23 November 2009

Coyote Buttes...

Sitting poised with my fingers over the keyboard of the Mac and I hesitate.  It feels like I have about two seconds before I have to jump in and then the rest of my life begins again.  I want to say, the real part of my life begins, but I am guessing that every part is the real part...it's just that some of it is more necessary for the other parts to become more real.

What I'm trying to say is that I'm back.
And, I'm trying to process the whole trip.

I'm back from my trip to Coyote Buttes (the first of many because there's so much to see and do in this particular corner of the world)  Coyote Buttes is kind of around the same area that The Grand Stair Case - Escalante is.  Well, and Zion.  And Bryce Canyon.  And the hiking Trail that goes from Mexico to Utah (which has a name that I can't remember right now.)  It looks like one of a million places out there...and to tell you the truth, I can't figure out how the heck people find these great spots!

Honestly.  You have to get permits in advance and then have the right car, and then have to be able to drive the thing through crazy sand dunes...then get on your hiking shoes, load up your day pack with enough water and food, grab your camera and start hiking.

It's a sight.

Early Thursday afternoon found us pulling into a wonderful camp spot that is right on the Utah/Arizona border (one of many in the area...the border markers at any rate.  You could drive yourself silly trying to figure out exactly what state you're in at any given moment...one step to the left and you've entered Utah...a little further up?  Welcome to Arizona...) The campsites in the area are run by the BLM and are totally free.


They have a little gazebo with a picnic table poised underneath, a fire pit, and wonderfully maintained restrooms (because Rich likes to baby me...well that and he decided with all the cold we shouldn't be adding freezing trips to potty in the brush to the mix.  And I had already expressed concern about the whole cold camping trip...but he made sure we were fine.  ThankyouRich!)

And if you don't want to stay in a campground?  Pull over in most areas, it's free there too.

We quickly got to work setting up camp.  We're both seasoned campers and years of preparing and careful experimentation (or something like that) have narrowed our gear down to compact cases...and sacks and other things with handles.  Rich just acquired a TurboTent (only his was an insane deal on Overstock.com, and makes me very jealous, cause it's all big and fancy and you can stand up in it, only I could never remember that so I was kind of lame crawling around the whole time...holy cow!  There's a tent that attaches to the car?!  I wonder if he saw that.  I mean, it would be a bummer with all the carbon monoxide and whatnot in the morning when we started the truck to get warm.  Never mind...) and after unpacking it, we put it right up (there was a bit of head scratching, but we read the directions and were quickly on our way...we're both direction readers, so this is helpful)  In went our clothes, pillows, sleeping bags, bag liners...and my extra down comforter.

Laugh if you must, but each morning we awoke to the inside of the tent lined with the most beautiful silver ice crystals (beautiful if you didn't have to get up and face that kind of cold) and frozen water for coffee.

The extra down comforter made me mighty comfortable indeed.

Some of the first rock structures...

Each morning after several late night (and rather chilly) bathroom runs in the moonlight, Rich would wake up and start the truck and we'd both jump in to some heat...and eventually thaw water to have coffee.

We headed out rather early on Friday morning to Coyote Buttes getting our gear half ready at camp and half ready when we got there (we were desperate to let it warm up) after traveling on a crazy sand dune road.

We got off to hiking soon thereafter.

Cany Corn formations (I'm naming them myself here cause they were all yellow, orange and white) with the Tepee formations in the background

Swirly Bases...

These rock formations are quite a wonder.  First they looked so far away I was like...harumph!  (especially as we were hiking in sand dunes, because there's something about walking in sand dunes...after a while you're painfully aware of parts of your body that you're normally not aware of while you're out hiking on solid ground.) and then you're just upon these massive structures for no reason whatsoever.

And they're huge.
And colorful.
And awesome.

And have the craziest bases to them that looks like they were just corkscrewed up out of the ground.

Which they probably were.
(I think I took a Geology class in College, but I can't remember.  It was a long time ago.)

Rich's first time to these formations...he eagerly crawls into a caverny thing.

Sandstone Fins...

