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Hunt for Weir Trail

The waitress placed my drink on the table: a neon yellow mimosa with a single raspberry floating on the surface. I wasn't sure if I wanted to drink or not this morning. The previous day had left me quite empty after summiting Arizona's high point, Humphrey's Peak. What was supposed to be a power hike up and run down, turned into a horrible slog of a day with me fighting nausea and dry heaving on the side of the trail. I'm assuming the symptoms were due to the change in altitude (or maybe I'm just that out of shape). I blame Nick for making me run the first quarter mile for my body soon revolted. We did run into prominent ultra-runner Jeff Browning as we approached the summit. Jeff seemed to appear out of thin air as he bounced and glided his way up boulders and loose rock. He passed us, summited and was on his way back down before I was able to go 10 feet it seemed. As we stepped aside for him to pass us once more, I couldn't help but shout his name. He stopped and turned to look back at me. "Big fan of your running!" I blurted. Jeff smiled awkwardly. Oh my god, how lame am I? He surprisingly chatted with us for a few minutes. Thankfully, Nick helped lead most of that conversation as I was still fairly starstruck. I watched him scurry down to the saddle and I powered on toward the top. I wish I could say meeting Jeff Browning gave me the surge of energy right when I needed it most, but alas, the rest of the hike was pretty much just as uncomfortable. We did run the last bit down just before the trailhead. A woman was standing there talking to a few rangers when she turned to me and asked if we had just run up Humphrey's. "Something like that," I said as I waddled back toward the van to rehydrate and rest.

Looking toward Humphrey from the Saddle

Made it!
 

I stared at my drink and eventually succumbed to colorful glass before me. Today's hike will be easy anyway. We finished brunch and drove a short distance to our main event for the day, a 6 mile out and back, flat trail leading to a swimming hole. Nick and I had actually done this hike before back in 2017. We thought it would be a pretty calm way to spend the day after such a big effort on my end from Humphrey's. Once we arrived at the parking lot, we packed our day bags, filled our Nalgene bottles and applied sunscreen as this trail had minimal shade and the temperature was already just above 90°. A dog next to us was even wearing his own sun visor and dog booties to protect his feet from the scorching sand. We sauntered up to the trailhead where we were greeted by Friends of the Forest Rangers in a large tent. Before getting onto trail, the ranger stopped me to ask how much water I had. "My husband and I have about a liter each," I said. Immediately, I was scolded by the woman to his right. "You need at least a gallon to be on this trail!" We explained that we had done this hike before and were not concerned with our water choice."Well I guess we can't stop you from proceeding, but you should know we've already rescued 140 people this season." I had a sneaky suspicion he might be lying to me. I knew the trail itself followed along a meandering river. If somehow someone managed to become dehydrated walking a relatively short distance on a flat trail, they could always drink from the river and fight giardia later. I assumed most rescues were likely due instead from the sketchy cliff jumping that takes place at the swimming hole 3 miles in, but I decided not to continue giving this guy any sense of false power. I said thanks, but no thanks and started along the trail.


True, it was pretty hot, but we were moving quickly and arrived at the swimming area before I had even taken 3 sips of water. Our destination was fairly popular. We heard the thump thump of bass almost a quarter mile before arriving. After pushing past brush and branches, we laid our eyes upon The Crack. Groups of college aged girls sunbathed atop the red rocks. Their boyfriends backflipped off of taller, 40-50ft cliffs trying to impress them. The central cliff leading toward the main pool was probably 30ft tall which was enough to spark a little anxiety, but nothing too intimidating. I sat in the sun while we watched different groups cautiously shuffle their toes to the edge, bargain with friends to go first, and finally squeal just before taking their fateful leap into the depths below. Nick and I jumped a few times as well.



The water was ice cold, a refreshing break from the blazing sun. We found a nice rock to dry out and lounged for a while before Nick made a suggestion. "Why don't we follow the river back to the trailhead? I think it'll join back up with the Weir Trail." While yes, the main trail followed along the river, the last mile and a half splits off to form an upper and lower trail (Weir), but based on the forest map, the Weir Trail did not actually make it all the way to The Crack. I explained to Nick my observation from the map and my concern that we might get stuck swimming back instead. He scoffed at my concerns and asked me where my sense of adventure was. I reluctantly agreed as we packed our bags and began hiking along the river.


We hiked a few steps before approaching our first obstacle, the loss of any semblance of trail. The river instead became hugged by a gentle sloping rock wall that Nick and I precariously scooted against, hoping to not drop ourselves or our bags into the water. Our awkward dance around the rocks continued as Nick beamed in wonder at our tenacity to diverge from the standard trail. Meanwhile, I was concerned that there might not be a trail here for a reason. My watch said we had already gone a mile so I was hopeful we would end up meeting up with the Weir Trail soon. We crossed the river several times, each time one of us thinking we has spotted something that had looked walked upon. I was growing annoyed quickly and began to wonder if it just would be easier to hike back to The Crack or just try to swim with my hands up holding my backpack. After hiking along another path to nowhere, Nick wondered if we were somehow below Weir. He quickly bounded up a steep wall, advising me to wait for him to scope it out. I suddenly heard a loud gasp and saw a creature blocking his path upward, a lone rattlesnake. I gazed in awe at its majestic rattler and was grateful Nick moved so quickly from its lair. My gratitude was short lived when I realized this was becoming a real shit show of a situation trying to find our way back up. "This is exactly why I didn't want to come this way!" I could hear Nick's regret as he apologized, which just made me feel like a bitch. I want to be the person that's always up for an adventure, someone who brings a positive attitude to an obstacle and can think quickly of alternative solutions when they are needed. Instead, I felt like an ugly-hearted person who had turned a lovely day with a curious addition to one filled with frustration and discontent. We must have found the Weir Trail maybe 5 minutes after the rattlesnake encounter. I was still upset at the situation and Nick, but mostly myself. We hiked back in silence as I wondered why I couldn't gather the courage to reciprocate an apology to Nick.


As we neared the trailhead, I noticed a side trail leading down to the river again. We had initially been curious about these side trails on the hike in. I thought this might be a good opportunity to show Nick that I wasn't such an awful adventure buddy after all. I pointed to Nick for him to follow me down. We both exhaled in wonder at the quiet, clear pools of water in front of us. My mood began to shift as I lounged in these heavenly pools, and soon forgot the anxiety of the previous hour. "I'm sorry for being such a brat earlier," I said hesitantly, not wanting to ruin the moment."It's alright, Hans," he said as he watched a tiny crawfish crawl beneath a rock. I could have stayed lounging in my heavenly pool forever, feeling the chilly water run over my legs and the sun warm my face and chest. Finally, Nick proposed we head back. "Maybe you can show those rangers that you even had some water left over," he suggested. Somehow that was enough motivation to knock me back to reality. I said goodbye to my slice of heaven and vowed to return soon. To my great dismay, the rangers were gone by the time we reached the parking lot. "Damn," I sighed. "I wanted to make sure they knew I had enough water." "Maybe next time," Nick said as we walked back to the comfort of our little van.



My private pool


 

After leaving Crack Canyon, we decided to drive back north to make our return trip a little shorter on Memorial Day. We ended up camping in Lake Powell and stopped by Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park on our way back home. I surprisingly took most of my photos of the weekend outside of this particular story recalled above. Most likely due to fear of the camera getting wet. So some of these additional moments are posted below.



View from our campsite looking toward Humphreys Peak

Early morning hot air balloons



Coral Pink Sand Dunes

Sunset heading toward Page, AZ



Sunrise at Lake Powell

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