Heading downstream, we travel the last couple miles of the Paria Narrows. With soaring cliffs and a narrow channel (though much wider than the Buckskin!) it rather resembles the Zion Narrows.
There is quite a bit of water but only one last mishap. Crossing a waist-deep pool, I step in some quicksand and am suddenly shoulder deep. However the Narrows shortly give out, and the river is mostly ankle deep the rest of the way.
The channel widens (photo left) and terraces (benches) start appearing on both sides of the river. Springs start appearing. We fill our canteens in a beautiful side canyon with fresh water pools and lush vegetation. There are many excellent campsites now offering. We select a beautiful wooded terrace to make camp (photo right).
(Photo right) is an example of a fresh water spring, or more accurately, a “seep”.
For the next seven or eight miles the walking is fairly easy, the scenery is beautiful, and there are interesting side canyons. It is all decompression after the Buckskin experience.
Around mile 20, the river starts cutting into the soft Kayenta formation which results in many more boulders and obstacles in the river. The channel narrows sharply, and the going becomes difficult for several miles. The effort becomes fairly strenuous again.
The canyon starts to widen after this difficult stretch, and there are generally trails on the embankments the rest of the way. This is easier than negotiating the river channel but also less interesting.
A few miles later the canyon widens broadly into an open desert terrain. The last ten miles are shadeless and springless, the river is ankle deep sludge, and after an exceedingly cold start, the weather is exceedingly warm! All the winter gear is now packed away, and we are walking in tee shirts and shorts trying to keep cool.
Soon the spectacular cliffs above the Colorado River come into view, heralding our approach to Lees Ferry and the end of the trail and our memorable adventure.