Around midnight last night I was awoke from a sound sleep by a pack of coyotes howling not very far down the canyon from my campsite. I must say it is a rather eerie sound when you are all alone and it is dark outside. Other than the howling they never came close to my campsite.
I got started a little later today as I only had 21 miles to make to the end of the ODT. It was very obvious that the temperature was going to rise higher than it has been from the moment I started hiking today. My cool weather had ended. I cruised along the route over to the Painted Canyon. Wow! This place is amazing. Below are the requisite photos which do not do it justice. I wondered why rock climbers don’t come over here and climb but when you get up and close it become very apparent that the rock will crumble right underneath you!
Continuing on down the canyon you follow a drainage up and out of the Painted Canyon. This was tougher than I expected it to be because it was littered with large boulders. In a couple of cases I had to scale the surrounding hillside to get around them. As the sun continued to rise this made it a project getting out of the canyon. Finally after and hour or so I was out and in my way to Sheephead Ridge. Along the way the water at South Sheephead Spring at OC192 was flowing really well. It was lunch time and I was doing great on time so I took an extended lunch and took in the view on the ridge. This was a great time to reflect the past 34 days on the ODT. I could see the Steens snow covered peaks way off in the distance where I had just been a little over two weeks ago. The ODT certainly challenged me physically and mentally. However, I grew on the ODT as a person. When pushed in uncomfortable situations I discovered that I can overcome and thrive as an individual. But the most incredible part of the ODT. For me was the solitude. If my math is correct, I had 27 days that I did not see or speak to another human face to face. That is a lot of time to reflect and think about what I want to do in the future.
Continuing down the trail I stopped by Rookie Spring at OC195 which had pretty gross looking water this time of year. From here it was was about 6 miles to the finish. There are two routes you can take down to Owyhee State Park. I took the road as the cross country route looked incredibly steep. I must say I was very happy with my decision to take the road down. After seeing it in person steep is an understatement. Eventually I made it down to the bottom of the canyon and walked into Indian Creek campground at 4:00pm local time. I walked out to the final point where some large rocks stood. I had made it. 34 days from start to finish my Oregon Desert Trail thru-hike was complete! It was one of the most special events in my life. Now it was time to face the modern world even though I really do not want to go back to it.
I ended up waiting four and a half hours for my ride to arrive. This gave me plenty of time to sort out my gear and to start preparing for re-entry in the modern world. Note to future ODT thru-hikers: NO cellphones work at the Owyhee State Park AND the pay phones are also out of order! There is no communication with the outside world unless you get a hold of the park ranger for an emergency. You should also note the drive into Owyhee State Park is a long, narrow and twisty road that has no guardrail and steep drop offs into the reservoir. If you pickup is uncomfortable with these driving conditions like mine was do not have them pick you up!
I will post an epilogue on my ODT thru-hike along with a gear review of what worked and what did not work in the coming days. Thank you to all who read this blog and I hope future ODT hikers gain some insight into what is required to hike the Oregon Desert Trail.