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Open Roads Forum  >  Truck Campers

 > Cracks,Cranks,Kevas andCanyons: Part 1

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crosscheck

Coldstream, BC

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Posted: 06/27/14 11:49am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

April 15th and it looks like the trip to the Colorado Plateau is a go. This will be our 4th trip to the Utah/Arizona area and each time we learn a bit more about different places to see and we get to do lots of fun and active things.

Hiking the canyons,riding the slick rock are the main focus but the sun and warmth is also pretty nice. And of course, happy hour around the campfire. All loaded up and ready for the 2 day trip to Zion NP where we will meet friends.

Saddle up!

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The weather approaching Lookout Pass, Idaho, is sleet, rain, wind, snow, hail. The snow stays pretty late in this pass but looks like this year is has not been a big snow year as there is dirt showing which is different than some years when there might be 6' of the white stuff.

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Stay the nights in Spokane and Pocatillo Costco as we get a late start out of Coldstream. No rush. Spring is in the air as the air starts to warm as we head past SLC on the way to the turnoff to Zion. Arrive at the CG in Zion which as usual, is busy but manage to find a spot. Could have boondocked at our favorite spot out of Virgin but the focus will be the NP for the next few days.

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We have always wanted to hike the narrows but in the spring, the river is always running pretty high so when looking at the flows before leaving home, I was quite surprised to find that because of the low snow pack, the Virgin River had an average flow of 55cfs which is about 1/3 of normal. While some of the gang head up to the Kolab reservoir on their bikes, I hike up the narrows to see how cold the water is and if I need to suit up with dry suit bottoms and insulated river shoes from the adventure company for tomorrow's down river trip. Make it up past Wall Street and turn around 45 minutes from Big Springs. Easy walking in my trail runners and water is cool but not cold.

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As I walk out , some guys drop down from a side canyon. Looks kinda neat and in talking with our shuttle driver the next day, she has done this type of canyoneering often and this particular one(Mystery?) is not that difficult

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Mrs. Crosscheck(Pat) gets the dry suit bottoms and the insulated shoes and we show up at 6:00AM at the Zion Adventure company after riding bikes from the campground. It is $75 for the 2 of us to be shuttled to the trailhead and it is a long way from Springdale. A few other couples get dropped off for hikes along the way and we get shuttled into the Chamberlain Ranch. At over 6000' the area is quite green and cool with frost on the ground. As we begin the hike along the river, a big tom turkey and his harem graze without concern although the tom did ruffle up his feathers to show this other"turkey" that he would not tolerate anyone fooling around with his goils.

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We started into the canyon with the walls deepening. There was ice on the sides of the river and the water was a lot colder than the day before when I hiked up from the bottom.

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We were in the water maybe 75% of the time and Crosscheck's feet were starting to get numb. I think his brain went numb when the girl who was outfitting Pat the day before said that the water in the upper part of the canyon was going to be very cold. I was tough and Canadian so no big deal I told her. Now, I was wishing there was a hot tub part way down.

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No one else was hiking that day from the top down so we had the place to ourselves. Walls were not as high as the lower canyon but the they were closer in. Must be something else when you get those big summer thunder shower floods coming through these narrows.

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We arrive at the confluence of the tributary coming from the reservoir just as Crosscheck's feet were ready to fall off. The water coming into the main flow was a toasty 47F. My feet were so numb, I almost thought that I would have to crawl on all 4' s the rest of the way.

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Make it down to Big Springs after about 5 hours of steady walking. Still have not seen anyone hiking up from the bottom. This is where you are supposed to turn around if you are on a day hike from the bus shuttle drop off, (5 miles one way).

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Drop down another half hour and see our first early morning hikers. They are turning back as it is a long way to fight the current. This is in the section called Wall Street.

