Day 3: The Surprisingly Beautiful Lower Paria

Bush Head Canyon to Lee’s Ferry
(12 miles, +0/-400 feet).

I was not looking forward to today.  I imagined that the lower Paria would be a very wide canyon with monotonous red walls far away on either side and ranch land in the middle.  I also thought we would continue to have lots of route finding and scrambling and river crossings all the way down.

Instead, what we got was a beautiful trail (almost PCT-like in some places) through diverse scenery with dazzling colors in both flower and stone.

Storm clouds were rolling in last night, so in the interest of getting back to the car before the rain turns Wire Pass into Wire Impassable, we got a very early start this morning (Art noted that he was the first one packed!).

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Early start
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Beautiful morning flower

The trail this morning was really consistent, staying to one side or another of the river for one or two miles at a time.  It was also really easy to follow, and it traced contours in places to reduce the ups and downs.

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Sweet trail
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Paria bend

We found more petroglyphs, though perhaps less impressive:

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What could they be telling us?!?

One of the traverses was sketchy enough that we discussed going around it, but with trekking poles to dig into the sides of the hill, we made it okay.

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MixMaster smiles after the sketchiness
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More sweet trail
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Gorgeous badlands nestled in orange
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Golden lichen, golden flowers
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Green and red
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Climbing high above the river
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Blooming cactus with stone
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Here come the storm clouds
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Pretty white flowers

Around 8am we took our first break by a wash with a wonderful view of the canyon behind us.

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Beautiful canyon wall
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Less beautiful

After the break Art found some more petroglyphs on boulders strewn across the plain.

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Ancient sketch pad

As the sun rose in the sky, the desert pastels of the canyon became more intense.

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Nice!
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Paria pastels
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Boulder slide (looks fun!)
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JimmyJam pauses at a crest in the trail
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Sand flowers
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MixMaster vs. mushroom

After mile 31 we found our last batch of petroglyphs for the day, located near a wonderfully improbable stack of rocks.

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Anasazi menagerie
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Art and the petroglyphs
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Sometimes they are on the back
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MixMaster admires an oddity
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Improbable

The rest of the hike was super easy, passing through wide plains and by wonderful wildflowers.  I put my headphones on for the last bit, listening to Pinkshinyultrablast.

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Bloomin’ yucca
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Making our way
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Emerging from the sand dunes
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Fields in flower
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Sandscape
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Following a dry meander
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Pretty!

We took one last break, where I polished off the last of my food.

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Good to the last drop
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Heading down canyon
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Orange
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Pink, green, and gold
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Almost there
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Paria bend
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Red cliffs of the lower Paria
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More gold
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Ranch rockhouse
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Bendy Paria
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Heading towards the Lonely Dell Ranch
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Trailside boquet

Just to make things interesting, when we got to the Lonely Dell Ranch, we headed cross country to traverse the Paria one last time to get back to our car.

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Once more with feeling!
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Woo hoo!
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