Saturday, May 28, 2011

Paria-Hogeye-Lower Death Valley- Grand Staircase Escalante- May 13th-15th, 2011

After the long winter we have had, I was finally able to make it out for my season opener backpacking this year. We originally had 6 people on board for this trip, but due to circumstances, our party ended up only 3 deep. We departed late Friday afternoon for the really long drive. We did not end up at the Cockscomb until about 8:30 pm, which we decided to get some rest and set up camp. Our spot was beautiful, and really quiet. I awoke to what was one of the most intense sunrises I have seen in a while. With all the color from the really wet year they have had, it was great to shoot some pics and drink my coffee watching this unfold before my eyes. After some breakfast, we headed over to the Paria Box trail head. We started in and shortly after we began, it was apparent that we needed to be in our sandals because of how many crossings had to be done through the Paria. After a fun time slogging our way through the box, we started our journey into the valley. It opens up and there is really not a lot of cover here. At least we had some cloud cover, which did help with the sun exposure. After miles of wandering, we passed Kitchen Canyon and rounded the corner to the Paria Confluence, which is where the mouth of Hogeye Canyon is. We once again had to do 5 water crossings, and finally ended up in the mouth of Hogeye.You would not believe that you were in the desert if you had not been in the Paria previously. Hogeye is a mini-oasis out there. Lots of trees, shrubs, clear water running, and frogs and snakes. Lots of those trees with thorns, which left their mark on us all on this trip.

Shortly after we entered the canyon, we saw a huge hive of bees in the Northwest side on the canyon on one of the cottonwood trees. Since the "Killer Bee" has been found in this county, we moved very quietly past them as to not disturb them. An attack in here would have been really bad as there is no where to go. Bush whacking and more bush whacking, and we made it to the small falls and spring that run in this canyon. We filled up our empties and topped off what water we already had, and continued up Hogeye towards the rim. This section is all sand, and a real workout with a overloaded with water pack. We made it up to Lower Death Valley, where after about 11 hours on foot, we decided this was gonna be home for the night. We had the moon shinning on all the sandstone, and not a cloud in the sky. Our original plan was to do the loop into Hackberry Canyon, but after eating breakfast, breaking camp, and ascending to the very top, we realized that we were not sure which way was the exit over there. If you take a wrong way, there is not a easy way into Hackberry, and since we had no rope, minus my bear rope which I brought in case we needed to lower packs and such, we decided that exiting the way we came in was the best option as Robbie and Muskie had to be to work the next day, and we had to get out to go home. We had a decent push down Hogeye, and had lunch at the Confluence.

The hike out of the Paria was unforgiving on Sunday to say the least. No cloud cover this day, and the temps were 90+ degrees according to the Suunto. I really think exhaustion and dehydration were setting in on me, and the winds were howling across the valley, sandblasting us all the way to the Paria Box. we finally made to the car around 6:30 pm for our customary celebratory beer, when Robbie tried to start the Jeep- it was dead. We were low on water, Jeep wont start, and we are a hell of a ways from any civilization. I decided I was going to stand out on the road and flag someone down to try to help us. After about 10 minutes, we were saved! A very nice gentleman stopped and gave us a jump, and were were on our way. This was by far the largest season opener I have ever done. 24 miles of hiking in 2 days. I am physically beat and worn out. I am taking a few days off for some R&R to rest up my bones. Everything hurt when I got out of the Jeep in Kanab. I was waddling like a Penguin walking into the gas station to get some water. It was surely an adventure, and nice to be out backpacking again.

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