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We meet our friends coming up from the bottom. None of them could be coerced into doing the top down route as once you are committed, there is no turning back, even if you become injured which is a possibility walking on a million slippery rocks that are invisible under the water. 2 things that helped us was that we are strong hikers and we have our hiking poles which gives a lot of stability when on unstable rocks. Arrive at the paved path at the start of the Narrows which is like a zoo after seeing very few people for over 8 hours. Walk the 2km to the shuttle bus, get off at the visitors center, catch the Springdale bus to Zion Outfitters and then ride our bikes back to the CG for a big meal and birthday party for Crosscheck's 65th.Total hiking time was 8 hours. Highly recommended as long as the water levels are not too high.

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We leave Zion for some mountain biking in St. George and also to take the truck in for some maintenance issues which meant dropping the Outfitter TC. Did I already say that I love electric, remote controlled jacks? We set up in Snow Canyon SP. Don,t know where they got that name as it is 85F in the day and pretty warm. Not a lot of snow around. Drop the truck off at the dealership and ride up to Paradise canyon.

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There are a lot of bike trails in the St. George area and it is easy to ride between different parts of the city. This is the first time we have ridden in St. George itself as the year before, the riding around Hurricane was our main focus. Here is Pat riding the Paradise ridge trail which is not that far from our campground. This part of the trail was slickrock, something you don,t see up in BC. We usually experience dirt, roots ,rocks and mud. It's a great thing to do while you wait for the truck to get serviced.

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Bump into friends that we met at Zion not knowing they were going to be in the same CG. Throw some local wood on the campfire and it is so dry, there is no smoke ,just instant flame. Once the sun goes down on the desert, it gets cool out. Our 330W of solar was putting out 8.9A at 5:10PM on April 24. We did not know it at the time but our 7 week dry/Boondocking trip would need no genny time and the batteries,except for brief periods when heavy draws like micro/ hair dryer were being used, never got below 12.6V.

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This biking area was only a 20 minute ride from the dealership. Rode a bunch of trails that eventually took us past the Jacob Hamblin House, through Ivins, then back to Snow Canyon.

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Got the truck back, loaded the TC and headed out to ride the Little Creek MTB area. Looked at the weather which said there was rain in the forecast and the clay trails would be ugly so we headed out towards the Buckskin/Paria slot canyons. We were advised that if rain was happening, avoid the hike. Did a little side trip to some HooDoos close to the rangers station. I was going to climb up this little guy and push over the top because I think it might fall on someone but I have a bad back so maybe next time ,I"ll post it on Facebook. HaHa.

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Mrs. Crosscheck doing a Cirque de Soleil move after comming down off some rock cliffs. Falling off the ridge would have been a bit of a problem as at 60, ya don't bounce well from a 20' fall.

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Looks like there is a forecast for snow and rain and generally cold and windy weather for the next few days. That means Buckskin/ Paria is out of the question as they cannot predict how much rain will fall in the drainage and the slot canyon is more than 12 miles long with only one spot to exit, it would be suicide to be in the canyon if flood waters came along, so we decide to camp at Lone Rock CG which is on Lake Powell. I don't usually put my jacks down but with the storm that came up and the wind and sand, it was hard to get to sleep with the camper rockin and rollin.

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This is the Lone Rock, a floating chunk of hardened sand that looked a lot like the icebergs off Newfoundland. Sitting in the lounge chair sucking down some beverages to get the sand out of my teeth, I swear I could see this puppy float along on top of the water.

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Thought we would head over to the south rim and come back to Buckskin/Paria when the weather was better. As we came into the east entrance at 3:30PM, the ranger told us it was 38F with a stiff wind. We had been sitting for awhile so decided to pull into Lippan Point and take a little stroll down the Tanner Trail. This is a shot of the 75 mile canyon about 40 minutes down the trail. In a weeks time, we would be backpacking along the Colorado which is in the distance.

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Looking down on the Colorado river and the Escalante backpacking route that we were to begin in 4 days. Man, is that ever a big ditch!!!

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This is the Boondocking spot just out of the National Park with the snow that fell the night before. Crazy thing about the south rim is that in another 6 days, it would be 100F in the lower canyon. Pretty extreme weather.

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Next morning we had to pull out the winter jackets cuz with the wind and below freezing temps, it was bloody cold.

