Backpacking Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness – Buckskin Gulch to the Arizona Trail (AZT Approach Day 8, Part 1)

Buckskin Gulch
Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

Broke camp early in Buckskin Gulch this morning and headed out. I make better time than I expect, and encounter the Dragoos from Oklahoma about 1.5 mi from Wire Pass. I’m surprised that I’m that close to the Pass, since I hadn’t expected to make it for several miles. We have breakfast together and hike out, and find another large petroglyph panel at the junction between Wire Pass and Buckskin. After a tight squeeze through the Wire Pass narrows – I had to take my pack off and pass it through separately – and a water fill up and interesting conversation with Pete from Brockton, Massachusetts, they give me a lift over to the AZT.

Buckskin Gulch
Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Buckskin Gulch
Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Buckskin Gulch
Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Buckskin Gulch
Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Buckskin Gulch
Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
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Buckskin Gulch
Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Buckskin Gulch
Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Buckskin Gulch
Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Buckskin Gulch
Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Buckskin Gulch
Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Buckskin Gulch
Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Buckskin Gulch
Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Buckskin Gulch
Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Buckskin Gulch
Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
View up to surface from within Buckskin Gulch
Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

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Backpacking the Amazing Arizona Trail – Pine Mountain (Passage 21), FR 422 to Pigeon Spring Trailhead

Backpacking the Arizona Trail’s Saddle Mountain Passage from near Saddle Mountain to Sycamore Creek at the start of the Pine Mountain passage. More magnificent Arizona mountain views of the central Mazatzal peaks and ridgelines, and a gorgeous Arizona sunset.

Logistics, trail journal, and magnificent mountain scenery.

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Backpacking the Arizona Trail, Day 51: Mazatzal Divide (Passage 23), Part II

Disruptive event today, an F-16 that flew over while I was packing. It flew extremely low and around a mountain – possibly North Peak – and made me think very seriously about why that would be allowed over a designated wilderness area. Still, I manage to knock out a few miles to Chilson Spring before dark, with spectacular views of Deadman’s Canyon, the Verde Valley, and the western Mazatzal foothills along the way. The mountains are jagged and rugged and the trail traces steep slopes nearly the whole way across precipitous terrain.

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Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
Trail SurfaceRustic (the river is the trail)
Length (Mi)45 (Lee’s Ferry to Wire Pass via Buckskin Gulch)
38 (Paria Canyon, Lee’s Ferry to White House)
20 (Wire Pass to White House via Buckskin Gulch)
22, approx. (Buckskin Gulch to White House)
1.8 (Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch)
SeasonFall-Spring. Brutally hot in summer.
Potential Water SourcesSprings. Unless informed otherwise by a BLM ranger, there is likely no water in Buckskin Gulch and the Paria River should be considered undrinkable even when filtered. Know how to recognize desert springs.
TrailheadsParia Canyon North: White House
Paria Canyon South: Lee’s Ferry
Buckskin Gulch Middle Exit
Buckskin Gulch West
Wire Pass
Trailhead AccessVehicular access to all trailheads
WildernessYes
Possible resupply pointsNone
DifficultyStrenuous
Potential campsites (mileages S to N)Best near springs. Some higher-water campsites in north, south of Buckskin Gulch-Paria Canyon confluence.
ThreatsFlash flooding – Extreme hazard here. Know the forecast daily (an inReach or other satellite communicator helps with this). Know how to recognize the signs of a flash flood and how to react. You cannot outrun a flash flood; you must climb above it. This is not possible in Buckskin Gulch – do not enter it if storms threaten.

Heat – wear a cotton shirt so you can soak it. Synthetics aren’t great in the desert.

Hyponatremia – “drunk on water.” To avoid, ensure adequate salt & electrolyte intake and ensure you eat as well as drink water. Symptoms are almost identical to dehydration, but drinking more makes it worse. Prevention is by far the best solution.

Dehydration

Because there is no trail, there are places where boulders must be climbed around or over and at least one spot where your pack must be hauled over a boulder jab. Flash floods change the trail, shifting obstacles around, removing some and adding others. Expect the unexpected.
Permits Required? Yes. 20 people max per night issued on BLM website.
Miscellaneous Leave No Trace is different in the desert. Know desert principles and carry wag bags. One will be provided with your permit.
Cell service?Nonexistent
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