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Totally Committed June 5, 2012

Posted by Marc Troeger in adventure.
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“Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.”
Ed Vestures, from his book No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World’s 14 Highest Peaks.  

When climbing a mountain, getting to the top is optional. You can turn back at any time. Once you’ve reached the summit and shouted at the top of your lungs “I made it!” you have just made a critical commitment in your adventure.  You have to climb down. Climbing down is not an option. Climbing down is mandatory.

Though many of you might not take on adventures like mountain climbing, any adventure you do undertake requires a level of commitment nonetheless.

A few weeks ago, I went backpacking into the Paria Canyon with a several friends, including my friend Matt Walker from InnerPassage, who led the trip.

The Paria Canyon is an amazing place. Pictures can barely do it justice.  It’s one of those places where you just have to “be”.

paria1

For perspective… notice the little,  tiny person in the lower left hand corner.

Paria is located in southeastern Utah, along the Arizona border, just north of the Grand Canyon. It’s a magnificent slot canyon that starts out as a wide, dry (at least when we were on it) sandy wash that leads into an ever-narrowing canyon with over 1800 foot walls of striking mars-colored sandstone.   As you progress, through the canyon, the Paria River begins seeping as springs, up through the sand and through the sandstone walls. Eventually, you start crossing the growing river many times until you give up and begin walking through the river itself, up to your thighs in some places. At several points, the towering walls close in on you to the point where you can almost reach out your arms and touch both sides. Eventually, as you begin to exit the canyon, it opens up wide as you enter the desert, walking on ridges high above the Paria River, flowing below. Beautiful, dry and hot; Stark scrub and cactus all around; lizards running here and there with the occasional evidence of snake tracks as they sought respite from the hot, scalding sun.

To experience the full breadth of the Paria Canyon requires a commitment. You have to hike the full 38 miles, from the trail-head at the White House Campground, all the way to Lee’s Ferry on the Colorado River. It will take you four days of continuous hiking (or, tack on a few more if you just want to take your time).

You see, the full beauty of Paria Canyon doesn’t really begin to make its appearance until the second day when you’re halfway into the canyon. To get out, you have to hike the other half, or return to where you started; same distance, two more days either way. Getting out is not an option. There are no other trails out, because the canyon walls are too high and too steep.  A Paria adventure requires a commitment, that, when done with care and caution, and the proper experience, can be a trip of a lifetime.

While you don’t have to scale a mountain or spend four days, backpacking through steep canyons for your own adventure, you do have to make a commitment, taking advantage of the opportunities presented you. An adventure is what you make of it, and the stories you can tell along the way.

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