Hayduke Recon, Recap and Gear

A journey begins not with the first step, but with the desire to go where you have never gone.

March 26
0 hiking miles

Our plan to get to my car and stash the loot, went off without a problem. The men that gave us rides were kind, talkative, and very informative. After quick good-byes and downing a Dr. Pepper (gasp!!!!) I started the new adventure to get home.

Nice hitch to Capitol Reef
Nice hitch to Capitol Reef
Next hitch - all the way to the Burr Trail on dirt road - AWESOME
Next hitch – all the way to the Burr Trail on dirt road – AWESOME

My Thoughts on the Hayduke

During my short vacation on the Hayduke route I experienced: a long car shuttle, bitter cold night-time temps, warm nights, cold and warm days, many stream crossings, bushwhacking, sunny days, cloudy days, rain, snow, and high winds, blowing sand, red dirt, fine sand, pine trees, junipers, and sage, high elevation, dodged many a cacti, low elevation, trail walking, 4WD road walking, cross-country walking, walked on snow, climbed up and over rock ledges, slippery sandy rocks and red dirt, saw lots of petrified wood, took a quick dip in a cold, clear stream, hauled packs up class 3 and 4 rock chimneys, redirected off an intended route, dodged falling rock, lugged 6 liters of water, experienced the generosity of strangers, resupplied food and water, and throughly enjoyed just being outside, walking, and the companionship of 2 very experienced and fun hikers.

Not bad for a week? Huh?

Of course I will have to go back.

Here are my 2 cents for upcoming section or thru-hikers of the Hayduke:

-It helps to be very comfortable with class 3 climbing (hand holds) before this trip. If you are uncomfortable with heights, this trip might not be a great idea.

-Sand will play havoc on most of your gear: zippers, electronics, clothing etc. Put everything in ziplocks and seal them up every time. I didn’t always seal them up.

-Hauling packs up and over all kinds of textures will play havoc not only on the pack, but all items on the outside of the pack. Stash everything inside before hoisting that pack up.

-Sand will pack into your shoes, some shoes more than others. Perhaps a gortex trail runner might help.

-Be very comfortable with maps, navigation, and GPS before hitting this route.

-Prepare for extreme cold and heat.

-Be ready for all types of weather.

-Feel comfortable setting your tent up in deep sand with blowing winds. The V-stakes I carry really saved me.

-Make your pack as light as possible, because you will be hauling more liters of water than is comfortable and you will be carrying that heavy pack up and over class 3 ledges.

-Sharp plants are everywhere. Be very careful where you set your pack down.

-It can get super cold early season in the desert at night in some of the oddest places, deep deep cold. Bring a warm sleeping bag at least 15 degree and perhaps a warmer pad such as the Neo Air XTherm, and warm socks or down booties.


I really, really tried to cut down on weight for this trip. I labored over each item I put into my pack. In the end, I left behind: camp shoes, ground cloth, food cozy, Zpacks pillow cover (I used my BUFF stuffed with my pants with 2 rubber bands tied at each end), and beanie. Amazingly, I lived without them.

I wished I would have brought my down pants, down booties, and a warmer sleeping pad such as the Neo Air XTherm, all to keep warmer at night.

I did bring along some new gear that are now my favorites.

Here are my new items that worked:

  • Uncle Harry’s Natural Toothpowder – very lightweight, concentrated with a very strong mint flavor. Really cleans the teeth. 🙂
  • 2 – gallon sized ziplock bags worked perfectly to keep sand from packing into my socks. I slipped the bags over my socks before putting my shoes on.
Ziplock and Tortilla bag – Ziplock worked best – Later I tucked the top of the bag into my dirty girl gaiters


  • Rain skirt made from a Costco trash compactor bag.  I cut the bottom and added a mini-cord lock to the drawstring to cinch it around my waist. Loved walking in it and it doubled for a clothing piece when I did my laundry in Hanksville.


Ziplock bags on feet, latex rubber gloves, and garbage bag skirt – I won the award for the most hiker trash of the day. Oh ya.
  • Zpacks Solplex tent – This new tent came just in time for this trip. I am super happy with how it handled in wind, rain, blowing sand, and a bit of snow.
    I did set it up at home SEVERAL times before going. Highly recommended, don’t skip this step. Several readers have asked about why I changed from the Skyscape and wanted a comparison.
    -I bought a new tent so that I could give my Skyscape to my son, Silly Chili
    -Both tents weight about the same.
    -Both tents have about the same ease of setting up (again get comfortable at home setting up before a trip)
    -I think the Skyscape has a bit more room on the inside.
    -The Solplex has a higher bathtub, so perhaps if you lived in an area that rains quite a bit, that would be an advantage. If not I have had the Skyscape in rain and it worked.
    -I do think if someone really needed room or were larger and taller, the Zpacks Duplex tent would be the way to go. Lots and lots of room with only a few extra ounces.
Zpacks Solplex Blue Tent
  • Smith glasses with ChromaPop lenses – I have always been a fan of Smith sunglasses, but have never owned their new ChromaPop lenses. I got a super discount on one of the discontinued models online. They are pricey. I am in love. I wear contacts, so my glasses are a critical part of my kit. I loved the clarity, how they worked in both cloudy and sunny days, and I actually could use my phone without taking them off. Win, win.
Chromo Pop Smith lenses

For my complete gear list and a Gossamer Gear discount code, visit my Gear web page.

