I’ve visited so many new places in southern Utah with Bill, many considered destinations, places others visit regularly or at least want to. Yet we are both just as happy pulling over on a gravel road to explore some unmarked canyon. Well, maybe marked by a fence, or pieces of a fence. After all much of this land is BLM where cattle grazing is allowed. So after several trips between White House campground/trailhead and the Paria Contact station in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument we opted for a short walk in a side canyon.
The first stop at the Paria Contact Station we met a very bored young man who puts in one of his 5-day work week for the BLM doing a lot of nothing. There’s not too much traffic at this remote information station since the lottery for the Wave moved to the Kanab BLM visitor center.
We drove out the 2 miles on gravel to White House campground/trailhead used mainly by hikers to the confluence of Paria Canyon and Buckskin Gulch in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness then either up Buckskin or down the Paria to Lee’s Ferry about 40 miles away in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
The name given to the main Paria trailhead and the spring located nearby was derived sometime between the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Sheepherders used to pass through the area between summer and winter pastures. After spending the winter in Glen Canyon where there were few good springs, they looked forward to the dependable spring near the Paria River where water was “good as any that could be had at the White House in Washington D.C.,” at least in their imagination. Thus we have White House Spring, and mirroring that, White House trailhead. The water is clear and good for thirsty sheepherders and modern-day hikers. (From BLM interpretive sign)
As we stood reading the interpretive signs first one guy and then another walked up the trail, soaking wet and moving pretty slowly. Bill offered them water which at first they hesitated to accept but then took gratefully and drained a liter each. Two more of their party arrived, Dad to the first two brothers easily in their 30s, and a friend. They were doing better with water. Bill offered to drive them to the Contact Station and save them some time waiting in the blazing sun for their ride. Their long hike from Wire Pass had turned out hotter than expected. But they made it and checked this hike off Dad’s bucket list.
While dropping them off at the Contact Station I asked about their Discovery Book, equivalent to Junior Ranger, and the bored guy dug around in some drawers and gave me the book and badge, at the same time. Dang, I didn’t even have to work for it. Then we drove back to the camp and retrieved a favorite coffee cup Bill had left behind. But because we’d forgotten to fill water bottles we returned once again to the Contact station then headed back a third time.
Stopped for a short walk to a double spillway. I’ll bet there was a pool of water in the upper part that would have been fun to soak in. It was muddy in the bottom so didn’t get to close. But I wondered if these are hand and toe holes for climbing to the upper area.