Finally! I’m going to hike the Wave this year in May. After four failed attempts, I finally won a permit in the online lottery. Hiking The Wave is the ultimate photo-adventure. Obviously I’m excited about the hike but also the opportunity to photograph one of the most stunning places in the world.
Expect the wild! There are no established trails in Coyote Buttes North, where The Wave is the main geological feature. It’s a remote area within the Paria Canyon/Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness.
These permits are hard to get. The odds of getting a permit in the online lottery are about 4-5%. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) only allows 20 people per day into Coyote Buttes North, and 10 of the permits are issued online through a lottery. The other ten are issued as walk-in permits, also through a lottery held at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Visitor Center (long name) in Kanab, Utah. To enhance your chances, apply for weekdays. Normally they tend to get fewer applications.
PHOTO: In 2013 I did my best to win a permit in the walk-in lottery, but without any luck. Those guys ahead of me won, lucky them.
What a thrill, my very first bungee jump. It was actually a night jump from Navajo Bridge, 467 ft above the Colorado River. I can’t think of a better place to debut my inner jumper.
I had booked my jump in advance and was told to meet with the jumpmaster and 20 fellow adventurers on the bridge at 9pm. At that time it had already turned dark. Jumps were scheduled to start no later than 11pm, but were put on hold because of gusty winds. The waiting time wasn’t bad since we had music, full moon, and nice temperatures in the upper 80’s. Past midnight, jumpmaster Chris declared wind conditions to be tolerable, although it was still quite windy. I was jumper number five and at 1am it was my shot.
I got up on the railing for a countdown. Needless to say, I was super excited. My biggest concern was to hit the slack cord on my way down. We were told it could knock one out. Anyway, time for countdown, arms out, and into the dark. I’m not sure whether I looked like a clown or performed a proper jump style. The downward acceleration was really amazing, even though the free fall seemed to last forever. When the cord finally began to stretch, my mind switched from tenseness to joyfulness. After bouncing for a while, I ended up hanging head down only a couple of feet above the Colorado River. It was rather surreal; I’ll never forget the beautiful silence of the river as well as the vertical rock walls on both sides.
People on the bridge hauled me back up, and I stayed to watch the rest jump. At 4 in the morning, it was all over. Luckily I had to walk for just a few minutes to get back to my motel. I got 4 hours’ sleep before I went back to the bridge to shoot some photos, and then I took off to Grand Canyon for a 10 mile hike, but that’s another story.
It’s about that time of the year I begin to plan my next adventure. I think 2015 will bring me much fun. I hope to get my hands on a Grand Canyon backcountry permit so I can hike down to the Colorado River and back up the next day. It’ll be my third visit to Grand Canyon, but first attempt to get to the bottom. I know that permits must be obtained well in advance, so that’s why I’ve started my planning now. There are also other permits I’d like to get my hands on. It would be awesome to get Mount Whitney and The Wave for the ultimate adventure.
[UPDATE MARCH 24, 2015] Got a permit to Mount Whitney
[UPDATE MARCH 4, 2015] Unfortunately no Grand Canyon backcountry permit
[UPDATE FEBRUARY 1, 2015] Got a permit to The Wave