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Thread: Wire Pass / Buckskin / Paria - March 1-4, 2007

  1. #1

    Wire Pass / Buckskin / Paria - March 1-4, 2007

    This will probably be a looonnnggg trip report, so I'm going to do it a day at a time, and post as I complete each part. All. Night. Long.

    Here comes Day 0: Going to Lees Ferry. OK, it's not actually part of the trip, but I took photos - so we'll consider it the prologue.

    (I started with a concert in Seattle on Tuesday night, leaving home in Vancouver at noon that day. Snow Patrol at the Key Arena

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  3. #2
    That'll work. Nice report...sure as hell beats sitting at work any day of the week.


  4. #3

    Day 1

    Day 1: Wire Pass to Paria

    Longest day of my life. I mean, of the trip. This will be a huge chapter.

    Got up early, to meet Betty Price at 7:00 AM. I got there 10 minutes early, but it turned out we

  5. #4

    Re: TR: Wire Pass / Buckskin / Paria - March 1-4, 2007

    Quote Originally Posted by Cirrus2000
    But at least they had HASSELHOFF!

    They've been Hasselhoff'd!!!!

  6. #5

    Re: TR: Wire Pass / Buckskin / Paria - March 1-4, 2007

    Quote Originally Posted by Sombeech
    They've been Hasselhoff'd!!!!
    Really though, haven't we all...

    I put that in especially for you, Sombeech. Knew you'd appreciate it. Heck, I took the picture just for you. "No one appreciates a good Hasselhoffing like Sombeech!" I said to myself. "Sombeech and Germans," I amended, as I continued down the escalator past the huge billboard, heading for baggage claim.

    We need to see if he's still really popular in Germany. Jolly? americanhero? Is it true?

    Man, I gotta finish this trip report.

  7. #6
    Sounds like a blast so far! Can't wait for the rest.

    Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, as vital to our lives and water and good bread
    - Edward Abbey

  8. #7

    Day 2

    Day 2: Buckskin Confluence to Wrather Canyon

    Really, they

  9. #8

    Day 3

    Day 3: Wrather Canyon to Upside Down Rock

    OK, a few more photos on this day. Lots of nice petroglyph panels along here.

    Up about 7:30, and prepared to head into Wrather Canyon. I had trouble at first finding the outlet of the canyon. I had camped directly across from it, but couldn't see it through the grasses and brush between my camp and the Paria riverbank. So I started a little too far down stream. Went back and forth a couple of times, then realized the error. The outlet is truly minuscule.

    The hike up the canyon is really delightful. You keep coming around these corners to new views. In the winter, it was a little hard to stay on the trail, as dead leaves covered it a lot of the time. Kelsey calls it "a little green paradise in the middle of the desert" - he's absolutely correct (though I had to imagine most of the green, at this time of year.)



    Approaching Wrather Arch from below. Unfortunately, it's one of those spots that just doesn't translate into photos. You just can't get it all in.



    This arch is a really cool shape. You can tell in the photo above that it's not a simple arch - it looks like a cave. But it does open up on the other side, just lower and angled outward.

    Right up at the highest point under the arch. Hard to describe. Looking down toward the floor of the canyon below.



    Looking back down the winding Wrather Canyon toward the Paria.



    I scrambled down below the arch, to find the spring feeding the stream in the canyon. Well, the spring turned out to be a sad little seep coming out under a rock, straight into sand. The first spot I could get at the water was about 10 meters downstream, where it was already chockablock full of leaves and decaying junk. So I filled my waterbag with about 4 liters. Smelled totally, disgustingly, swampy.

    I sure was glad I brought my water filter along with me. I considered just taking some Pristine to purify with, but thought I might need to filter out silt or something. Sure did. Anyway, filtered it, and the water was delicious. Not a hint of an odor or taste. Hooray, MSR MiniWorks.

    While I was carrying the bag back, I wasn't paying much attention to where I was swinging it. Oops.



