Buckskin Gulch – Paria Canyon

Here’s the really brief synopsis of the trip:
Buckskin Gulch – The never ending canyon. The 12 miles seemed like 30. Turn a corner, oh look! More canyon!
Paria Canyon – Cross the “river”, get sand washed off feet, climb up the opposite bank, get feet covered in sand, repeat 50 gazillion times.

Buckskin Gulch is really cool. Once you enter the main section of the canyon, there’s only one route out, and I didn’t even see it cause it looks like the rest of the canyon, unless you’re really good at climbing chimney’s, then there are plenty of routes out. Only one short section even opened up enough for some trees to grow down there. All kinds of animals fall into the gulch, like snakes and lizards, the occasional rabbit, mice, etc… It’s pretty much a death sentence. We came across a bird of prey, not sure what it was, but it hobbled down the canyon in front of us for a ways before it hit a pool in it’s path and we scooted around the side.

The pools weren’t too bad, there were only a couple that were waist deep, and most had some packed mud from the constant traffic, but then there were the others where you just slid around cause the mud is about as frictionless as it gets down there. They were definitely cold. I think they were colder than Phantom Creek was in February when I cooled off in it.

After 10.5 hours of Buckskin we finally made it to the confluence of the Paria where we began wading through the mighty river *sarcasm*.

We snagged a pretty good campsite and settled in while it got darker, and a mouse made a snack of the thick foil pouch my freeze dried dinner was in. I was super pissed, cause that meant I was out one meal for the trip and it’s not like I brought extras. So I slept with my food, cause there were no trees to bear bag it, and it was safe. However one of the mice came back and munched on one of my mesh side pockets. I don’t know why, the camera was in there. The camera’s always been in there. At least it didn’t go through the main pack material.

Next day we did 8 miles or something, I really don’t keep track without my GPS, which was left behind, cause it would’ve proved useless in most of the canyon. Nothing remarkable happened that day, just crossing the river time and time again. Somehow the trickle that we entered at the confluence was getting more and more water in it, despite the fact that there was only one good running spring along that section, so who knows where it’s been coming from. The packs were hung from a nice cottonwood, and the mice were left without a meal.

We decided the next day to cut our trip by one day and do two 10 mile days instead of 3 shorter milage days simply cause there wasn’t too much to do once you hit camp. After we got close to where we were going to camp to finish 10 miles (at least we thought we were there, you’re permanently lost in that canyon your first time through) we decided that since we felt so good we might as well take up the challenge of getting completely out of the canyon that night. I don’t know if it was the ibuprofen or the fact that we weren’t doing something like climbing out of the Grand Canyon the last day, but it was easy enough to keep on going.

Speaking of being lost, we met these 4 ladies at one point when asked where they thought they were (cause we only had a vague idea ourselves) replied they were 7/10’s of a mile from Shower Springs — which they had passed maybe 3 miles ago, and wasn’t really running. Right around the corner was the last reliable spring which was just a slow drip. We found out they were going to camp at Bush’s Head Canyon, and we went on our way. We next saw them when there were only 10 miles left at the campground we would’ve stayed at, 1.5 miles past Bush’s Head Canyon where they said they thought this was it, but it might be further down the trail. I was actually using a compass in there to come up with a profile of the canyon sections we were going through and matching them up with the canyon on the topo map to figure out where we were most of the time. One section was easier to figure out because you were dropping through different layers of sandstone and they were listed in the guide map.

So we got out shortly after the sky went black, drove to Page to get some food, rooms and a shower.

With two extra days I decided to go to Moab and get some good Italian at Pasta Jay’s. I was going to check out a new riding area I heard about North of town, but as usual, I started driving up the highway and simply decided to keep going till I got home.

View photos from this trip

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