Sunday, July 10th
Leaving Zion National Park, I stopped for a restroom break and butterscotch malt at the little Galaxy Diner in the tiny town of Hatch on Highway 89, about 20 miles from Bryce. Only about 10 miles Bryce I came to Red Canyon in the heart of Dixie National Forest and western gateway to Scenic Byway 12. I couldn't help but stop to take in the fascinating red-colored rock formations known as turets, hoodoos, pinnacles and spires. I popped into the visitor center for information before hiking the popular Pink Ledge Trail through the hoodoos and ponderosa pines (whose bark smells like butterscotch and vanilla by the way!) to Hoodoo Trail which brought me directly under the unusual formations and through sagebrush, pinyon and juniper trees. On the way to my car I saw a crazy tacky car and it had a bumper sticker which read "God Hates Hate." I love that :)
|A View of Red Canyon|
I reached Bryce Canyon National Park mid-day, stopped at the lodge (rustic charm!), went past a Utah Prairie Dog town (cute little critters!), relished the breathtaking views of Bryce Canyon's popular "Amphitheater" region from Sunrise and Sunset points, watched the orientation film at the visitor center (poor audio/visual quality), picked up some camping supplies, and tried getting internet at all 3 of the park's wifi points (to no avail!). I saw a group of 3 Pronghorn Antelope (cool!) and more stunning views from Fairyland Point, and then I set up camp at Sunset Campground (site 290 - love it!) with my new tablecloth for the picnic table (first time decorating a campsite, lol). There was leftover chopped up, ready-to-go wood at the campsite when I got there, which proved itself useful for making a fire to cook my chili over. Two playful mule deer came through back behind my tent! I journaled to the smell of campfire and kept warm with my hoodie - it was perfect :) After sun down it gets cold up at 8,000 feet - must have been about 50 degrees - thermals, extra padded socks and footie pajamas kept me warm :)
|A View from One of the Many Scenic Overlooks|
Monday, July 11th
This morning I took my time getting up and at 'em. Had breakfast, cleaned up, payed for another night at my campsite, and took a little drive to the Best Western a couple miles outside the park. There I was able to get internet access and took care of an important financial matter, before havin' some fun.
I went back to the park, strapped on my camelback and took to the trails - the 6.4 mile "Figure 8" hike, which combines 3 of the park's most popular trails. I started on the Navajo Loop from Sunset Point (a steep, moderate hike down some switchbacks to popular "Wall Street" and down to the canyon floor from 8,000 feet to 7,476 feet), and connected to Peekaboo Loop ("a steep, strenuous, but spectacular hike through the heart of Bryce Amphitheater and see the "Wall of Windows") to Queen's Garden (a short, easy side hike to the "Queen Victoria" formation), and up to Sunrise Point on the canyon's rim and back to Sunset Point. The Navajo Trail and first half of Peekaboo Loop (hiking counter-clockwise) were my favorite, most breathtaking parts of the hike for sure. The first half of the hike was nice and sunny, and the second half the clouds rolled in and I could see rain and hear thunder in the distance, which gave some fun diversity to the day :)
|Hiking down Navajo Trail|
I didn't have food during the hike, so I was famished by the time I got to my car. I drove to the lodge and stuffed myself to the gills on the taco buffet - 3 plates of fish tacos and nachos, I later needed to be lifted out by crane, lol.
Then I took a scenic drive to all the other viewpoints - Inspiration Point, Bryce Point, Paria View and Rainbow Point - the southernmost lookout of the park, about 15 miles from camp. It was there that for some strange reason I felt compelled to hike some more, lol (maybe to shed some calories from the enormous lunch I had?!). I took the short and easy one-mile Bristlecone Loop through spruce-fir forests to cliffs of Bristlecone Pine trees and expansive vistas. I hugged the oldest Bristlecone Pine in the park - 1,600 years old! They're found here, in the coldest parts/high elevation over 9,000 feet. The forest leading in and out of this area was dense and shady and quiet - it was a lovely little hike :) Then I walked over to nearby Yovimpa Point, where I could see massive rain storms in the distance! I headed back to the parking lot where a couple of large, unafraid ravens were scavenging.
|Hiking Up to Sunrise Point after checking out Queen's Garden|
Heading back toward camp, I stopped at Blackbirch Canyon, Ponderosa Canyon, Aqua Canyon, Natural Bridge (cool!) and Fairview Point scenic overlooks.
By the time I got back to camp I saw a total of SEVEN mule deer (3 separate sightings of 1, 2 and 4 I believe) and EIGHT antelope (a group of seven and later a young male which seemed to be a loaner)! Before going back to my site I stopped into the general store for some cold medicine (sore, swollen throat and headache). Back at the site I made myself a campfire and journaled before bed.
|Can't Buy These in a Store!|
Tuesday, July 12th
I slept in 'til 9am this morning feeling a little better and optimistic I'd be back in good health and morale sooner if I skipped the strenuous 8-mile Fairyland Loop hike I had planned for this morning, so instead I got some breakfast at Ruby's Diner a couple miles outside the park (oatmeal 'n yogurt), and spent the majority of the day at Best Western (barely adequate internet wifi connection) planning my next destination and route, and responding to email and uploading photos. I got back to camp at 9:20, just as night was finished settling in and was greeted with a nearly full moon. I attempted to keep my campfire going as a woman at the site across from me sang a few heartfelt songs with her guitar in hand :) My campfire finally got going and kept on as I journaled before bed:)
Oh, and I reserved a 5-1/2 mile cruise on Lake Powell to Rainbow Bridge tomorrow, woo-hoo!
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