Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Buckskin Gulch: Chocolate Pudding Edition I

My first week off of work, and I am slacking in the blogging department...tssk tssk. Mission heat biking acclimation isn't going to do itself.

So I have a recommendation for any adventurers out there in the Four Corners area. Get off your duff and make a reservation to hike through Buckskin is worth it.

I have done slot canyons before and I have hiked along rivers many many times, but never has the grandness of the extremes been this visible. It was deeper, longer, muddier, and more beautiful than any of canyon predecessors that had come before it.

When cliffs rise up 400 feet and you can't see the sky all while you can touch both sides of the canyon with your arms spread out, this is a cool feeling. I had a tired cranky moment about 7 hours into the hike where I thought, "I am tired of this dark narrow feeling and I just want to see the sky for for a minute". Then I promptly punched myself in the face and started to appreciate this amazingness of the above ground tunnel I was hiking through.

Without further ado, I present you a picture best writing.

We started the day a little later than planned so the sun was up bright and hot. We dropped into Buckskin Gulch via the Wire Pass entrance. The hike quickly drops into some small narrows and past huge red stone rock walls. Here is our group of 10.

After the Wire Pass trail head dumped into Buckskin, we quickly learned of the challenge of the weekend. Mud holes. Yup, the water spots I envisioned wading varied more from chocolate pudding to chocolate peanut butter consistency. It was ice cold and would try to suck your shoes off. I gave up trying to get clean after the second one when I realized that there was no water to wash off in and that another mud hole was lurking around the corner.

We stopped for lunch and hoped that the worst of the mud was wasn't. The next section of Buckskin Gulch is unbelievably narrow, high and beautiful. There were some fun down climbs, a lot of loose travel over boulders and then a whole series of fun deep mud holes to explore.

We finally rolled into part of the canyon that widened out enough to safely camp in about 8 hours after we started. It was a long, hard but amazing day and we were ready for food, a shower and bed. Except there was no water to wash muddy we stayed. We saw a small rattler snake near our camp but we were too tired to care. My knee was a little achy by the end of the day, but overall held up to my 35 lb pack with 5 liters of water quite nicely.

Most of the better photos by Dale Wiggins).

Day 2 to come....I am off to Moab Utah now for more adventures and will be back sometime next week.

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