The wind flapped our tents and tarps all night long and the full moon made the night seem like dawn for most of the hours we all tried to sleep. In the morning we were all a little blah with the lack of sleep, but the day promised mostly downhill terrain and the epic painted canyon and three finger gulch… A bit of incentive to get going.
I overshot one of our first waypoints, but hiking a parallel route gave me the opportunity to share route wisdom: you don’t have to follow the exact waypoints…the beauty of a route is that there is no one way, the waypoints are a suggestion of travel… so now let’s figure out how to reconnect! We found a road that wasn’t on the maps that led right to the next water source, and in fact I think we saved .2 or .3 miles with the altered path.
We got to painted canyon late morning and soon we were taking off packs and down-climbing multiple pour overs. Huh, I didn’t know we were in store for the scrambling, but it was fun even though it did take us a long time to get through. The colors were amazing and once the canyon opened up it was simply astounding. I want to come back with a week of food and just explore.
I felt bad hurrying us along as the area was so epic, but we needed to keep moving to get to camp. We were definitely not going at my usual pace, and I was finding it was a little challenging to figure out how fast we were going to get through some sections.
But we motored after a nice extended break, and even though we were supposed to be walking a cross country section, the wild (feral) horse and cow trails were so well defined it seemed like a real trail. The late afternoon was all downhill, and once we got to Three Fingers Gulch and the canyon choked up with rocks below the towering walls of rock, we were all feeling the miles. There were rock corrals and walls going up the steep canyon walls, and it was definitely one of the coolest areas we’ve hiked. A highlight of the ODT for sure.
Right before we got to our camp spot where Tim had once again driven in, it started to rain a cold rain. We hurried to see he had started a fire and had a big shade tarp up that everyone was huddled under.