Friday, 1 July 2011

19/05/2011 - Flagstaff, Page (The Wave), Monument Valley

19/05/2011 - Flagstaff, Arizona.  We spent a couple of very cold days in Flagstaff.  By the time we arrived in Flagstaff - it was snowing.  We had snow for the two nights that we were there and that was enough for us.

20/05/2011 - Page, Arizona.  It was nice to leave the snow behind us we, climbed down from 7300 feet to about 4000 feet.  We will be basing ourselves in Page for a week, we hope to obtain a Permit to hike into The Wave.

21/05/2011 - Page, Arizona / Utah.  We were up early this morning and driving to the Paria Ranger Contact Station.  This is where you need to go to try and obtain the permit to do the hike to The Wave.  We arrived to find that there were only 35 people here (it can range anywhere from 30 - 100) so our chances looked fairly good.  They complete the ballot by allocating a number to each application, then your numbered ball goes into a wire cage (very similar to playing old bingo) and if you are one of the lucky numbers called out you will receive a pass - our luck wasn't with us today.

Oh well, we have asked the Ranger what hike they would recommend - Wire Pass into Buckskin Gulch was the recommended hike - so off we went.  After about a 15 minute drive we take the turn off to the dirt (very corrugated) road - this road goes for about 14 kilometres. 
We finally arrive at the trail head and begin our trek.  This trek takes us into the slot canyon Buckskin Gulch - the world's longest slot canyon.  A slot canyon is a narrow canyon, formed by the wear of water rushing through rock. A slot canyon is significantly deeper than it is wide. (In this case the Canyon ranged from 10-20m deep and .05-2m wide.  In many places you had to take your pack off and pass through sideways.  Wow this was truly a spectacular sight.  The Big Fella who does get a bit of claustrophobia walked quickly through a couple of very narrow areas.  If you want to hike  the whole slot Canyon it takes two full days and there is only one place that you can climb out along the way.  You also have to be very aware of the weather as it can rain 100km away and flood this canyon within hours.  We hiked about 7km in and then the water crossings were getting too deep so it was time to back track.

22/05/2011 - Again we are up nice and early and on our way to the Paria Ranger Station for another chance in obtaining a permit for the hike to the Wave.  Today there was about 70 people for 10 slots - yet again we had no luck.  After the ballot drawing we headed for another trail - Toadstools Trail.  Toadstools are balanced rock formations assuming the shape of a toadstool or mushroom. Differential erosion with the bottom stem portion eroding at a much faster rate than the top cap is essential for the formation of toadstools.  Another beautiful trail.  I made the mistake of letting the Big Fella go shopping at Walmart by himself - and today he came back with a compass - he has decided the compass will come he handy for hikes.

23/05/2011 - Again, no luck in the ballot, today there were 94 people for the ten permits.  Today we have decided to hike the Wahweap Hoodoo Trail.  We arrive at the trail head and it does take a little while to get going as Dave needs to check the map and the compass - I now know that it is going to be a long day.  We walk another 100 metres down the trail and we need to stop and check the compass against the map - just to make sure.  We make it another 500 metres and after checking with the compass Dave decides that we can take a shortcut across the banks of the stream rather than following the creek bed - well this continues all the way to the Hoodoos.  The trail to the Hoodoos is suppose to be 6km - but thanks to the shortcuts that Dave has found it takes us 8km - great work Big Fella.  On the way back I take the lead and we take the trail down through the dry stream bed - yep 6km's and we are back at the car park - can't wait to use that compass again. Today we had a blow out of Dave's hiking boots - the sole on his right boot has nearly come completely off, we can't complain about our boots though we have had them for over 10 years.

24/05/2011 - Still no luck with the ballot, today there were 90 people.  After 3 days of hiking we have decided to drive Shooter around and have a look at Lake Powell.  Lake Powell is the 2nd largest man-made lake in the States.  It is 186 miles long and has 1,960 miles of shoreline.  The water is sparkling and clear.

25/05/2011 - Yet again, no luck with the ballot - but hey we are certainly persistent.  Today we went for a short hike to Horseshoe Bend - another stunning view.  We then went for a game of golf at the National Lake Powell Golf Course in Page.  The Big Fella is really on a hot streak - smashed me, but I pulled the chain on the last hole (double or nothing) and thank goodness I won this one.  I did say to The Big Fella that he is playing some unbelievable golf - to which he replied, yes - I was only one over the front nine...

26/05/2011 - Still no luck with the ballot.  This morning we went and booked in for the Antelope Canyon Tour.  Antelope Canyon is the most-visited and most-photographed slot canyon in the American South West.  It is located on Navajo land.  You can not enter by yourself you need to take a guided tour, run by an American Native.  Our tour was run by JC and was absolutely unbelievably stunning - so very glad that we decided to take this tour.  The Big Fella even took his camera with him, we haven't been taking the Cannon with us on our hikes - too big and heavy.