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Our backpack trip doesn't start until May 1 so as we are in the Grand Canyon a little early, we decide to hike the Bright Angel-Tonto-South Kaibab trails. For the last 3 years, we have hiked all of the Tonto from New Hance trail to Boucher Trail and all of the river access routes sometimes multi times. The only section we have missed is this small bit of the Tonto trail between the 2 most travelled corridor trails in the park. This is the start of the Tonto just below Indian Gardens on the Bright Angel trail.

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We pass by the Phantom Ranch looking so green in this generally brown desert environment. Weather is quite pleasant and the hiking is easy.

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Tonto Trail West. Now the grind back up South Kaibab. Made it back up to the top in under 1.5 hours. Near the top where it was getting cold, we pass large groups from different parts of the world being guided by rangers who are covered head to foot for sun protection. They give us a wide birth as two savages, with no cloths on but shorts(Mrs. Crosscheck has a tank top), sweating and grunting with exertion, come pounding up to the top. Total hiking time, 5 hours. A nice fun afternoon stroll in the Canyon.

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This is the big flat area at the junction of the South Kaibab trail. Tonto West.

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Spend a day at the Mather CG getting ourselves ready for our backpack trip, making sure everything works as we haven't used most of our camping gear since our bike trip in Europe during July/August of 2013.Temperatures are rising and the forecast is for hot weather in the lower canyon.

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Because we have a day to kill before heading down the Tanner trail, we decide to, yes you guessed it, a day trip down to the river and back, on the Tanner trail. Crosscheck, why can't you be like the rest of the seniors, fold your tent, head down to Yuma and hang out by the pool for those endless "happy hours". This is a shot of the Tanner rapids where we will be camping the next day.
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Heading down one of the long steep sections as the air temps climb up in the 80's.

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Pat, with her drugs, making sure that no bad bugs make it into our intestines from the Colorado River. Near the Tanner Rapids.

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We get a late start on the day so as we make it near the top of the rim,we get some nice early evening shadows on the canyon walls. 7 hours return. Pretty easy going when you don't have to carry your house on your back.

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I'm old, tired, bent and busted, grey and wrinkled, I can't be trusted, just a dirty old man( da da da da), that's what I am. ( apologies to Valdy. "Old Man Song"). At the top of the New Hance trailhead waiting for the shuttle to Lippan Point.

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Mrs. Crosscheck pounding down a steep section, Tanner trail, making those knee tendons squeal.

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Looking up at the Desert View Watch Tower, so close and yet so far away.

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Always nice to see the prickly pear cactus blooming.

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So it's a fairly easy 4 hour trip down to the river although the joints do protest a fair bit. But the air temperatures are getting into the low 90's so what is better than a shower to get that trail dust off of the hide. Yup, a nice relaxing swim in the warm, clear waters of the Colorado. Holy pack rat poop!!! They are not kidding when they say the water comes out of the dam upstream from the bottom which means friggin cold!!! Crosscheck realizing a fair bit of shrinkage on his first plunge into the cold waters.

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Get set up for a meal as the sun drops at the Tanner rapids CG. This does not look safe if that little stove decides to explode while Crosscheck is exposed like that. Don't worry, the stove is not lit yet.

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Beautiful sunset on the red rock of the canyon.
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After supper and a bit of exploring around the area, time to reflect on life and the roar of the Tanner rapids as the light rapidly fades.

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Up bright and early as today it is supposed to reach 95F and it will be a long 18.5 mile hike ( return),to the Little Colorado, with no water after Palisades creek and furnace like exposer on the canyon walls high above the river. Pat getting the breakfast going. Cool in the morning before the sun rises.

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I call this concoction, Colon Cleaner. Yummy. Well, you never have to be worried about being regular.

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Talk about regular, this thing looks like it came out of the Spanish Inquisition. I didn't know if it was a casket for dead hikers or a memorial to some early pioneer. It was scary to sit on this thing and contemplate life as I figured something was going to jump out of the composting materials and grab some of my private parts.

