|Tuesday April 12
The sun is on the tent at 8, but since I am sore, I ignore it and cover my head with the soft down sleeping bag. What rouses both Andra and I are the nearby caws of a raven and the flapping of wings so close it sounds like said raven is absconding with choice camp gear. Since having dogfood stolen from the tent vestibule four years ago, I am wary of any noise close to the tent. Of course he was not. In reality the raven was snacking on the hindquarters of a rabbit about twenty feet from the tent. The circle of life, in action. We eat oatmeal for breakfast, stealing glances at the juicy red pulp of a rabbit body nearby, and pack up camp after finishing. Filter water and mix Gatorade. On the trail by 10. The day is perfect: clear, warm and sunny. Typical southern Utah; by far better than the recirculated and filtered air of the office. The flow of water in Coyote Gulch is swollen, and no longer simple to cross. Every traverse requires strategy and risk of wet socks. We realize, somewhere in the back of our heads, that eventually we will just have to get wet, but we wish to defer that moment as long as possible. The canyon walls grow higher with each bend, and some of the overhangs cover the creek so completely we feel like we are walking indoors. Birds, mostly unseen, chatter in the abundant cottonwoods and boxelders. Our packs scrape against the coyote willows that grow in short thickets at creekside. The air is still. Andra has several run-ins with quicksand, one causing her sock to get wet in the stream. We sip on Gatorade during the hike and find it delicious in the heat.
At noon, we stop for PBJs, and a rest. Several times it sounds like people are approaching through the dried scrub oak leaves, but nobody appears. We can hear the occasional human voice, but see no one. Beyond our sunny lunch stop by only 200 yards is Jacob Hamblin Arch. Very large. We get a view from the east, then hike around the fin and back up the creek for a westerly view, before continuing in the deep orange canyon. In the quiet of the shade cast by the immense walls, everything is cast in a reddish light, so that white shirts appear light orange, and skin looks darkly tanned. We pass a tent, seemingly-empty, then a solo female hiker, friendly. An hour or less passes with more steady plodding. My right ankle tendon begins to throb, and I imagine the deep sand and awkward foot angles of the day before. Andra reluctantly admits her throat is no better today, and in fact getting worse. Seems like a cold is imminent.
I consult the map, and am glad to see the fin holding Coyote Bridge
approaching. We wave to an old man and a couple seated by a short waterfall.
Then Coyote Bridge is in front of us. It is a small irregular passage through
a thin sandstone fin. The creek flows happily through it. We follow. Less
than a mile later, we stop for camp, very tired after 4 hours of hiking.
We choose an elevated grassy bench, well away from the trail and hidden
by willows and oak, to pitch the tent. First, Andra naps in the sun on
the Thremarest while I explore the area and find clear water in a side-channel.
Back in camp, the flies are abundant, but do not often bite. We pitch the
tent, then mosey on down to water where I wash my face, arms and clothes
in the collapsible bucket while Andra wades in the sunny, shallow stream.
Our camp is in shadow early, yet it is warm. We plan our day hike for the
following day, filter water, cook burritos for dinner and take a short
walk to a high point where we can look down on the canyon vegetation in
both directions before the rock walls bend out of view. As twilight set
in, the flies magically disappear, but mosquitoes come to fill the void.
I volunteer a few microliters of blood before moving into the tent. Andra
reads her Robert Jordan book, and I enjoy Abbey.