I walked around and said WOW a lot.

It was pretty impressive after all.

We walked all over and in and around until Rich decided it would be best if we walked UP.  Which is usually where he wants to be...UP on top of rocks.  I'm usually OK with UP too, but I found myself hesitating this time.  After having fallen several times over the last month and hitting my head, I am a bit more cautious (which is a nice way of saying that I was scared out of my mind to climb up on these things) and very slow about putting my feet down (which is also a nice way of saying that I was trying not to cry and slide down the mountain...probably hitting my head at the bottom if not the whole way down) and feeling a bit grumbly under my breath (and slightly eye-rolly.)  But, Rich assured me I could do it.

I did.

But I was still scared.

Fear gave way to a better sense of footing and calm however.
So, maybe I worked through it.

I didn't fall and hit my head, so that's good.

And I wasn't too freaked out the rest of the time.

Leaves and waves of sandstone...

The beautiful and insanely cool patterns all over some of the rocks...I'm sure some know it all out there knows what these are.  This know it all does not.

After hiking around and getting my breath back...we sat in the sun and ate a little lunch and discussed our future...looking out over the rocks....while holding hands and sighing.

Cause' we're all romantic like that. 


Actually?  We ate, and we were in the sun, and I have no idea what we talked about...and it really is hard to eat while you're holding hands and sighing and looking into each others eyes...so that probably didn't happen exactly that way, but it's my blog so I can pretty much say anything I want.

  Except that I totally saw a squirrel...

And I was all, "Squirrel!!"

And Rich was all, "where?"

Cause he though I meant a furry squirrel...but in reality it was totally a rock squirrel.  So I was all nice and patient and spent time pointing it out.  Which made Rich laugh.

And I like to make Rich laugh.
Especially after he makes me face my fears.

It's beats my first reaction of throwing a fit and pushing him down, kicking him and running away.
(yeah.  I'm dramatic)

After all, laughter does make the world go around.

 And we stood and marveled at all the stripes and colors.  All the reds and yellows and purples and such, that were running and flowing freely through the rocks...Rich was throwing rock formation words around like an expert and I was thinking...pretty.

We made our way down this large formation in search of The Control Tower.  Which was some impressive looking thing in a book Rich was carrying with him.  We set off with GPS directions and found ourselves in the middle of a sand dune...We scratched our heads and looked around and headed off into some direction or other.

There are rocks all over this place.

  We walked up to the nearest formation and said HA!  And then realized after comparing pictures, this was not The Control Tower.

It was some rock formation posing as the control tower.

And Rich huffed and puffed off this rock formation (which we both agreed was still pretty cool...but you know how it is when you're on a quest) into the sand dunes to check his coordinates once again (because we were starting to look around for the background that was in the picture itself in the book, and really...it all looks vaguely the same.  Big cool rocks, some more bumpy rocks behind it and the horizon.)

He wanted me to wait while he foraged ahead so I wouldn't get tired.

I was more interested in stripping off some of the layers I was wearing by this point cause all this sand dune hiking was making me hot.

But, not at hot as this guy...

Whom apparently didn't find The Control Tower in time.

I stood and pondered and wondered if this too, was to be our fate.

Then I pointed into the distance.

I'd found it!

We walked up and down about 100 sand dunes and when we staggered up to the rock, we realized that rock wasn't The Control Tower either.  So, I rolled my eyes and suggested since we were on more firm ground that we try, "...up in that direction..." and vaguely waved my hand in an upwards sweeping motion...

And Rich lept up and said, "Wait!  That's IT!!!"

And ran.

When just seconds before we were all hot and panting.
He has such good enthusiasm reactions.

I ran after him shouting, "Because I found The Control Tower, can I have a cookie?!"

And what do you want to bet that it was The Control Tower?

Cause' you'd be a big ole looser if you did bet me...

Which is kind of what we were feeling like right about that time.

