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Thru-Hiking the Hayduke Trail


Aaron Zagrodnick

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Aaron Zagrodnick

Something is evoked in people when they envision hiking in the Southwestern United States. The unique and remote terrain triggers that wanderlust for exploration in remote and untouched places that few travel. There is that excitement and fear of the terrain and elements mixed with the calm and clarity of the scenery. In the late 90s, two men who had a great affinity for the Southwest, Mike Coronella and Joe Mitchell, wanted to do something that would encourage more to venture to those hard to reach places and explore. They decided to create a route that would connect the best of the Southwest in one continuous 800mi thru-hike. The result of their efforts is a backcountry route now known as the Hayduke Trail...

@Wired with an account of her 2015 thru-hike of the Hayduke Trail - Read the full article below in Issue 26:

Thru-hiking the Hayduke Trail

Hayduke Trail Canyon

Issue 26 Page 1

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I so liked that Erin included in her article several of the alternates in name and pics of her article rather than taking a follow "the path/route" approach.

This is what I personally would like to see more of: outdoors folks(backpackers) independently creating  innovative hikes by having a greater willingness to deviate from a cookie cutter hiker fashion of how others have hiked. I know more backpackers are capable of it.   

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All the thru hikers were wearing the same shoes they normally do, but be warned that they wear out quicker with the sand and rock combo. For example, with Cascadia's, my hiking partner went through 3 pairs...but I know another hiker that had them and was willing to go the whole trail without getting new ones. His tread was bald, but he did it. Lots of sand gets in the shoe toe box in most shoes, but you get used to it and find your own method for tolerating it or dumping it out every hour or so in the deep sandy areas. I know one person that wore Lowa desert boots and they kept the sand out and lasted the whole trip. I'd say most trail runners require two pairs for the Hayduke.

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Did you wear the Cascadias wading during the Escalante River 20+ mile section? Nice campsite in  Coyote Gulch. 

I think it important good traction of a shoe for sandstone in both wet slippery smoothed conditions   and dry gritty conditions is considered on the HDT. Taking a tumble as one exits and enters, sometimes steeply, from canyons, negotiating pour offs, boulder hopping along the Colorado River, navigating Tapeats/Deer Creek, Nankoweep Tr,  etc. Shoe tread has to be capable of easily being cleaned of grit, Dirty Devil River mud, etc for traction. My  shoe selection for the PCT on maintained trail without the scrambling was different than for the HDT in spring. BTW hiked through more than two feet of dry snow with as much as 3ft+ drifts on the ascent of Mt Ellen and traversing it.

The PCT, and never mind the AT, has few similarities with the HDT. The HDT is  largely a route not a  trail.       

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@Dogwood Yes, the trail runners (mine were Montrail, my hiking partner used Cascadias) were worn the whole time with no problems. We did the Stevens Canyon alt and not the Escalante River walk, but did many other days through water on the trip and all the scrambles with no problem. As I said the tread will wear out quicker, so they may need to be replaced more often than usual, but they worked just fine. I'm sure it is a matter of personal preference, but all the hikers my season were just wearing their regular hiking shoes, which tended to be trail runners and a few had a boot if that was what they usually hiked in. All personal preference. 

@gklott I'm not sure if you saw my previous reply to your shoe question...I am new to the forum and just realized I could tag you in the reply to notify you, so just letting you know in case you weren't aware. 

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