Monday, August 20, 2018

Smokin’

When we arrived at Bryce Canyon this morning for our 4 mile, 4 hour, 1000’ elevation change backcountry hike to a hoodoo formation called Hat Shop, we were greeted with haze on the horizon and filling the canyons.  We were amazed, because up to now every day was crystal clear and the sky the bluest blue.  We figured it was probably moisture from the recent showers and would soon clear.

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Off we went on our most ambitious hike yet.  This trail led down one side of the canyon, around the end, and up the other side, around and down and up again and finally to the Hat Shop.

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We hadn’t cleared the top of the ridge before being wowed by some unexpected beauty.

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It took a while to get past these spires, with everyone framing their own shots,

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but eventually we made it down the slope

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up and around, down and up again along that pink strip in the distance.  That slope on the left end of the strip

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looked like this when we finally reached it.

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At the top we found the Hat Shop, so called, I think, because the balanced rocks look like hats on display racks.

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with a bit of imagination.

In the distance the rim trail continues 18 miles around the perimeter of the park.

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The Hat Shop was our turn-around point.  We found a friendly hiker to take our picture, then we started back the way we came.

Duane, Ruth Ann, Stacy, me.

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down, and up, and down,

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and way up,

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we slowly snaked our way back to the parking lot.

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Time for a well earned lunch.

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To fill out the day we visited the only two viewpoints we’d missed before.  By this time we’d learned that the haze on the horizon was Colorado wildfire smoke.  Drat!  It would have to blow over here and mess up the view!

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To round out the afternoon, we drove to Panguitch for a bit of shopping and some ice cream.  We were dismayed to find the town closed on Sunday.  After a bit of scouting, we spied this little place.  Not only was it open, but it had good hand dipped ice cream.  Yay!  We enjoyed our treat on the porch then drove home to do our own things for a couple of hours.

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At 6pm we headed back toward the park for sunset pictures.  We stopped along the way for dinner, then entered the park in time for the sunset.

Compare this picture taken this evening

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with this one taken 4 days ago.

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We were in time to watch the orange sun set in the haze

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and the moon rise in a fairly clear sky.

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Exiting the park we found mule deer grazing by the road.

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Back home we went to bed early for our last early hike tomorrow.

Next—not Bryce!

Louise, Ruth Ann, Stacy, Duane

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Sunrise, Sunset

Dawn found us (ironically) at Bryce Canyon (Utah) Sunset Point.  The  wind was cold,  and the temp in the low 50’s.  We found out quickly that we were totally unprepared to be so cold!   We were not all alone in the cold and dark—the rim was lined with people all waiting with cameras at the ready for the sun to clear the horizon and light up the canyon.

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It seems that the canyon has its own light.  Even in the dim light the hoodoos were glowing.

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Finally the sky was light enough to brighten the canyon floor.

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People hoping to photograph a beautiful sunrise were doomed to disappointment.  A dark cloud covered the horizon, and the sun rose behind it.

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Our disappointment was rewarded, though.  The white tipped rock spires seemed to have their own inner lights.

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When everyone was convinced that the early morning light show was over, we convened to the car to warm up and eat breakfast of hard cooked eggs and fruit.

With the rest of the day before us we decided to drive Scenic Highway 12 from Bryce to Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument as far as the town of Boulder (77 miles), then turn around and drive back.  Along the way we stopped at the two visitors centers to view the exhibits and watch short films about the formation of the parks,  at various little stores that piqued our interest, and at most of the viewpoint overlooks to read the info boards and take copious pictures.

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We enjoyed our picnic lunch at a day use area along the Escalante River,

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and continued back along our route of the morning.

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View of the Escalante River route through a narrow canyon

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Back at the Bryce Canyon area, we stopped for an early supper at one of the many cafes and restaurants available for the convenience of the many tourist that visit the park.  They are all pretty much the same with very similar menus and prices.  Each evening we take turns picking.

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After dinner, Stacy’s Fitbit decided that we hadn’t walked enough.  We decided on a 2 mile hike up only 200’ feet to view a waterfall.  On our arrival, we learned the source of the “river” we were following.

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The water was full of silt, but pretty enough, especially with sunlit hoodoos behind it. 

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We wandered along, taking in the scenery and of course, taking lots of photos of the beautiful red rock formations, and of the water—especially Stacy and Ruth Ann (our daughter and her partner)—both avid photographers.

Windows from one side,

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and the other

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Of course that Creepy Guy showed up and tried to ruin our evening, but we ignored him and he disappeared again.

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We had to ascend a small hill to get a closer view of the falls.

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We took our time, imagining shapes in the rock, like Duane’s eagle,

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Stacy’s dragon (long flat head on the right, turned up tail on the end)

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and my elephant face.

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We took pictures of everything, even people taking pictures of people.

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Eventually the sun gave up and gave in to the moon, 

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but by then we were all thoroughly satisfied with our day’s activities and went home.

Next,  a long strenuous hike.

Louise and Duane, Stacy and Ruth Ann











Saturday, August 18, 2018

Bryce Up Close

Stacy, Ruth Ann, Duane and I were packed up and ready to hike down into Bryce Canyon just as the sun was throwing interesting light on the canyon.

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The hike we chose—Queen’s Garden Trail—is the most popular for several reasons:  it is short (3 miles), has only 600’ elevation change, and has many beautiful rock formations and surprising twists in the path.

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We wandered along the rim for about an hour, watching the sunlight making the rock tips translucent and the path glow.

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Finally we pried Stacy and Ruth Ann away from the top and started down into the canyon.

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Almost right away I found one of my favorite illusions—that square arch window in the middle of the picture.

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A closer look showed no arch at all—just one rock wall (with talus at the bottom)  behind another.

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Down we went gradually snaking our way to the bottom.

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Three favorites—family, a tiny peephole window, and beautifully clear blue sky.

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A little walk through tunnel to keep things interesting

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Another illusion—the path doesn’t go straight, it turns left at the tree,

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and through a short slot.

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Duane was the only one in our group not shooting pictures.  In these next two Stacy perfects her sunburst effect.  The tree draws the eye to the sun.

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Ruth Ann’s focus is the twisted tree balanced on the scree, and my focus is Ruth Ann intent on her shot.

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Just around the corner—Creepy Guy!!!

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The path wandered among the rock pinnacles for a while then through a pine and juniper forest. 

A treat for the eye—red rocks, green trees, the perfect shade of blue in the sky.

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The trail had one more surprise for us.  The way back up to the rim was up through a long slot.

Duane, me, Stacy, Ruth Ann ready to tackle the last leg.

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The end of our trail was the beginning for others.  People were toiling up and down the path like foraging ants bringing food to the nest.

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Halfway there we could see people at the top (left in front of the cloud).

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We enjoyed our picnic lunch at the trailhead, then drove to the end of the park and started back down stopping at viewpoints as Duane and I did on our bike ride of the park (see Bryce In A Minute blog).  This time we visited a couple of vista views that we skipped before.

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Duane’s favorite hoodoo—a guy with a hat and an eagle sitting on top. ( Don’t think about it too long.)

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We had backtracked our way back to Inspiration Point, but instead of turning left for the Point, we turned right for Bryce Point and found a fairyland of turreted pinnacles.  Unfortunately we also found a storm brewing.  We were there only a few minutes when a bright flash of lightening and a loud clap of thunder sent us hurrying for the car.

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On the way out we stopped for a short tour of the historic lodge, then exited the park, picked one of the many restaurants for supper, and finally arrived home tired but very satisfied with our day.

Next, sunrise in the park.

Louise and Duane (and Stacy and Ruth Ann)