Town lingering & an introduction to Buckskin Gulch

A fun morning in Kanab, you’d hardly think we were supposed to hitch out and hike today. 

First I wrote emails to elected leaders and appointed officials asking them to keep our National Monuments in place; especially Bears Ears NM and Grand Staircase-Escalante NM. 

Then resupplied at Honey’s (no beer, but they do sell kombucha). Chatted with Daybreaker and Don about living well (which doesn’t mean $$$), the challenges of Seattle, serving those in need. It makes me so proud of Daybreaker and his work with the Chicken Soup Brigade which is helping to serve people in need… and the fundraising he is doing for CSB as part of this trip.

Gabriel and I walked across town to have a delicious breakfast at Peekaboo Kitchen Wood Fired Kitchen (asparagus and gouda omelettes, kale salad, good coffee). Yay for a veggie-focused menu. Then pick up packages from the PO. 

We made reservations for the Sun’N’Sand. Not missing out on homemade peanut butter banana muffins. Left our packages with the manager. And hung out with Daybreaker for a little bit longer. Then it was time to get back to the trail. 

Took about 25 minutes to get a ride with a sesrch and rescue helicopter pilot. Cool chatting about the places to explore around the Buckskin-Paria vicinity and preparedness for the pursuit at hand. A few protips if it turns out you aren’t prepared or stuff happens: 1) make yourself visible, 2) know they’d rather do a rescue than a recovery, and 3) be grateful when the helicopter gets to you!

Back to Buckskin Wash by 2 pm. We started to meander down canyon on cattle trails and the rocky cobbles of the wash. Single leaf ash, brilliant fushia-colored Zion vetchling, red paintbrush, purple thickleaf penstemon, and apricot globemallow interspersed the sagebrush benches. Sign of big horn sheep amid the cow tracks. Whip tail lizards and cottontail rabbits darting across the wash.

We hiked by Trekker Bob and Fireweed, chated for a bit. Buckskin Wash was good walking and we were at the Buckskin Gulch TH for the slot canyon by 5 pm.

Day permits purchased, we were kinda torn. At this point we’d have a mere three hours in this remarkable place that others take trips just to see. Buckskin Gulch-Paria Canyon, we’ll be back just for you.

A while back we’d decided not to take the Nick Barth alternate that sounds totally awesome and goes through the classic narrows and includes some fun scrambling down a mesa. Throwing in a bonus trip to an already amazing hike seemed like it would be too much and would eat into our relaxing buffer to re-enter the workaday world. 

And something we’d both felt while in Tanzania was that we didnt want to do too much. We wanted the experiences of trekking up Kilimanjaro, going on safari, meeting exceptional people, and watching sunsets with Sarah to be items checked off a bucket list a or boasted about (been there, done that…). We wanted the vibrant detailed experiences to sear deep into our memories. Be part of our perspective. Let thoughts settle before we go on to the next big thing. 

Likewise, that is how we have felt with the Hayduke. The route has taken us to spectacular places we’d only heard of or never knew existed. There are spots on a growing list to return to and explore in detail when the full focus is on that place.

For now, we are grateful for all we have seen and become aware of! The Hayduke has been our 200 level course on route to a lifetime minor on the canyons and deserts of the Southwest.

Good mindset in place, we head down the trail into the wash and brilliant red and orange hills of Navajo sandstone that guard the slot canyon. Gabriel is walking ahead, mindful of the fact we need to be out of the canyon by dark and curious about the formations ahead. I’m distracted already by flowering banana yucca, globemallow, fragrant cliffrose, jackrabbits, and a bull snake (which Gabriel walked right by!).

A couple miles and bends in the wash to the rising sandstone walls that are becoming closer together. A few alcoves with hanging gardens nearby. We feel as if we’ve stepped into another world. 

The sandstone is fluted and scalloped with details in the desert varnish. Brown, red, orange, black walls just a few feet across and hundred feet up. Late afternoon light and shadows have some walls glowing. The air is noticibly cooler. We slow to admire this place.

Soon enough, we are a giant wall with much detailed rock art. So many petroglyphs of big horn sheep, trails, mountains. We wonder what they mean. 

The wall is also next to the exit through Wire Pass to the trailhead. We shimmy through the narrows. Have a minute of fun bouldering and a Mukmuk photo shoot.

The fluted sandstone near the entrance of The Wave looks like a fine bench for dinner. We walk on by. Maybe we will when that lottery someday. 

Another bend and we are back out in the warm air of the open wash and evening light. The Navajo hills are fire red and orange in the desert glow. The air is rich in the sweet fragrance of cliffrose and Apache plume. Jackrabbits lope, cottontails scurry about. Crickets are chorusing. We stop and watch beetles doing yoga, inspect speckled insects new to us. 
At the Wire Pass Trailhead, we make a cowboy camp in the sagebrush. Then have dinner on the rocks by the interpretive signs. Bats fly about. The sky goes from the color of chardonnay and honey to pale peaches, purple, and finally the blue hues of twilight. 

Another beautiful and relaxing day on the Hayduke. 

Day 35: 13.9 miles; 542.6 miles total. Hwy 89 at Buckskin Wash to Wire Pass Trailhead.

GPS: not needed; people sighted: Fireweed and Trekker Bob in Buckskin Wash and give hikers, best of all, Daybreaker!; roads: we crossed a couple.

More pictures to come, but 4G and wifi aren’t so good in these parts.

Nearing the first narrows of Buckskin Gulch.
Water sculpts beautiful hallways into the sandstone.
We look forward to lingering in these narrows someday.

One thought on “Town lingering & an introduction to Buckskin Gulch”

  1. I so enjoy reading your posts and seeing your pictures because it’s fun to relive so many places I’ve been and see them through your eyes! And, reading your words makes me like feel I have gotten to know better in a way that I didn’t know you before. Thanks for sharing!

    I’m down with your philosophy of lingering. When Charlie and I were down in the Paria last year, we didn’t win “that” lottery either. *Shoulder shrug* Instead, we made the epic trip to White Pockets in the Vermillion Cliffs; it’s The Wave on steroids. No lottery or day pass needed. Sometimes it pays to roll with it. Can we kick it? Yes we can.

    Happy trails.

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