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Looking down from the climb above Palisades creek. It was only 9:00am but already smokin hot. Lots of rafts on the river and we knew they had lots of food, lots of cold beer and were having lots of fun. What are we doing here?

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Yes, the trail does follow the rim of the cliffs above the river. There are places where the trail is only a few feet from a 500' drop off to the rocks below. Just don't stumble or faint in the heat cuz all there would be left for the buzzards is pulp.

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First place to get to the river and shade is about 1/2 mile from where the Little Colorado comes into main river. We meet a trio of older, experienced hikers who have come down the Little Colorado and are hiking down the same route we are. They said the flow is low in the LC this year because of a low snow pack. Sounds like it would be a great hike to start up on the Indian Reserve.


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Crosscheck's shirt after he was ass salted during the hike. Normally, we would be traveling in this heat with out shirts, but still haven't got that good old desert tan yet.

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Got back to camp and as we're making supper saw some movement across the river. There was a sheep running along the steep skree and then up a canyon wall and was gone. Soon we saw some rafting hikers, after supper,going up to the same area as the sheep has just gone to. Next thing was the sheep coming back along the cliffs. There were lots of flatter area for the animals to graze. I had hung my pack in a tree when we went for the day hike to the LC and when we arrived back to camp, the zippered pouch was open and the plastic ziplock was in the sand that held a spare camera battery etc. The local Raven had learned over time, to open packs that had small ropes that were attached to the zippers. This guy was always around the campsite and knew everything that was going on.

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Today the temps are supposed to hit 100F and this will be our toughest day. When we booked the trip, we could only get a 4 day camping permit and we were told that you have a very "aggressive itinerary" whatever that means. We were to find out that this was going to be one rough day. We hike down to the Colorado at Cardenas creek to fill up with water. From there we start to climb and climb and climb. We have just come up from the ridge on the bend looking back at the river. Below are buckets of rafts. Someone told us that this was the high season for rafting and there seemed to be a constant stream of boats.
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Our high point on the Escalante route which is a lunch break. Crosscheck doesn't feel like eating or drinking which will cause problems later on in the day. I think the previous 3 days have been fairly strenuous though and we have not hydrated back to normal. The big canyon ahead is 75 mile where we will be back down on the Colorado. We see no one along the route until we get down into 75 mile canyon where we run into the 3 older guys coming from the Little Colorado who were a day ahead of us. They were stopped in the shade as the temps were starting to kill us. They were going to camp on the river at the bottom of 75 mile.

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Mrs. Crosscheck dropping down a steep, dry canyon on the way to the Colorado.

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We make it to the main river and talk to some rafters who had stopped for cold drinks and wonderfully food. They offered us drinks etc. but being proud backpackers,we foolishly declined. The next section during hottest time of the day had a lot of ascent and descent. Crosscheck was feeling shakey and he felt sick to his stomach. Not good when the toughest part of the Escalante route is between where we were and the New Hance trail head. We stopped to rest in some shade and tried to drink and then eat some salted jerky which is something I think I needed. After a half hour things started getting better so we slowly continued the hike. My battery for the camera had just run out so I got out the plastic bag which was in the top of the pack that had the other battery and no battery. Back at Tanner, after the raven opened a pouch in pack, my Leatherman was on the sand and I picked it up and put it back in the ziplock but the extra battery must have been in the sand or carried off by the raven. Bummer. So the most spectacular part of the hike which included the Papago cliffs and a lot of scrambling plus the whole way up the New Hance trail will have to be recorded in our memory.

We camped on the sand bar at the bottom of the Papago cliffs. Strong winds that evening kept blowing sand in our faces as we slept. With so much mesh in these 2 season tents, it is hard to keep sand and dust out in strong winds. Glad we stopped here because it was another 1.5 tough hour hike to the campsite at the New Hance trail head.

Next morning climbed up the headwall, Crosscheck pushing Mrs. Crosscheck over the last scramble and passing packs up after. Then after a long traverse high above the river, there was a steep drop down through big scree rock to the river. From here it was a fairly easy hike to the trailhead.

