Paria Canyon/Buckskin Gulch Backpack,
April 15-16, 2011
Author and Trip Leader: Ron Morgan.
Participants: Momo Vuyisich,
Robin Gurule, and Glen Burow, and Ron Morgan.
Momo's Photo Gallery: click
hardy mountaineers took a trip down Paria Canyon/Buckskin Gulch this
last weekend. Momo, Robin, and Glen were foolish enough to accompany
me on a quick (two-day) scouting adventure of these iconic slot
Momo, Robin, and Glen
Drove out Thursday April 14th and camped at the trailhead. The first
stream crossing the next morning was a bit traumatic, even tho the
silty icewater didn’t reach more than halfway to the knee. Momo
quickly realized that he had a potentially trip-ending ‘cold feet
problem.’ His feet remained cold and numb after a couple of
crossings, and he was worried about permanent damage. He changed
from boots to Crocs, and developed the patented “Jackie Chan Croc
Drainage Maneuver” which allowed his feet to remain warm enough to
continue the trip.
After what seemed to be only several hundred stream crossings (and
was actually closer to several dozen) and about 7 ½ miles, we passed
the mouth of Buckskin Gulch on our way to our camp about ¾ miles
south of the confluence.
turned out (despite published accounts to the contrary) to be a DRY
camp on the WEST wall of Paria about ¾ mile downstream, but a VERY
nice camp it was (water in Paria was almost universally un-pumpable
due to silt…a couple of potholes had ‘settled clear’ and were the
exceptions). After establishing camp and then exploring further
south in Paria (where we found a good spring about a mile below
camp), we reluctantly returned to camp and sat down to appetizers of
cheese/crackers/olives, green salad, mashed potatoes, and filet
mignon. It was tough, VERY tough, but sacrifices had to be made and
SOMEBODY had to step up and do it.
Saturday morning we broke camp and headed to Buckskin for the
dreaded icy slurpee pools. About three hundred meters up Buckskin in
we found THREE very nice campsites, and the water in the bottom of
Buckskin was clear and cold. Although our campsite was very nice,
the sites just upstream in Buckskin are preferable.
stayed behind in lower Buckskin to pursue the elusive Perfect Canyon
Photo, and the remaining three of us continued up Buckskin.
first 1 ½ miles was an easy, mostly dry stroll until the first
rockjam, which was a bit of a struggle getting over (even with gear
left by previous explorers). Glen turned around here and went back
to keep Momo company with his quest, and Robin and I went on into
the wilderness. The next ½ mile had us slog through three
significant pools of icy mucky glutinous UURRGGggg. Fortunately,
none of the three proved to be more than slightly higher than my
knee (and THIS TIME I wasn’t quite clumsy enough to fall on my
face). The canyon above the pools was entirely dry, and afforded us
astonishing views at every pace.
Unfortunately, time constraints compelled us to turn around after
about another 1 ½ miles, for a total of about 3 miles of Buckskin
explored. Robin and I ate lunch at the confluence of Buckskin and
Paria (Momo and Glen had already headed back to the truck), then
headed back. About 7 ½ miles of sandy/rocky canyon bottom (roughly
85 degree F), against the flow of the water during the many
crossings, was about as much of a hike as I wanted for one day. I
COULD have gone further, say for example if there was a bear behind
me. Robin, on the other hand, looked like she could have done it
again without raising a sweat (or even a raised eyebrow).
Dinner that night was at the “Canyon King” sternwheeler pizzeria,
which isn’t as bad as it sounds (although they need to work on their
beer, and their waitresses could use a refresher course also). Then,
after a night at the local Motel 6 (conservation of funds), and at
the crack of dawn on Sunday (no, REALLY, at dawn, honest) we headed
back. Great trip, GREAT company. All that remains are sore feet (in
my case) and good photos (for the other three, cause as you can see
from the attached photos I’m “pixel-atedly-challenged”).