediscover new places, wether it be on a backpacking trip, canyoneering trip, pack rafting trip, or even a kayaking trip. The area is so vast. So much to see and do. Not even a lifetime is enough.
Needless to say, any hardcore Colorado Plateau lover perhaps is also a fan of Edward Abbey. You cannot indulge in the likes of Canyon country without indoctrinating yourself with the literature of the conservationist, naturalist, curmudgeon, unapologetic, angry defender of nature, Ed Abbey. Reading his book Desert Solitaire, not only was I indoctrinated, but I also felt like I went thru a confirmation of sorts of my beliefs. I believed in what he wrote and his writings reverberated thru my core. His literature had me confirm that I am a nature lover, I love the natural world, and the Colorado Plateau had a particularly special place in my heart.
Having read Desert Solitaire, it came fitting that the next Abbey book to read was The Monkey Wrench Gang. It was difficult to read this book with having a map of the Colorado Plateau at hand. As a matter of fact, I am pretty sure I read that entire book with map at hand throughout, just so I could obtain a point of reference of the setting. The Monkey Wrench Gang introduced me to one of the four main protagonist, George Washington Hayduke. In essence, Hayduke is the diehard defender of the Colorado Plateau, doing what ever it takes to protect the Colorado Plateau from the encroaching developing world. Obviously, it is for this reason that the Hayduke Trail is called the Hayduke. It is to honor his name and what he stands for.
So that is why I am thru-hiking the Hayduke Trail. For me, it is not just a trail, not simply another long trail to add on my adventure resume. I guess you can say it is pilgrimage for me, a walk through my beloved spiritual home. It would be a homecoming. Oh, I forgot the mention that the other reason why I am doing this trail is to celebrate my 40th birthday. Yes, I will be turning 40 years old in March of 2018 when on the Hayduke. My 40th birthday on the Hayduke will mark 15 years of adventuring in the Colorado Plateau, and what better way than to hike thru the best of that country.