Twig Adventures

GC Days 16 & 17: Parashant

Tuesday, March 5th 2024
Upper 185 Mile camp mile 186 to Parashant Camp mile 199
13 miles, elevation 1533′

We set off from camp pretty lazily, anticipating a shorter day. We’d been cautious not to go too far the day before, fearful that we’d creep up on the Americans again. The campsite at Whitmore Wash sounded nice, but we suspected they might be there. We didn’t want a repeat of Day 13 and we had no need to be in a hurry, after all. Same went for this day too. We had 3.25 days to go 40 miles, so we were planning to do another layover.

Just a few miles after getting on the river, we stopped just upstream of Whitmore Wash to check out some petrogylphs. We weren’t exactly sure where they were but followed a series of trails that led to a cliff band. From my experience searching for them along the Hayduke, I learned some key principles about where they tended to be. This helped narrow down the search area and I found them pretty easily. There was another trail nearby (Whitmore Trail) that led to a dirt road after only a mile. The was the shortest hike out of the canyon we’d come across since the first day. Looking back from the raft, I could see the road. It was a reminder just how close we were to getting back to civilization.

We also passed the helipad where commercial passengers are lifted out at mile 187.5. Their trips are typically only 3-7 days long and limited to the months of April through October. I had reservations about starting this trip in February but now I saw the many benefits of a winter trip, namely not having to share the river with commercial trips. I recalled being annoyed by one that passed the private group giving me a ride a year prior. They motored by us in a hurry and it just seemed wrong to be driving a boat down the river. Federal Regulations allow the use of motors up to 40hp by commercial outfitters. I loved rowing, and being self-propelled in general, so I felt vehemently opposed to the idea of motoring down the canyon.

We made it to camp very early, finding one of the nicest campsites yet. It had lots of space, great views, and easy access to the river. There were many fine tent sites nestled against the canyon wall, well protected from both the sun and wind. Best of all, the side canyon seemed to stretch for miles, offering nice hiking opportunities. We officially decided to do a layover here, coming to the conclusion early enough in the day that it facilitated a number of plans. Dania was so kind to let me use some of her conditioning shampoo to wash my hair. Up to this point, I’d been using Dr. Bronners soap, which was fine for washing skin but as I found out the hard way, not so good for hair. My locks felt like straw after 2 weeks. After my bath, I was refreshed and my hair almost back to normal. I went for a short hike up the canyon with Dania and Cleve then called it a night.

Wednesday, March 6th 2024
Parashant Camp mile 199
0 miles, elevation 1533′ (12 miles hiked)

Our 4th and last layover day! I had breakfast then started up the canyon in the morning. At least my shoulder injury still allowed me to go for a long hike. Some of the others had set out before me, but a mile in, I passed them and kept going. I was intent on doing some miles. I’d looked at my maps to see that the canyon went all the way to a dirt road and I was curious if I could make it there. I couldn’t tell how far this might be. though. I knew all too well that canyons are very sinuous and what looks like a mile on a flat screen is often double that. I had all day and fortunately had started my GPS watch at the beginning of my hike, so I was able to know precisely how far I’d gone and budget my time accordingly.

Around mile 4, I passed an interesting section where the strata of the canyon wall was all jumbled into blocks, indicating a lot of pressure and faulting. I also found a few shards of turquoise along the way. This wash was full of it and others spent much of the day hunting it. But I had an eye for other signs, finding several sets of footsteps heading north out of the canyon. I suspected they were dedicated hikers, since one set bore the tell-tale signs of Altra Lone Peaks, a popular trail runner. I also wondered if they had done an out and back or loop hike, since most of the prints I found were heading out of the canyon. They looked pretty fresh, too. It seemed like a really promising area for doing some long loop hikes.

I could only guess at the geologic forces at play that caused this jumble…a lot of pressure and time.

At mile 6, I was still a long ways off from the canyon rim and the dirt road, so I decided I better turn around. I probably would have need to go another 4 or 5 miles to make it out, and I wasn’t up for doing a 20+ mile round-trip day. I’d only brought a liter of water and the canyon wasn’t yielding much in the way of potholes. I found one that would have sufficed to briefly quench my thirst, had I needed some water. I enjoy testing my skills in finding water in the desert…I’m always on the look-out and taking notes whether I need water or not. It’s a good practice to get into. It had been nearly 80 degrees in the sun when I set out but deeper in the canyon, it was the perfect temperature for walking. While I didn’t settle my wanderlust in hiking the length of the canyon, I still enjoyed moving my legs and feeling immersed in the canyon. The silence, save for my favorite cry of the canyon wren, was very soothing. The desert had become such a part of me over the last couple of years. I felt like I now needed a dose of it on a regular basis.

On the way back and still with 4 miles to go, I ran into Magnus. Besides me, he was the most intrepid hiker and it was nice to have his company for the return. When we got back to camp, I was amused to see the day labors of some of the others. Cleve, Lucas, and Leo had built a hot tub near the beach, complete with a plastic liner and bordering rocks. The strategy was to heat buckets of water to continuously dump into the tub throughout the night. Though I contributed zero labor to this endeavor, I sure enjoyed the spoils! I sat with Dania in the evening, watching the stars and realizing how blessed we were. Thanks guys for all the work you put into making and heating the hot tub! What an incredible way to end this day!

One comment

  1. Twig, your life, the places you see, and the stories you tell of them are amazing❣️
    Your spirit is so curious, free, and fearless❣️❤️
    RESPECT, GAL❣️You have my total RESPECT and admiration❣️
    Keep being you, and doing all you do❣️❤️

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