May 13 After quickly striking camp and making an easier drive out the Elephant Cove trails, I briefly visited Coral Pink Sand Dunes then went to see South Fork Indian Canyon pictographs. That was a busted trip; I couldn't find the road out of the Sand Springs camping area (which was very probably a road that was marked with no motorized vehicle signage that I misinterpreted to include Jeeps/AWDs). I spent way too much time trying to figure it out. Almost two hours later, I finally gave up and drove to Kanab for lunch and then went to the BLM Visitor Center to get info on Buckskin Gulch.
I had originally wanted to try the lottery for the Wave, but I didn't think the odds were good enough. Turns out I was right; 110 folks had applied that morning! I refilled my 2½ gallon jug of water there and started to drive out to Paria Canyon Wilderness/Buckskin. On the way I realized it was too late to get in a good hike, so I changed my plan and drove to Big Water to visit the Wahweap Hoodoos (suggested by Tanya). Even though it was a further drive, the hike would be flat and fast.
When I started the eight-mile round-trip hike, I had about five hours till sunset. This was one of the few times I didn't take many photos or videos on the way. I just traveled as methodically as possible, stopping only few times. I caught my first glimpse of the hoodoos about an hour into the hike and reached the southernmost in about 2½ hours. I continued straight for the "Towers of Silence" (the furthest group) and spent quite a bit of time there. The evening sun was beginning to set behind the cliffs above them, making photographs less-than-ideal (sunrise here must be amazing).
I quickly visited "Hoodoo Central" (the middle group) and then hoofed on back, making even better time than on the way in. I got to the trailhead about a half-hour before sunset. And even though there were three vehicles when I started and one there when I returned, I didn't see a soul the entire hike.
I drove back to Mt. Carmel and stayed at the Best Western. I got there just in time for dinner and shut the place down! Good Ho-Made eatin's there at the Thunderbird!
May 14 Before I left town, I got to meet Gary and he gave me some hiking info. The original plan was to visit East Zion, but I decided to go back to Buckskin Gulch and Edmaiers Secret instead (suggested by Chris). I drove to the Wire Pass trailhead and got started just before noon.
Wire Pass was amazing enough, but Buckskin blew me away. There was just one pool to cross about 30 feet long and calf deep. I put on my neoprene socks, wore them across, bagged them on the other side and continued on.
I hiked to the first large oasis about 1¾ miles out and back. I continued north past Wire Pass and explored Edmaiers Secret. I saw about two dozen folks in the Wire Pass and Buckskin Gulch hikes, but didn't see one person at all in this area and that made my day! The geology up there is just gorgeous and fascinating. I've never seen such a diverse set of features and I saw only a fraction of it all.
A side note: there was a gray, pitted boulder that just did not appear to belong up there. I sent photos & GPS data to a geologist with the BLM and he confirmed that it was a limestone clast from the Clarion Formation. This is the formation that Bryce Canyon is in about 40 miles to the north! Ancient melting glaciers deposited many of these boulders leaving some in unusual areas.
I think the Wire Pass entrance is a great way to access, but I would recommend doing Edmaiers Secret & Buckskin north first. Than take a break at the Wire Pass confluence and finish by exploring Buckskin Gulch south in the afternoon.
Even though I had three liters of water and 20 oz of Gatorade, I darn near ran out of fluids after hiking about 12 miles in about 7 hours. I only had 4 oz. of Gatorade left at the Wire Pass/Buckskin confluence still over a mile from the car. I had to conserve my energy on the final hike out and was glad to know that I had plenty of water in the car.
I drove to straight to Springdale that evening. The drive in the east side of the Zion at night was quite surreal indeed.