Thursday, September 29, 2011

Our National Park Adventures - Bryce Canyon National Park

A place where ancient songs whisper
      and strange hoodoo's cast spells~~~

 Hoodoo - a serious geological term meaning," we don't know what else to call them", and refers to bizarre shapes eroded from stone.

  The second stop on our tour of National Parks was Bryce Canyon.  Unlike any other place on this earth, this park is characterized by amazing topography and the awe impressing sights of those mystical hoodoos.

  Excerpts from my travel journal~ "I find myself looking out at this amazing canyon with lands the color of jumbled terra cotta pots.  Plateaus layered in creams, yellows, cinnamon, and maroon ~" 

"Threatening thunderstorms in the distance kept us from hiking today- so we drove the loop around the park stopping at all the observation points. The sky was beautiful and  magnified the gorgeous scenery- making for a perfect picture taking day! I think Bryce is one of those places where the sights are best seen as you look down into the valley - so we really were not disadvantaged by not hiking. ( after yesterday- my legs could use the rest!!)"

Our friend Bob is a geologist.  His amazing insight into the development of the canyons and formations was the perfect compliment to the amazing scenery that we were all a part of.  Traveling with Bob is like being on a National Geographic discovery adventure~~ 

Want to know how I got out here?  Very carefully - very slowly - (crawled on my hands and knees!)

An 18 mile scenic drive winds along the rim of Bryce Canyon. There are 13 amazing viewpoints in which to gaze at the giant bowl of hoodoos and view the canyon's most famous formations. Come along with us as we drive the "canyon loop"~~

My friend Jan is such a good sport.  I'm awarding her the "waits patiently while others hike" award!

From my journal~ "Most of the time, we can't see the ground beneath our feet.  But here - on this Colorado plateau - bare rock dominates. Most of the canyons out west were formed by the massive powers of the Colorado River - but here at Bryce - it was a consistent series of freeze/thaw cycles that formed these intricate shapes.  Millions of years ago - think about that - I can hardly imagine~~"

 With names like Sunrise, Sunset and Inspiration Point - it is easy to see why the viewpoints along the canyon capture the intriguing shapes in the best light of the day.


 From my journal, "our pictures can not begin to capture the magnitude of these views~~"

Bet you didn't know I liked to climb on stuff!!

This thunderstorm lingered the entire afternoon - always a threat in the distance.  You can see why we chose NOT to hike today! 
We spent the entire day driving the observation points.  Some of the viewpoints had the opportunity for short hikes - (1/2 mile or so).  The viewpoints we visited are:
  1. Bryce Point
  2. Paria View
  3. Swamp Canyon
  4. Fairview Point
  5. Natural Bridge
  6. Agua Canyon
  7. Ponderosa Canyon
  8. Black Birch Canyon
  9. Rainbow Point
  10. Yovimpa Point
  11. Sunrise Point
  12. Sunset Point
  13. Inspiration Point
Total distance hiked today - 3 miles (kind of wimpy compared to yesterday!) 

A few photos from our travels away from Bryce - heading to our next destination Capital Reef National Park~~

Well - if you are still hanging with me on this journey -  my next post will share photos from my favorite hike in the ENTIRE trip.  Our day spent in Capitol Reef National Park was unbelievable~~

A little update - after the photos of  Capitol Reef - I'll be sharing with you all a little fall give away.  (Your reward for suffering through all the National Park pictures!)

And - just in case you didn't know that all this "nesting" is  serious business here~~ yesterday I spent the entire afternoon doing the yarn photo shoot for the 2012 Harvest nest!!   You will be seeing those pictures next summer - just before the debut of the nest.  
We are having a glorious fall here - I hope you are all enjoying the last hurrah of summer~~

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Our National Park Adventures - Zion National Park

The Secrets of Zion are whispered each day in the gentle  waters of the Virgin River~~

Excerpts from my travel journal ~~
"Named in the early 1800's by Mormon settlers - Zion is truly a place of incredible sanctuary and beauty.  Surrounded by mountains of inexplicable color and form, this place is simply unbelievable."

