Bryce Canyon, UT – Fairyland of Pink Turrets

Inspiration Point overlooking Bryce Ampitheater

Inspiration Point overlooking Bryce Ampitheater

Bryce Canyon Point

Bryce Canyon Point

Smiles everywhere at Bryce Canyon

Smiles everywhere

Stunning views at Bryce Canyon, Utah Stunning views at Bryce Canyon, Utah

Natural symmetry

Stunning views at Bryce Canyon, Utah

The regularity and precision of

these formations can be dizzying.

Trees cling to the rim at Bryce Canyon, Utah

Trees cling to the rim

Bryce Canyon Ampitheater

Bryce Ampitheater

Rim views, Bryce Canyon, Utah Beginning of Queen's Garden hike Bryce Canyon, Utah

Beginning of Queen's Garden hike

The spires give way to a smooth, orange and red moonscape at Bryce Canyon, Utah

The spires give way to a smooth, orange and red

moonscape

Bryce Canyon, Utah

Trees from another planet

Queen's Garden Bryce Canyon, Utah

End of the trail -- at Queen's

Garden

Nature's Wall Street at Bryce Canyon, Utah

Nature's Wall Street

Looking down from the top of the Wall Street switch backs at Bryce Canyon, Utah

The top of the Wall Street switch backs

Bryce Canyon, Utah Bryce Lodge has many cute cabins for guests

Bryce Lodge has many cute cabins for guests

The Peek-a-boo hike at Bryce Canyon defies nature's laws and seems to ascend for the entire loop.

The Peek-a-boo hike defies nature's laws and seems

to ascend for the entire loop.

Serenity along the hiking trails at Bryce Canyon

Serenity

Spires and spikey trees surrounded us at Bryce Canyon, Utah

Spires and spikey trees surrounded

us

Peek-a-boo, the namesake of the Peek-a-boo trail at Bryce Canyon

Peek-a-boo

Seeming chess pieces at Bryce Canyon

At times it seemed as though we were wandering

among towering chess pieces.

Stunning view at Bryce Canyon, Utah

A promontory hangs into the canyon for an awe

inspiring view.  A good place to take a breather!

Tunnels and arches at Bryce Canyon, Utah

Little tunnels and hobbit doorways invite the hiker to

vast views on the other side.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

July 20-August 20, 2008 - We had

arrived in the lower elevations of

Kanab, UT and visited Best

Friends Animal Sanctuary,

during a peak week of monsoon

activity.  Monsoons are a

southwest phenomenon that give

the deserts much needed

moisture and relief from the heat

in mid-summer.  I had learned

about them living in Arizona, but

had never known that they could

spread their salve as far north as

southern Utah and even over into

southern Colorado.  It is magic to

watch the sky cloud over promptly

at noon every day, and there is a

lusciousness to being drenched

by brief downpours every

afternoon.  These storms leave

the air crisp and clear, and they

keep the ferocious heat to a minimum.  Once the monsoons abated, we

found ourselves in an oven, baking by noon, and burnt to a crisp by

evening.  Full of energy at the break of day, we were lethargic sloths by

nightfall.  It was time to get back to the higher elevations.  We left Kanab

for Ruby's Inn, a settlement just outside of Bryce Canyon National Park at

7,500 feet.

Bryce Canyon

is a wonderland of pink and white

spires, laid out with amazing

symmetry.  The open bowl of

crystalline formations carved from

the surrounding flat plains

resembles an ampitheater.  The

man who first ranched the area

around Rubys Inn in the 1800's

had no idea the canyon was just

beyond his land.  Imagine the

look on his face when, at the

suggestion of a knowledgeable

neighbor, he took his family on an

excursion to the rim!  It is a place that evokes smiles

in everyone, and as we rode the shuttle bus to the

view points and walked the many trails that lead

along the edge and down into the canyon, I was

struck by how happy everyone was.  Children love

this place.

We walked along the Rim, from

Bryce Point to Inspiration Point,

and watched a fantastic summer

thunderstorm creep over the

valley until we had to run for

cover ourselves.  This land was

carved by a divine hand using the

tools of wind and rain to erode the

rock into fantastic formations.  I

was awed by the regularity of the

carvings.  Rows upon rows of

spires stand in perfect military

formation.

At the top the

trees cling to the rim for dear life,

their roots clawing at the

crumbling gravel as their

branches wave ominously in the

breeze, threatening to rip the

trees from the edge.  At the

bottom the trees pierce the air

above them, the dark green

spikes contrasting with the

orange and white striped spears

of rock.

