HMI Gap: A Tale of Two Treks

Written by: Sol Walker and Janak Bhakta

The following two stories recount the Wilderness & Conservation Semester 1 group’s trek through the Paria Canyon. To minimize human impact, the group split into two smaller independent groups that completed the trek independently; thus, they have written two separate posts to share their experience.

Group A (by Sol)

Two days ago we finished the 38-mile, 5-day hike through Paria Canyon, following the river to its confluence with the Colorado. On one of those days, we hiked over 14 miles; the canyon’s narrowest section created a high enough risk for flash flooding that camping was not an option. All in all, we hiked down the canyon for over 9 hours that day. When we got into camp, we were cold, wet, and physically and emotionally exhausted. The sun had set, and the first thing we did was change into warm clothes and start boiling water. Next we cooked, finished setting up camp, and had our evening meeting. In the meeting, we reflected on the day. What struck me above all else was the incredible resolve and genuine optimism of this group. One of the things I have come to value in this program is the difficult days, the days when mistakes are made and the miles stretch out. Through those challenges, we grow as a community and realize what we are capable of. The hike had been hard and getting to camp that night was truly a process of overcoming many obstacles individually and collectively. 


Group B (by Janak)

It’s early in the morning. Our plan for the day is to hike up to a place called Wrather Arch before we pack up and continue hiking down the Paria River. In order to keep our fresh socks dry, we slip on our wet socks from the previous days. Our boots have a thick layer of ice over them, making it nearly impossible to put on. In order to thaw them out, we dunk them into the river. We begin our hike up to the arch; most of us can’t yet feel our toes. The hike is steep with many rocks to climb over; some of us question whether or not this will be worth the trouble. As we get near the top, we begin to warm up and see the beauty of the canyons below us. We get to the top and sit where the big arch stretches in front of us. At that moment the pain, cold, and tiredness of the morning leave our bodies as we enjoy the breathtaking scenery. The question of whether or not this hike was worth it is no longer a question as we gaze on one of the most spectacular geological formations we’ve ever seen.