Kevin's Utah and Arizona trip, 2011
Wednesday - Page, Antelope Canyon
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My original plan was to try to get a permit to hike into Coyote Buttes to see The Wave. If I got it, I'd head to Grand Canyon that day, see The Wave the next day (permits are issued for the following day), and go back to Grand Canyon the third day.

I showed up at the Paria Contact Station at the appointed time. They have only ten permits to hand out, so they use a lottery system. There were fifty people besides me. I decided I didn't really need to see The Wave that badly, and I'd let others have the permits. The Wave is in North Coyote Buttes. From what I'd seen, South Coyote Buttes was even more spectacular. The Wave is a formation of tightly layered and cross-bedded sandstone, that has been eroded into smooth hills and valleys. It's quite fascinating and beautiful, but South appealed to me a little more. The Wave is an icon that everybody has to see, but I decided I'd skip it. I was the only person there that applied for South.

This cowboy was trying to round up some business for his trail ride sight-seeing business.

By the time I got my permit, maps and directions, I decided I'd skip the Grand Canyon that day. I couldn't really imagine spending two whole days there, so I went into Page.

First, Antelope Canyon. It's another must-see icon, but it really is that beautiful. See it if you're anywhere nearby. There is an Upper and a Lower. Upper is the more popular, since it's easier to get into, physically. You can just walk in at ground level, but Lower has some stairs/ladders, and it's kindof a long climb out at the end with a walk up the hill. I believe there are two companies that do tours of Upper, that are located in downtown Page, across the street from each other. They drive you out to the canyon in the back of an open pickup. Lower Antelope Canyon has one company that does tours. You drive out there, and there's a little shack where you buy your pass. It's six dollars to be on the reservation, and twenty for admittance. Tours go down every half hour, I think. If you're a photographer and have an SLR and a tripod, you can get a photo pass. Same price but you wander around on your own for up to two hours. Nice deal. From what I heard the guides don't tell you much. "See that formation? It looks like a bear." That doesn't matter. It's an amazing place.

I got my pass. I went down with a tour group, so I got the initial spiel, including the story of eleven tourists who were killed there during a flash flood. Almost every park I'd been in had narrow canyons, so I was well aware of the fact that you don't want to be in one if there was a storm. It was cloudy, and there was rain in the distance in various places. They actually have emergency rope ladders that they can lower in the event of an event, and a boat horn to warn people to exit.

Anyway... did I mention all the dust in the slot canyons at GS-E? My gear was inundated. My big lens grinds a bit due to all the sand in it. So does the battery door and the lens cap. I couldn't even get the lens hood back on, at one point. I'd heard stories of all the sand in the air at Antelope, so I made sure to have my old lens on (even though the damage was done already). The canyon turned out not to be dusty at all, even with the winds up above. With the clouds, the light wasn't great, but it wasn't bad. It hardly matters at this place. It's amazing. My tripod is not a good one, and it's useless for vertical shots, so I took a lot of pics at less then optimal settings, and it shows.

This was the view down-canyon from the exit.

I was down there for a little while, when it started raining. I was kinda wondering... I kept moving along, even if I wasn't hurrying. Then a tour group was coming up behind me, and I heard the guide telling everyone that they had to hurry and get out of the canyon. I packed up and started hurrying. After a couple of minutes, I didn't hear them anymore. I wondered if they had gone back up the canyon instead of down like I did. Or if I'd misunderstood the guide's directions, and they were still sauntering along. I started shooting again. By the time I reached the end, the group had caught up, and everyone was told they had to exit the canyon due to rain. I had only been in there an hour, but they were nice enough to give me a coupon to come back later that day for my remaining hour.

I went down to Glen Canyon Dam and looked around the visitor's center. I looked out at the dam, then walked out on the bridge to see it and the canyon. It was pretty cool.

Notice the boat that is about to drift out of sight.

Then I drove up to Horseshoe Bend. Every bit as pretty as you'd expect from the pictures. Very windy, though. It pushed me around a bit. And there was a lot of sand in the air. Rain at Antelope Canyon, mostly cloudy at the dam, and mostly sunny at Horseshoe Bend.

Then I went back to Antelope. This time the sun was out (mostly), so the light was great. I had already seen half the canyon, so I was able to take my time. Of course, once you start taking your time, you run out of it quickly. Man, it was beautiful. You never run out of rock to shoot. Remember I said there wasn't a dust problem in the morning? That's because it was raining. This time I took my big lens in... and the air was full of dust. And my gear is still full of it.

Then I went into Page to visit my great uncle and aunt. We talked for a while, and they took me out to eat. Then they drove me to a couple of vista points where I could see the dam and Lake Powell. He had helped build the dam, and worked there until he retired.

From there, I drove to Jacob Lake, north of the Grand Canyon. I drove up out of Page, and through a ridge where you could look out across the Colorado River canyon (south of Horseshoe Bend, north of Grand Canyon).

I drove down the cliff-side, and then out across the bottom of the valley to the historic Navajo Bridge. The sun was going down so I didn't spend too much time there, but the old bridge and the new bridge alongside it are pretty high up over the river. The the road went west along the base of the Vermillion Cliffs. That's a long straightish road. Sunset in the west, storms in the south and east. By the time I got to the base of the Kaibab plateau, it was getting dark. Up I went, and the snow started around 7000 feet. By the time I got to Jacob Lake, there was half an inch on the ground, and a little more came after that.

Jacob Lake Lodge is kinda nice. Homey and lodgey. They've got a little restaurant and bakery, and a big gift shop. And a fire going in the big fireplace. I got the key to my cabin, which was just behind the gas station. The cabin was a duplex, and the wall was pretty thin. The room was really small too. I didn't mind that, but it was very cold. There was a heater mounted in the wall, but, just like every other motel, there's only a sheet, a thin blanket, and a bedspread on the bed. I was cold almost every night of the trip, but this was the coldest. And there was no heater in the tiny little tiled bathroom, so I hardly went in there. I slept in my clothes.

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