Monday, August 28th, 2017
Firs thing in the morning I go to the visitor center to ask about back-country camping. They take my contact info and give me a permit to go down the "Wilderness Trail". The ranger says a cougar has been sighted near Echo Crater, the place where they recommend camping. She gives me the rundown on cougar encounters: make yourself appear as big as you can, yell but don't scream, if attacked don't play dead, fight back with everything you have. Okay then. Let's hope the cougar has followed the deer up to the mountains for the summer. I get the permit for two days starting tomorrow.
On the agenda today is hiking around the park attractions that are accessible by foot. It is extremely hot, even more so walking on the black basalt. I leave the campground carrying 4 liters of water in my day pack.
At the parking lot for the caves trail I meet Andy from New York City, traveling on a Triumph 800cc dual-sport. The same bike that one of the guys I met at Hell's Canyon had. We walk some of the caves together, telling stories of our recent travels. He is headed to Bonneville Flats next. I hadn't thought of visiting the salt flats, maybe I'll give it a look.
I arrive back at the campground with no water and thirsty as hell. Hiking 7 miles in this heat is a chore. Over the course of today I will have drunk 8 liters of water. This is going to be tricky with back country travel. Carrying a full backpack, realistically I can only carry two gallons of water. Given what I drank today that's only going to get me through two days hiking and one night camping.
After dinner I ride the motorcycle out to the furthest parking lot on the loop and hike the "Tree Molds" trail, a walk of just about 2 miles round-trip. It's a nice spot to watch the sunset.
Stats for hike (Strava data):
Miles hiked: 7.0mi
Elevation gain: 806 feet
Moving time: 3:35:26