Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Wave/Coyote Buttes, Utah

It’s not easy to get to the Wave, but it’s definitely worth the effort. After winning the lottery Friday, we were called to the BLM desk to pay our $7/person, and given a car permit, a permit I had to attach to my backpack, and a packet of instructions, including GPS coordinates and color photographs of landmarks to help us find our way.

The first challenging part was the drive to the Wire Pass trailhead, the starting point of the hike. We drove 25 miles west on 89 towards Kanab, then turned south onto House Rock Road, “a graded dirt road passable by 2WD passenger cars”. It looks like it’s been awhile since the road was graded, and there were lots of holes and rocks, so it took us over 30 minutes to travel the 8.5 miles to the trailhead. We made it with the car intact, and signed in at the trail log.

We walked down a rocky wash for the first half mile, then there was a sign to turn right on a sandy trail. That was the only sign, as the Coyote Buttes area is part of the Paria Canyon-Vemillion Cliffs Wilderness, which means the BLM is not allowed put up any signs or markers. Other hikers have erected cairns, or small piles of rock to mark the route, but the BLM woman said they are supposed to knock them down when they go out to patrol the area, so we shouldn’t depend on them.

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The next section is a very steep, sandy climb to the top of a ridge. It was hard to walk on but easy to follow, since there were plenty of footprints in the sand. We were followed and stopped by a ranger who checked our permit. A short time later we saw her interrogating a Japanese couple who obviously did not have a permit, and appeared to be getting a citation.

This is where the fun began, as most of the rest of the hike is over slickrock, so there are no footprints to follow. We stopped many times to look at the pictures and landmarks to help find our way, and to take pictures. It was much easier hiking on the rocks, but we were walking on some pretty steep inclines at times. Even though it is called slickrock, it is anything but slick. The soles of your shoes stick well and there is no danger of sliding down the rock.

Some photos we took along the way.

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We then had to descend into one more wash, climb up another sand dune (ugh!), and 3 miles and an hour and 45 minutes later, we arrived at the Wave, really just a large sandstone ravine. But it is incredible what water, sand, and wind has carved out over millions of years.

It is truly an amazing place. We could not believe the swirls and colors in the rock. We spent about an hour and a half eating lunch, exploring, climbing up on the huge rock formations surrounding the Wave, and taking lots of pictures. Of course, 18 of the 20 permit holders were there at the same time. And 14 were foreign tourists!

Here are a few photos. If you want to see all that we took , click here.

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The hike back out was easier, since we were going downhill on most of the sandy areas. We got a little confused at one point and took a wrong turn, but we figured it out pretty quickly, and enjoyed the beautiful scenery.


We were tired and it was another long, slow 8.5 mile drive out on the dirt road, but if you get a chance, do The Wave!