I had seen ‘Wave’ as a Microsoft screensaver and always was attracted to the natural beauty and the lavishness of the bright orange pattern. But the inspiration for me to visit ‘Wave’ sprouted after seeing the pictures my friend Srinath posted in Facebook. By the way Srinath is a really amazing Photographer.
I started a thread with my husband Mahesh and our friend khushal. This would be the first long trip in USA for my husband, so I wanted to plan really well and make sure this trip gives him so much hope & enthusiasm about any other trips in future. (Like next time as soon he hear me telling me “what about visiting this place/or what about this hike?, he should be already packed and set for the trip!). Khushal has been always the main planner for all the trips I have done in USA. He has been so good at that he still retains the designation as a trip planner. Our trio group works really well with Mahesh providing the logistics, Khushal providing the A-Z plan and me either finding out the places to visit or eating both their heads :). Anyway I can with no doubt say that the November 2011 trip (we chose the thanks giving weekend) was one of the best trips I ever went to.
Reading and enquiring more about Wave, I came to know that it is not the easiest thing to do. In order to visit the Wave, you need to get a permit. Also there is a limit that only 20 people can visit in a day. 10 of the slots are filled in online lottery (you have to apply 4 months in advance to get into this lottery). As we were late for this we decided to try our luck through the lottery for walk-in permits. This also has a limit that only 10 people would get this. Khushal had a back up plan if in case we didn’t get through the lottery.
We started from Seattle, went to Vegas, enjoyed the casino world for a night. Bundled the car with all food and other amenities for a week long road trip. We went to Hoover Dam (had a fun tug of war between me and mahesh at the Nevada-Arizona border), then to Grand Canyon (west, north,south entrances, skywalk).
From Grand Canyon south entrance we drove to Utah. We stayed at the Quail Park Lodge at Kanab for the next 3 days. We visited Horse shoe bend, powell lake, lower antelope canyon and upper antelope canyon
Even though we were enjoying visiting these places, from the day we were in Page, there was this anxiety in us about if we would be lucky enough to get the lottery, will we at least be able to participate for the lottery.
The day for the walk-in lottery arrived. It was a Friday morning (Nov 25, 2011). We 3 were ready by 7:30am, all set to go to the location where the lottery was going to take place (night before we had gone to make sure we know the way to the location). We reached the location and didn’t see any crowd as we were expecting. So I was happy, may be its thanks giving weekend and people don’t want to do a 7 mile hike :). But I was wrong, during the winter season the lottery takes place in a different location which we had to drive for 15-20 mts to reach. My worry was we would be late for the lottery and we won’t be even able to participate. We reached the location and saw that there was a huge crowd, more than 50 people. My hope of obtaining the lottery started diminishing. Anyway we reached inside the reception of the building and my dear husband and friend decided to make me the scape goat (they added my name for the lottery), that added more pressure and anxiety on me! Will Luck favor me ?
It was now 8:15am and the the lottery was about to start at 8:30am. We were all asked to gather in the room and we were trying our luck against 60 other people. Seated there my hubby started making a video with commentary telling our fate is now in the small beads (with numbers) in the small cage. Lottery started and the first 6 slots were gone and the last 4 remaining. Moments of tension and then the magic they called our number 3, and yes we made it through the lottery.
Saturday morning we were all ready with good sun protection clothes as well as weather proof jackets. We were not sure what is in store for us. We had the short breakfast provided by our host at the Lodge and then started our journey to the “Wave”. On the way, we picked some McD burgers and few other quick bites and still kept the backpack light as there was a long way ahead of us. We reached the Wire pass trailhead crossing muddy dirt road drive and reached the start point for the hike. There was a restroom (pit toilet) which was the only one available anywhere in the vicinity. We found 2-3 other cars parked there, so we knew people already started their hike. We took few pictures near the trailhead, entered our information in the log book where we need to enter an immediate contact as well (A ranger checks the log book every few days to make sure that the people who entered the trail also exited; if they don’t find the exit log they would call and verify and if no contact can be made then send the rescue team to verify).