My part in this duo’s adventure on the Hayduke has ended, BUT be sure to continue following their shenanigans at Drop n’ Roll’s Blog.


  1. Awesome post! Definitely going to look into this trip now. Thx!

  2. Rockin’, I see you’re still rockin’ and rollin’ in the great American West. Your photos are scary good. Are you still just using your cell phone? I just finished spotting my friend Tortilla Tosser in VA, WV, MD and PA as he finishes his 39-year section hike of the AT. Check his photo at http://www.Facebook.com/THRUstory for a chuckle. I’m still enjoying the visit from you and the fam at the Len Foote Hike Inn next year. Someday, I hope to hike with you out west. One of my upcoming trips will be a first-time backpack of Big Bend National Park. Keep an eye on my blog for details.

  3. How was you plantar fasciitis on the trip? Did you take any aids for it? How do your feet feel after the trip?

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      My feet are 100% now with no pain. To keep them that way during the hike, I wore my La Sportiva Bushidos with orthotics, stretched in the morning, at breaks, and before bed, and I massaged my feet in the morning and evening and at noon. I did not need a night sock or compression sock on this trip. At home I am regularly doing stretches and feet strengthening exercises. Sounds like a lot of time and energy, but it has really paid off big time.

  4. Loki/Brian

    You are amazing…positive attitude..
    humor..adaptability. All major ingredients
    in making a succesful journey and a mentally strong drivin individual.
    When I crossed New Mexico last year on the CDT I consructed a liner out of a trash compactor bag. Yours was much better and very creative:) Mine made me feel like I was trying to cross ice.
    May your adventures with wired this summer be rewarding.

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      Walking on ice would not be good. We are really looking forward to hitting the high country this summer. Glad to have you along!

  5. Jon Mathias

    GALLON-sized ziplock bags for socks? You always look as though you have such dainty feet…

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      Now this just makes me laugh. Before having kids and hiking a bizzilion miles I wore a size 8 shoe. I now wear a women’s 10 on my 5′ 2″ body. Not dainty, but I kind of like that I am pulling off the look. 🙂 Love it.

      • High five! I’m a size 10 as well, it made it verrrry hard to find hiking boots in my area (I swear in PA womens feet don’t grow beyond size 9). Unfortunately after I bought them I’ve discovered I prefer hiking in trail runners >_<

  6. The kindness of strangers amazes.

    -I can’t wait to go look at your gear list.

    I’ve never tried tooth powder. But a friend turned me on to mouthwash strips. They don’t even register on a gram scale they are so light. Just have to keep them in a small zip look so they don’t get any moisture in them.

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      Just to make sure…are you using mouthwash as toothpaste? Interesting. Curious. What kind of mouthwash strips?

      • The mouthwash strips I made reference to were actually these: Eclipse Flash Breath Strips – Peppermint (Google for photo). Just put one in your mouth, add a couple drops of water to activate, and begin brushing. I’m very happy with this and it is the lightest option I’ve found. I also use hospital tooth brushes. I think they are designed as single-use but I used one on a 6-day trip and it was still in good shape at the end of the trip. The typical brush is 4.3 grams in the packaging and the strips don’t even register on the gram scale, so less than a half an ounce for a week or even longer probably. I got the tooth brushes from my wife when she was in the hospital, so not exactly sure how to get them. Google “hospital toothbrush” and it is the first photo on the left, white in color. Works great for the intended purpose. Sorry for the long post but hope it helps.

        • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

          Hey I have a couple of those toothbrushes from the dentist. That would be great for shorter backpacks. Thanks for sharing with all the readers!

  7. Great summary! Feeling bad I dissuaded you from a better shoe choice. I just can’t decide with all the water in there too if I’d recommend it or if that would make it worse.

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      Do not feel bad! You might recall I tested quite a few shoes before going just for the sand and all of them did not compare to the comfort and support of my La Sportiva Bushidos. They are amazing shoes, BUT do have very breathable mesh tops. I just bought a couple more pairs on sale at Sierra Trading Post for this summer! Yaaaaaaaaay.

  8. Thanks for the link to the toothpowder! I grew up on it but have had a hard time finding it these last few years. Glad to try a new brand.

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      I really liked this brand, but be warned it has a strong mint flavor. I thought it was perfect for backpacking.

  9. You always have the best photos. This trip sounded like a real bucket-list adventure. Any plans to do more of the Hayduke? (Met you at Hike Inn)

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      Well hello Sniffer! Boy I’ll bet the Hike Inn is VERY busy with the new hiking season starting. It was great meeting you there.

      I definitely would like to go back and hike over the Henry Mountains and explore Capitol Reef National Park. I always love hearing about the photos. 🙂 Thank you!

    • Before I had a chance to order it, I ran across a great toothpowder at Whole Foods: Eco-Dent ExtraBrite Dazzling Mint. Minty with strong baking soda taste. Love it!

  10. Drew Smith

    Really enjoyed the whole series – the highs and the lows and the plans gone astray. It wouldn’t be an adventure if there were no surprises.
    I also discovered tooth powder last year hiking the CT – much better than toothpaste!
    Thanks for the great pix and text, and I’m looking forward to following your next expedition.

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      Thank you Drew. I recently tested the dried toothpaste dots and the Wisk toothbrush. Big fail for me, but the toothpowder really works as a regular toothpaste. I even use the powder as an everyday toothpaste now. Little things can make a difference.

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