We had been here a few years before on our day hike down New Hance along the Tonto and then up Grandview. The hike up is not difficult but it is long and there is no water. By our GPS, it was 5300' and although we were at our vehicle sometime after 3:00pm, we were tired for sure. The last 1000' seemed to go on for ever. Looking back, that was the first time Dave had suffered from heat exhaustion and that could have been a problem if we had to hike further in that heat. All in all, tough hike but we enjoy a bit of a challenge. Keeps the riff raff out. HaHaHa.

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This a pretty bad levelling job. When you have a compressor fridge, who cares if your level. Desert View CG.


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Drive to Desert View CG which had only opened a few days before. Had never stayed there before and it was quite pleasant and cool after being in 100F+ temps for the last few days. We were starving after the long climb up from Papago cliffs to the highway so steaks and all the trimmings on the Barbie were in order. All we wanted to eat was fat and salt.

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Lots of wind on this trip, which is pretty common for the spring in the desert. This is the first year that we have brought our tent and we learned from the locals to tie our guy ropes to heavy rocks or trees/bushes. A guy arrived to hike to the confluence of Buckskin. During the day, a strong wind came through and tore out his flimsy aluminum pegs and trashed the tent. He was a little disappointed when he returned but it is a lesson. Winds can be strong in the desert.

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Time to head back to the Whitehouse trailhead for the Buckskin/Paria canyon. Looks like long range weather is for clear skies. Set up camp and get ready to go.

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There is a story here but can't be printed because of morality issues. Actually, after pull a bunch of money out of the ATM, instead of carrying a large chunk of change in my wallet, I tucked it under something and forgot about it. So fast forward, needed some cash and searched high and low. Could not find the cash. Must be the dementia kicking in. So after about an hour later, Mrs. Crosscheck calles out" Hey big boy, look what I 've got". Sometimes you just never know what married life will bring you.

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All of our days on our trips are not day long hikes/biking. Sometimes it's just feet up around the fire with a glass of wine, great food and a good story, remembering some of the fun trips past and present.


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Went for an afternoon hike down the Paria river to the confluence of Buckskin canyon. The hike is a flat, 14 miles return trip. After 3 or 4 miles, the canyon walls appear and the spectacular colors of the rock shimmer in the sun.

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This where a big chunk of canyon wall has collapsed and you can walk under an arch. Red rock is everywhere.

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Arrive at the end of the Buckskin canyon, the longest slot canyon in the world at over 11 miles. Tomorrow we get to hike the whole thing from Wire Pass to White House a distance of 20.6 miles. The canyon is much more narrow than the Paria. Looks like fun.

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There was a group of wilderness adventure medical training doctors taking a course on injuries while out in the boonies, who were staying at the same campsite as us. They were planning to have one group hike down from Wire Pass and up the Buckskin to trail head and another group do this in reverse. They had 2 vans and they asked us if we wanted a ride to the Wire Pass trailhead. We said sure so it worked out well for us as we had lent them some jumper cables for their evening video workshop. Seemed like a good group.


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This is Pat starting down the Buckskin after coming in from the Wire Pass trailhead. Canyon is quite narrow at this time. I can just imagine what millions of gallons of flood water would be like being squeezed through this small opening.

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Check out the driftwood wedged high up which we used as a chin up bar after scrambling up the canyon walls.

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The sun is at its highest about 1:00pm so some light does get through to illuminate the wall and their warm redish color.


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The colors of the canyon walls when the sun gets through remind me of lava at night. We must have spent 4 to 5 hours in the slot canyon hiking along, sometimes quite dark and other times like this photo, nice, warm light reflected by the orange colored rock.

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It does feel spookey when you think that we are alone in this slot and if water did come rushing through, unless you could make it up to the debris above our heads, we could be spat out like pulp into the Paria River down stream.


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Hey, partner, could ya spare a drop of water? My lips are parched and I've been lost in this canyon for a week.