    I made sure I didn't remove the cactus spines until after I had all the water I needed.

    Here's my water tree. Bag, filter, 1 liter Nalgene, and 2 liter Camelbak. Carrying up to 3 liters at a time was perfectly adequate (at this time of year).



    After my Quest for Water, I purified, washed, had coffee and oatmeal, and purified more. By the time I finished primping, lounging about, topping up, and packing up, it was noon before I hit the trail. Lazy bum.

    Beavers? Really? This was about 10 meters from my campsite.



    Shower Spring could be heard long before it was seen. I heard it across the stream, then spotted water emerging from riverside vegetation. I crossed, and found a way through the foliage. It was marshy below the spring, but yes, you could shower in it. If you were about 3' 6" tall. Or liked to shower on your knees. The water looked good, but I was well stocked.



    The Moenave Formation showed up just a little after Shower Spring. This was my absolute favourite part, terrain-wise, of the whole hike. I would have loved to hike on this stuff the whole way. Scoops, swoops, ledges, fluted, ribbed (for my pleasure!) - it was fantastic stuff. Actually reminded me a lot of Dark Canyon below Lean-To Canyon. Don't know if it's the same formation, but pretty sweet stuff. Anyway, this only lasted from about P23 to P25, for the best of it.



    A nice little balancy traverse above a (slightly) deeper section of water. Really nice scrambly stuff.



    Nice little ridges, too.



    Hey look! I'm actually wearing my hiking boots! Less river crossings today, and many not quite as deep. Though I did get water over the tops a couple of times...





    Had to time this shot right - the water kept splashing up over the lens.



    At about P24.4, around 2 hours 15 minutes after I left the Wrather Canyon camp, there are a couple of truly amazing panels of petroglyphs - some of the best I've seen. Look up a short slope to the left, just as the river starts a curve to the left.











    After checking out these for a while, I had the leftovers from the previous night's dinner. Mmmm, cold pasta!



    Some seeps came dripping down the cliffs just below the petroglyphs, on the opposite bank. With the temperature, though...



    At P25.5, three and a half hours past Wrather Canyon, the Chinle Formation begins, with the river dropping over the hard beds at the very top of the formation. Below that, this layer is much softer, so the canyon walls begin to spread apart very quickly.



    Looking up at the layers in the stone: Below the tan coloured Navajo is the blocky Kayenta bench, then the smaller blocks of the Moenave, with Chinle at the bottom.



    The softer clays and conglomerates of the Chinle formation. The pile in the foreground looks to me like the pile of triceratops poop in Jurassic Park.



    I planned to stop at the campsite at P30.2, but missed it - apparently I was on the wrong side of the river at that point. The guide shows one high trail criss-crossing the river for a number of miles, but it's not always so well defined. When I finally figured out which curve I was at, it was too late.

    Sometimes it's tough to know for sure exactly where on the map you are. I had a GPS - mostly to record where and when I was - but there are no co-ordinates on the BLM guide. I guess a topo could have come in handy, but I don't think it's really necessary.

    It was getting pretty dark, and I wanted to see the petroglyphs marked on the map at P31.5 in the daylight. I stumbled upon them just before it was too dark to see anything, but I didn't want to go too much farther in the dark. On the other hand, you're not permitted to camp "on or adjacent to" archaeological sites. So I continued for a ways (100 meters or so) and camped on the trail. It was the only soft sand around, and it was getting pretty dark. I guess it's up to one's definition of "adjacent to". I figured I was OK. And with the bivy sack, I didn't need much width.

    So, I set up a minimal camp. Lay the pack on some gravel, and set up the bivy sack, pad and bag. Crawled in to bed. That was it.

    Anyway, day three was about 7 hours of hiking, covering 11 miles, plus an hour and a half round trip up Wrather Canyon.

    Here endeth the third day.