At the beginning of the trial I felt the walk was really easy. Khushal made it a point to mark the breadcrumbs in the GPS so that we have an easy and marked way to come back to the car. There were no marking or any other sort of pointers on the way. Only help for navigation was the map given by the BML Ranger after we won the lottery (Our hike was in 2011, I am sure there would be more maps easily available now).
After an hour of hike we started feeling hot and started removing our heavy jackets. We crossed some terrain of flash floods with no high ground and some rocky arena. We enjoyed the beauty of the path, took some pictures and then slowly started moving towards the destination. We had read that the best photo opportunity of the wave is around noon, so we had that in mind while we were walking. At a particular sandy terrain on the way to Wave we crossed the border of Utah to Arizona. After a while it was only desert we could see and we were worried if we lost our way. Most of the hike is through rock, so there are no footprints or any other marker to ascertain if you are on the right track.
We had read that the Round trip of the wave was around 6 miles. Most of the warning we had received was that distance is not the factor that determines the adventure in the trip but it is the weather that plays the villain. During the months of June, July and August the temperature at this place rises to about 110 Farenheit (43 deg Celsius). The heat rays get reflected on you when you walk through the rocky terrain . That is the reason we had chosen our journey during November, that way the heat would be less.
Sunny sky added beauty to the red carpet of rocks along the way.We felt like we were tiny ants near the giant rock formations on the way. We continued our journey climbing up and down the slip rocks. I started to feel little tired and we took a break munching on some energy bars and gatorade. I didn’t want to be the weak link in the hiking party, so I gathered all my energy and cheered for the rest of the journey! After about an hour of hike through the beautiful sandy, rocky way we could see our last marker “Twin Buttes”. Mahesh and khushal was so excited and they decided to get a clearer view by climbing the nearby “Capstone” rock.
Sun was shining with all glory and I was panting and sweating. We took few more short breaks and at last we were almost near. It was just few yards from the entrance to Wave. But the last 200-300 yards seems to be the toughest in the whole hike. It was really really steep hill climb. But the twist here is the hill is made up of loose sand and that makes it more tough to climb up. At the top most of the sandy hill is the corridor to nature’s magical art work “Wave”.
No words can describe the beauty I found there. I felt as if I was in a dreamland where everything is so perfectly carved out. I understood the real meaning of what was written that “Wave is any photographer’s dream”. It was an experience of a lifetime. I could barely think that the wind, erosion and water has created this formation.
It was still difficult for me to digest the fact the pictures I had seen of Wave was real and was not done with any photoshop effects. We were so excited like the small kids who got their favorite candy, ran around all over the place. After 30 minutes of roaming around we were so tired because of the merciless sun and the wind. We sat down and took some rest and grabbed our burgers. We took our own sweet time there enjoying the red wall painting.
Khushal reminded us that we need to start our hike down in another 1 hour so that we are back at the car parking before dusk. We started taking pictures of all nook and corner with and without us in the frame. I am not a professional photographer but I too was able to get few nice pictures. At last we went taking video of the marvellous structure and it was time to bid ‘Good Bye’. I was still in a mood to be around for some more time but the practical guys woke me up from my love for wandering.
Hike down was comparatively easy. We did get off-track the trail once but soon got back with the breadcrumb mapping from the GPS. We reached back in little over 2 hours and well before dusk. On the way back we met the party of another hiking buddies and came to know that they have been trying to get the permit for past few years. We thought about how kind the Goddess of Luck was to us.
Every muscle in my body was aching by the time we reached back our car. But I still remember that pain today with a “i did it” happy face. If you ask me if I get a chance will I go again ….. I would say I would definitely go to the amazing desert again and I would be lucky if all of us (our trio gang) can do that again. Happiness of this hike would always linger with me.