  We began our incredible journey and tour of National Parks in Las Vegas.  We packed up our rental car - along with our dearest friends Bob and Jan - and set off to see our National treasures - up close and personal.  First stop - Zion National Park.   (You can click on any of the photos to enlarge them!)

The soaring mesa tops of Zion are cathedrals that inspire the soul with their beauty.  

Entry to Zion National Park

The heart and soul of Zion are the enormous cliffs.   With Biblical sounding names they evoke the sanctuary that for  hundreds of years, people have come here seeking~~ The Great White Throne, The Three Patriarchs- Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, The Alter of Sacrifice, Angel's Landing, Temple, and the Watchman.  


Zion National Park is the only National Park to prohibit it's guests from driving into the park.  The use of a shuttle system has totally transformed the experience of visiting this great National Park.  It's quiet - totally quiet - all you hear is the sound of happy people, the rush of the wind in trees, the gurgling sound of the river, and the "skree" of a red tailed hawk.  

From my journal-  "Water in all it's forms, has shaped this land.  When you walk out here - you walk where the water has been."  

"Nothing can exceed the wondrous beauty of Zion... in the nobility and the wondrous beauty of the sculptures."  wrote geologist Clarence Dutton, 1880.  

 So~ we began our first encounters with the magnificent place that is called Zion~~ 

Upper Emerald Pool Trail

(photo credit - Bob)

Weeping Rock Trail

(photo credit - Bob)
From my journal - "On our first day we hiked about 5 miles to places with picturesque names like Weeping Rock and the Narrows.   At the Narrows we followed a long trail that led to the Virgin River bed. From there the river flows shallow to a narrow crevice between two mountains. We were not equipped to wade the rest of the hike ( next time)- but the river was crystal clear and it was HOT- I felt the gentle ripples calling my name - so I gave in to the temptation and went in - clothes and all!

I'm still dripping here!

A trip like this takes a lot of planning - meet the "planners" ~~ me and Bob.

On Day 2 of our Zion adventure Bob had this great crazy idea - "lets do the Hidden Canyons Trail", he said~~

 No where on that trail description did it say ANYTHING about scaling a slick rock mountain face hanging on to ~~ CHAINS!!!

Feel free to leave comments telling me that I am SO BRAVE!!
                                              (or crazy!)

 The steep trail to Hidden Canyon gains nearly 1000 feet in the first mile.  The rough surfaced trail zig zags up the face of Cable Mountain.  The drop off is 6,974 feet~~~

In places it is so narrow and steep that you need to steady yourself with CHAINS before reaching the water gorged canyon between Cable Mountain and the Great White Throne.  The final entry into the slot canyon is by way of steep steps chiseled into the slick rock~ 

 From my journal- "Inside this secret canyon, I felt as though I was in a place where time stood still.  The stone corridor narrows and winds and I find myself fascinated to know - what is on the other side." 

I kinda wish I had seen this sign before I started this trail!  
         Did I earn my badge of courage?

With my feet finally steady on solid ground - we had time for one more hike at the end of the day~

Sunset and the evening glows in Zion National Park~~

My friend Jan - patiently waiting while we hiked.  (She is actually the only smart one in the bunch!)

The magnificent Checkerboard Mesa

We spent 2 spectacular days in the Zion National Park - not nearly enough!  We hiked the following trails:
  1. the one mile paved path to the Narrows.
  2. the Weeping Rock trail
  3. the first section of the Angel's Landing trail
  4. the Upper Emerald Pools trail
  5. the Kayenta trail to the Grotto shuttle stop
  6. the 1.5 mile trail from the Grotto shuttle stop to the Zion lodge
  7. the Hidden Canyon trail
Total mileage covered in Zion National Park - just over 12 miles!

Next stop on our National Park adventure -Bryce Canyon and those amazing hoodoo formations. 

(I'll be back with more unbelievable photos from our travels in a few days~~)