Friday, October 9, 2015

Zion National Park

A romantic painting of Zion, to be sure, yet not far off.  What can you say about a place of such grand beauty it can melt your heart?

Can I just say it in photos?    

The Virgin River may appear innocuous, but its patient force is responsible for much of what we see today.

I spend the first day just taking it all in, walking along the canyon floor, but also via the excellent Park shuttle service.

Skylights for peering at the majestic vertical cliffs.

The promise is that you won’t wait more than 15 minutes for the next shuttle.  I don’t think I ever waited more than 3 minutes.  Not that any wait would be a hardship with views like this from the shuttle stops.

One of my South Campground neighbors.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Cedar Breaks National Monument and Aspens Aglow

Leaving Bryce, I stop in to visit Cedar Breaks National Monument.  The surrounding land and canyon here are wild and lovely, though after Bryce, it’s hard to impress.

At this elevation, the noon temperature is 44 degrees.

I'm so delighted to finally don the winter jacket I’ve been carting around for over 2,000 miles, I capture the moment. 

If ever you are in this area - particularly on a lovely autumn afternoon with the Aspen leaves at their peak - take Highway 148.  

This two-lane highway is listed as a scenic drive, but then so is most of this part of Utah.  I didn’t expect such beauty.  Possibly the most gorgeous road I’ve ever driven. 

As with most scenic routes, you pay a price. The payback for this one are 24 miles of hairpin curves and 6 – 8 % grades. 

There are few places to pull over for photography, so I do the best I can out the window.  The Aspens in full sunlight are magnificent!

I want to share an excerpt from a recent Glynnis McNicol article published by The Guardian

There is something intensely clarifying about being on the road. One day on the road feels like seven or eight at home. 

Life, regular life and all its restrictions recede; as though your former self is separating from you, pushed upwards and out by the increasingly big sky you are driving under, until it becomes a thin distant reality that hardly seems connected to you at all. 

You are suddenly able to see yourself as an individual, disconnected from your life and the people in it. 

You become whatever is happening in that moment. You are the gas tank, the weather, the road signs, the cafe menus, the people you meet and the bed you sleep in. You are living outside time. It is heady stuff.

Here's the link for the entire article - a unique perspective of women on the road.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Good Bye to Bryce

Of the southern Utah Parks, this has been my favorite stop so far. 

I mean, come on … !

I've heard from many folks who say this is their favorite National Park.  It's hard to imagine otherwise, but I have yet to visit Zion.

What a great boondock site here in the Dixie National Forest - a quiet, cozy haven exactly ½ mile from the entrance to the Park (and the crowds).

On work days, I've enjoyed this lovely office in the lobby of the Bryce Canyon Lodge. With delicious grilled cheeseburgers right around the corner. Believe me, in every way, a vast improvement over my old brick and mortar office! 

 On my last afternoon, I hike the Upper Rim Trail from Bryce Point ...

... to Inspiration Point.

As expected, the trail travels along the canyon's rim in this southern part of the Park.  Some of the footpath weaves through the edge of the forest,

 but majestic views are always just a few steps away.

The trail ends with a great view of the grottos behind me.

The next morning, I say goodbye to my deer neighbors (7 stop by for a morning graze, just feet from the GDB) and also to Fairlyland Canyon. 

Indulge me with a few more photos of this bewitching place.

Shipwreck Rock

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Rim Shots

Scenic Drive Along the Rim

For some 17 miles one-way along the Bryce Canyon rim, every view is magic.  Bonus: the temperature is in the mid-60s!  The GDB purrs like a kitten along the road, climbing to 9,100 feet – the highest elevation in the park.  

For such a complex landscape, the geology of Bryce is pretty simple: once underwater, then lifted from sea level to over 8,000 feet, then eroded. 

We are in the Aspen-Fir-and-Douglas Pine-territory. But it’s hard to see the forest for the hoo-doos!  

The rock formations chew the scenery, yet the forest is a wonder of its own. 

I stop at all the viewpoints save Inspiration Point.  I have plans to hike there later.

Natural Bridge is the jewel in this crown. 

Bryce is a popular Park so, naturally, crowds are everywhere.  Today, I’m mostly lucky with some solitude until I reach Bryce Point, just as the Park shuttle disgorges its contents. 

Fairyland Canyon

Later I hike the rim trail along mindblowing Fairyland Canyon. 

This canyon is smaller and more intimate than the others and much less crowded as it is situated outside the Park entrance gates.

The light is perfect for an early evening hike along its rim. 

My photos in no way do Fairyland Canyon justice. 

 Yep, Mother Nature gets her freak on here.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Bryce Canyon National Park

Leaving Capitol Reef, I set a course for Bryce Canyon National Park along Utah’s Scenic Highway 12.  The drive was so very scenic but the constant change in elevation and frequent hairpin curves kept me on my toes. Not to mention the open-range livestock.

At 9,500 feet, it was so exciting to finally find welcoming AUTUMN!

I find a lovely boondock in the Dixie National Forest, less than a mile from the Park entrance. Though getting a rig larger than mine back here would be impossible.  So, it’s just me and the deer among the pines.

Long just breathtaking images in some coffee table book, I can hardly believe I’m here.  

I’m eager to hike and explore this wonderland up-close.  Before hitting the trail, I stand on the rim at Sunrise Point and gawk. 

With 200 days of ice and rain annually, the features that define Bryce - the hoo-doos - are formed by the relentless thawing and freezing of ice that pushes the sandstone rocks apart. 

My first hike is the combination of Queen’s Garden and the Navaho Loop through the Bryce Amphitheater.  Waaaay down there. 

The trail begins near the notable figure of Thor’s Hammer (center). 

With every step, in every direction, the scene is like some rocky Wonderland.  

It’s hard to stop taking photos. (I realize my selfies need more work).

Thinking it can’t get any better, I enter the Navaho Loop.

A main feature of this area is the Wall Street formation.

Soon after, the trail enters a slot canyon. I'm reminded that I have a colonoscopy scheduled in December. 

Lastly, to exit the canyon, there is a heinously steep climb with a series of switchbacks.

The trail ends at Sunrise Point.

What an memorable introduction to Bryce NP!