New Year’s Day | Thursday, January 1, 2015
Welcome to my first trip report of 2015, and what an adventure it was! This was a fun trip report to write, not because the photos are necessarily great, but because it was a fun day in unique conditions. This may have been my tenth visit to Coyote Buttes North, but all the snow on the ground made this familiar area feel new and exciting. It’s amazing what difference a couple of days can make. Plus, we were the very first visitors to The Wave in 2015!
We woke up extra early on New Year’s Day since we knew that we would probably have to drive slower to reach the Wire Pass trailhead this morning. When we looked outside there was a layer of fresh snow on the ground, so I knew it was a good decision. After some breakfast we started the drive. Surprisingly, the highway in Arizona to the state line had been plowed overnight and wasn’t too bad, but once we entered Utah the road was covered in snow and there weren’t too many tracks. It was a slow drive in the dark to The Cockscomb with our speeds averaging about 35-40mph most of the way. A typical 30 minute drive turned into an hour.
After making it to House Rock Valley Road we found about six inches of fresh snow on the road with no existing tracks. This is the reason I drive a Jeep!
Leaving the first set of tracks on the road.
Snow on The Cockscomb with a little light barely showing through the clouds.
As we guessed, there were no other vehicles at the Wire Pass trailhead when we arrived. There were no tracks coming from the other direction either. I’ve never seen the trailhead covered in snow, so I took a photo.
It’s a good thing we had brought along our snow boots and snow pants on this trip, just in case. We would be needing them today. We changed into our winter gear and started our hike to The Wave.
Surprisingly, the sun made a brief appearance as we hiked down Coyote Wash.
Diane enjoying the sun.
Leaving the wash. The BLM has upgraded the sign where the trail leaves the wash since I was here in February.
Hiking across snow-covered sand on our way to the sandstone pass. Seriously, the entire hike was very peaceful and serene the whole day, but it was definitely more work hiking through six inches of powder. A good workout for sure!
A yucca pokes through the snow.
I figured the first place we would have problems hiking in the snow would be over the first sandstone pass. We actually had no issues climbing up it, but we fell a few times coming down the other side…
The sun hidden behind a thick layer of clouds as we climb through the second pass. Even with all the snow on the ground and the sun hidden behind the clouds, there was really no wind today, which made the temperature more comfortable than our hike here on Monday.
Diane coming down the other side making sure not to fall this time.
The snow made everything look new. I think it might be difficult for someone who has never been here before to navigate with only the map and photos the BLM provides when everything is covered with snow like this. Especially the type of visitors that Coyote Buttes North attracts who have little backcountry experience.
Finally, we reached the entrance to The Wave.
I wanted to enter The Wave without getting too many of my footprints all over, so we went around to the side to see if we could enter through The Passage. We were able to climb up this way.
I love the way the ridges catch the snow.
Thankfully, there wasn’t too much snow in The Passage, so I was able to take photos of the contrast between the colorful sandstone and snow in here.
Since I entered from the side, I was also able to get some photos without footprints in the snow, too.
Ready to enter The Wave.
With no other tracks to be found anywhere, we could be positive that we were the very first visitors to The Wave in 2015!
Finally, a view of The Wave that I’m going to call the Snow Wave. I would have loved to have stayed all day to see if the sun would come out again and melt some of the snow, but we had to get back home, so we couldn’t stick around long. Plus, I’m pretty sure the sun never came out enough the rest of the day to melt any snow.
Diane in the Snow Wave.
Our footprints in The Wave as we explored the area.
We stayed for a little while taking photos and climbed up above The Wave to check things out, but soon it was time to turn around to hike back out. We had a long drive ahead of us. Diane takes one last view from The Wave before we leave.
Carefully descending the steep slope down to Sand Cove Wash.
It’s amazing how different everything looks covered in snow.
Diane hikes ahead as I take plenty of photos on the way back.
The clouds briefly thinned exposing some blue in the sky.
We followed our tracks on the way back to make the hiking a little easier. We hadn’t seen anyone else all day until we were close to the first pass along the trail. Then we encountered a few groups that were trying to follow our tracks, but seemed to be slipping all over the place. I wonder if they ever made it all the way?
The sun came out again when the clouds thinned.
One last photo looking towards The Dive before we crossed the pass and finished the hike to the trailhead.
When we reached the Jeep we changed back out of our winter gear into more comfortable clothing so we could start the long drive back home. By this time the roads had been plowed and were mostly in good shape for the rest of the drive home. We made it home late and went right to bed. We were exhausted from the hike and drive. Still, it was a great way to start the new year!