It’s official! We’re going to thru-hike the Hayduke route this spring, or at least we’re going to give it our best go. I’ve included a few photos at the bottom of this post from last year, on a section hike of the Hayduke route, just to give you an idea of some of the terrain.
The Hayduke is an ~800 mile backcountry route through rugged terrain, including boulder choked canyons, sand, and quicksand. It was named after George Washington Hayduke III, a character in Edward Abbey’s book ‘The Monkey Wrench Gang’.
“The [Hayduke] trail seeks to pay homage to
Abbey for his tireless defense of these fragile and threatened public lands and to heighten awareness and promote the conservation of the wild places that he and so many other people have come to need and love.” -hayduketrail.org
Like all thru-hikes, weather will be a challenge—ranging from snow storms and freezing temps to hot desert temperatures with long water carries. It is also a navigationally challenging adventure, as it follows virtually no trails. It passes by or near very few towns, so being on foot, it is also a resupply challenge, for which we’ll be setting several food and water caches ahead of time.
The challenge of this route inspires my adventurous side, but the route also navigates through some of the most stunning landscapes in the Desert Southwest, and arguably in the world. The route travels through six national parks. Yup, you read that right, SIX national parks! Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, and Zion National Park. It also travels through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, in addition to several National Forests. I know, sounds like a dream, right! Needless to say, I’m stoked!
I’m still reworking some of the gear, to ensure my pack stays below 25 lbs, with 5 days of food and 5L of water in it, but the list is mostly complete, except for sunglasses. I’m able to keep my food weight down to about a pound a day, because I carry foods that are densely packed with nutrients and good fats—This helps a lot with my pack weight. My favorite foods to carry on a thru-hike are powdered greens, nori, raw nuts, and a little dried fruit (*with no added sugars—dates are my favorite; they are high in fiber and have a low glycemic load). If you’re wondering why I strive to stay below twenty five pounds, it’s mostly because I have a broken back and a bad knee, and twenty five pounds or less is my sweet spot, balancing the right gear with the right comfort level for my body. But it’s also a lot more fun to hike with less weight.
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ABOUT THOSE LAST STORIES FROM SOUTH AMERICA:
For those of you that are still waiting for the last couple of stories from my South America bikepacking trip, my apologies, but realistically at this point they may never happen. It was such a long logistical journey of busses, trains, and planes, and bike reassembly at the end of that adventure that I was too exhausted to write them at the time. And once I got back home I was just too wrapped up working in my studio and onto other things.
For those of you that enjoy reading my stories, love my art, and also wish to contribute to my hike—I have a number of small works available for online purchasing on my art website: onnavoellmer.com/shop . I also have a few older works on sale that have more color, from my Beyond Place series—if you’re interested in one of those you can contact me at: email@example.com . FYI, you’ll need to contact me no later than March 9th so I have enough time to process the order before I leave.
PHOTOS FROM LAST YEAR’s SECTION HIKE ON THE HAYDUKE ROUTE: