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UT: Zion Hidden Treasure in Zion's Parunaweap?

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by ratagonia, Feb 22, 2014.

  1. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    It had been on my list since my first (modern) trip to Zion in 1999, but somehow I had never gotten around to it. When Olicia suggested a trip through The Barracks portion of Parunaweap Canyon, it sounded like a really great idea, especially since it would make a great wind-down from an intense 6 days of Wilderness First Responder refresher course the week before. Was Parunaweap the “Hidden Treasure” of Zion? Certainly the short portion of the canyon we visit when doing Fat Man’s Misery is really sweet; if there was more stuff like that then YEAH, Hidden Treasure for sure! I had also recently visited the portion between Rock Canyon and French Canyon and that was pretty good, but no Hidden Treasure. What lay between? How did it all hold together as a trip? How messy was that start from Mount Carmel? Only one way to find out.


    We got a reasonably early start and spotted a car inside the Park at the mouth of Checkerboard Canyon, then drove back to Mt Carmel. We had a ream of information from a couple different sources, but as a guidebook author, what is important is what the actuality on the ground is. Thus, some time was chewed up in taking notes, before I realized that this part of the trip, the setup, was 5 miles from my house and I could come and finish it up at any time.


    Access to Parun is blocked by a private ranch, the Barracks Ranch, which has a public road through it, with no parking allowed. We drove as far as we could, to the first crossing of the river, an expanse of mud my large-tire station wagon would not handle, and dropped the packs. We then drove back eight-tenths of a mile and parked on the side of the road and walked packless back to the river. We avoided getting our feet wet at the first river crossing and headed out on the north bank of the river, quickly picking up the ATV trail that continues for another 2.8 miles and that shortly, as in 3 minutes, led to the first stream crossing.

    [​IMG]
    Starting the hike

    In this part, Parun is wide open with 500 foot walls rising on both sides, split here and there by side canyons that beckoned – but not enough. We had some hiking to do if we were gonna make camp before dark. The ATV track/road made for easy (if somewhat soft-sandish) hiking, and the river was but ankle deep when we crossed it – frequently. After two hours, the ATV track escapes south up a steep hillside, and we were left with the canyon in a more natural state. The canyon tightened up some, but not a lot. At 2.45 we stopped at Mineral Gulch and walked up a ways to check that out – lovely little narrows, well worth the 45 minute round trip.


    Soon, we crossed a fence, and the canyon changed from slightly cowed up to thoroughly cowed up! Yuck. Our plan was to camp up Rock Canyon a bit, and this was looking like a good plan, as the water would be less polluted in Rock Canyon. My first trip down Rock Canyon with Dean Kurtz, he showed me some interesting petros AND the ‘Spanish Sword’ carving, that supposedly showed the way to the hidden Spanish Treasure. We arrived at Rock Canyon with a half hour of daylight left, dropped the packs and went off looking for petros. The GPS coordinates I had were not quite right, so we had to search a bit, but quickly found the panel. We enjoyed the Native American panel for a bit, then dashed off to look for the Spanish Sword – based on MY MEMORY, always a dubious venture. We wandered up the slickrock and searched all over to no avail. ATV tracks – yup. Spanish Sword – nope. On the way back down to the river, Olicia pointed out something I had stepped over… you know, the Spanish Sword! By then it was dark – we’d have to come back in the morning.

    [​IMG]
    Petros

    Back down to Rock Canyon, we picked a relatively flat spot for the tent, pumped water, made some dinner and retired for the evening.

    [​IMG]
    Where is the TREASURE!

    In the morning, after a quick breakfast, we hiked back a few minutes to the Petros, now with some light on them, and back to the Spanish Sword. It was good to stretch the legs and get the blood flowing in the morning, before breaking camp. Quickly we returned to camp and packed up, on the trail by 8:30. This stretch I had done before and it is nice, though escapes from the canyon are available at numerous places. Above Rock Canyon, we had seen lots of sign of cows; below Rock Canyon we started seeing lots of cows – 23 in all. I was somewhat surprised to see that this section of canyon was so heavily grazed. The cows certainly seemed to be doing well!


    It took us about 3 hours to get to French Canyon, which was considerably less-draped with poison ivy than on my summer visit. Half an hour later we were at Poverty Wash and grabbed a bite to eat, and wandered up the lovely narrows of Poverty until it pinched off. Great side trip.
    [​IMG]
    Entrance to the cool narrows of Poverty Wash

    There is an obstacle to navigation in The Barracks, a feature called simply The Waterfall. Clarity on exactly what was involved was difficult to tease out from the various descriptions, so we brought a short piece of rope in case we had to do something technical. An hour past Poverty Wash, the canyon go tall and narrow, and we soon found ourselves at The Waterfall. Would we have to swim? Uh, no. A bypass on the south side made complete sense and we climbed up, over and down the other side with little trouble, handing up or down packs at two points. We were soon below the little waterfall, grateful to not have to go deeper than crotch-deep in the chilly water.


    [​IMG]
    There it is!

