Cool Water and Hot Sun

29 June 2012 in Trails/Hiking, Traveling


We awoke early atop our isolated perch. Miles from any signs of civilization beside the dirt road below. It was a peaceful night of sleep, clear skies, no threat of rain and therefore no rain fly to cover our mostly screen tent. The gentle breeze blew through at a wonderful temperature and speed. And the glow of the east gently lured us out into the blossoming of another beautiful day in the desert.

We broke down camp and headed to the Willis Creek trailhead, just down the road and parked next to a Suburu wagon containing a note to notify others that the car contained a cat. It was a pretty cute set up with a large crate-like cage amongst all of the gear needed for an extended road trip/camping adventure. So we’re not the only ones.

Willis Creek TrailHiking back in to the creek wash the off white sand stone quickly closes in and raises above you. Soon we found ourselves navigating tight narrows of undulating rock waves and jumping for dry spot to dry spot as the shallow creek glistened and bubbled beneath our feet. We had pictorial evidence that this creek contained a waterfall, but the photo we saw was deceiving as far as scale. As we approached it seemed to be just a dip in the wash, but there sat a little six foot falls carved swiftly into a large slap of sand stone over the last million years of so. There is a poem I failed to find for an exact quote, but it is regarding both the strength and power of water to affect change to even the strongest of solid matter and it’s ability to remain completely flexible and malleable. Being out here you’re are constantly confronted with the truth behind this kind of thinking.

Willis Creek TrailThe canyon and the wash just went on and on, and so we decided to turn back and make our way to Bryce where we planned to ride a nice stretch of bike trail located between the outer edge of Bryce and Red Canyon. The wind would prove to be a deterrent too large to overcome on a bike and so we ended up hiking. But first we swung into Henrieville for lunch. This tiny town was originally an early settlement in this area. The reasoning being there was a source of water. Like most early settlements, especially in the desert, water was key and while there was water in this area it took a great deal of effort to haul it in for drinking and to irrigate the land for crops. I forget all the details, but these hardy people make modern society look like a bunch of whiney, spoiled, children. The things we are complaining about one hundred years later are just ridiculous.

After lunch we drove into Bryce, but before entering we spotted a turnoff we had never noticed before. With the idea of biking in the gusting wind already abandoned we let the breeze of our curiosity carry us on it’s whims. And lo and behold we found a small treasure set on the outlying edge of the park. A short hike back revealed large and striking windows cut into the customarily rich, red stone Bryce. A steep scramble on loose gravel, up some one hundred feet brought us to the to where we found ourselves peering though to another small wonderland. Below was a small creek cutting through patches of red stone and dropping off over a twelve foot waterfall at a white water pace.

WaterfallAfter taking in the view we climbed through the window and into this new world. After a short, but treacherous descent we were above the waterfall. Then it was just a quick climb down and we were standing in the refreshing mist. We soaked our handkerchiefs in the frigid water and tied them around our wrists to cool our blood and let circulation cool our bodies. We also ventured under the falls for photos.

Bryce Canyon National ParkNext we followed the trail back around—the way we would have came had we not taken the short cut up and through the windows—and climbed a short trail to a hanging garden strategically located under an overhang pointed in just the right direction to avoid direct sunlight. Here small, lush green plants thrived looking out of place among their hearty, dry, twisted and sandy brethren.

Our next stop was the heart of the park. One of the most popular places in Southern Utah, Bryce is not really our cup of tea. It’s gorgeously painted and the coliseum of hoodoos is one of the most amazing places around, but this attracts lots of spectators and for us that kind of ruins our experience. The only reason we came in today was to see if we could locate our previous nights campsite and area from above.

Bryce Canyon National ParkWith the wealth of traffic, we decided to park just inside the entrance and take the shuttle up to one of the many points. Here we strained to find our way back to our remote camp through a blur of dotted green desert, but it was harder than we thought. So in hopes of escaping the crowds that seem to cluster around the points, but never too far from a bench or a convenience store, we thought we’d hike park of the rim trail. Not originally planning to hike we hadn’t brought much water and never considered putting on more sunscreen. These mistakes would leave both Lindsay and me parched and sunburnt. Thought I’d have to say Lindsay caught the brunt of it in a tank top. But all in all it was another beautiful day in a beautiful place. Even returning home burnt and hungry we had little reason to complain.

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29 June 2012 Trails/Hiking, Traveling

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