We’re lucky people. Going on this adventure is something only a few people get to do. We’ve been completely blessed and have made our time on the road worthwhile. We are not lucky, however, when it comes to winning prizes or drawings. This was very evident during our time in Kanab, Utah.
Our Aunt Kristi found an article in a newspaper she was reading about a place you can hike to called “The Wave.” After seeing photos, we instantly knew that this was something we wanted to see. (You can check it out too– good luck getting a permit to hike there).
After some research, we found out that only 20 people get to enter into this area that the US Government has deemed a preservation area. It’s a lottery system that you can apply for online or in person. We didn’t have enough time to apply online because you have to do it anywhere from 6 months to a year in advance before you actually want to hike.
Instead, we stayed in Kanab, Utah (a lovely place because of the proximity to other great hikes) and attended the in-person lottery every day.
Here’s how it works:
You show up at the Grand Staircase Visitor’s Center from 8:30am to 8:55am to fill out a permit form. The permit, if drawn, is for the next day, so don’t show up in your hiking gear expecting to hike The Wave that same day if you win. About 125 hopeful hikers pile into a small room, most of them not even from the United States (there were people from everywhere.. China, Japan, Korea, Canada, France, Germany, Sweeden, even Saudi Arabia). With people from all different countries piled into one room, we find it funny how each individual’s need for personal space is much different. Some practically sit on your lap if you let them; others want nothing to do with the room and congregate outside until they hear their name called.
At precisely 9:00am every day, the employees at the Visitor’s Center read off your name and you are assigned a number. When we were there, anywhere between 40 and 60 numbers were assigned. This isn’t the number of people present, it’s the number of groups. Groups can range in numbers from 1 to 6. They then draw numbers (from a BINGO machine) and call numbers until a total of 10 PEOPLE are drawn. This means anywhere from 2 to 10 numbers could be drawn, depending on the number of people in the groups.
We ended up going to the lottery every day that we were in Kanab, not getting our name called once. By the end of our time, the employees knew who we were and were cheering for us, even getting the rest of the room of hikers excited for us. Most people don’t have the luxury to go to the lottery 2 weeks in a row, but because we had nowhere to be and still had things we wanted to see in the area, we were fine with going every day for two weeks.
By the last 4 or 5 times we tried for the permits, when the employees at the Visitor’s Center would call our names, they’d say “These people are 3 days short of getting the record for the most failed attempts” then “These people are 2 more days short of getting the record for the most failed attempts” and so on until we beat the record. There were even a couple of days that people said “If we win, you can have it.” Chances are slim that would ever happen, but it’s nice to know people are cheering for you. On the last day, we apparently brought the trophy (trust me, there’s not an actual trophy) back to the United States from China where the record for most failed attempts was previously held.
We knew when our last day would be at the lottery. It was time to move on with our adventure. On that last day, we asked the employees if we could have our lottery sheet as a parting gift. Secretly we thought maybe they’d feel sorry for us and slip a couple Wave passes under the table, but they played by the rules and we left. As we quietly slipped out the back door with a record we didn’t necessarily want, we heard one of the employees announce to the winning group that day (10 people total) that we were now deemed the most unsuccessful couple in The Wave lottery history.
Even though we didn’t get into The Wave, we still had lots of fun in Kanab and met some great locals, saw some of the most gorgeous views, and came out of our shells, getting into situations that will eventually define who we are, even if luck wasn’t on our side.
More adventures tomorrow…