I mentioned in an earlier post how Bryce Canyon was a big part of the inspiration for taking this trip. Today it lived up to my expectations and more. The view from the top of the amphitheater is absolutely awe-inspiring, but the draw of the hoodoos attracts visitors to make the descent. We decided to hike the Figure 8 (we did not do the Bryce Point spur described in the link, but did make our own addition). This trail is a moderately strenuous, 6 mile hike, with 1600 feet of elevation change. Only 1000 feet less than Twin Sisters Peaks.
Our day started off easily enough, we arrived at the ranger station just as the flag was being raised. After talking to a ranger that was much more willing to send us on a difficult trail than many of the previous ones we had talked to we made our way to Sunset Point were the girls got their first view of the amphitheater.
We soon arrived at what we thought was the Queen’s Garden since it was 1)a short spur 2)marked with a sign reading “Queen’s Garden” and 3)clearly a hoodoo resembling Queen Victoria. We also discovered the first medallian that was a part of the “Hike the Hoodoos” challenge. We took the obligatory picture and moved along.
According the our map shortly after the Queen’s Garden Spur there is a short connector trail to move to the second part of the loop. When we arrived at the next split in the trail we took the one labeled “Horse Trail”. This didn’t phase us (it should have) since we knew that this second loop was open to both hikers and horses. We hiked way too far before noticing that 1)the only footprint other than ours had been made by horses 2)we were heading North rather than the Westerly direction we had been expecting 3)we had not seen a single other hiker in quite a while. So, we consulted the map and our compass and realized that we were indeed on the “Horse Trail” rather than the Peek-A-Boo Loop.
This is where one member of our party began to freak the f*%# out. After (somewhat) convincing said party member that the rangers weren’t going to be mad at us we turned around and started hiking back. We soon met a group of horse riders and were given directions to get us back on track. We later discovered that we had gone about two miles on the Horse Trail and missed about a mile of the (presumably) much prettier trail that we were supposed to be on.
Soon after a (different) member of our party decided she needed to poop, NOW. Fortunately, there was a bathroom on this portion of the trail and only 0.5 miles ahead. There was no way our whole group would be able to travel fast enough so two of us decided to run ahead. Running around the Peek-A-Boo trail is not easy. Of the 1,600 feet of vertical climb on the trail over 1,000 are in this section. 200 up, 200 down, repeat, over and over. But, we made it just in the nick of time.
After grouping and drinking some cold water the thunder began. I actually found it calming. I’ve always enjoyed the sound of thunder, and with only a few drops of cooling rain falling the somewhat distant storm didn’t pose any real issues for us at all. Memories of Arches NP were apparently at the forefront of everyone else mind and tensions were high until we walked through a tunnel cut through one of the hoodoos and into a gallery topped with a perfectly blue sky.
After completing the final 600 foot climb out of the amphitheater we stopped by the ranger station to claim our badges for completing the “Hike the Hoodoos” challenge. We returned to our hotel, showered, and had a pretty relaxing rest of the day. We stopped by Clarke’s in Tropic for beer, wings, and quesadillas (motto:You’ll eat here because we’re the only option).
One of the awesome things about being on the road like this is not having to pay attention to details like which day of the week it is. Molly got judged pretty heavily while checking out at the grocery store next to Clarke’s when she asked what time they opened in the morning. She was simply hoping to grab a cup of coffee, but the dirty look and “we open at 2:00 tomorrow afternoon” served as a sharp reminder that we were in Mormon country, and that tomorrow was Sunday. From there we washed a load of laundry, mooched off the wifi and a nearby hotel, and watched the Blackhawks.
We’ve had a bit of a change in plans for tomorrow. Due to the continued risk of flash flooding in the area The Narrows and Zion won’t open until 10:00 at the earliest tomorrow. We’ve enjoyed hiking with as few other people as possible, and at a park as popular as Zion the only way to do that is to get a much earlier start. So, we’re going to head down to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for some very light walking along the rim. This will also give us a bit more relaxing day after a couple tough hikes in a row. Then we’ll come back up, spend the night at Zion as planned anyway, and tackle The Narrows on the day after tomorrow before heading on to Vegas.