I must have missed Rich's happy dance...because I think it was right at the end of it he put his hands on his hips to demonstrate his anger (or the Macarena...one of the two...Cause I'm pretty sure the Macarena is part of his happy dance) and he twisted and his knee popped and caused him to make a very funny face (not in a good way) ...which freaked me out because I could barely carry myself over these sand dunes much less him and his tripod...I mean, I know he has the SpotMe thing and he can get air-vaced out of a place, but I'm pretty confident that I alone I can't drive the Titan through all the sand dunes (cause we totally got stuck on the way back to camp and had to try out his MaxTracks...which worked like a charm, even though they buried themselves down in the sand about 3 feet and when Rich came back to retrieve me from the side of the road, he found me standing there scratching my head saying, "I have no idea where they are!!?!"  Leaving us to then dig around while he was saying, "Are you sure they didn't fly off?"  and me shaking my head saying, "NO.  They were right here a second ago..."  Which pretty much makes me think if I can't stand by the side of the road and keep my eyes on some big orange plastic tire grippers, I probably can't drive in this stuff.  Oh, as a side note, we did find them...and we got unstuck...and it was awesome and it made us laugh quite a bit.)

So, I was pretty much contemplating my fate as a dried up set of bones out here when Rich said, "I know The Control Tower isn't supposed to be that big of a structure anyway...I have a feeling that we've got to be practically standing on TOP of this thing!!" all while rubbing his knee,  which made me suggest that either it was only 12 inches tall and that was some pretty fancy Photoshopping in that book or it's probably one of those urban myths like Big Foot or Fat Free Chocolate Cake.  Rich suggested that either he had the wrong GPS data or that the guy in all actuality found this 12 inch tall rock structure, dug a hole under it and shot up to make it look all big and impressive.

Cause' we couldn't find it.

So we gave up.

And walked towards the car instead...and found The Control Tower on the way!


We did find another neat area as a total accidental bonus behind an enormous dune that housed some sort of red cave (according to the guide book...)  which was more like a divet in the side of a formation (I'm starting to wonder about the author of this supposed guide book...) and it wasn't so much red as it was pink.

Apparently it is red for 23.7 minutes sometime in the afternoon.

Whatever the case may be, we had to give up our search for the famed Control Tower because we were tired of staggering around in various sand dunes...and vowed we would beat the guide book guy with a rock which we personally named "The Control Tower" if we ever saw him in person needed to get stuck on the way back to camp  get back to camp and eat and dressed and ready for bed before 5:30 because if you get in your sleeping bag any later than that you may freeze to death...or at the very least, be very uncomfortable...and it had to be going on 3:00 for heavens sake.

And another thing about falling asleep before 7:00?  You tend to wake up needing a bathroom break and look over at your partner as he says, "...Guess what time it is?"  Cause' he was up watching cartoons..."7:35."

Which causes you to push up your fleece lined wool hat with ear flaps (cause it slipped over your eyes while you were asleep) which at the exact same time causes your partner to laugh at you because in reality he smiles every time you put on said hat, and when asked he admits to thinking it's cute (I personally think it itches, but it was warm and I was too scared to take it off when I feel asleep so whatever.) which makes you blush, because it's always nice to get compliments...

"Seriously?!  In the morning?"


"How long have I been asleep?"
(cause it felt like ages)

"For about 25 minutes."

good grief.

All in all...It was a spectacular day, full of great hiking, facing fears, being totally immersed in colors, getting stuck, The Control Tower,  Squirrels, awesome food...and some pretty great company...not to mention some fun camping.

Because I really do like camping no matter what the weather.

Specially if I have an extra comforter or two.


Sophia said...

Sounds like overall, you had a great time...and the photos show it. Holy cow! They are amazing!! I'm literally taken back by the excellent shots.

Granny J said...

OK, I said WOW a lot, too, while reading of your absolutely grand adventure. You're a brave lady to tackle winter-like camping; don't think I ever could have...Gorgeous scenery.

Mytutorlist.com said...

What amazing photos! I'm in awe! I can't believe there's really a rock squirrel there... it really does look like a squirrel! Thanks so much for sharing these :)

Suzanne said...

You need to write outdoor adventure books. Seriously!


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