Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Buckskin Gulch and the Paria River

Even though I have explored many places in the Grand Staircase National Monument like Coyote Gulch more than a dozen times, I had not had the experience of hiking Buckskin Gulch or the Paria River area until this last summer, June 2019.

I had heard of Buckskin Gulch quite a few times, but very little about the Paria River. Other than the Paria was usually the reason why the Colorado River when from clear to cloudy water on my Grand Canyon rafting trips. 

When a friend got his hiking permit for both Buckskin and the Paria and I got the invite to join his group, I was really excited to do Buckskin Gulch knowing it would be a long narrow canyon hike.  I imagined the Paria to be a very wide open and exposed canyon and wondered if hiking the Paria was going to be worth it.

Our trip was in late June to have a better chance of good weather for the 5 day trip.
We were scheduled to start the hike on Tuesday, but the weather in the Bryce Canyon area was threatening.

We stopped by the Paria Ranger Station east of Kanab on Monday afternoon to check in and get the permit. Checking the weather forecast one more time, we decided to wait a day and hike Buckskin Gulch starting in Wire Pass on Wednesday. 

We had already planned to check out Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon near Page, AZ on Monday before starting the hike. 

After enjoying the rest of the day near Page, we then worked our way back up Hwy 89 and found excellent camping at the White House Campground. 

Due to the weather issues, we decided spend Tuesday out on the North Rim of Grand Canyon as a worthy alternative. 

After spending the night at White House our group of six enjoyed the North Rim of Grand Canyon on Tuesday being auto tourists taking in the sights available to people who take the short walks to the various overlooks along the north rim.

Being a long-time whitewater rafter, it was fun to look down from the north rim and look at a rapid in the distance and recognize the rapid as Unkar. That’s a long way up the canyon rim to scout a rapid! At least from that vantage point it sure liked Unkar to me.

After leaving a vehicle at Lees Ferry for a way back after completing the hike, we drove north on House Rock Valley Road (BLM 1065) to Stateline Camp to be close to the Wire Pass trail head the next morning. It’s approximately 34 miles from Lees Ferry to House Rock Valley Road and 19 miles north to State Line. This camp has vault toilets, canopies, and picnic tables, but no water.

Wednesday we were greeted with great weather and we packed up and headed to Wire Pass, just two miles north of the State Line Camp.

Many who hike Buckskin in one day will hike in through Wire Pass and head one-way through Buckskin and then turn upriver on the Paria to White House to complete the long day hike.

The Wire Pass trail head has a large parking area and vault toilets, but no water. The trail starts across the road heading east into the wash. Because we were carrying full backpacks we chose to access Buckskin Gulch via Wire Pass to cut off a few miles.

Wire Pass is 1.7 miles in length. Starting the hike where the road crosses Buckskin Gulch is 4.5 miles to the Wire Pass Junction decreasing the first day’s mileage by almost 3 miles. 

Wire Pass starts out wide and eventually narrows down to a nice slot canyon, similar to what is found in Buckskin Gulch. Wire Pass is also a popular access point to Coyote Buttes, better known as The Wave.

Wire Pass has a boulder choke that isn’t too difficult to negotiate. 

Wire Pass also gets narrow when carrying a full pack, but nothing very difficult.

The junction of Wire Pass and Buckskin Gulch has some faint petroglyphs on the right side of the canyon wall. 

The length of Buckskin Gulch from Wire Pass to the confluence with Paria River is approximately 11.5 miles. This is a canyon NOT to plan on camping in as the flash flood danger is extreme so completing the Wire Pass to the Paria section of 13 miles is a must.

Using a map that starts at the Buckskin entrance, mileage at the confluence would be 4.5 even though the Wire Pass entrance cuts off 2.8 miles. Each time a mile point is identified, subtract 2.8 miles to get the actual mileage hiked from the Wire Pass trail head.

Buckskin Gulch tends to alternate between relatively narrow sections to wider open sections, but it’s safe to say emergency exits to high ground are few and camping options do not exits, even in the wider places.

What struck me as usually compared to all the hiking I have done in the region is the moss growing on the walls because the sun never reaches those areas because the canyon is so deep and narrow in places.

