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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Paria Canyon, Days 3&4.

Family picture.
(Actually this was Day 2. I seem to have lost the Day 3&4 blog, which was a great day.)

The mornings and evenings of our trip were the best for light and picture taking; the red sandstone comes to life in that in-between light. On day 2, we started pretty early and planned to camp near one of the downstream springs. Along the way, we met the two other groups that we would see, off an on, throughout the remainder of the trip. One was a family of three from Sun Valley, Idaho, whom we had conversations with various times and shared a kinship with, and another was a group of six with members from various places around the Western US. Oh, and there was also the pair of fellows we did the shuttle with, from Southern California, who we didn't see again after leaving the trailhead.
The kids are barely kids anymore.

One of the best shots of the trip in the morning light.

The hiking in Paria is pretty easy: slightly downhill and mostly on water-hardened sand. So it's not hard to make miles. On the other hand, the midday hiking gets uncomfortable when you're out in the sun and the temps get up into the 90s. We all took dips in the creek when the heat got too much.
Cooling off midday.
The kids were keen to do another 10 mile day, so rather than stop at the spring at the nine mile mark, we continued on another 2 miles to a camp site below Wrather Arch canyon. This was the first point that the canyon opened up.
Nice pose Ellie.
Jen showing Ellie some yoga moves on night 2.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Paria Canyon, Day 2

Family picture.
The mornings and evenings of our trip were the best for light and picture taking; the red sandstone comes to life in that in-between light. On day 2, we started pretty early and planned to camp near one of the downstream springs. Along the way, we met the two other groups that we would see, off an on, throughout the remainder of the trip. One was a family of three from Sun Valley, Idaho, whom we had conversations with various times and shared a kinship with, and another was a group of six with members from various places around the Western US. Oh, and there was also the pair of fellows we did the shuttle with, from Southern California, who we didn't see again after leaving the trailhead.
The kids are barely kids anymore.

One of the best shots of the trip in the morning light.

The hiking in Paria is pretty easy: slightly downhill and mostly on water-hardened sand. So it's not hard to make miles. On the other hand, the midday hiking gets uncomfortable when you're out in the sun and the temps get up into the 90s. We all took dips in the creek when the heat got too much.
Cooling off midday.
The kids were keen to do another 10 mile day, so rather than stop at the spring at the nine mile mark, we continued on another 2 miles to a camp site below Wrather Arch canyon. This was the first point that the canyon opened up.
Nice pose Ellie.
Jen showing Ellie some yoga moves on night 2.

PS: I write Paria Canyon Day 2's blog from my flat in Helsinki, where I'll be living for the next 3.5 weeks. It was a long trip from the Salt Lake yesterday, but I arrived this afternoon, greeted by the kind of perfect summer evening that only the northern latitudes can produce: clear as a bell, sunny, but cool with soft light.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Paria Canyon, Day 1


A family picture taken by our shuttle driver Betty at the Whitehouse Trailhead, Paria Canyon.

Paria Canyon has been on my to do list since Jen and I started coming down to the desert back in the early 90's. The canyon starts in Utah and within the first day enters Arizona, with an exit at Lees Ferry 38 miles downstream. The beauty of Paria, together with its proximity to Las Vegas and Southern California make it a popular backpacking trip, but they limit the number of permits per day to twenty people, so it remains a remote wilderness adventure. This year, with a four week work trip to Finland in June, I wanted to do something cool with the family before I left, so it seemed the time was ripe.



On Saturday May 19, we left my mom's house in Butte and drove 12.5 hours south to Kanab, Utah, which is a bit too long of a drive, but got us within striking distance. Kanab was a surprise. It is a primary overnight stop for tour bus sightseers visiting canyon country. I hadn't made hotel reservations thinking it wouldn't be necessary, and we just barely got the the last room in town at a budget hotel with a VERY colorful, half-crazed proprietor.

We got up early the next morning and drove the remaining 1.5 hours to Lees Ferry (where boats put in to float the Grand Canyon), where we dropped our (actually my mom's) car and our shuttle picked us up for the ride to the trailhead.


There are a few ways to start Paria Canyon. The simplest, and the one we chose, is at Whitehouse Trailhead. The others -- Wire Pass and Buckskin Gulch -- yield a more spectacular first day, but require 16 miles of hiking before water is available, and with the kids I thought that would be pushing it.

The trip from Whitehouse starts out open, hot and a bit boring, but the canyon soon narrows, the walls grow in size, and it cools as the sun drenched stretches disappear. At days end, ten miles from the trailhead, we found a nice camp site near the first spring. By bedtime we were settled into the trip.
Rare shade in the early miles.
Temps were in the 90s in the sun, so the shade was luxurious.

The canyon starts to narrow.
Ellie was our leader, always out front.
A short nap after lunch.
The river started flowing about 7 miles in.
Camp: this one was pretty heavily used, near the first spring of the hike.
Alex is a helpful fellow to have along.
PS: I write this from a hotel room in Salt Lake City, where I'm catching a plane to Helsinki, Finland in a few hours. The family has now been on the road for about 2.5 hours. It was really hard to see them go this morning, and it's hard to be leaving them for so long. I'll be in Helsinki for 3.5 weeks, and then will visit a colleague in Birmingham, England on the way home, for a total of 4 weeks away. I'm not sure I'm made for this work travel stuff, but the hope is that it will pay off and benefit the family down the road.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Changes


One thing that has characterized the past couple of months for the Bardsleys is the realization of change.

The kids are now teens. Actually, Ellie just turned twelve, but she's a teen in spirit: she wakes up early to put on makeup, wears clothes that I'm not really comfortable with, and is willful as can be. As for Alex, he just turned fifteen and has entered a stage of adolescence that Jen and I were too naive to think would be coming this soon. I won't share details, but suffice it to say that he's just now being released from a month-long grounding.

And if that weren't enough, Jen has been wrapping up her undergraduate career this semester, and graduated just yesterday. She finished really strong, worked her butt off, graduated with honors, gained recognition as the outstanding Art Department graduate this year, and pushed her art to a new level. I'm really proud of her and look forward to seeing what she does next.

Yesterday, after attending commencement in the football stadium and then the College of Visual and Performing Arts graduation ceremony, where Jen got her diploma, I got my cap and gown and went to see off the Math Department graduates this year in a small ceremony. This small gathering of our current math graduates is the most inspiring event of the year for me. For each student that attends, a faculty member gets up and says a few kind words. The graduates are rightfully proud of their accomplishment, and their families are there and are proud. Each has completed a major life milestone and is looking forward with hope and expectation, something we should all make a practice of doing.


A Meditation on Chuang Tzu

For years now, I have set goals
and gone for them—achievements
have been my measure of success.
But with each one, the sum growing,
I’ve lost faith in this path.

                             Cuang Tzu says:
Don’t dream too much or scheme
and over-plan, don’t make success
in the world your measure of self,
rather, be like water (content to be
high or low, to be moving rapidly,
or to be still, deep and dark, where
the big fish swim), take what comes,
without too much anticipation or joy,
without much complaint or anxiety,
and have the right amount of fear.