We hiked down into the canyon to

the Queen's Garden.  As you descend on this hike

the land becomes otherworldly.  Between the spires,

the land forms smooth, rounded slopes and the

trees are short and twisted.  The noise of the

tourists at the rim fades away behind you and the

solitude and odd surroundings seem like a

moonscape.  The emotional

anchor of the ordinary looking

grassy fields and ranches that

surround Bryce Canyon

disappear from view, and you

find yourself on the moon, or

mars, looking up at the red rock

spires, repeating the mantra:

"wow."

The gravel path winds in and out

of the spires, abandoning one

spectacular sight as it takes a

sharp turn around a bend

towards another.  We walked

through several doorways and

tunnels, emerging from each to

find ourselves staring at yet

another splendid work of art by

Nature.  People linger on these

trails. Llittle groups and pairs line

themselves up for photos, posing

all over this spectacular setting.

Cameras are handed around

trustingly between strangers in

order to get everyone in each

group into the pictures.  "I'll take

one for you if you'll take one for

me," is the phrase of the day,

sometimes said in broken English,

and often accompanied with gestures and sign language.  Cameras are all

shapes and sizes.  "Just press the button."  Lots of nodding and pointing.

Everyone is grinning.  None of us can wait to show these pictures to our

friends back home.  All the photos turn out great.

At the very bottom we came to a plaque that showed us

Queen Victoria.  This was the Queen's Garden.  She is

at the tippy top of a spire.  She looks very regal, and

very wee.  In time she will erode away and be replaced

by other shapes.  Looking around at the other hoodoo

rock formations, we made out a medieval friar and a

great horned owl to accompany the queen.

We had descended about a thousand feet and had to

climb back up again to the rim.  We chose the route that

goes through Wall Street, where the red rock walls

close around you like skyscrapers but much closer.  A

switch back trail takes you up until you look way down

on the tiny pine trees at the base.  Then you climb

higher til the people seem mere specks.  Your heart

pounds from the exertion of climbing

straight up, and when you reach the

top the view takes your breath away

yet again.

We wandered along the rim and met

a little girl holding a camera that was

as big as she was.  What a smile she

had as that camera clicked away.

The Bryce Canyon Lodge is the

oldest original National Park lodge still

standing; the others at Yellowstone,

Grand Canyon and the rest all

succombed to fire at one time or

another and were rebuilt.  Bryce isn't immune to

wildfires, however, and there were many "prescribed

burns" in action while we were there as the Park Service

attempted to keep the woods thinned so they wouldn't

be prone to future fires.

We spent a few days riding our bikes and hiking in the

areas away from Bryce Canyon and then returned to do

the Peek-a-boo hike.  We were both surprised at how

the grins came back to our faces and the "wow" formed

on our lips again as soon as we walked up to the rim.

What a place.

We had no idea why the Peek-a-boo hike has its name,

and we descended into the canyon away from the

crowds wondering what laid

ahead.

Once again, as we walked down

into the canyon, we felt an

almost physical sensation cloak

our bodies as the immense quiet and peace of this place enveloped us.

Suddenly, we looked up at a wall of spires and saw one hole, and then

another.  "So that's why it's called Peek-a-boo!"  Mark said, mugging for

the camera.  We walked with our heads up and our eyes on the peaks,

tripping occasionally.  But you can't look down on this hike, even as you

stumble.

The trail

twisted and turned and double-backed on itself between formations.  I

felt like a rat in a maze, or a child stomping around on an enormous

chess board.

We did a lot of climbing on this hike, more than seemed physically

possible for a loop hike.  Mark walked faster than I did (he didn't

bring his camera and mine kept slowing me down!), and I turned a

corner and looked up to see him happily surveying the view from

an ideal vantage point.  Once I caught up to him we sat together

for a moment.

When we turned to continue on, we were facing a little doorway.  As we passed through the door

to the glittering view on the other side, I felt like Dorothy as she steps out of her Kansas house

into the colorful Land of OZ.

After a few weeks at our "ranch

house" outside of Bryce Canyon,

among the cattle, ponderosa pines

and pronghorn, overlooking grazing

lands that stretched to the horizon,

we felt like it was home.  Our TV got

great NBC reception, so we stayed to

watch most of the Beijing Olympics.  It

was very hard to tear ourselves away,

but eventually the day came, and

once we hit the road, the excitement

of discovering new places propelled us forward and made us eager to

leave.  We bumped into the sweet village of Alton and gradually made

our way over the mountains to Parowan and Cedar City.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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