Into the Paria Canyon

Oct 13th, 2020 in Adventure

With the start of October came a backpacking trip for the ages, as I made the 38-mile journey through Paria Canyon on the Arizona / Utah border. Paria is special for its deep, narrow slot canyons, eroded by a silty flow of groundwater that empties into the Colorado River. Friends Spenser and Laura joined for the trip, which involved ankle-deep wading, quicksand pits, and otherworldly rock patterns for three days.

This hike was slightly bittersweet. Our former roommate, Kelly, was the one who knew about this hike and originally proposed the trip. She’s since moved back to Tucson and is grappling with a prolonged illness. I miss having her around here, and the carefree times we shared before COVID and when she was sick. I am wishing her the best and hoping to visit around the holidays.

As Paria is protected by the BLM, there is a rigorous permitting process that required being on the button back on July 1st. Then, I was planning my Arizona Trail thru hike, and this was to be the approach for it. Alas, that hope was burned away, literally, but at least I was able to enjoy the hike for its own standalone thing. It is a little tough to be sitting back here now in these cooling October days and think about how I could be walking the woods. Though there’s nothing stopping me from my own shorter or longer adventures though if I really felt like ‘em.

One funny thing about hiking for me is the phobia of getting wet. I distinctly remember one day near the end of the Appalachian in interior Maine, where after months of dodging rainstorms and leaping over puddles, I decided to just stomp through it all. It was a sweet release, with the cold rainwater puddles feeling even refreshing. Of course it’s nice to have a fresh pair of socks after hours of that. Once our hike reached the first flows of the river, I knew what I had to do. Cue the next two days of being a romp through the waters even when the banks were fine. Spenser, who just hiked barefoot through it, would quip about me being ‘mechanized infantry’ at points, which was worth a chuckle.

One can imagine from the photos how fun the hike was. I had good companions, amazing views, and few interlopers due to the exclusivity of the permits. What an opportunity to have been out there! Due to the drought conditions we have been in, it was only pleasant times. I’ll have to come back to catch the part of the trail I missed, Buckskin Gulch, allegedly the rowdiest section of the canyon. But when am I ever gonna know what I’m doing four months in advance?