WASU Part 1: Sage to Pine

A whirlwind start to the first phase of my journey: I had to catch my connecting flight from Salt Lake City to Cedar City. And I barely caught it!

But this whirlwind start has shown a theme that only five days into my journey is prevalent: people are intrigued, supportive, and congratulatory.  The flight attendant and I had a conversation about the walk that was being attempted.  She thought that a person in his 40s saying “The Hell with it” was an admirable endeavor.

And it was a conversation that would repeat in the past few days. With people from the gas station clerk when I picked up last minute supplies to the college student who gave me a hitch to the border. And others.

I’ve called it the gift of time before. And having been on the traditional path only a month ago, I know how precious the gift is and to savor it. And I think others realize the value of the gift, too.

Within half an hour of sticking my thumb out, I received a ride to the Nevada/ Utah line.

An isolated area surrounded by sage and low hills.

I paused for a semi-obligatory start photo, thanked Julian for the ride, and took off on a jeep track.

The first day set the tempo for the next couple of days with a mix of jeep and cross-country routes.

Not a place known for hiking. Single track was scarce.

I did see one fellow hiker, however. 😉

The sagebrush terrain continued until the site of the historic Meadow Mountain massacre.

Then the terrain changed. The start of the Pine Valley Mountains was reached.

The first part was rugged with no defined hiking trails. But they were an unexpected gem.

Slow going. But striking.

But some jeep track was reached and then some well maintained and used single track.

The tempo of the walk had changed. I was simply walking again.

The fall colors were prevalent. Red maples and yellow abounded with red rock as a backdrop.

I soon reached New Harmony. Though the post office was closed by thirty minutes, I was pleasantly surprised to see the two members of the staff exit the small building. They graciously let me grab my packet of maps and food. We chatted, and they were intrigued by the journey and told me to be safe. And, as a bonus, I had a letter waiting for me. With Facebook and email being so prevalent, a simple hand written letter brings a smile to my face. True trail magic!

I am now back in Cedar City. The town is only twenty minutes away by car. An opportunity presented itself to grab a shower (my first since last Sunday in Colorado!), do laundry, and to rest a bit. I will skip the more expensive town of Springfield and make my way straight through Zion National Park starting tomorrow.

Red rock country awaits!

Read part two.

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6 years ago

We will be driving from St George to Torrey-ish on Tuesday, if you need something. (Capitol Reef hiking Wednesday. Staying at Little Egypt Wednesday and Thursday nights. Going to GJ Friday afternoon.) Hopefully you have my contact info, if you need anything. Hike on! Deb

Clay Bonnyman Evans
6 years ago

Right on, Mags. The journey through that part of the world is one I have a feeling I’d love. Congratulations for straying from the traditional path—I credit you with sparking my first stirrings of interest in long-distance hiking, all those years ago when you did the CDT.

Wendy Durst
Wendy Durst
6 years ago

That tarantula… Yowza! Keep on having fun, and thanks for letting us live vicariously, Paul!

6 years ago

Thank you for sharing. That tarantula is beautiful! And all the colors.