Paria Canyon in a day, it can be done but don’t do it. We hiked 29.4 miles today because of permitting requirements but it is such a beautiful place that deserves leisure and exploration. Most people hike the length of Paria Canyon from Whitehouse Trailhead to Lee’s Ferry, which is 38 miles, in four to five days. You can get a reservation on-line from BLM three months in advance and they limit it to 20 people per day for overnight camping in the canyon. The permitting system has kept this area protected from overuse and it is still a sublime experience. I highly recommend it for those of you who overnight camp. And those of you who don’t? Stay in Kanab, Utah and do a day hike down from Whitehouse Trailhead or Wirepass Trailhead (which can get you the Buckskin Gulch). Day hiking in the area is unlimited.
It is just you, the river and these massive raw-hamburger colored walls that squeeze in on you. I sometimes feel protected and sometimes vulnerable in a place like this. And it makes me want to whisper when I speak to Ray.
But hiking Paria requires getting your feet wet constantly. I feel like I have two blocks of ice on the bottom of my legs and they feel really heavy, like I have bowling balls tied to my feet. I am wearing sealskin socks and five ten approach shoes.
The sealskin socks keep your feet dry for a while and warmer once they get wet. But, my feet are numb. I keep telling myself to keep going, eventually my feet will get warmer as the day warms up and I get circulation going. Ray also has cold feet. He tends to go faster when he is cold or in pain so I am splashing to keep up with him. He is still tiptoeing to keep the water level below the top of his sealskin socks which come up to his mid-calves.
Of course that doesn’t last and after a few hours we are both noisily splashing through the creek. By this time we have reached the Paria narrows where Buckskin Gulch comes in.
Buckskin Gulch is considered to be the longest and deepest slot canyon in the southwest. We had considered hiking down Buckskin to Paria Canyon but it currently has chest-deep pools of frigid water and the high temperature for today was only supposed to be in the 50s…so, no go for us. Based on how cold our feet were this morning, I am glad we chose to skip it.
Although Ray and I hiked here any years ago, being here today makes me want to come back another time and just spend some time in the middle section of the canyon exploring the side canyons. In the middle section, there are many springs that feed the Paria and great campsites on the benches. It is such a great experience just to be here.
But go we must as we will hike out the Bush Head Route and across the Paria Plateau the next few days. I am looking forward to being on top of a mesa again. This seems to be a repeating pattern: up as dry mesa and then down into a wet drainage and canyon. Then up a dry mesa again. It makes you appreciate both extremes.