Friday, December 7, 2012

Extraordinary Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Spires on the Peek-a-boo Trail at Bryce
Have you ever witnessed such intense beauty that it makes you cry?  This is the beauty of Bryce Canyon.  There are no sufficient adjectives to describe the colours and textures in these overwhelming scenes, although Brad and I keep repeating "this is just stupid" as we round each corner.  How does nature create such symmetry and beauty?

Our original intention is to go to Kanab in the very south of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  We plan to hike a short trail in Bryce Canyon National Park that is en route and we, once again, succumb to Bryce's charms.  Bryce is our favourite place - anywhere.  It claims to be the only park like it in the world and we know why.

The short trail that draws us in is Mossy Cave; the cave itself isn't that spectacular - it's a seep where moss and ferns grow in the underside of a cliff overhang.  But the surrounding orange, pink and white pinnacles that surround us take our breath away.  They always have.  So why not stay a while and enjoy the scenery - we certainly have the time.  The trick will be remembering what we haven't done in our two previous visits to this glorious natural wonder.

Knowing that our time is limited because cold weather is coming (well, actually it's here at night although Bryce usually has snow by now), we decide to do one good hike and, with a park ranger's help, settle on the Peek-a-boo Loop trail.  We will only do this one hike because it is listed as "strenuous" with an almost 1,600 foot accumulated elevation change.  That's like hiking up and down our Niagara escarpment almost EIGHT TIMES!  Go ahead - do it!  First of course, is the 800 foot descent from Bryce Point (elevation over 8,000 feet) into the canyon, where the pink, orange, yellow and white hoodoos surround us.  The trail meanders up and down through these spires providing views from their base as well as vistas from heights.  Two or three times, the trail passes through a window in a rock wall and we emerge to find a new view where we are taken in by the colours and shapes that unfold.  "This is just stupid," we exclaim with our mouths gaping open.  The quiet is broken only by the occasional bird-song, passing jet, or infrequent fellow hiker.  It's like being on another planet.

If you never see anything else in the U.S. southwest, you MUST see Bryce Canyon.  Nothing else compares.
Moon rising over the Pink Cliffs in Bryce Canyon National Park

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