Paria Canyon Backpacking Trip, 1995

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Paria Canyon,   October 1995

When Dave told us about the unusual neat slot canyon that he and friends had hiked, it made us want to see it. Being the good son, as always, he made the arrangements and we were off on another memory-making adventure.

One starting point of the Paria Canyon hike is through Buckskin Gulch. The Gulch is a slot canyon hundreds of feet high and very narrow with no chance of escape for 12 miles if a flash flood should occur. Even though there was only a slight chance of rain we opted to take the White House trailhead which is 6.8 miles through Paria Canyon to the confluence of Buckskin Gulch and the Paria River.
Crossing the river.
The trail.
Through arches.

Even though the sign did state that the "Route is in the River Bed" we were reluctant to get our feet wet at first, looking for rocks to step on. This is a canyon with some dry places on one or the other side of the river but you have to cross it to get to them. We soon got used to having wet boots and went sloshing through the shallow water as though that was the normal thing to do. Dave and Ralph counted 110 times that we crossed the river in seven miles. Ralph hit a slippery spot and fell in, Dave hit a slippery spot and fell in, while I laughed and lagged behind learning from their mistakes.
Looks like huge tops.
Playing in caves.
It was an easy hike with many beautiful sights of massive cliffs, buttes, arches, and caves. About 3:00 pm we arrived at a small sheltered dry sandy campsite that we had all to ourselves, put our tents up, spread a poncho for a dinner table, and savored the moments of the day. "Carpe Diem!"
Dinner table.
The next day we explored Buckskin Gulch. This was like a secret passageway in the belly of the earth with only a sliver of sky showing. The different shades of rust-colored orange walls were hundreds of feet high, overhanging in some places, and so close in others that you could touch both sides at the same time. The ground was mostly dry except for a few muddy spots and some quicksand that we checked out by cautiously stepping in it to see what would happen. Quicksand has been portrayed as something that you can't get out of it so it was a little scary but our feet sank only a couple of inches. It was interesting.
We hiked almost two miles into Buckskin Gulch and were in awe of the strange beauty there, so quiet and void of life. We went as far as the rock jam, a place where the rushing waters from flash floods have swept huge boulders on top of each other. People hiking through the Gulch have to use ropes along with some foot holds carved out of the rock to get down this huge rockjam. We climbed up on the smaller boulders but all we could see on the other side were more boulders. Since we couldn't go any farther we headed back to camp, took our time, and enjoyed the privilege of seeing this unusual place..
On the third day we hiked out into the sun that seemed extra hot after the cool canyon. I suppose mountain vistas are more beautiful but Paria Canyon and Buckskin Gulch are beautiful places, too. When you think about how water has rushed through them, especially Buckskin Gulch, over the years and carved out the colorful corridors, it's quite impressive and we feel fortunate to have seen this unusual place. Thanks, Dave.