Painted Canyon Trail, Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Last day at TRNP, decided to take the Painted Canyon Trail. This section of the park is much drier, with fewer flowers, only 14 different species, and many gone to seed with the heat and after the rain I brought with me. There are two trails: the Loop is a nature walk, an easy .9 miles plus whatever side trips you add on, and the 4.2 RT out-and-back Trail.

The Loop had the flowers, and some good views. The longer Trail was much drier, exposed, steep at times, climbing over a fallen tree, over and around your usual assortment of rocks, slides and slumps, but some strange concrete like rocks, and enigmatic holes, 3 feet or more deep, some I couldn’t see the bottom in the shade. What had caused these holes to open? Where there labyrinths hidden underneath?

The RT Trail is poorly marked. At times I wasn’t entirely certain I was on the trail or had been diverted by a better looking buffalo trail. Thankfully, there was a lot of horse droppings and a few footprints in the dirt, indicating that I was on a trail that someone had followed before. There was a lot of sign of buffalo, and at one point, the distinct, strong odor of buffalo, but I couldn’t see him anywhere. The odor dissipated as quickly as it appeared. He must have moved away from me. Fine by me! I was the only one out there on the way out and back.

I had enough water, but didn’t drink enough. When I got back, someone said, “Good Morning,” and my voice cracked while answering. Water is tricky to manage, you feel fine, but you need it before you feel it. My most reliable sign is my voice cracking. That means, I’ve gone too long with too little.

Ten months on the road, time to head back to Michigan for family and friends. It’s getting crowded on the road and in the parks, time to settle down for a while, or not, already have two trips planned for July, and one in August – gotta seize the opportunities when they arrive! Probably pass through the Upper Peninsula in Michigan and try to stop there for a while before settling in by a Michigan lake for a couple months.

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