  10. #9
    wonderful cirrus!

    i am very much enjoying this! i like the photos interspersed with story. looks like you had some nice lighting in the buckskin and paria narrows. probably haven't seen another soul out there! i am curious of your impressions in the buckskin ... impressed? sorry to hear about the memory/battery ... DOH. you'll probably never forget again. looking forward to the next installments. the photos are wonderful ... and it's great you've captured yourself in some, adds to the story for sure. yes may is wonderful ... it's green, the days last forever, the lighting is nice for hours, BUT you'll be sharing the canyon with many folks. it must be immensely nice to have it ALL to yourself!


    The Moenave Formation showed up just a little after Shower Spring. This was my absolute favourite part, terrain-wise, of the whole hike. I would have loved to hike on this stuff the whole way. Scoops, swoops, ledges, fluted, ribbed (for my pleasure!) - it was fantastic stuff. Actually reminded me a lot of Dark Canyon below Lean-To Canyon. Don't know if it's the same formation, but pretty sweet stuff.
    no it's not the same stuff. you might find it interesting that the moenave only exists in the western part of the state. to the east of where you were it is replaced by the marvelous wingate sandstone (of neon/choprock canyon fame), the 3: navajo/kayenta/wingate form the so-called glen canyon group.

    when you were in dark canyon, you were hiking in layers quite a ways beneath where you were in this canyon. this is due to the monument upwarp (an anticline/upside down U) in which these layers are raised up quite a bit and exposed. this starts a ways in the north including canyonlands and continues south quite a ways.

    picture it this way ... in canyonlands the top layer of island in the sky is navajo and from the island to the needles and they maze you drop through many layers ... kayenta, wingate, chinle, moenkopi, whiterim ss. organrock shale finally to the cedar mesa sandstone. the cedar mesa ss. forms the tippy top layer of dark canyon, but it forms the majority of the walls of all the canyons to the south of dark canyon, as the upwarp makes a slow downward trend (also dark canyon is quite deep). also to the west the upwarp makes a downward trend (as it approaches the dirty devil river/lake powell). so if you started from the top of dark canyon, you actually see the cedar mesa ss. rise as you descend, but then the canyon rim of actually starts to descend with you, as these layers bow and trend downward. in fact grand gulch does the same thing, though almost the entire length of the way you sit in the cedar mesa sandstone.

    ANYWAY ... in dark canyon you are below the cedar mesa ss and you get halgaito shale(red-brown mudstone and sandstone) and the honnaker trail formation (limestone/sandstone/siltstone). the goosenecks of the san juan sit in these layers and even lower to the paradox formation ... if you were to float this river to lake powell, you would end up passing through the many inclined layers till you get back to the glen canyon group ... note all the way

  11. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Mtnman1830
    Sounds like a blast so far! Can't wait for the rest.

    Thanks! Me too. I mean, I really need to get this finished!

  12. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by stefan
    wonderful cirrus!

    i am very much enjoying this! i like the photos interspersed with story. looks like you had some nice lighting in the buckskin and paria narrows. probably haven't seen another soul out there! i am curious of your impressions in the buckskin ... impressed? sorry to hear about the memory/battery ... DOH. you'll probably never forget again. looking forward to the next installments. the photos are wonderful ... and it's great you've captured yourself in some, adds to the story for sure. yes may is wonderful ... it's green, the days last forever, the lighting is nice for hours, BUT you'll be sharing the canyon with many folks. it must be immensely nice to have it ALL to yourself!
    Mmmm, yes it was amazing having it all to myself. From the time Betty left me at the trailhead, I didn't see another person until one drove by the parking lot as I loaded my stuff in the car. Didn't speak to anyone until I called my wife, driving out of Lees Ferry.

    I'll put more impressions stuff, etc. at the end, but for now - an incredible, utterly unforgettable experience.

