Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Arizona Road Trip (13): Crossing to Utah for Buckskin Gulch

One of the highlights of my trip was crossing to state of Utah and doing the amazing hike of Buckskin Gulch. In order to do that, I had done a little research and downloaded material including a map of are and then talked to two locals in Page. So left the motel early while the sleep of the night before was not good at all. There were two fucking bitches, possibly lesbians laughing and talking loudly in their room next to mine and they even were using a hair drier and there was nothing I could do. What a great place this Lu Lu's Sleep Ezze is! With paper thin walls, you can hear what people say in the next room word by word! But I guess it's OK for the price you pay. Anyways the alarm went off at 05:30 but I turned it off and reset it for 06:00, as I was very tired! I took myself out of the bad then and went to McDonald's to get a breakfast. Interesting thing is I paid $2.5 less for the exact same thing I got a few days ago in Tusayan's McDonald's!
I then took myself to US 89, heading west and crossing to state of Utah. following the signs and the notes I had maid I finally found the gravel road which leads to Trail-head. It was a very bad road and it appeared that it had become recently dry. I clearly saw narrow grooves that other vehicles had made in the mud road and has been turned out to be rail tracks! I had to slow down because I certainly had no intention to blow the underneath of the car! I checked the map and set the odometer to be sure I was not passing the trail-head. 
In a sunny day the cliffs of Buckskin Gulch look amazing and that's where they get their name from, I guess
After travelling the indicated distance, I reached a Texas Gate and barbed-wire fence and stopped! I knew what barbed wire fence mean. I certainly didn't want to cross to Native people's land and be prosecuted or shot! So I stopped. I was completely disappointed that I had driven that much and wasted my morning for nothing and turned back but after only a few meters I said to myself: I might not get the chance to be here again. I will cross to the gated land and will see what happened. Unfortunately due to the timing there was nobody around. On my way and shortly before turning to the gravel road I noticed a Ranger Station but I knew they were close and didn't bother checking them. So I carried on with driving and there it was I saw the sign and a small building which I assume was a bathroom. There was no car in the parking lot. I parked and started my hike after having a look at the signs and warnings. But I need to mention this here that American trails are well managed compare to the Canadian ones. There was a registration book as well as a paying station there. The hike required a $6 fee that I should have put it in an envelope and the envelope would go to a safety deposit box of some sort but I didn't have anything on me rather than a 50! So I said to myself that I would pay to the Ranger Station when I finish my hike, on the way back to the motel. 
The first hour or so of the hike is in open space environment surrounded by beautiful scenery and vegetation but for me who had seen many places earlier first it felt boring, especially because I was looking for something as unique and especial as Buckskin Gulch. The cliff started showing themselves after a little bit more than an hour. They were first short and apart. The more I advanced, the taller and closer to each other they got. After about maybe 10 or 15 minutes I found myself surrounded by tall buckskin-coloured cliffs in a way that a narrow corridor at spot would make it hard for two people to pass by!  
At one spot I realized there was a deep pool and decided to go back but then said to myself that I might not get this chance to come back to this place again. So I better to pass through. I slowly went from the side and the water was a little more than top of my ankle deep. I continued the rest of the hike in wet feet!
The hike is easy without much challenge. Only at spots there are pools of water that you need to pass them. I guess the season plays a major role here. I have heard that the gulch's water could be as deep as chest level but the highest I experienced was once after almost at the end of my hike and that was up to the top of my ankle. Here, again, I wanted to go back but went through the water from the sides of the puddle. I thought of going on the top of the rocks but they are very slippery and there is nowhere that you could have a good grip. I don't clearly remember this but the puddle would have been after Wire Pass intersection. Wire Pass is another Trail which reaches Buckskin Trail. Many people select that because they don't have to walk the first hour I described but they also miss the part before the two trail meet. Wire Pass is perpendicular to Buckskin Trail. Anyways at 12:00 I realized that it had been almost 4 hours that I had been walking. Considering a little less amount of time would have been required to get back to the vehicle and I had to drive back to Phoenix the next day, I decided to go back at that time. It was on my way back to the trail-head that I saw a few bunches. The level of water in that little pool had been decreased. I guess soil absorbs the water gradually but i had to get my feet and boots wet again. I reached the car at almost 15:30 meaning my return took half an hour less as I didn't stop as frequently as I did on my way. When I approached the car I saw what I had expected: A note on the windshield about not paying the fee. I got myself to the Ranger Station while it was a few minutes to 16:00 but they were closed. I guess they work based on Utah's time which could be different from Arizona's but I'm not sure but I was not able to pay the fee which was a bit disturbing due to the fact that the rental company would probably come after me. 
After all this was an amazing hike which I hope I could go all the way but I know it requires a whole day and extra strength. I hope I could do the rest of the hike one day. 
(Photo, top: The first hour of Buckskin Gulch Trail is outside the gulch and might feel tedious and boring to some and that is why many start their hike from Wire Pass but actually it offers good views and nice photo opportunities. Beside that a remarkable part of trail is between the trail-head and were Wire Pass cuts to the route)

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