MISSION: To visit every state and territory in the U.S. For my mission a visit is greater than a stop over; I wish to explore the natural and cultural environments of these areas. Each of these locations has a story to tell, and I want to find it.

As of February 2018 I have visited all 50 states (and Puerto Rico and 2 island in the US Virgin Islands) at least once.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Hoodoo You Think Hiked in Bryce???

What can you really say about one of the most breath-taking hikes you have ever taken?  I have struggled to write about to trip to Bryce because I am still in awe of what I was able to take in.   Granted, we only saw a portion of the park... you really need more than one day at Bryce, and I will have to make sure that I get that... but the priority was to see and experience.  To do that, my friend and I hiked from both rim and valley. It was the best way to marvel at the hoodoos, rims, fins and other geologic structures.  From above and below, they were a sight to see!!!

 Hoodoo became my new word of the trip... honestly, I do not remember that from geology class or lab.  I have never seen these types of structures on the east coast, but the park was smart to point out that you can see hoodoos in places all over the world - the difference is, nothing is this vast, colorful, deep and spectacular as Bryce.   If you look the right way, you can understand the native american story that woodoos are really people that have been turned to stone by the god/trickster - Coyote.  In reality, they are the result of constant weathering and erosion.  Hoodoos were rock mounds, sculpted into fins, that broke into individual pilliars.  In Bryce there are rows that look like a consistent series, cut from the same cloth; there are section upon section that look like that paper trick you do as a child - the one where you cut one  doll and create a series of linked ones.  It kinda boggles your mind to think that weathering processes created something so similiar.  And then, you turn your head, and you have another forest of hoodoos, that looks different and yet similar to each other.

The idea for Bryce was to hike a section of the rim ... we did that by taking the park shuttle to the deepest point it would go - Bryce Point and hike through Inspiration Point to Sunset Point.  That rim hike took us past the "wall of windows" and "silent city," complex rock structures, stands of bristlecone pines and douglas firs and incredible view points.  Once reaching, Sunset point, we descended into the canyon to get an up-close and personal view.  It was there that we could see just how fragile these structures really are.  Obviously, you get that different view, from the bottom up.  Below, you just feel small - because you are.  Everyone on the trail was dwarfed by the structures, and after several miles, you could look behind you to see what you walked past, and it looked vastly different.  From below you get that detailed intimate look at each structure you pass; you see the trees, the brush. When we were lucky we were treated to a few animal sightings.  Really, it was just quite personal and reflective - forcing you to think about time passing.  But, looking behind you (or in front of you), it looks complicated and big!

The plan was really not to hike as much as we did.  The intention was to hike the Navajo Loop.  We were going to hike down and back up.  Only when we finally made it down all the switchbacks and took in the views it was just not worth it to start back up again.  We were in no rush... the trip was designed to spend time in the parks and crash at night in to the hotels.  My big plans for the evening were a long shower and postcards!!!  And hiking longer meant that there would be more to experience, photgraph and see.  We knew we did not have time to drive to the other end of the park... this was it, so, instead of staying on the loop, we turned left and headed towards Queens Garden.

People, over time, have gotten a little snarky on the trail.  Once you maneuver down Navajo Trail and connect to Queen's Garden trail, you have a generally even ground for a few miles.  Surround by rocks, countless trail-goes have created their own mini- hoodoo garden on the way to the Queen's Garden.  Most parks out west use piled rocks as trail markers... this has gotten me in trouble in the past (cough, cough - Canyonlands) since people can knock them over, or as they did here - make their own.  I always appreciated the painted markers on trees - they are harder to miss or just screw with.  Back on the Queens Trail, in a dried river bed, that mini-hoodoo garden did not confuse anyone.  It added a bit of whimzy to the trail.  And honestly, I could not help it, I added a few to a pile.  I like to think of it as modern art on the trail.  It still makes me smile.

By comparison, the Queens Garden glowed... of course that could have been the sun beginning to set... well, it was likely that reason.  Still, the rocks' colors jumped out.  The whites were almost blinding, the red looked like they were on fire.  And if you looked long enough, you could see pinks and purple hues in the formations.  I am still struggling to edit down my picture pile.

A lot of the local maps (that you get at hotels and restraunts) site that valley hike as one of the best in the region.  There is a reason why.  It is stunning.  The structures, the formations, the solitude, the the views large and small, it is worth it. I loved it coupled with the rim hike - several miles above and below... it was a perfect coupling.   If you ever get to Bryce... plan on doing the some hiking.  Get out of your car, off the shuttle, and walk,  There is no better ways to honor the hoodoos.

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