It was a cold start to the morning, when I finally decided to get up the sun had already reached the valley and it was still only 39. I made some oatmeal and coffee, neither were terribly satisfying but both did their job. As I started to clean up I realized that I was missing trash from the previous night. I have a system for dealing with stinky trash at camp if I can't burn it and I was sure of where I had placed the previous evening's wrapper. Strange. As I started to put things away I realized I was also missing the top to my JetBoil and I know where I left that too.
Now, in the desert with no wind, you hear everything at night, especially when you realize how far away you are from help. My ears were would have heard anything last night I thought, and yet some thief has come into my camp and robbed me. Yet there are no prints near my cases. I gave up my search and finish breaking camp. As I stood there brushing my teeth I see the black cover a ways away, next to it is the wrapper. Both have been scratched and picked to death. Crows are apparently very stealthy. I had a laugh about it and was happy to have my cover back.
I had been on the fence about which direction to take to get out. On one hand I could go back the way I came where everything was familiar, or I could go the way I originally wanted which was listed as much more aggressive road in the park map. (very handy, btw) In fact it wasn't until I got to a place called "tea kettle junction" and stopped to look at my map I made my choice. There was a white 4x4 there with an older man and his wife. I didn't think he had come from the direction I wanted to go, but was surprised when he offered information on the road. (Book by it's cover again) He said the the road I wanted to take was worse than the one I took yesterday and that he turned around at the first mountain pass because it was too narrow. Something about this exchange actually made me feel more comfortable and I started on the new path without any more concern.
What my friend forgot to tell me was that the first several miles were very loose gravel followed by short periods of deep sand. Sadly with a dead camera I was only able to capture some video and these few pictures from my phone:
Well as it turns out the track was some of the most fun riding I've had yet and I was sad to finally be back on blacktop. You'll have to wait for the video, but it's amazing where these bikes can take us.
One last detail, although all I have is a screencap of him, I spotted this little guy on the way back to Furnace Creek. I think it's a coyote but I'm not sure. He wasn't aggressive, but he wasn't too afraid of me either. Cute little guy.