Monday, February 28, 2005

05-13 Page AZ, Kanab Utah, the WAVE

Arizona, Utah
Page, AZ
Kanab, Utah
The Wave

Week 13 of 52
June 27-3

After having met yet another lovely couple, this time from N Calif., Clayton and Jeanne, I prepared to head down off the Kaibab Plateau. But first, I discovered I had a flat tire on the camper. It had somehow gotten damaged on the inside sidewall and I had about a six inch tear. After replacing it, I was ready to head out.

I got a campsite at the Crazy Jug motel/Rv campground in Fredonia, right across the border from Utah. My friend Dave joined me and we spent a day touring southern Utah. We visited the Glen Canyon Dam which is the second largest dam in the US. Hover of course being the larger. Glen Canyon Dam came in just shy of being first in many aspects of dam building. The size of the lake, the amount of concrete used, etc. It was still a great tour.

We had lunch in Page, a town created from nothing to aid in the building of the dam. Later, we went to Lake Powell which of course was created by the dam and had a great swim. Everyone said it was going to be cold, but we both found it refreshing. Even though it really doesn’t have a beach like those in Fla. The bottom was a bit clayish and mucky and we had to watch out for the prickly sage brush back on shore. Ouch. But seeing all the houseboats and the jet skiers eager to begin a big holiday weekend, with a background of multi-colored mountains and hidden canyons along the lakes boundaries, we had gotten a head start on everyone.

Oh, we also went to the Antelope Canyon, which is on Navajo Land. A parking fee and $15 for a fun ride on the back of a truck added to the short ride to the site. Antelope is noted for being one of the most beautifully photographed slot canyons in the southwest. A native Navajo guide leads the tour with plenty of time to explore the canyon and take pictures. You know I took tons!

The Wave………………………………....................................

Dave and I were able to sign up for the BLM site, The Wave. This is a very hard to get hike, out to a sandstone formation called the Wave. The next day, we headed out to the site which is about half way between Kanab and Page. It’s very remote, having to drive down a long dirt road, past many washouts. You wouldn’t want to get stuck here as the area can flood in an instant during a summer downpour.

After signing in at the trail head, only 20 people max are permitted in this sensitive area, we began our three mile hike down a dried out wash. Unfortunately, there were three trails and we headed down the wrong one from the start. After backtracking about a mile, we were finally on the correct trail. We had a good set of instructions with full color pictures of what to look for as we hiked over old mining roads, through sand dunes covered with wild flowers, Juniper and sage, finally getting to the sandstone mountains we were to traverse for a couple more miles.

The heat started to become intense as we hiked up and down and across the rock formations, already showing signs of the wave. Although we were well prepared with lots of water and snacks to aid in keeping hydrated, eventually the heat became too much for me. Dave was great to have along and recognized the signs that it was time to turn back. It was my decision and I felt horrible that we didn’t get a chance to see this amazing natural formation. Dave did climb up one more hill and with a set of binoculars, was able to see the Wave, off in the distance.

The trip back along the sandstone rock formations was easier, knowing were heading back to the car. The sun and heat continued to beat down on us, only an occasional breeze to relieve the intense heat. We passed a German family that didn’t’ appear to be very well equipped for the hike. The young, 16 year old son was dressed in the long surfer shorts, no shirt, and I don’t think he was even wearing a hat or proper hiking boots.

We continued our trek across and down the sandstone formations and reached the wash, but couldn’t determine which direction to go. We had come down off the steep mountain ahead of where we should be. After a bit more backtracking, I was able to find the old mining road and we continued our trek back to the parking lot. A good mile and a half further.

At this point, I was becoming exhausted from the heat. The water and snacks no longer doing their duty. Dave stayed with me and helped encourage me to take as many breaks as I needed, as I began to grow more tired and weak from the intense heat and hike we were on. I rested many times to gather enough strength to continue. I could tell that my body was not working on all cylinders.

As we got closer to the end, I had to hand over my backpack to Dave and he doused me with some of the precious water we had to help cool me down. My chest began to feel tight and breathing became more labored.

Finally, the Trail head was in sight and Dave, after making sure I was still ok, hurried ahead to get the car started and get the A/C cooling the car. After what seemed like the slowest, most difficult final 150 steps I every had to make, I arrived at the car. I had made it back and was safe.

The drive back into Kanab found me gradually getting my vital signs back to normal, with some difficulty being able to focus and light being very bright and difficult for me to look out at the surrounding scenery.

The day had been an eventful one, with missed signals to various turns on the trail. The beginning of a hike that started with enthusiasm and a quick step, to finally relief that I had survived an intense and difficult hike.

I didn’t see the wave, but I did experience a day that showed me how difficult our forefathers had it, heading out west by wagon train. Trying to find a better life out west. Walking beside their wagons filled with their life’s possessions, finally leaving many items on the sides of the trail, just hoping to survive.

Had Dave not taken my backpack for the last mile or so, I too was ready to drop it and continue the trek, hoping to make it to safety.

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