HIKING THE PARIA
The first part of the river was dry sand and gently sloping to vertical canyon walls 50 to 100 feet tall. The canyon walls here were a reddish sandstone worn by water and fractured into rectangular shapes. We started to notice small corners in the dry river bottom that were dark and damp and eventually a few small nasty pools of water too. The first hour into our five day trip my back was already starting to ache from my sixty pound plus backpack, not a good sign. There were no adjustmetns to be made now, I was committed to carrying my photography gear and small tripod. Earlier some hike members expressed disbelief that I was carrying a tripod at all.
We walked on for hours, the canyon narrowed, the walls became vertical cliffs several hundred feet high with no exit, past the point of no return. I had already given myself up to the experience the night before we started, but had yet to realize what being swallowed up by the canyon felt like. At least it would not be easy to leave once in the middle part of canyon, and even if you did manage to get out you might find yourself miles from the main roads or people.
The Paria River led us through a path it had cut through geologic history. In places it was easy to read: like the crossbedded patterns in the canyon walls that are the remnants of ancient sand dunes. there were a number of excellent field guides to the Paria River and the geology of the region floating around our group. One guide appeared to be very useful in the Paria, say for instance if you wanted to know if you were looking at Navajo Sandstone, a Chinle, or a Kayenta formation.