    Quote Originally Posted by stefan
    ... Don't know if it's the same formation, but pretty sweet stuff.
    no it's not the same stuff. you might find it interesting that ...
    Ah, I had a feeling it would be something else. Very interesting - thank you. I think that after so long immersed in this particular geography, I'll be paying more attention to the various formations and layers wherever I visit. Haven't really done that until now.

    Quick question - pronunciations:

    Moenave. Moe-en-aiv? Mone-aiv? Moe-en-ah-vay? Mone-ah-vay?
    Moenkopi. Moe-en or Mone? Copy or Coe-pee?

    Most of the rest, I think I have sussed. (A word you can use when you get to England!)

    Anyway, I'll get the rest finished this morning... (Then there's the day trip up Yellow Rock to write up!) Thanks for your patience. It was an epic trip, deserving of an epic trip report. Just home I'm doing it justice.

  13. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Cirrus2000
    I'll put more impressions stuff, etc. at the end, but for now - an incredible, utterly unforgettable experience.
    okay ... sorry!

    Quote Originally Posted by stefan
    ... Don't know if it's the same formation, but pretty sweet stuff.
    no it's not the same stuff. you might find it interesting that ...
    Ah, I had a feeling it would be something else. Very interesting - thank you. I think that after so long immersed in this particular geography, I'll be paying more attention to the various formations and layers wherever I visit. Haven't really done that until now.

    Quick question - pronunciations:

    Moenave. Moe-en-aiv? Mone-aiv? Moe-en-ah-vay? Mone-ah-vay?
    Moenkopi. Moe-en or Mone? Copy or Coe-pee?

    okay i have heard two for moenkopi

    i pronounce it and many others pronounce it mow-en-KOH-pee
    i have also heard it pronounced mow-en-CAWPY

    for Moenave ... i dunno, i have heard both mow-en-AV-ay and mow-en-AV
    i am not sure which it "should" be

    perhaps one of the zion freaks might know. [i'll ask to clarify]

    by the way, perhaps i didn't make it clear. but in lower dark canyon, you were hiking in the honaker trail formation ... the sundance trail cuts passes from cedar mesa ss./halgaito fm./honaker tr. fm.


    [/quote]

  14. #13
    WOW! That looks like so much fun.

  15. #14
    Awesome stuff, Kevin. You're making me think it's time for a re-visit, particularly to Buckskin. No such thing as too long, in this case.

    You gonna bring that balloon shot over to CT? There's points for that, you know!

  16. #15

  17. #16

  18. #17
    Makes me want to go back and do it all over again. There was only one spring flowing good enough to fill up at last May/June, and we missed all the petroglyphs. Half the time we didn't know where we were cause who wants to stare at a map when you have so much to look at? It looks like the angle of the sun this time of year was good for producing well exposed pics in Buckskin. My current profile pic is from Buckskin actually.

    Great TR
    Mike

  19. #18

    Day 4

    Glad you guys are enjoying it!


    Day 4: Upside Down Rock to Lees Ferry

    I was up at about 7:15, and packed up a bit while waiting for the sun to crest the hills.



    I wanted better lighting for the petroglyphs. One boulder has art that appears to be done upside down on the top edge - hence the name "Upside Down Rock":



    A couple other boulders had some OK stuff on them (nothing spectacular), but my battery was starting to show signs of wearing out, so I started limiting my photo taking a little bit.

    I got moving around 8:30, expecting to be at Lees Ferry around 12:30 to 1:00. Here the flood plain is very wide and sandy. This section is an old uranium-hunting mining road:



    At P33.4, 2 miles past the petroglyphs, was Wilson Ranch. All that is left is a bit of foundation, and a few scraps of metal equipment scattered around, as well as a bit of fencing. Here is some of the foundation.



    Right beside the old ranch is a small spring, but it's more like a very wet patch on the grass. Apparently, it was once fenced off and piped, but no longer.

