Saturday, October 06, 2007

We’ve just spent our third day at Bryce Canyon National Park, and today a light dusting of snow capped our last hike along Inspiration Point. As we drove to our motel, we spotted four pronghorn antelopes bedded down in the grasses for warmth. Yesterday, we hiked the famed Navajo Loop trail, through the Queen’s Garden and up to Sunrise Point, a total of 3.5 miles and a descent of 580 feet down switchbacks into a tight box canyon, with the ascent at the end of the trail an equally challenging 580 feet back up at roughly 10,000 feet elevation. But along the way, what vistas! Those hoodoos, shaped over 10 million years of erosion, really pillars of rock colored by mineral content to gold, white or iron rich red, dazzle the eyes. Everywhere we look, these fantastic shapes invite photographs. Check Webshots (see link at the right) to see a few.

According to the Park Service, people have lived in this valley about 12,000 years. The Paiutes say the hoodoos are ancient peoples (perhaps Pueblo or Fremont) turned to stone by Coyote. Sometimes I can see faces in the stones, but mostly I am in awe at the grand architecture of this place that no photo can capture. The play of light, the range of color, and the sweep of intricate formations constantly change. Snow and rain freeze and then thaw, with runoff leading to new fantastic shapes, while tall pine trees compete for space, growing somehow in marginal spaces.

We are adjusting very well to being on the road, although gusts of wind up to 60 pushed us into a lovely motel, Bybee’s Steppingstone in the nearby town of Tropic, complete with quilts, satellite TV, and some access to internet. Allen has been enjoying baseball playoffs as well as college football. We have now invested in sturdy tent stakes and are hoping the lower elevation and calmer weather at Zion will lead us back to camping. We're seeing more RVs and mini-vans everywhere; what a different way of life. I miss family and friends, maybe work, certainly my books and computer, but each day is such an adventure. Experiencing these parks is humbling in a way with such a profusion of natural beauty. We have had so many days in which I thought this surely will be the ultimate highlight of our trip. And then another day comes along with experiences so amazing, that they eclipse what has gone before. May your days be as bright. Beth

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