Monday, May 10, 2010
Descending the Paria Canyon isn't the easiest thing to prepare for...the logistics of the car shuttle is even worse. Not only do you have to figure out how to find drinkable water at the many, but sometimes hard to find, springs, punish your body with over 100 river crossings, sand and bushwhacking, deal with the tricky weather often too hot or too cold or tricky water levels at ankle deep one day and then chest deep pools another, you also have to figure out how to actually shuttle your vehicles just to make it all happen.
The canyon itself is a one way adventure that's 38 miles long. Road distance from trailhead to finish is another story. From the White House Trailhead (where the Paria Canyon starts) to Lee's Ferry (where the Paria Canyon ends) is 75 miles! not counting the potentially 100's of miles it will take you just to get to the Paria Canyon from where you live.
What's the best way to shuttle? You have a few options to get yourself to the trailhead and then get yourself back home after you finish...below are the best three options in my mind.
1. Bring two cars...leave one at Lee's Ferry and then drive up to the White House Trailhead with the second (you will then have to go back up the the White House Trailhead when you finish the canyon to retrieve this car). Not so good an option...
2. Leave your car at Lee's Ferry and then hire a shuttle to drive up up to White House Trailhead. Better option...
3. Have a friend who's not doing the canyon to drop you off at White House Trailhead and then pick you up when you finish at Lee's Ferry. Best option!!!
We have the luxury of living only a couple hours from the Paria Canyon so we chose #3. Our friend Philip was nice enough to shuttle us for the second time! He shuttled Matt and I last year. Thank you Philip.
So, this is what has to go down, driving and time wise, for us to run the Paria Wednesday...
-We will all pile in a car with Philip about 3:45 am and drive the 2.5 hrs to the White House Trailhead.
-Philip will drop us off and we will start running the Paria Canyon by about 7 am.
-Philip will have free reign of our vehicle for the day so he can screw around and explore around the area while we are running...hopefully he won't get stuck anywhere or worse while we are in the canyon.
-Early afternoon (maybe between 2 and 5 pm we should have all made it to Lee's Ferry and Philip, after the 75 mile drive from White House to Lee's Ferry and all his screwing around in between, will be there to pick us up.
-We will then drive the 2 hours back to Flagstaff from Lee's Ferry.
Whew! We won't be the only one working hard that day. Philip is going to be putting in some serious driving miles for us. Thanks again Philip!!!
The above driving logistics is obviously the crux to making the whole thing happen. Once you figure out how your going to get the shuttle thing done all you have to worry about is the actual canyon descent planning. Way less stressful in my mind.
Oh, by the way...normally the crux, even bigger than figuring out the shuttle, is the permit for hiking the Paria. They limit how many people can go into the Paria for overnight backpacking trips and if I remember right it is a lottery system as they only allow 20 overnight backpackers in the canyon at a time. I have heard from friends that it is really, really hard to get a permit. I only know a few people in Flagstaff that have received a permit and were lucky enough to go. Day hiking or day running is easier as you can get a day use permit at a self pay station at the trailhead. You can, no joke, even get a day use permit for your dog! Yes, dogs are allowed in Paria Canyon. Believe it or not.... With the day use permit, you just have to leave the permit in your vehicle window at the parking area. The great thing about having a friend shuttle you is that you don't leave a vehicle anywhere so you don't have to obtain a permit if you don't want to...no way for them to track you. Thanks again Philip!
Note: I don't think they expect very many people to be doing the whole canyon in a day so the day permit thing assumes someone is parking at White House Trailhead, hiking in a few miles and then hiking back to their car or over to Buckskin Canyon. I think that most rangers, if they saw you in the thick of the canyon, wouldn't be asking you about permits they would be more concerned about you surviving!
So, that's the skinny on the driving situation. It can be very difficult to coordinate but we got it done and in two days we'll be sloshing our way down the canyon! Bring on the adventure! Bring on the suffering! Less than 48 hours till go time!!!
Want more info about Paria? I'll try to give a good report after Wednesday's run and here are a few good links:
Arizona Hiking Trails
Todd's Hiking Guide
...and here is my report from last year.
Posted by Jason Henrie at 8:25 AM