Sunday, April 19, 2015

Bryce Canyon

My eyes popped open at 7:30am. I wanted so badly to sleep, but my internal clock was saying "haha! sucks for you!" I moved in slow motion, in a haze, stuck somewhere between sleep and a daydream. Cori was still asleep. I was full of jealousy. I can't remember the last time I slept through a night. I stumbled out of our musty motel room, and greeted by the cold morning air. It was 31 degrees in the high desert, blindingly bright and breathtakingly beautiful.

I made a short drive down to the local Chevron, walked past the freshly baked pastries and filled up two giant cups of coffee.

The rest of the morning snailed by. We stuffed our things back into our backpacks and went searching for coffee #2 sometime around 10 am. Our search brought us to The Flying W diner in Panguitch, UT. We added some eggs and french toast to our caffeine and then lazily meandered back to the car.

We made it to Bryce Canyon sometime around noon. We setup camp in Sunset Campground before all the tent sites filled up on this admission free weekend.

Still tired from yesterday's hike we originally planned to hike about four miles and call it a day. We started our descent from sunrise point (8,000 ft.) and headed toward the Queens Garden. My quads and calves began to burn as I made my way down. How can that be? I hiked 20 miles my first day on the PCT and 13 miles the second day and I wasn't sore. I hike Grandfather Mountain all the time and I'm not sore. What gives? I don't know.

We zig-zagged our way down the canyon, through seemingly painted rocks and hoodoos. Hoodoos are tall skinny spires of rock that protrude from the bottom of arid basins and "broken" lands, and are shaped by water and ice

We reached the Queens Garden 0.8 miles into the hike. The Queens garden gets its names from the queen shaped hoodoo, which is named for a statue in London. My zoom on my camera is horrible, but can you see it?

It was here that we were presented with a "hoodoos challenge." The challenge required us to find and be photographed with three hoodoo markers, and these markers had to cover at least three miles of hiking. If we completed the challenge we would win a "small reward". Cori was inspired and the challenge was on!

From Queens Garden we hiked down a portion of the Navajo Trail , and then crossed the canyon floor up the Peek - a - Boo Trail to get the third marker. Once we finished we had hiked at least three miles but we were still in the middle of the canyon. To get out we choose to take the Bryce Trail up to the Canyon Rim Trail, and the rim trail back to sunset point, making a respectable 7 mile-ish loop. My legs feel like jello. Our reward (besides the self satisfaction of hiking our assessment of today)? A Bryce Canyon Hoodoo Challenge pin!

Tonight we are camping at 8,000 feet. We've never camped this high! The low is 27 and we slept in 23 degrees a few nights ago rather comfortably. It would be a really great night if I don't have to climb out of my warm bag to go pee. Wishful thinking I'm sure.

The endangered Utah prairie dog

View from Sunrise Point

View from Bryce Point

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