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Friday, October 30, 2015

Grand Staircase Escalante: What To Do When You Don't Win the Lottery for "The Wave"

Well, we tried again this morning for a permit to hike to "The Wave" in the North Coyote Buttes Section of the Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.  We set that blamed alarm clock for 5:30 am Arizona time.  Woke up.  Stumbled down and made coffee. Slurped down our cereal and soy milk.  Climbed into the truck and made the 75 minute drive to Kanab, Utah.  Again!  Got there ON TIME this time (we properly accounted for the time difference between Arizona and Utah).  Sat down with the 67 other applicants and listed to our instructions for the application lottery:

Ten spots were available.  They called out the numbers:

Nope.  We didn't win.  But we had backup plans ready.  We headed out and first drove up Johnson Canyon to see what we could see.  The morning was auspicious:  the waning gibbous moon looked down on us as we arrived at the head of the paved road:

There was snow on the distant pink peaks!

Had we been willing to drive 30 miles north on that dirt road, we would have returned to Kodachrome State Park in Utah, one of our most favorite southwestern hiking destinations!  But we decided to work our way back down Johnson Canyon Road.

We saw these cool white cliffs with hoodoos and such:

More hoodoo cliffs watched over us as we drove back down south toward US 89:

Another white cliff graced us with its blessing:

Our road followed Johnson Wash, and at one point, we climbed out of the truck to peer down into a particularly picturesque section of the wash, complete with deciduous trees whose leaves were turning golden in the fall air:

Looking back behind us, we got another view of snow on the pink peaks:

Halfway back down Johnson Canyon Road, we stopped at the trailhead for the Crocodile/Hog Canyon ATV Trail System.  These trails span at least 25 miles from Johnson Canyon Road, north of Kanab, up to US 89 on its way north to Panguitch.  We decided to hike in a mile or so, because there were some cool pink rock formation we had to examine:

David decided to use his feet to examine them:

At this point, the pink rocks and white rocks converge, and Kathy found a smooth round white fellow she liked:

Here are some white hoodoos we spotted as we looked out over the landscape from our walk:

Our second stop on our Consolation Hiking Marathon was to drive and hike up to see Pariah Town Site and the Pariah movie set, east of Kanab.

Pariah is a ghost town on the Paria River.  It was first settled in 1865, and thrived into the late 1800's with 42 families and about 130 residents.  A gold mine was established here, although it was not successful.

In later years the film industry became interested in using the town site's canyon vista background as a location for making Westerns. Several scenes for "Buffalo Bill" were shot there in 1943.  Producers of other movies and television programs used Paria in the 1950s. In 1961 the old ghost town was used as a major location for the Rat Pack film "Sergeants" and again for the filming of "The Outlaw Josey Wales" in 1976.  That was the last of the filming done at the site.  Flash flooding severely damaged the set in 1998, and BLM employees and volunteers recreated the movie set structures from 1999 to 2001. However, in 2006, the rebuilt set was destroyed by a suspicious fire.  It has not been rebuilt, and all that remains of the original movie set are some historical markers.  The town site itself, down by the river, is marked by remains of the foundations of some original homes, but no structures remain standing.  What does remain, however, is the dramatic scenery that inspired the original residents to move here and the movie producers to film here.

We didn't expect to see a lot when we parked our truck about 3 miles above the town and hiked down the road to the site.  However, we were blown away by the scenery.  The sandstone formations and patterns were as colorful as the rainbow:

We found toadstools and hoodoos galore:

Kathy was very impressed with one of the buttes above Pariah Town Site and concentrated very hard on getting just the right photo:

We were so impressed with the cliffs and color around us, that we took this 360 degree video of the Pariah Canyon around the Pariah Town Site.

Here is another view of a butte that appeared in the movies filmed at Pariah, but from the vantage point of an unusual sandstone formation by the road:

We hiked down as far as the Pariah Cemetery and decided that, since the original town site has nothing left but some old stone foundations, we would rest satisfied with the scenery and not obsess over hunting the ghosts further.  The cemetery was refurbished by descendants of some of the original settlers, so that new headstones were placed on the graves, but no grave site was individually identified.  Instead, those who were buried here are acknowledged on a central brass plaque attached to a stone marker in the middle of the cemetery.  Here is the view that the Pariah ghosts have from their resting place:

Our hike down to the Pariah Town Site was about 3 miles, so, naturally, we had a 3 mile climb back to the truck.  But the hike back went quickly and, before we knew it, we were hurtling back toward our campground, another day of hiking and exploration under our belts.

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