"WE KNEW IT WASN'T a very politically correct name to put on a desert trail," says Moab, Utah, resident Mike Coronella. "It's not that we advocate vandalism, but some people truly do have passion for these areas." The 41-year-old environmentalist is talking about the Hayduke Trail, a new, unofficial 812-mile footpath, which links six national parks in southern Utah and northern Arizona.
Coronella, along with 35-year-old Joe Mitchell, a fly-fishing guide from Park City, Utah, patched the trail together during a dozen reconnaissance trips over an eight-year span. Using existing trails, cow paths, dirt roads, and washes, they created the route and named it in honor of George Washington Hayduke III, the infamous fictional saboteur in Edward Abbey's 1975 novel The Monkey Wrench Gang. In March, Coronella and Mitchell will begin their inaugural through-hike, which begins in Arches and ends in Zion, traversing Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Grand Canyon national parks, as well as Grand StaircaseEscalante National Monument and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. They expect to be gone for 94 days.
What would Abbey's principal monkey-wrencher think of a trail named after him? "Old Hayduke didn't like trails," says Doug Peacock, 62, Abbey's inspiration for the character. "Real adventure takes place off the trail; it's a bushwhack of the mind and body. But it's a nice gesture, nonetheless." For trail details, visit www.deepdesert.com.