The big day is here. I had been thinking of hiking to the Wave for a few years, but never got around to entering into the lottery for a permit until this year. Tried the online lottery twice without success, and finally won the walk-in lottery on our first try. I will admit we were incredibly lucky, as people try years to get a permit. When 160,000 people apply for the annual 7,300 permits, one needs to be very lucky to score one. And the odds of winning one is getting lower and lower as more and more people apply each year.
So why did I wait years to apply for a permit? I was scared off by the fact that the trail isn’t marked and I couldn’t find any reliable information online on how to get to the Wave. It almost seems as if it was a tightly guarded secret. Was it to prevent people without a permit from hiking it? But BLM has rangers checking permits at the trailhead and at the Wave itself, and sometimes on the trail. If you don’t have a permit, you will get caught anyway. The consequences of getting caught are steep – $10,000 fine, jail time, and lifetime ban from all BLM land and Natonal Parks! BLM means business when it comes to trespassing, as their main objective is to protect the land. After having been to the Wave, I get it. Hoards of people will cause irreparable destruction to the fragile sandstone formations.
I finally decided to apply this year because one, we have all the time in the world now, and two, I have begun to feel much more comfortable in the backcountry after a year of hiking. However, that didn’t stop me from losing sleep the night before our hike. I kept studying the map that BLM had provided us during orientation, reading other online blogs, and finally drifting off to sleep after playing the trail in loops in my head.
We got up at 5:30AM to make the drive out from Kanab. The first 38 miles on route 89 took us half an hour. The last 9 miles on the unpaved House Rock Valley Rd took us 40 minutes.
The most important tool for navigating the trail is the map provided by BLM at orientation. The second most important thing is a compass. For those who are directionally challenged, an offline AllTrails map or Google map will come in handy. We had our offline Google map downloaded just in case, and it served more as a confirmation that we were on the right track as opposed to a navigation tool.
This hike capped off another great trip to the southern Utah/northern Arizona region that we so love. Then it was a 4.5 hour drive to Vegas for our 3-day food fest.