27/05/2011 – We have decided to move closer to the Ranger Station (where the ballots take place), we’ve done all the hikes around the Page area that we wanted to do, and so instead of driving 45 minutes each way to try and get a permit, we’ve moved to a campsite right next to the Ranger Station.  Still no luck with the draw, today, it is starting to get really frustrating, especially when people come in and get it on their first try – try No 8 tomorrow.

We arrived at the campground (which is also a working ranch) and were talking to the host, this campground caters mainly for the Intrepid camping tours, so we’ve been warned that they will probably be partying until early hours of the morning.  He also told us that they used to have a lot of country’s flags hanging up in the barn, but due to a few Aussies having a few drinks and burning the British flag, they are now scattered around the campground.  Dave and I figured that they must not have had a New Zealand Flag.  We went for a 3 hour horse ride around the area - we had a great time, even though after about two hours our knees and buttocks were starting to ache, time to get off and have a stretch.
28/05/2011 – Yet again, no luck with the ballot system – it’s starting to feel like ground hog day.
29/05/2011 – Still no luck, we have decided that we can no longer handle rejection and tomorrow will be our last try.  We went for a small hike around the area we are staying at – mainly so Dave could practice using his camera – he wasn’t happy that my little camera had taken some better shots in the Antelope Canyon – he said that he had brought the wrong lens....
30/05/2011 – Well today we have no. 9 in the ballot (attempt no 10 and our last(, when we get to the desk the staff said that they are feeling really sorry for us.  As our luck would have it - 5 numbers have been called out amounting to 9 people so there is only one spot left – so you guessed it our number was called out, so of course The Big Fella put his hand up first and said that he would be happy to leave his wife at home and go on the hike to get some great photos – which of course he will show me when he gets back.  So we get back to Stubbie and The Big Fella is all pumped for his big hike tomorrow, and I ask him if he wanted to go for a hike around the area we are staying at – to which he replies 'thanks, but no thanks', I need to save myself for tomorrow.
31/05/2011 - Today the Big Fella is getting ready for his hike into the Wave.  And boy is he rubbing it in, first off he asks what I'm going to pack him for lunch, then I say to him that I probably wont go to the entry point for the hike (there is also another trail - that you don't need to get a permit for), and he says that is a good idea, because it would be less hassle, he said it would be better for me to stay with Stubbie and do the cleaning and the washing - oh boy he is going to pay for these comments....

I went for a 10k hike along the dirt road, at the back of the campground.  It really is amazing what your imagination can do.  I was hiking on the dirt road by myself (did I mention that the Big Fella was at the Wave), for about an hour, when I thought I saw a snake up a little further, so as I edged (very slowly) closer, I realised it was just a stick, this didn't happen once but several times.  I was hiking for about 2 hours and in all that time, I only saw one other couple.

The Big Fella has arrived back to Stubbie (and no I didn't move camp while he was gone - lucky) he is barely able to climb the steps to get into Stubbie, he said the hike was really strenuous, oh but well worth it. So after he has crawled into the shower and is refreshed, it is now time to sit down and have a look at his photos (well over 200), I did say to him when he gets it down to 50 (I thought I was being generous) I would sit down with him and go through them.

He has captured some great photos and by the sounds of it he had a wonderful time. He did mention that he was glad that he had bought the compass (there are no trails to the wave - they don't wont people to find it), he had to help a few people out (God help them). He did mention that the hardest part to find, was getting back to Shooter.

01/06/2011 - Page - Monument Valley.  Today we head on over to Monument Valley, where we plan to spend a few nights before driving back to .....Vegas.  We had some great news that Bobbie and Brant will be joining us in Vegas for 4 nights - really looking forward to seeing them both one more time before we head on home.  When we arrived at Monument Valley, Utah there was some enormous winds happening, the place looked red, with all the red dirt and sand flying around.  So this afternoon is planned inside Stubbie, we now have a decent Internet connection, phone service and Cable TV.

02/06/2011 - Monument Valley, Utah / Arizona.  Today we took a drive through the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park.  Now part of the Colorado Plateau, Monument Valley was once a simple flat basin. Over millions of years, layers of sediment piled onto the basin, which was eventually uplifted by pressure from below. Then, wind and water slowly eroded the plateau, leaving Cutler Red siltstone and its sand behind, forming the wonders of Monument Valley.  Monument Valley has appeared in  many television programs, commercials, and movies, especially westerns.  Some of the movies are:  Stagecoach (1939) starring John Wayne, 2001:  A Space Odyssey, National Lampoon's Vacation - where the Griswold's car falls apart, Forest Gump - where he finishes his cross country run and the list keeps going.  Unfortunately it was still windy, but thank goodness we were in Shooter.