For a while already we’re driving over the dusty gravel road and soon we should reach the turnoff that leads us to the White Pocket. In the visitor center of Kanab, we’ve been assured that the 15 kilometers of deep sand can be done with our vehicle… Behind us are following Nina and Jim, a German-American couple. They spontaneously rented a 4x4 Jeep and are accompanying us to this legendary place in the middle of nowhere. At the beginning, the sand tracks are not very deep, but this changes with every curve. With low tire pressure, our home-on-wheels rolls and wobbles on kilometer after kilometer. Sometimes the engine howls with effort as we’re digging our way through the sand. But with the low-gear our mobile once again does not let us down and we reach the destination without problems.
Our overnight spot is located directly at the rock formation called White Pocket. The area is magical and breathtakingly beautiful. In some places, the stones covering the terrain look like reptile scales. Who knows if it really is just stones or not a giant dragon sleeping here… We stay until late into the night. The darkness is absolute and the Milky Way shines like a glorious arc of light above us. Overwhelmed by the landscape and the clear starry sky, we decide to stay another day.
On our way back, we also don’t face any difficulties in the sand at all and reach the gravel road which leads back to civilization. Suddenly, a young man runs up to us, completely out of breath. We stop and he tells us that he and his family from Japan got stuck in the sand a few kilometers away from the gravel road. They intended to go with their rental SUV to the White Pocket and took the wrong turn. We find the family with their car completely stuck and at the end of their nerves. Unfortunately, we can’t pull them out of the sand, as gnarled trees with low-hanging branches block our way. Therefore, we drive the whole family to the nearest gas station from where we organize a towing service. They are more than happy for what we did and only two days later we receive an email from Japan with words of gratefulness and an invitation to the island.
We continue on to the Grand Canyon where we spend the next few days. The night on this plateau, which is at almost 3000 meters, are icy cold! Nina and Jim travel with a tent only and are happy to warm up in the evening before disappearing into their sleeping bags. We cook together in our little home-on-wheels, play cards and eat pumpkin pie, which is a traditional dessert in the US at this time of the year.
The gorges and canyons of the Grand Canyon are vast and weaken your knees when standing at the edge of the rim. We hike down a steep dirt track only to find that we have not yet reached the ground by far. The canyon that the Colorado has dug here seems to be almost infinite in depth. We meet some extreme athletes who complete the rim-to-rim trail, a 60 kilometers hike from one side to the other and back again, with two times 2000 meters elevation gain in one day!
After a great time, we sadly say goodbye to Nina and Jim as we travel in different directions. Our journey now takes us to Dead Valley, one of the driest spots in the world and one of the few places lower than sea level.