Week 14 - Northern Baja
Week 13 - Arizona
Our first boring week. We asked people for an interesting small town to spend a week resting and getting some paperwork done before we push on to Baja. People’s suggestions of Flagstaff, Sedona and Prescott were way off. People clearly did not understand what we meant by small town. While the canyon setting of Sedona and redrock backdrop of Prescott were stunning, the sheer population of the towns had us running. (And Sedona was far too new age-y for our taste).
In the end we ended up in Wickenburg, Arizona just because it is a small town of 7,000, is somewhat touristy but not a place people flock to. But wow, a retirement/snow bird community it is. But we found a cheap place to crash for a week. What a luxury to have a shower every day, watch television and sleep in a bed. The best thing about extended camping and hiking is it helps a person really appreciate the small luxuries in life.
Week 12 - Grand Canyon
We arrived at the Grand Canyon south rim on a Thursday. Knowing that the coming weekend was a National Park fee-free weekend and it would be overrun with people, we spent the day hiking below the rim where we found the most fantastic yucca plants and cushion cacti.
The rest of our visit in the park was overwhelming. Drunk people requiring an ambulance trip to Flagstaff three hours away; bus loads of diamond-clad, high-heeled tourists. An idiot beating his pitbull.
The trails were covered in people. It reminded us of historic photos of the Chilkoot Trail, just a steady stream of people on the trails. That number of people is not something we are accustomed to and feel it detracts from the experience.
Regardless of the people, watching the sunrise and sunset over the Grand Canyon was a great way to spend a Friday. The morphing colours and dancing shadows made for riveting entertainment. It made up for the crowds.
Week 11 - Paria Canyon and the Vermillion Cliffs
Coyote Butte, also known as The Wave, is so popular a day hike that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has a permit and lottery system. Though we don’t see anything worth doing if you have to enter lotteries or search out permits we however, found ourselves in Kanab at 8:30am, the time you enter the lottery. So we went to the BLM office, filled out the one page form and joined the masses.
We didn’t win any permits but watching the process was interesting. Only ten permits are offered each day by lottery. Once the lottery, which had a bingo-esque feeling, was over we watched some people storm out and a few people actually cried. Other people discussed what they could do to kill the day until tomorrow morning so they could try again. Apparently, some people will try every day for a week.
We left the BLM office and drove down a crazy dirt road and went wandering aimlessly for a few days around Paria Canyon and the Vermillion Cliffs. We hiked through canyons, hiked slick rock to cliffs and even found some small slot canyons to weasel into. And unlike The Wave which is a small area that would have twenty people crawling around, we had the desert, canyons and slots all to ourselves.
Week 10 - Canyons and Endangered Sheep In Zion
Zion camping and hiking in mid-October meant fewer crowds and freezing nights. The cool days were perfect for hiking up canyon rims, especially on trails lacking shade but once the sun had set a deep chill set into the bones lasting until the sun would rise again. For hours and hours we sat in darkness around campfires and later, reading by headlamp.
We found desert Bighorn sheep along the East Rim trail, a fantastic encounter at a time when we could most appreciate it since we were reading the fantastic book Eating Stone - Imagination and the Loss of the Wild by Ellen Meloy.