Text and photographs by Anna Lim
An article in the Reader's Digest ("Best in America") prompted my husband L.M. Yu, to visit this magical place hidden in the desolate area known as Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, at the Utah/Arizona border.
It is one of the most spectacular rock formations in America and it is called "The Wave".
Every nature photographer in the world wants to take pictures of it. This remarkably sculptured sandstone sits in the shadow of the Coyote Buttes and is reached, not by trails, but by navigation using landmarks or GPS coordinates. We used only landmarks sent to us by the rangers.
A permit is require to hike to this natural wonder and only a lucky few (20) privileged enough to possess one on any given day. 10 by lottery drawn at Kanab's ranger's station, and another 10 by internet lottery - and applications must be done 4 months in advance!
To visit this place, a car is essential.
Staying one night in the little town of Kanab, We left early in the morning, drove 40 miles east to a turnoff and drove another 8.5 miles on a dirt road to reach the trail known as "Wire Pass".
Thank God there was no rain the last 2 days otherwise this road would have been impassible. In the case of rain, the ranger will give you a rain check for another day, but this won't do you much good if your timeline is tight.
We were so lucky to get our permit in October, one of the best months to hike. The worst month is in August (very hot). It is a 3 mile hike from the trail head to The Wave.
Signing the register.
About a 1/4 mile in, you will encounter a register telling you that "Signing this register on the way in and out of the wilderness is very important in case a search and rescue is needed in an emergency."
Warning: This place is recommended for experienced hikers only, as search and rescue efforts may take hours or even days. Cellular phone service may not be available.
It is really easy to get lost once inside.
In fact, we did get lost for a while. There are stories of people roaming in the wilderness for hours on end without finding The Wave; these are believable, for the trails are confusing as there are no signs and some trails lead to other destinations. For the most part, there isn't even a trail at all.
No human waste is allowed. If you must, poop in a bag (if you've never done it, you are in for an experience). Waste bags are provided free of charge.
And please, don't get caught out after dark.
After two hours of hike, we climbed up to the top of a sandy hill. It started to level out and we could see "The Wave". I couldn't believe my eyes! It was fantastic! I immediately put my camera to my eye to capture forever what I was seeing.
It will be immediately evident to you as to how this area got it's name. The rock literally appears to be flowing like water. It was spectacular! Unbelievable!
Writer Anna Lim is a Singaporean now living in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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