Desert Wolf

Oct 18, 2015 | Adventure, Personal, Travel | 0 comments

Estimated reading time: 6-mins

…started with a 3-day backpacking trip in Grand Staircase-Escalante.

This place contains some of the largest slot canyons in the world featuring a popular hike in an area called…

Coyote Gulch

This was no joke, unlike any trail I’ve ever seen. There were no entrance fees, no bathrooms, water or any pavement for that matter.

Everyone warned me about checking road conditions.

Have you ever heard of that? I haven’t. But I learned why.

40 miles of dirt, rocks, and sand

Even the park rangers had their doubts about my car (for good reason).

We finally arrived. My car was smoking, a little. But we made it. Oh, that car behind me belongs to my partner in crime, Marshall, who also had his companion, Fetch (below), along for the ride.

At the trailhead, we met some nice folks who gave us good beta about the trail. We followed cairns (those rock piles that indicate where the trail is) all the way to the rim of the canyon.

Literally, a crack in the wall…

…is what we climbed down to the canyon floor. It was only a couple feet wide at any point-one misstep would have sent me over. But we made it and went on, but we couldn’t find a way down to the river without facing a cliff.

Can you even see the cairns?

There were no signs, hardly any accurate cairns, and no obvious trail.

At the top of a rock outcropping, I hear Marshall exclaim, “another cairn!” But when I turned around…

he was gone

We had whistles on our backpack buckle that we tried to signal each other with, but the echo off the canyon walls mislead me.  So I kept walking, and walking, and walking. No more whistles. No more sounds but my own huffing. At this point I realized:

I was alone, running out of water

and Marshall had the water filter AND the map. I thought, “maybe I’ll meet him around the next river bend” but I never found him after having a good view of the canyon.

I turned back after 2 more hours alone. Peering in from the top, I still never found him. I figured he was going to hike on without me. Worst case scenario, I would leave a note on his car and call search & rescue if he doesn’t call within the next 2 days. By this time, I had no water left and resorted to candy to wet my whistle. Thank god for my sweet tooth…

And then I heard him, not far behind me, back up near to the parking lot.

What was supposed to be a 3-day backpacking trip turned into being a day hike with all our overnight gear completely exhausted us. We weren’t going to try it again, and left at sunset.

After driving out down the dirt road, I saw it:

A Desert Wolf

If you don’t know by now, I’m referring to a coyote. There are no wolves in the desert. The majestic creature alluded me before snapping a picture and continuing down the road to our next campsite.

Our campsite was worth the day’s adventure

Lesson learned:

have your own map and water filter even if you’re relying on your partner for gear.


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