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100 Classic Hikes Arizona
by Scott S. Warren (The Mountaineers Books)
© 2015 Scott S. Warren/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.
Wonderful hike! Spectacular views. Good camp sites. We had excellent weather. There were a fair number of people in the canyon in mid-April. A few words of warning about the water: We had to cross the river dozens of times, usually in ankle-deep water. By carefully choosing where to cross, we avoided anything deeper than our knees. Three tips: 1. Use at least one, if not two, poles to feel your way through the water and help maintain balance in swift current on rocky river bottom. (In general, if you cross where it's rocky--you can tell by the turbulence, the water is shallower, the current faster, and the footing trickier. If you cross where it isn't rocky, the water is deeper, the current slower, and the bottom mucky with quicksand in places.)
2. Wear good boots--not water shoes--and live with them being wet all the time. (Carry dry footwear for camp.)
3. Protect your calves with knee socks, gators, or long pants. (We didn't. After the first day or so, our calves were scarred by the silt-laden swift water and stung a bit after each crossing.)
Review is only for Paria trail head and the Soap Creek trail, access south of Cliff Dwellers.
"Developed" campsites at the National Monument. Ranger is sometimes hard to find in office. Stop all NPS pickups and ask current location. They have radios.
Permits are required for overnights in the Grand Canyon N.P., as in Soap Creek, a few miles downstreem of the Navaho Bridge. North Grand Canyonermits permits can be had from the Lee's Ferry Recreation Area, (Monument?) rangers. Alternative, leagalicially obsessed campers could pitch their tent a hundred or so yards west on BLM land, and just visit the river as day use, permit not required. Check for local changes.
Soap Creek is about six miles but plan on using the most part of a day in and again out. The trail has one "technical" spot, an aging rope ladder was left. Scary but I used it and lived.
Spectacular canyons - magnificent scenery. Be sure to explore Buckskin Gulch from the confluence. Very easy flat hiking in the river bottom, except for the foot numbing cold water, which you will be crossing or wading constantly. This time of year (mid-Nov) the long nights seem interminable and it stays cold in the canyon bottom which sees little direct sun. The good news is it keeps most people away. The posted trail guide is not very informative - best is Hiking and Exploring the Paria River written by Michael R. Kelsey - great detail about sights, springs and camp sites.
This is not really the appropriate trail guide as I hiked the buckskin via wire pass to lees ferry. The scenery was amazing and the last 3 days of the trip were easy going. Only saw 2 other day trip hikers the whole time. The buckskin was a mess, 3 pools that had to be swam across, about 70% mud and took 10hrs. We had traveled along ways to do the buckskin but in hind sight i would of rather hiked the Paria and spent an extra day just doing a side trip up into the buckskin form its confluence with the Paria. Other than the strenuous first day(which was still amazing) this was probably the best backpacking trip i've ever done. Even though I say the buckskin was tough it could of been twice as bad and still worth it. Everone who sees our pictures wants us to take them and I think I might return to do it again this year. One tip I wore keens the whole time and they were great.
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