I’ve Never Been Lost In The Wilderness…

October 6th, 2011

D70 5392 Ive Never Been Lost In The Wilderness...

That’s Kat and Brooke at South Coyote Buttes…a place that is about as truly wilderness as anyplace left in this country.  It’s every bit as beautiful as the famous Wave, which is in North Coyote Buttes.  But the Wave is much more easy to get to, and so popular now that permits to visit it as almost impossible to get.  The day we went to South Coyote Buttes there were 50 people at the lottery for the 10 permits available for the Wave.  But we were able to just walk into the ranger station the day before and get our permits to visit the South area.

But, it is hard to get to.  The 4WD road to the trailhead is a bit of a challenge with deep sand almost all the way…and all up hill.  But we made it with no problems…didn’t get stuck at all.  And I was prepared with recovery gear to get us unstuck if that had happened.

So we spent most of the day wandering around in the amazing rock formations of this area.  There are no real trails, certainly none that are maintained.  You just wander wherever you are inclined to go.  There’s plenty to see.  There was one group of people that arrived shortly after us with a guide, but they didn’t stay long.  And toward the end of the day another guy showed up to hike around a bit.  Other than that we had the place all to ourselves.  And it’s a huge place.

When it came time to head back, as thunderheads were forming and we could see lightning striking off to the southwest, we started walking back to the trail head.  I had taken a compass bearing when we headed out from the parking area and it was pretty simple.  The trail head is due south from the area.  So we walked south for a while on what appeared to be a long-abandoned road.  We started down a steep hill, all the while thinking, “I don’t remember climbing this hill on the way in.”  But we knew we were headed in the right direction and figured we would hit the road eventually and follow it back to the car.  And, besides, I really didn’t want to climb back up that hill.

Well, after about a mile I had to admit that we were off track and the best solution was to retrace our steps and see where we had gone wrong.  But that meant going up that damn hill.  And, trust me, this hill was an ass-kicker.  Plus we were at around 5,000 feet of elevation…no small matter for a flatlander like me.  It was gruesome.  I had to stop to get my breath every 10-20 feet, it seemed.  I’m talking serious agony here.

But we made it up the hill.  And, continuing along the old track we had followed, there, off to the right, was the car.  We had walked right by it, maybe 30 yards to the side, and somehow not seen it. 

This reminded me of one of my favorite quotes attributed to Daniel Boone.  I don’t know if he actually said it or not, and don’t really care…it’s good enough that he should have said.  According to the story someone asked him if he had ever been lost in the wilderness.  He replied that he had never been lost.  He had been bewildered once for three days, though.

So we were back in the rented RAV4 and started the drive back down the mountain on the road of deep sand as we watched the thunderstorms move in and rain drops fell on the windshield.  All the time I kept picturing the sign that was way back, 30 miles away, at the start of the road.  It said, “Road Impassable When Wet.”  There’s a reason they call this area the “slickrock” area.  Get that red rock wet and you can have a hard time even standing on it, it’s so slick.  A car, even a jeep, will just slide off the road.

But, there’s another thing about thunderstorms out in that desert.  The air is really, really dry.  Often there will be a huge rainstorm, but most of the rain will evaporate again on the way down and never actually reach the ground.  We were fortunate and didn’t end up having to spend the night in the car in the desert…the road never got wet enough to be a problem.  After about an hour and a half of driving…to cover about 30 miles…we were back out on the main highway and our desert wilderness shoot was at an end.

The next day we headed down the road to Las Vegas, where we are now.  Of course, issues with the truck continued with the muffler separating from the exhaust pipe out in the desert.  Made for a loud drive on into the city, but we made it.  Yesterday I found a good independent muffler shop and they did a quick, inexpensive weld job and all is ok with the exhaust system again.  That did require me to cancel the shoot I had scheduled for dawn at a spot out by Lake Mead, though.  So I’m pretty much done shooting on this trip.  Tomorrow we head on to LA where I’ll visit my daughter and her fiance and meet a bunch of my LA friends.  Then next week I turn the truck to the east and see how soon I can get back to Ohio.

available light, Brooke Lynne, figure in nature, Kat, nude, weather, West Trip 2011 | Comments | Trackback

4 Responses to “I’ve Never Been Lost In The Wilderness…”

  1. 1Dave S.
    October 6th, 2011 @ 4:37 pm

    Dang pretty, those rocks and those gals.
    I used my compass to find my way back to the car several times on this last trip. So easy to get turned about.
    Enjoy LA, my friend.

  2. 2dave
    October 6th, 2011 @ 4:41 pm

    Thanks, Dave.

    I always tell people that if they get lost in the woods in Ohio they should just walk in a straight line until they get to the road. It won’t be far. That method doesn’t work so well in the desert southwest, though.

  3. 3Robert
    October 7th, 2011 @ 12:11 am

    A few off train hikes in the swamps made a GPSer out of me. As in “I know this is the way back but I don’t remember that slough having so many gators when we came through.”

    I love the colors in the image.

  4. 4French PHOTO | Exposed For The Shadows
    January 10th, 2013 @ 2:37 pm

    […] at South Coyote Buttes in the red rock desert on the Utah/Arizona border.  This was taken on the day when we didn’t get lost, but were bewildered for a […]

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