Being inclined to simply soak in the beauty of the area, I didn’t take a lot of pictures. 

Keeping in mind the canyon stretches for over 11 miles after reaching the confluence from Wire Pass, the changes in the character of the canyon were very interesting.

The person with the permit was experiencing his third trip through Buckskin/Paria and he was very surprised at the amount of water in Buckskin.

We were in water and mud for a significant portion of the day.

After a while we stopped worrying about the bottom of the pack touching water as it was just took too much effort to keep the pack up higher than the water line.

There were a couple of boulder jams that took some effort to negotiate.

The first one had a relatively easy route up and over the left side of the canyon. I wasn’t able to determine where in the canyon we reached this first boulder jam to identify the mileage point.

The “Middle Route” at Mile 11.5 wasn’t obvious to me. I took a couple of pictures wondering if that spot might be the Middle Route out of the canyon, but I was never very confident that we had found it.

The big major boulder jam at Mile 14.5 was very obvious.

It took us a little while to find a viable way through the boulder jam as standing water had clogged up a lot of the areas that could have served as a passage way down.

The common route of scaling a boulder with toe holds carved into the rock just wasn’t working out as an option as wet boots were just not gripping the toe holds consistently enough to risk it.

We found an alternate sliding down a sloped rock and in to an open area below the largest boulders.
We lowered the packs down approximately 20 feet and then we were able to continue hiking beyond the big jam.

Approximately a ¼ mile from the confluency with the Paria the canyon opened up with some potential camping.

One thing I noticed was a little bit of clear water coming in from the right side near where a camp was indicated on the map.

We didn’t stop, but I suspect there was a good possibility of a fresh water spring near that camp.
After reaching the confluence with the Paria River, we headed downstream for the rest of our hike. 

The confluence of Buckskin and the Paria is about ¼ mile past Mile 7 on the Paria River. Keep in mind we  had already hiked 13 miles even though the map mileage at this point is only 7. 

Another group had already set up camp on river left not very far downstream from the confluence, so we kept going approximately 2 more miles to a nice high camp on river right.

The water was very silty and we used a collapsible water bucket to settle water for the rest of our water needs in camp and for the first part of the next day.

On our second day we stopped for water at a wall spring that wasn’t producing a lot of water. We put water bottles below the best flowing “drips” and relaxed for about 45 minutes while we waited for our bottles to fill.

When we came to Big Spring just past Paria River Mile 12, we found a excellent flowing spring in the rock and quickly filled all our containers.

In the future, I plan to not spend much time at the first spring unless it’s flowing well, anticipating that Big Spring will be flowing well.

Because we dropped a day in favor of drier weather, we needed to average around 10 miles a day or more to reach Lees Ferry on Saturday early enough to be able to travel back to Salt Lake City by Saturday night.

We left Big Spring all topped off with water and continued to a nice high camp near Wrather Arch Canyon on river left.

We were never quite sure where Wrather Arch Canyon came in. We may have passed it prior to camping, but either way we didn’t hike up the side canyon to see Wrather Arch.

We almost missed Shower Spring as it’s hidden behind a lot of growth at Paria Mile 22.

Luckily there was a group of scouts from Arizona who were just getting ready to leave and pointed out where to access Shower Spring. The area opposite Shower Spring looked like an excellent camp option.

Shower Spring was nice and cool and almost felt tropical. We topped everything again and headed down the river again.

Because the water was very silted and higher than typical for June, finding river crossings and the best routes weren’t as easy as other times according to our permit holder.

We met up with the scout troop near Mile 25 and we were a bit surprised they had already stopped.
We realized later that they had stopped to refill at what is labeled on the map as the last reliable spring. We totally missed the opportunity to top off one more time.

We eventually started accessing the high-water trail, which was a much better option than the numerous river crossings that would have been required had we stayed low.

Personally, I enjoyed the Paria River portion of the hike more than Buckskin Gulch. We all have our preferences, and I had expected the Paria to be a wide-open canyon most of the way.

I was pleasantly surprised to be able to experience many dramatic changes in the scenery and character of the canyon and loved every step.

