Backpacking the Paria: What/What not to bring
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drew doty
(drewdoty1444) - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz, CA
Backpacking the Paria: What/What not to bring on 03/08/2009 13:12:30 MDT Print View

hi everyone! i am planning a 5 day backpacking trip through the paria canyon starting at buckskin gulch and ending at lees ferry in the first week in may. i have never backpacked in canyon country...mostly the sierras, and was wondering what gear is essential and what is not i.e. tarp or tent with bug net? shoes? warmth? aqua mira or no? please help with your advice!

drew

Miles Barger
(milesbarger) - F - M

Locale: West Virginia
Tips on 03/08/2009 15:37:50 MDT Print View

Buckskin is rated 2B V (ACA Canyon Rating System), so bring a short rope (20-40 feet) and expect occasional wading, maybe even swimming, through cold, stagnant pools. (Shoes: quick drying.)

Temperatures outside the canyon should be 70s-80s during the day, 50s at night, but slots are often so deep and narrow that they can be significantly (10-15F) cooler. (Warmth: plan accordingly.)

Considering that you shouldn't be doing this hike if there's any chance of rain within the watershed, you'd be fine with a tarp or even just a bivy. Bugs shouldn't be a big problem. Watch out for snakes, though.

As for water: plan to carry a lot. If you'll be coming across usable sources, they'll be very muddy, so bring something to filter out some of the muck if you go the AquaMira route. A simple filter would work well, but might silt up easily.

What an awesome trip! Enjoy!

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Great trip! on 03/08/2009 16:50:40 MDT Print View

I'd second the notion of bringing a lot of water. The water sources are few and far between. It's a fantastic hike - highly recommended. I would not filter out of the Paria itself - it's full of silt and a lot of agricultural runoff. Also, make sure you are hyrdated once you get there - my skin dried out pretty fast. There isn't a lot of humidity in that part of the world. A good hat and sunglasses are recommended.

Get a book that discusses the route - one that provides maps of the seasonal water sources. We found it was very accurate and that good water was available.

Trail shoes are a bit of an issue. I hiked in cheapo trail runners that were thrashed by the end of the journey and completley water-logged. Some people take sandals, others take special-design water shoes.

We didn't see many snakes, but I also had a bad habit of reaching up and grabbing rocks without seeing what was on top. In retrospect, that was really unwise.

As far as gear went, we just took a tarptent and it was fine - in the dry climate it setup very easily and didn't suffer from the sylnylon sag. Some might argue that bringing a small weather radio would help, but we couldn't get ours to pick up anything in the canyon. You will have to check in with the ranger beforehand, and they will provide you with any weather-related updtates.

We went in late April, and it was unseasonably cool in the day (highs were in the 50s and low 60s) so it was nice to have a jacket along. I wore shorts the whole time. I brought a 20-degree down bag. I also went overkill and lined my backpack with a dry bag. I was paranoid about taking a spill (you are in water, crossing water, or just to the side of water about 90 percent of the time) and did't want wet stuff. I'd also completley recommend hiking poles....these saved me from a few falls when the river bottom suddenly became much deeper than expected.

We didn't have swim at all - but there were plenty of pictures of people who had to swim during especially heavy snow years. Check with the ranger for conditions prior to your departure. In that case, you will need to have something to keep your backpack and its contents dry. We read about people who actually brought intertubes with them so that there gear cold sit atop the tube as they pulled it behind them.

If you do a lot of photography, I'd suggest bringing along a lightweight tripod. A lot of the narrow canyons don't permit much light, and thus it become difficult to handhold without blur. Certianly, IS-enabled cameras set to ISO priority would be helpful in this regard.

It's a fantastic trip - one of my personal favorites. It will be a far cry from Santa Cruz or in my case, the Pacific Northwest. At the end of the trip do check out Lees Ferry - interesting story behind that!

Edited by dirk9827 on 03/08/2009 16:59:08 MDT.

Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
Paria on 03/08/2009 16:58:41 MDT Print View

I've done Paria twice now. A few suggestions: First, make sure you go in through Wire Pass and not Buckskin itself. It's a short slot, but it's quite an experience. Second, call the Paria ranger station a few days before you go to get the skinny on current conditions. I didn't need a rope either time through there, though there were a couple of 6-8' dropoffs in Wire Pass. The wet part of Buckskin was fairly dry for me, so there was no swimming. That changes every year, though, so check with the rangers. Third, don't skip Wrather Arch. It was a highlight of the hike.

As for water, on my first trip, the river was so silty that you couldn't drink from it, so we only drank spring water. The second time through, the river was crystal clear, and we just filtered from the river when the springs were far apart. But there are several springs along the way, and when we could get spring water, we just drank the spring water untreated. Also, the last 10 or so (this is a guesstimate) miles of the hike are away from the river and waterless. You'll want to have a capacity of 3-4 L or so.

For shelter, you could get rain in May, so bring a tarp or something. I can't comment on bugs since I've only been through there in April and October when we didn't have any bugs at all.

Wear the lightest, best-drained shoes you can manage. You will cross the river literally dozens of times, and you will be walking in the stream for a good chunk of your hike. I wore heavy, waterproof boots on both of my trips and was carrying about 2 pounds of water in each boot. Not fun.

You're in for a treat--I think Paria is the best backpacking trip anywhere. Have a blast.

Edited by sschloss1 on 03/08/2009 17:00:36 MDT.

te - wa
(mikeinfhaz) - F

Locale: Phoenix
paria on 03/08/2009 18:08:58 MDT Print View

Shoes: go to Goodwill, buy junk shoes. you will toss them after this trip.

water: treat the springs. although they are reliable, they are far between so tank up. DO NOT drink Paria river water, it was contaminated from pesticides for decades.

Sunblock and hat.

nobody (at least I didnt see) mentioned this one... get neoprene socks! do it. the silt in the creek will eat at your skin and you will be raw like sandpaper after 5 days. I am going to Buckskin via Wire Pass
on the 4th of April, so have fun and leave a trip report.

Edited by mikeinfhaz on 03/08/2009 21:31:34 MDT.

drew doty
(drewdoty1444) - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz, CA
paria and neoprene on 03/08/2009 21:18:51 MDT Print View

would you think that just bringing some lotion would cure the dryness or is the neoprene better?

te - wa
(mikeinfhaz) - F

Locale: Phoenix
Re: paria and neoprene on 03/08/2009 21:29:57 MDT Print View

its not necessarily "dryness" but more of a liquid sandblasting. the silt in the creek is gnarly on your skin. also, you will be removing your shoes to dump out sand and pebbles about every 20-30 minutes if the silt is bad. while standing in the creek, regular socks are going to slide down and become soggy, limp, worthless. neoprene is the way to go.

drew doty
(drewdoty1444) - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz, CA
thanks for the info! on 03/08/2009 22:44:38 MDT Print View

i appreciate all your help. i cant wait to go!