Bryce Canyon and the Wave

December 12, 2016  •  1 Comment

PB170513Police Dummy When we drove into Kanab we noticed a police cruiser parked on the side of the road checking for speeders. Luckily, we had learned our lesson earlier on and the cruise control was permanently set to the speed limit. After another short night, we were up early to head to the visitor's centre to apply for permits to the wave. Upon leaving the hotel, we noticed the same police cruiser parked in the same spot. As it turned out, the police cruiser was occupied by a blow up doll dressed up as a policeman. I thought it was hilarious and took a few photos of the police dummy. 

The wave is a unique sandstone rock formation located near the border of Utah and Arizona. It is extremely hard to get a permit to hike to the wave as they only allow 20 people per day. They sell 10 permits online in advance and other 10 are sold as part of a lottery for the next day. There were 36 application put in for the 10 lottery permits. Each application could have up to 6 people on it. So, theoretically they could have drawn 2 numbers and that would have taken the 10 permits. Every application was given a number which corresponded with a bingo ball. We entered the lottery with no expectation to win and really it would have been better not to because we still had to drive 4.5 hrs back to Las Vegas to catch our flight. As it happened though, the first number that was drawn was ours! So that meant, we won the lottery! Well, we won the right to go hiking early the next morning :)

IMG_0968The Wave lottery at the visitor centre IMG_0968The Wave lottery at the visitor centre We had the rest of the day to do our original plan which was spend the day hiking around Bryce Canyon. We drove North for 1.5 hours until we reached Bryce Canyon National Park. We were starting to get worried as it started to snow and well, I don't think the challenger would fare well in slippery weather. The temperature outside was also starting to drop fairly quickly. We arrived at the Bryce Canyon visitor centre and it was freezing outside! Plus it was really windy which made it 10 times worse. I put on every bit of warm clothing I had and also had to buy a pair of gloves from the visitor centre. Bryce Canyon is one of those places that is hard to photograph as it is so much better in person. The colours are similar to other areas of Utah but it is the rock formations that make it unique. We walked along the rim of the canyon to take in the expanse but could not stay in one place too long because of the cold. It was extremely windy out which plunged the temperature to around -15 °C. We were hoping to do a couple of hikes in the canyon but were worried about the cold. We decided to try one of the shorter ones that looped down to the bottom of the canyon and then we would re-assess. It turned out that the wind was more intermittent once down in the canyon and once moving we started to warm up. I am glad that we stuck it out because the hikes we did in the canyon were fantastic. You can do Bryce Canyon in a day and it is well worth it.

PB170521Trying to stay warm on the rim of Bryce Canyon PB170520Trying to stay warm on the rim of Bryce Canyon PB170530View from the rim of Bryce Canyon PB170530View from the rim of Bryce Canyon PB170551Bryce Canyon PB170551Bryce Canyon IMG_0983Bryce Canyon

It was getting dark and even more cold so we called it a day and went in search of dinner. We ended up stopping at the park grocery store which had a hotel and restaurant attached to it. They were advertising buffet dinner so I was already in at that point :) It actually ended up being one of the best dinners I had on the entire trip. Perhaps because it was 5pm and everything was fresh but I was impressed and only $20 or so. We rested up for quite a while and took full advantage of the "all you can eat". As we drove back to Kanab we watched the temperature gauge in the car dip down to 9°F which is -12° C! I was not looking forward to a cold "Wave" the next day.

So we wanted to be at the trail head at sunrise which meant an early wake up, and an hour drive. We arrived at the parking lot at 6am but it was still too dark to start hiking. We had headlamps but since the hike relied on photo references, we needed to see what was in the distance. We were told the only reliable way to navigate the trail was by photographs of landmarks supplied by the rangers. Maps were not reliable and GPS and compasses were not accurate due to the iron content in the ground. So we waited until almost 7am before it was light enough to start. The only good thing about that was it warmed up to 0°C so it seemed relatively balmy compared to the previous day.

We were the first ones to hit the trail out of the 20 people allowed. It was an awesome view with the sun peaking over the horizon. The landscape was similar to what we saw in the Valley of Fire in Nevada but I guess the "Wave" is what makes this area unique. After a few moments of indecision trying to find our landmarks, we found ourselves at the Wave around 8:30 in the morning. The wave was cast in shade for a least another hour or two but nothing we could do about that. So is the Wave worth the effort to get the permit? In my opinion, yes with a caveat. If you have time to explore the area and you haven't seen that type of landscape before then I would definitely say yes. But you can see similar landscapes in Zion National Park and even the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada is a quick and cheap alternative. But considering how hard it is to get a permit and if you happen to get one, definitely do it cause you may never get the chance again. It would have been nice to spend a few more hours exploring past the Wave and around Coyote Buttes.

After having a bite to eat and taking numerous photos, we started the hike back to the car. We started passing other hikers making their way out to the Wave. We made good time on the way back and were on the road by about 11:30am. That gave us a little buffer to get back to Vegas which we actually needed as it took us about 5 hrs to get to the airport. We wanted to stop at a little Argentinean deli/restaurant where we ate at our first night so Marcelo could bring home some Argentinean food for his family but unfortunately traffic was bad and we were afraid we would be cutting it too close. We also still had to drop off the car and re-organise our luggage to get underweight.

So that was the end of our whirlwind hiking trip to Nevada, Arizona and Utah. It was well worth it and there is so many other places in the area to go back to. While BC has so many beautiful mountains and pristine lakes to marvel at, it was nothing like we saw in the Southwest USA. It's a landscape that is unlike anywhere we can see in BC (that I am aware of). That is what makes it one of my favourite places to hike and makes me always want to go back.

PB180573Sunrise at the Wave trailhead PB180588Sunrise at the Wave trailhead PB180618On the trail to the Wave PB180600On the trail to the Wave PB180629Surfing the Wave PB180666The Wave PB180638Sitting on the Wave PB180677Sitting on the Wave PB180695The hike back to the car

PB130034Marcelo's ride

What happens in Vegas.....


Comments

Maria(non-registered)
. I need to add Bryce Canyon and the Wave to my list of places to visit.
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