    A half hour later, we found ourselves in familiar territory at the end of Misery Canyon, soon after at the Powell Plaque and our exit route. Our timing was good, as we had 3-1/2 hours till dark, and the exit takes about 3-1/2 hours. This exit can be miserable in summer, with the sun beating upon the overheated hiker, but in November, even on the startlingly-clear day we got, it was pleasant, though somewhat more uphill than desired. We bogeyed, made good time and reached Olicia’s car right as it got dark.


    [​IMG]
    Below Misery Canyon

    An excellent adventure. A second Zion Narrows? Hardly. Three stars on a scale of 5 - four stars if there were no cows. But the continuity and scale of the narrows of The Barracks do not compete with the North Fork Narrows. Just doesn't.


    MORE PICTURES AT THE LATEST RAVE

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    Last edited: Feb 27, 2018
  2. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    Great luck that the bypass worked!
  3. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Luck?
  4. 2065toyota

    2065toyota

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    I have heard the waterfall isn't that bad to go up or down. Was the bypass just to keep from getting overly wet in the colder air temps?
  5. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    The waterfall is not all that big, with logs, so should be climbable.

    We were far from psyched to swim. We had the ability to drybag the packs, but it is still a pain. It was cold out - pleasant enough when wading occasionally to thigh deep for me, waist deep on Olicia. I had heard that the pool past the waterfall required swimming.

    There was some ambiguity in the sources about the bypass. Trips in the middle of summer would not mind the swim, and would just downclimb the waterfall, probably, but I am trying to write the comprehensive guidebook description, thus the bypass needed to be checked out, and it turned out to be easy.

    Tom
  6. 2065toyota

    2065toyota

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    Perfect. Thanks. That one item was really the only detail I lacked for a future trip:

    Camp friday night at head of Rock Canyon,
    Saturday down Rock, down the river, Fat Man's exit, good camping area at top of exit
    Sunday down Fat Man's, up river, French exit and back to cars

    Tentatively planned for May 16-18.

    Open invite
    ratagonia and Ram like this.
  7. Ram

    Ram

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    I love this stuff. This waterfall didn't exist, in its present size back in the 80's and early 90's. Not sure what dynamic occurred. For sure the height of the falls is a lot taller. I have to picture from back then, but not digitized, but the drop was half this size and one could skirt along the right wall looking down canyon to avoid a swim. The big wet rock was only half exposed.....assuming of course, that it is even the same rock (likely).

    present condition
    [​IMG]
  8. Phillip

    Phillip

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    After years on the list I am excited to hike it sometime in the next few months. Don't descent too many technical canyons anymore but love the desert canyons still.

    Likely heading in with a local friend before he becomes a father the second go round (doesn't get much time off the first 2 years as a house husband). Thinking 2 nights in there for him to explore could be worthwhile.

    Bypass looks interesting, Tom. Thanks for sharing the report for us canyon walkers.

    Phillip
  9. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    If you need help with the car shuttle, let me know. There's an awesome campsite (no water though) 300 feet up the exit.

    Tom
  10. Phillip

    Phillip

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    Thank you, kind sir. We may take you up on that offer. Will let you know in April.

    Phillip
  11. Mike Zampino

    Mike Zampino Canyon season never ends.

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    shouldn't you give it an extra star for no hordes of the stick people? Or maybe you did?
  12. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Ordinary citizens out in the (relative) wild, enjoying their National Park - stick people don't bother me. Contrary to popular rumor, I LIKE people.

    However, it is nice to have canyons with different attributes. In Parun you are unlikely to see other people, period. Cows, yes, people no.

    Tom
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  13. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Is that in the same context with the popular bumper sticker...they taste good! ;)
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  14. Roy Kranz

    Roy Kranz

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    A couple of buddies and I did this hike from Mt. Carmel to Checkerboard Mesa a few years ago in the fall and loved it. I'm planning to do a father/son trip there this June. I can't recall who we used for the car shuttle last time. Anyone have any suggestions on who to use?
  15. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    If you get a fully-capable vehicle (assuming rental or ???), there is a better method of doing this trip. Yes, starting at the top and exiting where you have to has a certain elegance, except that the first 3 hours of hiking and the last 4 hours are not so much fun (especially if hot out).

    I will have beta out on the CUSA website by then, and it will be in the new book.

    Tom
  16. Roy Kranz

    Roy Kranz

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    What is the CUSA website? Looking for more recommendations as well: After this hike my son (he will be almost 16) want to take some technical canyoneering lessons/classes and explore some other cool canyons on this trip. Who should we take the classes/lessons with and do you have any suggestions for canyons? We are both very fit and have done lots of challenging outdoor adventures. Thanks! [Perhaps I need to do some searching in this forum to get my answers. I just found it and haven't had time to do that yet.] Tell me more about your book!
  17. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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  18. Roy Kranz

    Roy Kranz

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    Your book looks perfect! When will I be able to buy the new edition?
  19. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    As soon as it comes out. Sometime this spring. It will be announced here.

    T
  20. The Dread Pirate Roberts

    The Dread Pirate Roberts

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