05.13.2013 - 05.13.2013 90 °F
We woke up in each others arms, which probably had more to do with the chilliness of the morning than our mutual desire to snuggle. We shared a breakfast of champions – puffin cereal & soy milk - but forgot to pack bowls so improvised with a plastic croissant container. We packed up our gear and picked up cooler for our refrigerated items (cheese, deli meats, fruit, edamame, yogurt, onions, carrots soymilk) just in time as the bags of ice had melted to puddles in our plastic bags. We're leaving Springdale & Zion on our way to the steep, craggy cliffs of Bryce Canyon. Bryce lies at a much higher elevation than nearby Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon, varying from 8,000 to 9,000 feet, whereas the south rim of the Grand Canyon sits at 7,000 feet above sea level. The park is named after Ebenezer Bryce, who started ranching the area in 1875. Upon showing the canyons to visitors, he is said to have remarked, "It's a hell of a place to lose a cow."
We found the AUX cable outlet (it was in the glove compartment) and for the first time during this trip we were able to listen to something other than the static-y radio, yay! The light jams pouring out of Pandora were interrupted by our gasps as we sighted a Buffalo on East 9. We spent part of the two hour drive to Bryce stuck on a thin, ridge road behind a one-way tunnel. T explained to me that the SW & NE lane alternate using the one lane road. Talk about poor planning!
Utah traffic signs are beehives. Which, although not explicitly stated, must be in some way attributed to the, 'worker bee, hive-mind' philosophy of Mormonism. At Zion, there was a collection of 3 rock formations thousands of feet tall, 1 named Jacob, 1 named Abraham, and one named Meroni, notably more impressive than the other two, upon seeing it, T guffawed, ”The uniquely Mormon angel.” Somehow, I don't think it's coincidence that the names of the canyons are the very same venerable names found in Mormonism. T, "Weren't Mormons the ones who didn't allow black people in their religion until 1970 something?" R, "Yeah, black Mormons are just like gay republicans, misguided.”
We made a quick stop for supplies, including plastic bowls, in Panguitch, a town that I could only describe as a place that time forgot. As we get back on the road, I consider the days hikes and tendrils of anxiety creep into me. The Fairyland trail will be the most difficult hike I’ve attempted yet. It's eight miles of intense inclines and declines (we had to descend and then climb 2,309 feet) have been given a rating of moderate by the parks dept. Before taking on a moderate ranked trail, it is recommended that you be in good physical condition and have high stamina. By no means was the trek easy, but the stupendous views and incredible rock formations, (including the China Wall, Tower Bridge) was well worth the pain.
Tom remarked multiple times how impressed he was by my ability to keep up at his pace and even, at times, set the pace for both of us. Walking behind me, he described my stride as a, 'tireless march' and we sang "Little Pack Mule" a silly song I had made up a few years ago while urban backpacking my way through cities in Europe. I don't know if we enjoyed the sound of our own voices or if we just felt like we needed to make our presence bigger somehow in order to feel like something other than little lost ants amid the towering hoodoos and high canyon walls but as we humped through, we sang the hiking songs that I could remember from girl-scouts.
I know it wasn't the most difficult hike in the park, seasoned veterans would probably view the hike as a nice warm-up, but conquering Fairyland gave me a huge boost of confidence. I had triumphed over my anxiety, defeated self-limiting thoughts and excelled where I thought I would likely fail. The adrenaline rush was enough of an energy boost for me to bike back to the campsite with T. When we arrived to our rustic 'home' we decided we had too much energy to turn in now so hopped in the ‘lil putt putt and drove out to scenic points to enjoy the slow retiring of the evening sun. We were moved by the awe-inspiring views at Sunset, Inspiration, Sunrise & Bryce points. When we got to Bryce Point, I reassured it, saying, "Don't worry Bryce point, you’re just as inspiring as Inspiration point is, if not as elevated.”
Exhausted, over-stimulated and hunger gnawing at our tummies we head back to camp for a dinner of roasted onion, fingerling potatoes & corn on the cob with s’mores for dessert. My muscles ache when I finally lay down in my sleeping bag; I'm so tired I don't even remember falling asleep.