Hayduke Route 11th day: 19.5 miles/182.4 total. Dark Canyon Hydrophilia

We finally reached flowing water today and it was clear, clean, and delicious. We started the day at 6am with frozen water bottle. Yes, it was that cold. 27F inside the tent to be exact. After breakfast I had 3L left that I would pack out for the next approximately 16 dry miles. Cuban B and Pete had about 2-3 L each. That would be enough. The Canyon drops significant elevation as you hike down, so much so that i began to feel hot. As we made our way down, we encountered a large dead elk with massive antlers. Hungry anyone? After about 13.5 miles, we finally had clear running water. Oh, thank god!!! All threes of us were thrilled at that sight of water. It felt good to rinse my face and scrub my hands with sand and water. Finally reaching this point of the canyon, the the trail was harder to follow, occasionally becoming lost under your feet. The creek would occasionally box up, with terraced ledges up above forcing a climb to avoid getting our feet wet.

Making our way down this part of wet Dark Canyon, it is difficult not to notice the cottonwoods budding leaves in response to warmer temps and more light. Another delight to notice, if you’re into ornithology, is the prevalence of the American Dipper, a hydrophilic bird that hops from rock to rock along the creek foraging for insects and fish.

After 19.5 GPS miles we finally found a decent camping spot at around 6pm. We were trying to push for a big mile day today so that tomorrow’s hike into Hite would be under 15 miles. Hopefully those 15 miles are accurate tomorrow.

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