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The local gossip was that this ram was in a love triangle where ewe know that his sweetly ran off with a guy with a bigger rack and she told him to butt out of her life, so,heart broken, he told everyone in a note to the ranger that there was no reason to live and jumped into the canyon. A real heart wrenching story.

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We realized why the literature that we read said if there is any chance of rain in the drainage area, don't enter the canyon. There is no way out except for one spot half way along and that is not an easy exit.

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Walls starting to get higher as we get closer to the confluence with the Paria River.

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A choke stone with a barrel riding shotgun could slow the flood waters for a few seconds.

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Walls are over 500' high now and water is flowing the closer we get to the intersection with the Paria.

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Hey, we've been here before. Ya, like yesterday. It rained a bit last night so the Paria is a bit dirty. How about a nice cool drink of brown mud.Yummy.


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As we head up the main Paria canyon to the campsite, see ahead ravens pecking away at something on the beach. They don't miss much, these sentinels of the skies as this Bull snake finds out.

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After walking an hour in the Paria canyon, everything opens up as you pass under a power line and then it is a long flat 4 mile walk back to the CG. We meet a number of backpackers who are headed down to Lee's ferry as this the weekend. Total hiking time, just over 8 hours and through the longest and probably the most spectacular slot canyon we have ever hiked.

Today is May 8 and we plan to head over to the Escalante/Boulder Ut. area via the Cottonwood road tomorrow. Some locals in Paige said not to drive the clay road if there was any rain what so ever as 4 wheel drive will not work if the mud cakes up against you wheel wells. It rained last night so we'll see what tomorrow brings.

We still have lots of things to see in the next 3 to 4 weeks.

The Crosschecks

* This post was last edited 06/30/14 08:05am by crosscheck *   View edit history


2016 F350 Diesel 4X4 CC SRW SB,
2016 Creekside 23RKS, 490W solar, 2000W Xantrex Freedom 2012 inverter, 4 6V GC-2 (450AH)
2006 F350 CC 4X4 sold
2011 Outfitter 9.5' sold
Some Of Our Fun:http://daveincoldstream.blogspot.ca/

WVbassmistress

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Posted: 06/27/14 12:08pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You are some hearty sons (and daughters) of guns!!!! Incredible pictures!


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SteveAE

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Posted: 06/27/14 12:09pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Very nice job on the trip report. Thanks for sharing. Sorry we missed you when we were backpacking Death Hollow.

Steve

rexlion

Broken Arrow OK

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Posted: 06/27/14 01:15pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Aw come on, we know the real reason the camper was rockin' that one night, and it wasn't the wind. You can't fool us!

That slot canyon looks terrific. If it were only 3 or 4 miles long, I'd be up for the hike. How do you two do it?? I have never in my life had as much energy and stamina as you Crosschecks have.


Mike G.
Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one's thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. That, of all rights, is the dread of tyrants. --Frederick Douglass
photo: Yosemite Valley view from Taft Point


exhaustipated

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Posted: 06/27/14 02:28pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Very nice trip report with wonderful photos you took to share with the rest of us. Thanks for sharing and taking us along on your adventures. You folks definitely have more stamina to do all of the things that you do than I have. Your endurance to go as hard as you can for as long as you can is amazing. If this is Part 1, I can only imagine what Part 2 will be like.


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cewillis

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Posted: 06/27/14 02:58pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

WVbassmistress wrote:

You are some hearty sons (and daughters) of guns!!!!

That doesn't begin to cover it! How do you manage all that vertical hiking??
And fantastic pictures.


Cal


Explorer1016

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Posted: 06/27/14 03:47pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nice job and great pictures. You are making us working class Missouri folks jealous!!


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Posted: 06/27/14 04:41pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I got tired just reading this great TR!





pa traveler

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Posted: 06/27/14 05:56pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nice trip report,thats some good exercise.

Two Pedals

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Posted: 06/27/14 07:54pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great trip report with great photo's. You hit some really nice areas. Awaiting part two with great anticipation.

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 > Cracks,Cranks,Kevas andCanyons: Part 1
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