Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Wave, Arizona

After 4 days I figured we needed a change of tactics so I asked Cheryl to go in and do the lottery at the BLM office.    Whad'ya know...We won. Today is errands, and tomorrow we get to go see one of the world's unique geological wonders.
Standing in the Wave

At the BLM office they gave us our permit, took our $14, and handed us a two page “How To Get To The Wave” instruction. We could go in anytime after midnight tonight, and stay until midnight tomorrow night. We were on the trail at 7:30 the next morning. The Wave is located in an area of Arizona, technically part of the BLM's Grand Staircase / Escalante recreation area I guess, known as North Coyote Buttes. The handout gave us 6 points along the route starting from the Wire Pass trailhead that we had used to get into Buckskin Gulch. For each point they gave us GPS coordinates, directions from the last point, and a picture of what we should see at each point. Sounds overly complicated, but you would never find the wave without it as there is no marked trail and it is invisible until you walk into it. 100 feet away and you still would never see it if you didn't know it was there. It's very well hidden. The trail is about 2.5 miles long and takes about an hour and a half of moderate hiking to find it. The wave is an area of sedimentary sandstone that is laid down in the most astonishing forms in a rainbow of colors.  It is like a land of taffy turned into rock.

The Wave looks different from every angle you view it and the colors change with the sun as the day passes.

 We spent an hour or so wandering around Wave and it's immediate vicinity.

 The Feature known as "The Wave" is quite small.  Many people hike all the way in, take a few pictures, then hike back out. They never see what else is there.  It covers maybe an acre or two.

As we started to wander around the edges we saw that North Coyote Buttes holds many surprises if you look for them.
A scant 1⁄4 mile through the wave area and we found what is known as Wave 2. Wave 2 is a much more heavily striated area of sandstone. As you can see Cheryl is actually walking along a ridge of sandstone made up of many layers, but raised above the intermediary sections, also made up of many many thin layers of stone. This much coarser wave covered an area a bit larger than the Wave.

Wherever we went we found fascinating features in red, yellow, orange, purple, maroon, and brown.  Great swirls of rock led down into tiny little canyons then out into another world of color.  we huked for a couple of hours, stopped, ate lunch, hiked for a couple more hours, stopped for a snack, hiked some more, and still kept finding strange and bizarre formations.

We think these are fossils of some sort.  They were all over one section.

Colors and textures varied wildly from one section to another.

The Wave is certainly a place we will never forget, and believe me we have enough pictures to help us remember. We feel privileged once again to have the opportunity to see some of the wonders we have seen here in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona. Along with the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Yellowstone, the public lands of America have much to offer if you get off the beaten path.

You could take this picture every hour and it would be different every time.
As we hiked back out the three miles to the trailhead we marveled at wondrous things we have been privileged to see in our travels.  "The Wave" is certainly one of the best.
We've got a couple of days to go on our dispersed camping permit so next we'll step out our door and follow a bit of "The Old Spanish Trail", then visit the "Nautilus"

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