Wednesday, March 15
We headed out at our usual time, 10:30. At first I thought we had departed at 9:30, exceedingly early for us. But no, my watch was not set ahead for Daylight Savings time. We had to think about the time because Arizona doesn’t do Daylight Savings. We were going through a corner of Arizona but Kanab is in Utah. That state does do Daylight Savings time. Unimportant to retired people, you’re thinking? Think again.
Kanab, Utah is a nice little town near the Arizona border. It’s convenient to Zion National Park and kind of convenient (30 miles) to the Vermillion Cliffs. The Cliffs are mostly inaccessible to passenger cars. Even our 4-wheel drive Rav doesn’t have real high clearance. If it has been raining, nobody can access it – flash floods are endemic to the area. We’ve never before done anything in the Vermillion Cliffs area. This time, we decided to check out some of it since no rain was forecast.
The big world-wide attraction here is called “The Wave”. It’s a spectacular sandstone formation and everyone wants to see it. Back in 1997, the BLM decided to limit the number of people who can see it to 20 per day. Ten people can attempt to reserve online and you can guess how fast those spots go. The other 10 spots are offered by lottery out of the Visitor’s Center in Kanab each day. Each group (up to 6 people) fills out an application between 8:30 and 9:00 and the lottery is at 9. If you win the lottery, you get a permit for the day and can hike out to The Wave. We decided to give it a try.
We checked into the rustic Hitch N Post, a nice Mom-and-Pop-run place about a 3-minute drive from the Visitor Center. We were careful to set all our watches and clocks to Daylight Savings time before we went to bed that night.
Thursday, March 16
The next morning we started to prepare for our hike that day on Cottonwood Road. At 8:15, we heated up our coffee and went over to the Visitors Center. We were surprised: it wasn’t very crowded. When we went up to the desk to ask about the lottery, we were told it had happened already at 9:00.
“Did you come from Arizona last night?” the guy asked.
“No, we came from Nevada and we reset our clocks for Daylight Savings time.”
“Hmmmm.” He was stumped.
We finally figured out the problem. Nevada is on Pacific time. Utah is on Mountain time. Usually the maps we use indicate the change but not the one I used to come from Nevada. Darn! We hadn’t noted the time zone change.
We returned to the rig and finished packing for a long day on the road and trail. It was already hot (high 70’s) and we might have to do some wading on the trail. We didn’t realize that Cottonwood Road was 45 miles from Kanab, but it’s a very pretty drive. Then it was 14 miles down a dirt road but it was in pretty good shape. The first thing we saw was longhorn cattle. It looks weird to see a cow with long horns chewing away on her cud.
The scenery was nice but the light wasn’t great. Oh well. As the hills got more color, the telephone wires began to get in the way. Oh well.
We finally reached our point of debarkation. I was a little apprehensive. The trail description included wading through Cottonwood Wash, then climbing a 45-degree incline. Total elevation gain was over 1,000 feet. Dave led the way through the brush and we found Cottonwood Wash was only an inch or so deep. Then we reached the foot of the canyon mouth and looked up. I wasn’t sure how steep a 45-degree incline was. Now I know. It’s really steep! We finally reached a saddle with some nice views, then climbed a little more.
I was surprised at how fast and often I lost my breath. I’m not sure what the altitude was but this was certainly the most strenuous hike thus far on our trip. But when we caught sight of the Yellow Rock area, I was glad I had come. Although the sun was high, the light was good.
We struck out cross country for a half-mile or so, trying to avoid the small prickly pear cacti that were all around and finally reached the bottom of Yellow Rock. Although we were stopping to photograph, I was having to sit down every 10 minutes or so to catch my breath. (And it wasn’t due to the breathtaking scenery!) Dave had scrambled up to the top and was doing his own thing.
I was thinking about stopping my ascent up the hill and started heading parallel towards the north. A huge amphitheater started coming into view so I continued on.
And then, POW!!!! This stunning, multi-colored mountain appeared. Yellows, apricots, oranges and a lot of colors in between.
After a while Dave joined me and due to strong wind gusts, lost his hat. Luckily, it didn’t roll too far and he retrieved it.
We started our descent and soon I was looking down doubtfully at a quarter-mile of downhill. I hate going down steep, gravelly paths. Having no jetpack, I followed Dave down, sidestepping all the way, using my hiking poles to great advantage. My knees got shaky about halfway down but I finally made it. I was bushed! I dragged along behind Dave back to the car.
What a pleasure to change out of my steamy boots into flip flops. What a pleasure to shed the sweaty hiking pants for shorts. What a pleasure to turn on the air conditioning in the car. We still had a 60-mile drive back to Kanab. I was grateful that Dave did it. We had planned ahead to go out for dinner to Escobar’s, a little family-run, Mexican place. Unfortunately, they didn’t serve Margaritas, but Dave had a beer and I had a frosty root beer along with our large plates of comfort food.
Friday, March 17
After our exertions on Thursday, we had a down, down day on Friday. But, we did go back to the Visitor’s Center to join the lottery. This time we were timely and filled out the application along with 149 others. We were number 16. I was hoping for 17 since it was St. Patrick’s Day, but neither 16 nor 17 were drawn. Only 3 permits were issued for a party of 3, a party of 4, and a party of 4 who were going to have to leave someone out. That was it.
A note of amusement: On our first day in Kanab, Dave had noticed a police car sitting by the side of the highway and automatically slowed down. The next couple of times we drove by, the police car was always there. We guessed that’s all he had to do in this quiet Mormon town. As we drove slowly by, Dave noticed that the policeman was a dummy – literally. I brought it up to one of guys at the Visitor Center and he laughed and said “Yeah, he’s been there a while. The car used to have a bumper sticker on it that said “I love plastic donuts”.” When we stopped to look closer, we found the dummy had a little Hitler mustache.
We sat around all day, catching up with the blogs, reading and coloring. Yes, I’ve started coloring. It’s a great mindless pastime that won’t give me carpal tunnel syndrome like computer games can do. It’s very calming and I hardly ever swear while doing it.
I started checking out all the memorabilia around the RV park. All collected from the desert: rocks, petrified wood, bottles, animal skulls, rusted tools, an Army pot-bellied stove and several old washing machines. I loved the fact that this one is a Maytag. If fixed up, it would probably work just fine.