After the wide trail descended to a river crossing, we decided to stop and filter water just in case we ended up on the high trail longer than our water would have lasted.

Because the water was so silty, it took a long time to filter enough water to ensure everyone had at least a quart to hopefully get us to our final campsite.

I personally only carry a water filter that has a ceramic filter. A paper filter would have clogged on the first day and would have been useless at that point. Ceramic filters do clog faster but can be cleaned many times over without the filter failing.

I’ve had a Katadyn Pocket for more than 10 years and have filtered a lot of silty water and I’m still on the original ceramic filter. 

If I were hiking near high-mountain clear streams it would be a big deal to have something like a Katadyn Pro with a paper filter system. In the canyons where cloudy water is the rule, not the exception, a ceramic filter is well worth the extra cost.

Our goal was to reach Mile 33.5 next to Wilson Ranch.

At Mile 31.5 we crossed to river left and came to a few boulders full of petroglyphs.

As we were looking at one boulder in particular, we were surprised to see a triangle shaped shadow stretching across the petroglyphs.

Someone also realized that it was 6pm Mountain Time on June 20th, the summer solstice. This may be totally coincidental, but looking at the way the shadow spread across the rock and being later in the day, how maybe earlier the point of the shadow could have pointed to the spiral design on the rock, I couldn’t help but think of the Sun Dagger petroglyph at Chaco Canyon that marked the solstices twice a year. A pretty cool possibility to consider!

Hopefully, we’re past the days when people think it’s okay to deface ancient artifacts with their own stupid initials or names like “Elick.” Ugh!

After a long day we finally made to Wilson Ranch only to realize the scouts were already there. Not knowing what possible camps were ahead of us that were close to the river, we asked if they wouldn’t mind if we camped down below them about 50 feet. They were gracious enough to let us camp close by.

We had a very windy night, but everyone was tired enough that we all slept well.

Because we made it all the way to Wilson Ranch on Day 3 we only had 5.5 miles to reach Lees Ferry.
By now the canyon had widened out much like what I had originally expected the entire Paria hike to be like. 

The closer we got to Lees Ferry, the more evidence of civilization we would see.

There was road construction happening accessing Lonely Dell and we had to park our vehicle where the river runners would park. This also meant we had to cross the Paria one more time to reach our destination without having to take a huge detour west to the paved road and then back up to the Lees Ferry parking lot.

I’m probably in the minority with my thoughts about the Buckskin/Paria hike. I really enjoyed hiking Buckskin, but I absolutely loved hiking the Paria. 

The upper section was reminiscent of Coyote Gulch in some ways, with the middle section changing to something more unique, and then opening up to grand vistas of some of the larger canyons in Grand Canyon. 

I’m already anxious to set up the next trip down the Paria, and if it includes Buckskin Gulch as well, I’ll be just fine with that too!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Goal Accomplishment Tips

If you set goals regularly, you already elevate yourself into the top 3% of the population when it comes to increase accomplishment.

If you are not one to set goals, maybe it's because you have "been there, done that" and it didn't work out very well for you. Failing to succeed at goals setting led you to decide goal setting just wasn't worth the frustration.

Can you imagine a soccer game, or a football game without goals or goal lines?

Maybe it's time to consider goal setting again, this time with a few helpful tips to get you to successful goal achievement more often.

One of my favorite goal setting tips is to set some smaller sized goals that lead up to the achievement of the "big stuff" you desire.

As a Jack Canfield Coach we would refer to this as "chunking down" the goal into smaller steps.

In my Rich Dad Coaching we would teach this sequence: 1) Identify the big dream, 2) break that down into the large goals required to achieve the dream, 3) break the goals down into projects that would be needed to achieve each goal, and finally 4) break down the projects into activities that would get the projects done.

Think in terms of the amount of time, effort, and other resources needed. The greater the amount of resources needed, the higher up the scale it would go.

If the "thing" to accomplished takes longer than a week or two, it probably shouldn't be classified as an activity, and would be better identified as a project. As so forth...

And I like to add to chunking down the idea that when we have small successes we are creating success momentum that really helps us stay motivated to keep going.

