My alarm blared at 2:30 am, jolting me awake with a mix of excitement and anticipation. Today was the day I would venture into Coyote Buttes South, a place renowned for its breathtaking beauty. Having won the lottery to visit the north part, including The Wave, back in 2013, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to explore the south. It was a dream come true when I secured a permit for July 1st, 2023.
With a thermos of steaming coffee and my backpack filled with essentials, I set off from Page, Arizona, while the world was still cloaked in darkness. The road leading to Lone Tree, my starting point, was long and rugged, but I was determined to arrive early and savor every moment in this majestic desert wonderland. Despite my low-clearance car, I navigated the dirt road from Wire Pass with caution, maneuvering past the occasional rough patch and reveling in the sense of adventure that coursed through me.
As the first rays of dawn streaked across the sky, casting a golden hue over the vast landscape, I parked my car near Lone Tree. The silence enveloped me, broken only by the distant sound of chirping birds and the whispering wind. Taking a deep breath, I embarked on a hike along the 4WD track leading to Paw Hole, my destination within Coyote Buttes South.
With each step, I immersed myself in the raw beauty of the desert. The colors of the rocks shifted with the changing light, displaying hues of red, orange, and ochre. The sand beneath my boots whispered tales of ancient times, and the wind carried a sense of mystery that lingered in the air. Occasionally, I encountered fellow adventurers, their eyes filled with the same wonder and reverence that had drawn us all to this sacred place.
Reaching Paw Hole, I marveled at the intricate patterns etched into the sandstone, shaped by centuries of wind and water. The natural arches, alcoves, and sculpted formations stood like works of art crafted by a master sculptor. I allowed myself to be swallowed by the vastness of the landscape, feeling small yet connected to something greater.
Eager to explore further, I ventured north towards the Cottonwood area. The trail led me through rolling hills and canyons, each turn revealing a new vista more stunning than the last. I stood atop ridges, gazing out at the sprawling desert panorama with a sense of awe and gratitude. This was a place that demanded respect and offered solace, a true sanctuary for the soul.
After spending hours traversing the Cottonwood area, I retraced my steps, guided by the familiar landmarks, back towards Paw Hole. The sun now cast long shadows as it descended towards the horizon, painting the landscape with a warm, golden glow. With each passing mile, I reflected on the privilege of being able to witness such natural wonders and vowed to cherish this memory forever.
As I arrived back at Paw Hole, exhaustion mingled with fulfillment. The day had been filled with adventure, discovery, and an intimate connection with nature. I couldn’t help but smile as I looked around, knowing that Coyote Buttes South had left an indelible mark on my soul. It was, without a doubt, one of the most extraordinary places I had ever visited during this remarkable journey.
With the light fading, I retraced my steps along the 4WD track and made my way back to the car. The starlit sky adorned the desert canvas, a breathtaking display of celestial beauty. As I drove away, leaving Coyote Buttes South behind, I carried with me a sense of gratitude for the opportunity to witness the wonders of this world and the memories etched into my heart.