photograph of lizard
image © Robert Luis Chavez

These handsome lizards were quite common in the lower
paria especially where the valley starts to open up.


We walked through the goosenecks where the river's path takes you from Utah to Arizona and briefly back into Utah again before continuing generally south. There was more quicksand on the wet banks of the river, again mostly on the inside of the turns. In the goosenecks of the Paria, the canyon walls are vertical and rise a thousand feet. Scan the distance to the canyon rim and you can see the haze giving an atmospheric perspective. The haze is a modern phenomenon, it blows in from the west coast and also lingers from industrial activity in the southwestern United States. The first whites to explore the river canyon would have seen only crystal clear blue sky

Beyond the goosenecks was a rocky area of the river. Even the river bed was solid rock and the water had worn smooth channels through the rock bed. Xronda and I stripped and started riding through one of the chutes, it was only five feet long but we repeated the ride over and over. While other members of our group played in the water, Xronda pulled out her camera and asked me to pose for some nudes. I started to protest and Xronda shot back with, "Come on, don't be an artist who's afraid to take chances". Thwarted by my one of my own arguments, I submitted to being photographed. By the way if you hear of any short Sasquatch sightings that year in the Paria river you'll know what it was - I mean it was me, not Xronda.

Below the chutes the canyon began to open up to a new landscape. Instead of vertical cliffs, there were places where the mesas sloped down gently enough to allow you to climb out. The canyon now varied from fifty feet to several hundred feet wide. Snakes, lizards, and frogs were becoming more common now in the lower Paria. Then Xronda was excitedly calling me and Kent to sit down in the river, "Just do it, you'll see" she answered to my protests. I laid my pack on the dry bank and sat down into the refreshing coolness of the Paria. Almost immediately I was attacked by a dozen sucking minnows. Apparently the minnows liked the salt on our skins, but they couldn't do any real harm being so small. Still, it was a ticklish sensation, I couldn't take it for more than a few seconds at a time. Xronda chortled with satisfaction as watching me make the same discovery she must have just had moments earlier.

It was still early afternoon when we made camp at Bush Head Canyon. I ate lunch and started taking pictures of our surroundings. There was a beautiful lizard and an albino preying mantis hanging out on some rocks by the tent. While I was photographing them, I saw that they were both eating tiny ants. No doubt the ants were abundant here in part because of the attraction of food crumbs left by campers like us.