A second tip that really helps me is identifying a nice reward, something I really want as a result of achieving the goal I have in mind, when the daily steps required are not very appealing.

For example; a year ago I had major back surgery which required a long, slow recovery process. The daily steps to getting to normal health again were not very exciting and sometimes not very pleasant.
So I decided to plan a 20 mile overnight backpacking trip as early in the recovery process as possible with the approval of my surgeon.

Everyday as I focused on the daily routines, which included as much walking as possible, I would remind myself I was getting ready for the Hackberry Canyon hike in March.

After completing the Hackberry Hike, I still needed to continue the rehab process. Fortunately I was invited to join a friend on a 5 day 45 mile backpacking trip through Buckskin Gulch and the Paria River Canyon in June.

Because this hike would be a challenge for even a person in great shape, knowing this trip was coming up motivated me to continue the daily requirements to heal properly.

Then I added to the schedule a rafting trip down the San Juan River which kept my motivation strong to continue to often boring process of physical rehabilitation.

Creating a very compelling reward for goal achievement is an excellent way to stay focused on the less than enjoyable parts of goal achievement.

Perhaps you might be willing to try goal setting again if you add to the process the recommendation to "chunk down" the big goals and have an excellent reward waiting for you when you big goal is accomplished.

Wouldn't it be excellent to join the ranks of the top 3% in human achievement? What do you have to lose by trying these two simple improvements to goal setting and goal accomplishment?

For me it meant experiencing 3 excellent adventures this last year because I did the daily physical rehab work needed to recover from back surgery!

For additional help getting "unstuck" and moving forward at a faster pace to create for yourself a life well lived, contact me by text at 801-410-2266, or email me at for more information on my coaching programs. Be sure to ask for a free 20 minute consultation!

Monday, November 11, 2019

What You Focus On Increases

For over 10 years I’ve been taking advantage of a park near my home to take long walks. I use this time to get some exercise, but more importantly, it’s a time to disconnect from the noise of everyday life and think about how to help others in my coaching business discover and access their own unique personal potential.

The main reason I started walking in this park was our dog Echo loved to take walks. And what was good for him was also very good for me. I grew to really enjoy this time with Echo as we walked regularly.

During our walks, I would often contemplate my perceived inequity I felt between the people riding horses and those with well-behaved dogs that were required to be on-lease all the time. 

It appeared that the “horse-people” had all the power. With miles of open trails, there were no off-lease sections, but the horses could go anywhere they pleased. The “evidence” of where the horses had been showed up the most in the narrow trails near the stream bed where Echo and I preferred to walk.

Avoiding horse manure on the narrow trails was a constant activity. And to make matters more frustrating, Echo saw the horse manure as a trail snack and I had to keep him from sneaking a bite.

Echo has since passed away, a sad cancer story to happen to such a good dog. Rest in peace Echo Doggie.

I still walk in the park without Echo, and of course it’s not the same. But that idea will be discussed in a later blog.

Recently while near the beginning of a 6-mile walk, I stopped to take a picture of the trail showing the change to winter colors.

As I looked at the view in front of me for this picture, I couldn’t help but notice horse manure covering the trail directly in front of me. And the thoughts of the “horse-people” influencing the rule requiring no off-lease opportunities for dogs came back to my mind.

I had decided a long time ago to let this idea not influence my experience in the park, and reminded myself that I could focus on the manure on the trail, or I could focus on the bigger opportunity to enjoy a nice day on the trail thinking about human potential and what creates a life well lived. 

Through my own 25+ personal development journey and 14+ years of coaching I’ve learned what we focus on increases in taking up our available “mental space” and we have the power to choose what will occupy our thoughts, good or bad, productive or unproductive. 

Hopefully, when you looked at the picture of the trail you were not focusing on the horse manure on the trail directly in front.

Instead, I hope you saw a nice view of the park and what would be a nice hike. I hope you were focusing on the bigger picture.

Our everyday choices on how we approach life isn’t all that different. The longer view is always better if you know where you are going in life and have a plan!

You can contact me directly for more information about my personal coaching programs and learning to create an excellent life plan to assist you in reaching your full potential at or text me at 1-801-410-2266.