DF got a call from a friend of ours offering permits for Araviapa Canyon’s west entrance. The four of us, our two non-nudist friends and we two, will now be leaving the following weekend… It didn’t take much deliberation. After all…”Paradise!”
We hadn’t been out backpacking in over a year and not visited the Aravaipa paradise since 2017.
We have had fabulous trips in this canyon before. Here are previous stories from both the eastern and western entrances where Araviapa Canyon is referred to as paradise:
East Entrance: https://thefreerangenaturist.org/2015/08/11/timing-is-everything-in-paradise-a-trip-report/
East Entrance: https://thefreerangenaturist.org/2017/03/24/arivaipa-canyon-preserve-revisited-a-trip-report/
West Entrance: https://thefreerangenaturist.org/2017/05/28/from-eden-to-paradise-part-1-a-trip-report/
West Entrance: https://thefreerangenaturist.org/2017/06/02/from-eden-to-paradise-part-2-a-trip-report/
Today, the weather is a perfect. Mid-80F’s for highs and roughly a 60F low. There have been rains the previous several days, so the water is a little higher. The extra run off obscures the usual crystal clarity, but it will probably clear up by the time we leave.
There is no hurry. DF and I are waiting at the trailhead, stretching and enjoying the silence of the desert, when our cohorts pull up around the bend.
We’re off to a late start when we exchange parking and hiking permits. We are hiking with a dear friend and her husband, who we still don’t know very well, hoping to change the relationship.
At first, I seceded from the group to get a better feel for the conditions. I noticed that there was only one other car in the parking lot besides ours. There are supposed to be thirty permitted and we know that four of those are missing. The ranger’s truck was at the home/station on the way here. I decide to leave my kilt on and DF is bound into a summer dress.
After some downward desert walking, I take note of our surroundings when we reach the streambed. Last time here, we got a chill when we lost track of the distance and the little sign which marks the way out. We don’t want that scare again.
There is some new signage and it looks like it would be difficult to miss.
Our friend Rebecca is excited by the stream in the desert. She is snapping lots of photos even before we get to the awe inspiring scenery. I smile, confident that she will enjoy this immensely.
The conditions are different than the past. We had a severe drought of over a year long. This spring fed stream actually dried up for the first time in known history. After that, we have had an extremely wet monsoon. There have been three major floods here fairly recently. It is now overgrown and beaten. There is debris everywhere, often high in the trees.
This being a usual consistent year round flow, the sand and gravel has had years to settle and create a sort of road just under the water, which has been easy to slosh through. Today, we soon find that the easy walk in the moist park surrounded by arched tree branches is often filled to an inconsistent depth, with bare river rock and little rapids. These are not like something like needing a kayak, but not a walk in the park either.
The banks offer little salvation. The overgrowth and debris make the former easy trails a bushwhacking affair.
Our progress is slow. I hike up my kilt, tucking it into the belt of my pack and keep it dry. This enhances my sense of nudity, the air, sun and sprinkling of splashed droplets. I can always quickly let it loose, if covering is needed.
DF and Rebecca bring up the rear and my new hiking partner and I scout our way through the morass of obstacles. Most of the brush is leaning downstream from flooding running over it. These are pointing at us, as we make our way upstream. Dead broken trees are common.