December 19, 2013
I began my final day on the trail shortly before sunrise. I discovered that I had camped a mere few feet from the trail.
There was a beautiful sunrise from afar.
As I hiked I found that there was an plenty of water on the trail.
Unfortunately I soon lost the trail went off the intended route. I journeyed up and down many ridges. The photo below looks back on the largest descent of the off trail excursion.
After most of the morning I finally found established trail and a cairn on a ridge that was certainly the Dodson. I filled up some water from Fresno Spring and continued on, knowing that the remaining mileage was still quite high. On the way I had my final view of Elephant Tusk and felt like it was laughing at me, as I was still so close to it.
The were great mountainous views as I hiked the Dodson.
After some time the trail turned and I could see where I would soon journey.
I soon was on the Juniper Canyon Trail.
The first half of the trail was very easy and flat with spectacular views.
As I drove away, I had to stop and take a final picture by the main entrance.
Overall I am feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to complete this hike. My desert hiking experience prior to the adventure was quite limited. During this short adventure, I was torn up and scratched up more than I was on my entire Colorado Trail adventure. I did wear some snake gaiters when I went off trail and they helped protect my legs, but lots of sharp vegetation found its way through and into my light trail running shoes.
The temperatures were mild and the first night was the only time I believe it was below freezing. Also, the views were not inhibited by clouds and there was no rain on my hike. It did actually rain the night the that I left, so I am glad that I was prepared for the possibility of rain during this hike. Making the decision to throw in a few extra water bottles just before my hike, was probably the best decision I made. Even though water turned out to be frequent, having a capacity greater than I gallon certainly eased my thirst. I would recommend probably even a little more than I took, somewhere around 1.5 gallons.
I would like to thank those who have come before and reported on hikes to this wonderful, remote national park. Without these wild experiences of others, I would not have been able to design this route and enjoy experiences off the spectacular Outer Mountain Loop.