Day 25: Paria River

Monday May 15, 24.7mi/39.8km

Hackberry Canyon (404.7/5360ft) to Paria River @Deer Creek Cyn (429.4/5160ft) (UT)

We got started at 7am, and the the very first thing that happened was I stepped in deep quicksand. It was up to my knee and I immediately pulled myself out, Shadow tested the depth with his hiking pole.

The rest of the morning hiking down Hackberry Canyon was much less eventful. Just walking in ankle deep water.

Eventually the canyon walls turned from white rock to red rock.

The green Cottonwood trees combined with the red rocks really made for a dazzling color combination.

We passed by the Watson cabin, an historic shelter that is being restored by the BLM.

I loved that cacti were growing on the roof.

The inside of the cabin was small, so we took a snack break outside where there was more room.

The views heading down Hackberry Canyon continued to surprise me.

The lower part of Hackberry Canyon became much narrower, and it was much easier walking without the brush or boulders.

And it felt so cozy!

Pretty soon I came to the end of Hackberry Canyon and emerged at a trailhead. The note about the dead cows really helped explain the terrible smell I detected a few miles back.

I walked along Cottonwood Creek for a couple miles, and then came to the Paria River. I hadn’t seen Shadow or his footprints, so I decided to wait for him at this junction. Coincidentally he was waiting for me nearby, and neither of us realized it for 45 minutes, ha!

After we reunited and had lunch, we hiked up the muddy Paria River.

The rocks in the canyon were much more red. And the big storm cloud building to the north caught my attention as well.

A couple miles up the Paria River, we ran into a kid named Levi. He is on a 4-year transcontinental journey from his home in Susanville (CA) to the Atlantic ocean. He has a small team of horses and mules and is learning a ton of skills along the way. Sounds pretty cool!

We continued up the Paria River all afternoon.

I’m not sure what kind of bird made these tracks, but it must be pretty huge.

And then we came across the strangest object I’ve ever seen on a trail….a cow skull, spraypainted blue.

Who brings a can of spraypaint many miles into the wilderness? And what happened to the cow? So many questions. We moved on. Most of the hiking was right on the riverbank, on nice firm sand. Occasionally though a trail would cut across one of the riverbends as a “shortcut”. Except these shortcuts were full of soft sand that was terrible to walk in, and they didn’t save any time or energy.

We crossed and re-crossed the Paria River probably 50 times. It was barely shin deep, so pretty easy to cross, but it looked like chocolate milk so you couldn’t see the bottom.

Every once in awhile there was a unique little rock formation in the river, this one looked like a toadstool.

We had hiked up the Paria River for 13 miles, and called it a day at 6pm near Deer Creek, which was a nice water source.

Shadow and I discussed plans for tomorrow, since it’s only 19 miles to the town of Tropic (12mi on trail, and 7 on roads). We decided to hike all the way to town, arriving probably at 2pm. That’s pretty late in the day to get everything done, so we will take a zero day the next day to fully relax in town.

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