Hayduke Trail | September 11, 2018
Kane Springs Road to Basecamp Adventure Lodge | ~8 miles
I need to go back to Moab. I've decided that my solar panels are being too finicky to trust, and although I'm planning to rely on my maps and compass to navigate, getting completely lost on my own in canyon country is not something I'd like to experience.
It's a few miles to Hurrah Pass, and all of those miles continue to follow the road. It's also very early in the morning, and I figure my best chances of getting a ride will be later in the day when the off-roaders are headed back to town. So I hike to Hurrah Pass and wait in a place where I'd at least have a decent view.
I chat with a few parties of ATVers and Jeepers, all of them headed in the opposite direction. One party, a couple of retired men on vacation, tells me they'll look for me on their way to town later that afternoon. One of them adds that he feels uneasy leaving me there alone, and asks if I have any self-defense training. I try to reassure him, telling him this isn't the first time I've been in such a situation. I'll be just fine on my own, thank you.
A few hours later and a big black SUV pulls right up to the crest of the pass. A woman about my age appears, long hair and long sundress billowing in the gusty winds. I get up and walk over to say hello—she looks like someone I'd like to be friends with—and a thought pops into my mind. And this thought is telling. It reveals either something about myself or something about the way I've been conditioned, or both. Upon seeing her, my thought was, Where is her man?
Here I am, alone in the desert for the umpteenth time. Here I am, a grown and capable woman doing something that a lot of people are worried about, and I question why another woman is alone in the desert?
Her name is Jennifer. She's been living here and there for the last few years, but mostly in this giant SUV, while her husband works construction around the country. She's got a babe and a dog and a bun in the oven, and she's a welcome burst of warmth in these inhospitable lands. She's just out exploring, but after our brief chat she decides she's ready to head back into town. So I climb into the back, right next to Annabelle the dog and Iola the smiling baby, and enjoy a bumpy ride into town.
We stop at the gear shop where I fill up on water and drop a lot of cash on brand new solar panels. I meet up with Jennifer again, we eat frozen yogurt together, and the cafe echos with the wails of a baby who was just fed sugar for the first time. Jennifer and I have a lot in common and we enjoy each other's company. She doesn't have much of an itinerary out here, so she decides she'll drive me right back up to Hurrah Pass. As always happens on thru-hikes, I am ever humbled by the kindness of strangers.
Back on "the trail," and I descend towards the Colorado River on the west side of the anticline. Not three miles ahead is Basecamp Adventure Lodge, where many Haydukers stop to camel up on water. Aside from a detour to the silty Colorado, there isn't any water reported for the next 20 miles, and even then I'll have to hike two miles off-route to get to more silty river water. Since I just filled up in Moab I don't really need anything more, but some local knowledge of the conditions ahead might be helpful. So I stop in and say hello.
I am greeted by Annabelle the dog, who quickly runs back to the porch to bark wildly at something I can't see. Jennifer is there, babe in arms, and even though it's only been an hour I'm glad to see her again. I walk towards the lodge to investigate the source of Annabelle's excitement and find that it is a very large and very slow and very interesting tortoise. The tortoise is named Kobe, which is just Swahili for tortoise, and one mustn't call him a turtle because he supposedly thinks he is a dog. (The owner of the lodge, Tom, does in fact take this tortoise-dog on daily hikes through the desert. The tortoise is of course painfully slow, so Tom always brings a book and camp chair to entertain him while he waits.) Also present at the lodge is Linny, 15 years old and entirely capable of running this place on her own. Linny took me on a tour of the place on my first-ever ride in a side-by-side. She's been driving them since she was five years old.
Somehow I ended up spending the night at Basecamp. When darkness fell, Tom fed the entire neighborhood hot dogs: four baby skunks living under the porch, 17 gray foxes who would each patiently wait their turn, and families of raccoons who would fight for bowls of cat food and water. Jennifer played her ukulele and sang us songs while the moon set above Canyonlands and the Milky Way shined bright.