    At about P34.7, there is a bench that starts up on the left side, where the Moenkopi formation begins. This is where the old Dominguez, or Ute, Trail heads up towards the rim. Apparently, a mining road followed the route as well. At the very base of the ramp that heads up is a boulder with a couple of petroglyphs, plus the initials "FTJ" and the date 1896. I later read that "PWJ" is also on the boulder, but didn't see that. Anyway, Frank Tilton, and Price William Johnson were sons of the man who ran the ferry from 1875 to 1896. They left their mark just before leaving the area.



    More of the wide open sand flats:



    As I continued, I wanted to look for the "Spencer Place" - apparently there was an old car from the 1920s out front. I finally realized that I'd gone too far, and had (once again) been on the wrong side of the river. I put down the pack, and started heading back up the correct side of the river. I went for a while - 10 minutes or so - and decided that I didn't feel up to continuing the search; I was getting pretty tired by then. On the way back, I found this fence post, with a small tangle of old barbed wire on it. Looked like a good spot for a siesta photo:



    I think this is where I was last sure that I had my written diary of my trip. After that...

    At 12:20, I arrived at the trail register, and signed out.

    A little way beyond was the old Lonely Dell Ranch's Cemetery. The Johnson headstone is the same family as the initials on the boulder. Sadly, Frank and Price Johnson lost 4 young siblings in May and June of 1891 to fever. There were some other touching ones - Lucy Emett, "B & D" June 11, 1902, and Calvin Johnson (son of Price Johnson, from the boulder) who lived only seven months in 1928. Really made me think when I realized he would have been only 5 months older than my dad, who passed away a couple of years ago.



    Next I reached Lonely Dell itself. Just before was this truck. Seen better days...



    That's when I realized I didn't have my diary anymore. I dropped my pack and headed back up the trail for 10 or 15 minutes, but there was nothing I could see. The wind was blowing pretty good, so I figured 3 folded sheets of paper could have got anywhere in that time, especially the further back up the trail I went. Dejectedly, I returned to my pack and continued in to Lonely Dell Ranch.

    This is called the Picture Window Cabin. I wonder why... The structure was built sometime between 1873 and the mid 1920s, and moved to this location in 1946. The window was originally much smaller, and enlarged between 1946 and the mid 1960s.



    This is the dugout, or root cellar - built between 1878 and 1898. The roof was replaced around 1970, and stabilized in 1992. There is a possibility that John Emett is buried in here. He died in the winter of 1909, and the "womanfolk" buried him here, as it was the only unfrozen ground around. Accounts differ as to whether he was disinterred and moved to the cemetery. His marker there may be only that.



    A couple of cabins at the ranch. First is the "Samantha Johnson Cabin", built in 1881. The second is the "Jerry Johnson Cabin", built in 1925.





    From the ranch, I tried cutting through the orchard to cross the river directly to the parking lot. I found my way down to the river OK, but the south bank was almost impassable. I had to walk a long way to find a way back up out of the stream bed. Then I got lost in the bushes for a while. Finally, at 1:20, I made it back to the car.



    Most important gear on the trip:



    Final day: just under 5 hours, covering 7 miles.

    Total: over the course of 4 days, a little over 30 hours of hiking, and about 46 miles total covered. Sweet.


    I just wanted to get the final day up before I pack up for my flight. I'll put my thoughts and impressions into words later in the day, as I'm waiting at the airport. (Gotta love free wireless internet at the Las Vegas airport!)

  20. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by northernoutpost
    You gonna bring that balloon shot over to CT? There's points for that, you know!
    Hadn't thought of that, Chris. Yeah, I'll have to put up a whole trip report there (since WCC's not at full capacity...) Points? Balloons?

    I'll be doing the BCMC slideshow in May with this trip and touching on a couple other Utah trips as well. Oughta stop by!

  21. #20
    Most excellent. I need to get back to Buckskin soon. I suspect the solo aspect adds a nice quality to the trip, especially being your first time.

    Thanks for taking the time to post this!

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