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Paria Canyon 1994

Up to Deer Creek Canyon

Monday, April 21   Depending on the number of distractions, six miles can be a full day's hike in canyon country. The topo map promised that the canyon would be narrowing down as we headed upstream. Departure from camp that morning followed the usual pattern. George was underway first, followed by Lance, and Andy and Sue. Susie and I always seem to be out just ahead of Will and Barbara, who always bring up the rear. Will seems to fight getting up, and usually won't get out until the sun beating down makes the tent unbearably hot. Susie always wonders why we can not get rolling faster, and I often wonder myself. I find that it always takes longer to move after a layover day, as gear and clothing get more scattered. I also find that I can usually break camp faster if I am hiking solo. I would imagine Susie would find the same thing. So I figure it must be just some anti-synergism. Anyway, we got out of there at the near-usual time, about 9:30 or so. After a couple of hairpin bends in the river, the canyon above Hogeye straightens out a lot. Susie and I passed up the opportunity to explore the canyon about 1.5 miles upstream of last night's camp, preferring to conserve energy. We were not sure how hot it would get, or how difficult the hiking would be. As it turned out, the hiking was pretty straight forward, but picture-taking and general standing around and looking at the canyon walls, which were getting more scenic, consumed additional time.

As is always the case, the crew spread out quite a bit. One group decides they see a pretty cactus, another sub-party decides that a little side canyon must be explored; another bunch may just want to stare at the sky and marvel at the solitude. We were approaching being "in" for 48 hours, and except for the two guys in the pickup, we had not seen a single soul. Susie and I pulled into Snake Creek Canyon, comfortable with the progress we were making. It also seemed to have exploratory potential, and would be a nice place to stop for lunch. We were a bit surprised to see George and some of the rest of the crew had a similar idea. While the mouth of the canyon was a bit tight and had quite a bit of vegetation, we decided to do some exploring. We thrashed through the brush, and got to the second fork in the canyon. Decided that while there may be potential up ahead, it did not seem too promising in the next few hundred meters, so we turned around. George was relaxing and having a bite to eat. It is fun to watch him hike. He always seems at such peace with himself and the surroundings. He usually wears this shit-eating grin on his face, as though that, in addition to the obvious great time he is having, there is something else going on that the rest of us just don't get. Will and Barbara had shown up, and decided that this would be lunch for them as well. The rest of the crew pulled out, now focusing on getting to the mouth of Deer Creek Canyon and finding a place to camp.

Susie and I started hiking, and we reveled in the scenery. The White Cliff, made of the Navajo sandstone, became visible in the distance. The canyon was getting really neat. While it still was not a tight canyon, and the floor was usually a couple hundred meters wide, the views were getting better. After a bit, we heard Will call to us. We turned to see him and Barbara moving at an atypical sprightly pace. He asked us if we had looked up in the sky and seen the weird lighting. We did look, and saw something I have never seen before: a rainbow-like coloration near a cloud. It was quite strange. I think it must have been due to light be refracted through ice crystals in the upper atmosphere, but I sure did not see anything that looked like rain. We took pictures, and Will speculated as to its origin, in typical, lawyer-like, unscientific fashion. It is always interesting, for one who is trained in the sciences, to listen to smart people who are not trained in the sciences wonder how the world around them works.

Susie and I pulled into camp, which was a couple hundred meters into the mouth of Deer Valley Canyon, about 3 pm. It is always nice to have someone doing all the scouting for you. The campsite was pretty good. It had some nice cottonwoods, and was off the floor of the creek bed, although rain did not seem a likely possibility. Sam seemed to be working on her tan lines, and various others were occupied with the usual chores associated with establishing a temporary home for the night. Naturally, I began to focus on getting a bath. Thankfully, there was pretty good flow of water coming out of Deer Creek, so I would be able to avoid the prospect of using the muddy river water to bathe for another evening. It had been a great day of hiking, enough to feel like we had accomplished something, but not too much to be tired. Andy reported some great pictographs up into the Canyon, but Susie and I had decided to save that for tomorrow, because we would have such a short hike up to Crack Spring. That night, we had a big fire. Barbara M. pulled out a huge bag of marshmallows, and we all acted like kids, roasting the fluffy white concoctions of egg white and refined sugar. As usual, I caught a lot of grief, as my technique for roasting (whereby you let the marshmallow catch on fire, and then blow out the fire when it is adequately cooked) was deemed too sophomoric even for this crew of overgrown kids.

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Roger A. Jenkins, 1994, 2000