Dolev the Tour Guide
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L, D, and D and the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang featured in "Adventures in Buckskin Gulch"


Day 1 – July 3 into July 4, 2014

They met up at Wirepass Trailhead at night. The two D’s arrived first. They parked D’s car at the end of the trail (Lee’s Ferry) and took Betty’s express we-will-get-you-there-on-time-no-matter-what shuttle to Wirepass. Three others (L,J, and S) arrived at 9:30pm. They set up a tent and left again to pick up M and T from Whitehouse, the mid-point of the hike, where they had left another car. It was after midnight that they arrived at camp and set up their tent. It is uncertain how much they actually slept, but it is safe to say that it was quite a sound sleep indeed.
D and D, being well-rested, were the first to get up and wake up the remainder of the group. 18 miles were on the agenda for the day and leaving early was imperative for the successful completion of the plan. The first 13 miles promised no water and the water situation of the following five miles was unclear so everyone had to plan for more water than needed. Some, whose names shall not be mentioned here, took so much water, in fact, that it was difficult for them to walk and they had to dump a little out.

Two miles down the trail the gang entered Wirepass and walked through it like champs. If only the entire 18 miles were like this! Soon thereafter the slot canyon met with Buckskin Gulch and the gang’s speed waned. About two hours in, T checked his Fitbit and told the gang that they had done five miles. Everyone was ecstatic! Two more hours, ten miles. Deep sand slowed the gang down, the sun came out and heated the canyon walls immediately, the backpacks seemed to only get heavier, yet the gang was still happy and proud of its progress and pushed on.
Two more hours, 15 miles, the group was still in the slot canyon. 15 miles? But the slot canyon itself is only 11 miles long before it supposedly meets up with the Paria Canyon! The spirits of the group automatically sank. At this point, they had no choice but to keep going. Four in the back stopped for a nap as clouds were forming overhead and sounds of thunder were heard. At over six hours in the slot canyon, the threat of flash flooding was not enough to scare the group into pushing on. Some may even argue that the sounds were calming – after all, if a flood came through, it would carry them to the exit in no time!

After waking up, they were not as rejuvenated as they had hoped to be. Meanwhile, the other three waited for at least one hour, going over safety protocols and how to evacuate a group member should it become necessary. Suddenly thunder struck and evacuation seemed imminent. They were a group of seven, now split three and four, each group oblivious to the other’s whereabouts. What if rain had fallen farther north while they were in the canyon? Water might surprise them in a flash flood at any moment. A sound of an engine was heard and it got louder and louder. D and D were waiting for the gushing water. Then the sound dissipated and an airplane flew overhead. Relief.

The second group arrived and the two became one once again, estimating only a couple more miles to go. Two hours later, they arrived at the anticlimactic junction with the clear Paria River and set up camp. They had hikes 13 miles instead of 18, but they were happy to be finished for the day. The group finally felt free for the first time since entering Buckskin Gulch earlier that morning. What a way to celebrate the American Independence Day!

Photo courtesy of Darling Garcia