Hiking the U.S.

Fourth of July Weekend – Buckskin Gulch Day Hike

…So the weekend continued with a Utah Day Hike through one of the most dangerous canyons in the world, Buckskin Gulch…well, at least part of it.

After the parade in Kanab we headed east to see Wire Pass again, a place I had a great time photographing a couple years back. However we were about 5 miles down the long dirt road to the parking area for the trail (and the trail for The Wave) when we ran into a bit of road that had been washed out by the recent rains. We could see where previous people had tried to take the main path across and by the depth of the mud tracks, it didn’t go well, so we took an offshoot of the road to see how the other crossing was. It wasn’t quite as bad, mainly because a couple was filling the ditch with rocks to drive across. We asked them where they were headed to and they said Buckskin Gulch, just a short distance away. When we hiked Wire Pass in 2013 we took it all the way to where the two canyons met, and walked Buckskin Gulch from the other side for a mile or so, but we didn’t know where it started on the other end. We decided to just to Buckskin as well rather than risk running into more muddy ditches in the next 4 miles of road ahead.

The trail started out clear but throughout our 4 mile trek it continuously split into other trails, some better than others, on either side of the wash – which we would have just walked down had it not been tacky with thick mud. From photos it seems like most people do this and it would have made the walk a lot easier with a lot fewer stickers in our shoes and socks.

We didn’t really see much wildlife, insects and the occasional lizard; and although it was July, a notably hot month in the area, it was only in the low 90s with regular cloud coverage. Since we’ve hiked this area a few times in over 100 degree temps, it seems quite cool by comparison. We brought about 6 liters of water between the three of us and used nearly all of it by the time we got back to the truck. We believe we turned around somewhere near the junction of the two canyons but didn’t recognize if we passed it. Some passing hikers pointed us an odd direction to find wire pass, but it didn’t make sense since the two canyons meet at a large opening with petroglyphs and doesn’t involve much climbing to get there, otherwise horse travelers wouldn’t be able to reach it. We remembered well where the two canyons meet since I got some of my best photos of wire pass there. Next time, a map is in order, or perhaps GPS if it will work in the canyon. Since the canyon just follows the riverbed it’s not really possible to get lost, but it’s easy to miss some points of interest without some markers to go by.

Buckskin Gulch

buckskin gulch open 3
Sagebrush and Trail to Buckskin Gulch
buckskin gulch open 2
Open field to Buckskin Gulch
buckskin gulch 2
Opening of Buckskin Gulch
buckskin gulch feet
Muddy Wash

buckskin gulch ross blair

Flowers and Insects

After the hike, we re-hydrated and loaded up on chips and hummus that we’d had in a cooler in the truck. We headed back to the main road and decided to stop at the Paria Townsite on the way back into Kanab. The road to the townsite is pretty steep and narrow, not fun when we passed a truck coming the other way. Gorgeous gnarled Juniper trees, strange striped and angled hills and cliffs on all sides, so named for their angles as the Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument – a region where shelves of earth slid over top of each other. Me and Ross had been here before but I don’t remember if the road was out or we didn’t drive on any farther than the initial signage but we found the town’s cemetery this time. All the graves were unmarked but it was still pretty cool to see where all the townsfolks ended up and to learn that much of their families are still in the southern Utah area.

There’s no actual “townsite” anymore, not even a restored version or the movie sets that were used there, thanks to some awesome arsonists… makes me pretty sad to think that people would do that, something so bogus they have to hide it forever from their friends and family…how is that worth it? I included a photo at the end of what the townsite apparently looked like before the 2006 arson fire.

Pariah Townsite

Paria Townsite - pre arson fire
Paria Townsite – pre arson fire

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