We decided to stop for a snack break since it was cool underground. We each ate two snack bars and drank plenty of water…at least the packs were getting lighter.
When we’d asked the ranger the day before about this hike she said she usually tells people to go as far as the Joint Trail and then decide if they want to continue or go back. It seemed that we were almost halfway anyway so why go back?
We decided to finish the loop so we headed out of the slots toward the jeep trail that the loop follows briefly. It was HOT when we came back out into the open. We had plenty of ice water left so we weren’t concerned.
We passed a couple of guys with their truck at the end of the jeep trail. It was easy walking except for a couple of stretches that we were amazed that a truck could go. It was quite scenic but we kept up a good pace.
The trail eventually leaves the jeep road and starts to make its way back up. We know that it is only 1.6 miles to the Overlook then 2.9 miles back to the parking lot. We were holding up well but the heat was on and there were no clouds and little shade.
Now the trail became a little more interesting. To get back up to the overlook it winds its way up through a confusing section of hoodoos and small arroyos.
In many places it was not obvious where the next cairn was that marked the trail. We found ourselves on our hands and knees at times scrambling up or across slickrock
We stopped more and more frequently to rest and drink plenty of water. Finally we reached the Overlook… the last 1.6 miles had taken us over an hour and a half.
We weren’t looking forward to the last 2.9 miles to the parking lot. We knew it wasn’t an easy trail but it was downhill, at least.
We chugged a bunch of water and set out. Knowing we were on the final leg headed to an air conditioned car put a little wind in our sails.
We made pretty good time and, in an hour or so we were glad to see the car at the bottom of the last downhill stretch. Our legs were tired and our feet sore but we were proud of completing those difficult 11 miles.
It only took us 8 hours but we did it!
We drank lots of water and enjoyed watching a storm roll in as we drove back to camp. Glad we weren’t out there in the open with the lightning coming down. Got back to camp and realized we were famished. We made a couple of sandwiches with the rest of the cold cuts.
The idea of a shower appealed to Sharon so we headed out to the Needles Outpost to buy her one. Gary gave her their campers discount since we seemed to becoming regular customers. Peter watched the stormy sky and dozed in the car while Sharon showered. She declared the showers very hot and awesome. We were glad to know of Needles Outpost. We went back to the campsite and decided we were still hungry so we made the mac & cheese on the little single burner stove.
As we were finishing up a storm blew into the campsite with gusty winds, rain and lightning. We stashed our gear in the alcove and beat a hasty retreat to the car. The wind was gusting so hard around our hoodoo that the tent looked like it was going to become a kite!
At the end of the storm we were treated to a double rainbow over the campground.
We had a small fire but the thought of lying down in the tent and stretching out the back was too much to resist. We ended up going to bed at 7:30 PM and slept until nearly 7 AM the next morning. I guess we were tired!