Disconnecting in the Deserts Of The National Parks
Running away to the desert might not sound like the ideal vacation or work trip, especially in July but for this photographer it is a bucket list trip. It is not often that I can truly sever the ties to my computer or cell phone. We all have excuses for why we are connected but finding a great excuse to run away is even better! For me my main excuse is that I need to check out and get back to what brought me to this point. I love landscape photography, but have yet to tackle desert photography. This years check out location and photography location is truly a desert miracle. If you have never heard of it you are in for a very special treat!
GETTING A PERMIT
The first miracle of nature lies along the border of Arizona and Utah. It is extremely special in that only 20 permits are issued to hikers each day. For years I have been watching and the dates go to other hikers and nature lovers and still I kept trying. My goal was to get a permit at the end of the rainy season but before the desert heat set in. In this goal I failed, miserably! When I received my permit packet it came with a special notice warning me of my certain death, maybe this is a bit of an exaggeration but you can see in the picture that the heat was nothing to be scoffed at.
PREPARING FOR THE TRIP
I began my training for this trip by walking in the heat of the day and staying away from carbonated and caffeinated beverages. How much I missed coffee is not to be ignored, but the ability to survive this hike was my top priority. Where I live in Northern California the high temperatures have been hitting around 100 degrees. As you can see in the photo I was warned that 110 degrees was normal and that the hear energy would make it even hotter. I was determined to have a successful trip. I purchased some lightweight long pants and a SPF 50 long sleeve moisture wicking shirt to keep the sun off of my skin. I also packed sun block and 4.5 liters of water (4 liters was highly recommended).
I also brought an MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) from my military days as my source of meal for the day. How much I don’t miss those I can barely begin to express. The MRE is a perfect calorie replacement for our day and it is compact and it’s shell makes for the perfect waste collection container.
CONSERVATION AND NOT GETTING LOST
Whatever you pack in you must pack out and the conservation by the hikers who visit this site is amazing as no matter where we hiked we never saw any trash or graffiti. Things lacking for this area are trails and cell signal. The Bureau of Land Management information packet recommended a compass (and the ability to use it) and a GPS. Knowledge of using them is also highly recommended. The pamphlet included some terrain features that we would need to identify in order to successfully reach the Wave rock formation. These were very helpful as were reading the instructions completely before beginning.
We had our packs with our water, food, maps, sunblock, and most importantly camera gear! Off we set down what appeared to be a goat trail. A few footprints and missing brush let us know that we were on the right path. The next landmark was the sandy wash out area. We followed that for about a half mile before heading uphill towards the buttes. It was mostly up hill continuously from there. When we started the temperature was around 80 degrees. We kept climbing and ensuring that we were headed the right direction. As we climbed so did the temperatures.
NO ONE FOR MILES
Matching up images and taking photos of what things looked like as we passed them ensured a successful exit from the Wave. The desert is not friendly and water is not available passed the parking lot so keeping hydrated was essential. As we hiked out the lack of human contact was so peaceful and really made us appreciate the beauty around us.
Upon arriving at the 200 yard mark from the Wave formation there is a steep sandy ascent. Once you climb the hot sand you are welcomed by nature into this amazing sandstone formation. It is beautiful, all the layers of color and you can feel the strong wind as it moves over, through, and around the formation. This is truly an amazing creation to behold.
We arrived, hiked the formation as well as the Wave 2, The Big Mac, and decided to skip the climb to Melody arch. Taking breaks in the limited shade and enjoying lunch while hearing the wind whistle across the land was a very magical experience.
I hope that everyone takes time to find their own piece of nature to escape to. The National Park system is designed for the preservation of our nations greatest treasures. Grab the family and explore what is in your own backyard, give or take a few thousand miles!
For more information about Coyote Buttes visit: http://www.blm.gov/az/st/en/arolrsmain/paria/coyote_buttes.html