White Pocket's a Hot Pocket
Snowcatcher and I visited White Pocket northern Arizona in mid-January 2014. It had been on the bucket list, and having been drawn for The Wave, we gave it a go. White Pocket is a remote, seldom-visited, geologic gem found on the Paria Plateau of Northern Arizona. It calls home the beautiful high desert between Kanab, Utah, and Page, Arizona.
It appears the verdict on the Pocket's geology is still out. One school of thought is soft sediment deformation during the Jurassic Period. The twisting and turning and stretching of layers occurred while the sand was saturated but not yet completely turned into rock.
Geologist Marc Deshowitz, whom has studied White Pocket extensively, provides this scenario. An earthquake triggers a large sand-slide down the slope of a large dune. While sliding, the cascade rips chunks of underlying strata that intermix with basal sand. The mass fills a pond or oasis, instantly loading underlying layers of saturated sand. Pressure from the overburden then deforms the saturated layers of sand.
White Pocket is infamous for being hard to reach because of loose sand – about 15-miles of it. A relatively high clearance 4x4-vehicle is required, along with provisions and accoutrements should one get stuck or "sidetracked."
Another potential matter is that some BLM route marker numbers don't match other/older route numbers on existing non-BLM maps. We scratched our heads once or twice before sliding into the "groove" once we found the correct jeep path. In a nutshell, we were correctly correlated with the access road on the map, but the map route numbers didn't jive with route numbers at intersections.
A chariot path sporting more than 12-inches of loose, dry, white sand was our 10-mph path into an isolated area of magically swirled peppermint sandstone. As we got a feel for our needed momentum for varying depths of sand, driving became more and more fun than apprehensive. Nonetheless, I was concerned about pulling some of the hills on the way out. Thankfully, they presented no problems.
Up next, the Wave!