It takes a little over an hour to get to Bryce Canyon National Park from Kanab. We were reassured that we had made the right choice in not staying closer as we traveled north, gained elevation, and everything was covered in snow. It was a really beautiful ride and we spotted our first Utah prairie dog. [Quick note as we’re talking about animal spotting. We’ve seen plenty of mule deer since
the Grand Canyon and those big guys we saw were not mule deer, they had to be elk. So we’ve got that going for us.]
We’ve been running around the portion of the Colorado Plateau called the Grand Staircase or Escalante. Imagine a sheet cake of many colorful layers. That’s the sedimentary rock formed in different environments over millions of years. I don’t know what the erosion would be in this metaphor, the work of a mischievous child? Anyway, Bryce is the highest layer, the top step of the staircase. I’m pretty sure it’s the highest elevation we’ve seen yet.
The yellow and orange rock in Bryce is being eroded by water like the rest of the places we’ve visited lately, but here it is less rain and flash floods and more the process of freezing and thawing that shapes the stone. And the results are wonderful and different.
These strange spires are called hoodoos. It is a really fun word to say, I suggest you try it out yourself. Maybe try to slide it into conversation today. “Did you read that Stefan flew out to hike the hoodoos with Kate and Ryan?” Or perhaps “Even in April the hoodoos were covered in snow.” That has a little My Fair Lady feel to it.
Most of the park was still closed for winter, but one trail was open. The Fairyland loop took us below the rim into a world of hoodoos.
We braved eight miles of icy, snowy trails that gave way to red, yellow, and old fashioned brown mud that will be on my boots a long time. We were rewarded greatly for efforts.
Fins, windows, bridges; as long as we remembered to look up from our feet we got to see unique geological formations all around us.
They say you should stop and smell the flowers, but I would like to add you should stop and smell the ponderosa pine as well. Inside their flakey, fire resistant bark is a compound that smells like sweet vanilla.
Even if you aren’t surrounded by a Fairyland of strange rock formations and fragrant trees, it is still vital to look up from your feet and take a look around as often as you can remember. Mindfulness, appreciation, gratitude, these things are available to us in most every situation.
We’ve got plenty to practice our appreciation and gratitude on here, and it was really nice to have Stefan along to share it with. We had a lot of laughs, clocked a lot of miles, and ate a lot of cheeseburgers. We did some hard hiking but the traveling together was effortless.
Hiking down into canyons is the opposite of the usual hiking up a mountain. Most of the climbing comes at the end of the hike, which can make things pretty tough. But the down is often harder on me than the up, and when you climb out of the canyon you get the distinct benefit of getting a great view of where you’ve come from.
It’s funny, but having Stefan around made me a little homesick. I miss hanging out with everybody. This blog goes a long way to keep us connected to friends and family, but it’s been a few months without seeing anyone. But we are making our way back east, and I am certainly in no rush to end this trip. Maybe we’ll just have to convince others to come visit us out here.