Zion Recap

img_1178

Length of Stay:

  • 3 days, 4 nights

Highs:

  • Unique hikes
  • Scenic drives
img_1185
The view from the top of Angel’s Landing hike

Lows:

  • Litter! (Tossing sunflower seeds, nut shells, and food scraps on the ground is rude and unacceptable. Yes, it may be biodegradable, but it’s not native to the desert environment, it’s an eyesore to your fellow hikers, and it will take a long time to decompose) #leavenotrace

Favorite Hike:

  • Angel’s Landing

Favorite Treat:

  • Fry sauce – apparently this is a Utah thing.
img_1300
Hanging gardens along the Virgin river
Advertisements

Bryce Canyon Recap

img_0950
Uniquely colored hoodoos showing off their stylish tones

Length of Stay:

  • 4 days, 4 nights

Highs

  • Exploring the canyon on an ATV

Lows

  • Somewhat crowded, somewhat cold

Favorite Hike

  • Navajo/Peekaboo loop (a fascinating look at the hoodoos from up close)
img_0920
Meandering along the canyon

Favorite Treat

  • Pioneer-style black licorice caramel

img_0916

 

A Canyon That’s Not Really a Canyon

20161017_154055

Okay, so I know that it’s called Bryce Canyon, but technically it’s the top portion of a long eroded staircase that gradually descends all the way down into the state of Arizona. Natural amphitheaters – large circular hollows in the rock – are filled with strange and fascinating shapes called Hoodoos. The Native Americans tell stories of how these tall skinny spires of rock were once people, transformed by the trickster god due to disobedience. One cannot help but notice the strange, mysterious-like quality of this area. Hiking down into the amphitheater was striking; I felt dwarfed by the mammoth rock pinnacles that cast ominous shadows about me.

img_0901-1
Resting in a sunny spot in the “canyon”

 

From the top, I could only stare. Although it’s rather a small park, Bryce Canyon definitely has a uniqueness to in that draw tourists from all over the world.

And now, here’s a picture of me on an ATV.

20161018_122204

Capitol Reef Recap

Length of Stay:

  • 3 days, 3 nights
20161013_100825
Unique sand colors make hiking even more enjoyable

Highs

  • Picking apples in the orchard
  • Attending a ranger-led geology program that explained some neat things about the park’s rock history

Lows

  • Weird weather – it was hard to plan for hikes since the temp would change 10 degrees within the course of an hour

Favorite Hike

  • Chimney Rock loop
20161013_174659
A view of Chimney Rock and the surrounding area

Favorite Treat

  • Fruit pie! (You can purchase a delicious personal pie in the historical Gifford house within the Fruita district)
20161013_084312
Simply delicious.

Fruita!

Nope, that’s not a typo. There’s a district within Capitol Reef national park named after the plentiful fruit orchards planted by Mormons in the late 1800’s. It’s a spectacular place, full of lush greenery due to the confluence (that’s a fancy word for junction) of a creek and river. The surrounding desert region protects this little pocket of productivity making it a cozy little haven amid the sandstone cliffs.

And let’s talk about these cliffs for a moment, shall we? Before arriving to the park, I found its name, Capitol Reef, somewhat odd. Apparently the term reef denotes a barrier, since early explorers felt that this geological fold of rock was impassable. Capitol refers to the white dome-like structures of Navajo sandstone. Personally, I think they look more like scoops of vanilla ice cream.

20161011_141925
The Fruita district wedged between the mountains. Note the white “capitol” rock in the background.

But back to Fruita.

Visitors are allowed to pick their own fruit and eat whatever they like while within the park boundary. This means that each day I visited, I would snag a juicy apple for a pre-hike snack. The mule deer hang around, yearning for me to throw them a morsel. For those wishing to take apples out of the park, there’s a self-pay station based on the honor system. The best part? It’s only a dollar a pound! That’s cheaper (and fresher) than the grocery store varieties.

20161011_134118
The mule deer keeping an eye out for stray apples

I think all national parks should have some sort of edible goodness available. Just sayin’.

Canyonlands Recap

20161006_122401

Length of Stay:

  • 2 days, 3 nights

High:

  • Fantastic hiking that truly immersed me into the natural wonders of the park

Low:

  • Sunburned lips

Favorite Hike:

  • Murphy Point
20161006_151103
Spectacular canyon view from Murphy Point

Favorite Treat:

  • Prickly pear cordial (the local establishments sell a lot of prickly pear victuals: fudge, licorice, tea, etc.)

Favorite Random Moment:

  • Watching lizards – yep, just sittin’ on a rock seeing how many I could spot scampering by

Peekaboo

I’m not talking about that ridiculous game you probably last played as an infant or with an infant. I’m referring to this glorious 10-mile hike that took me deep into Canyonlands national park. The jury’s still out on why exactly it’s called Peekaboo, yet I have a couple of theories.

  • Most of the hike is filled with steep rock faces you’re able to peer over, catching marvelous glimpses of canyons
  • Dips in the rock collect runoff rain water and become home to a myriad of tiny critters. An entire ecosystem lives in these potholes.
  • Petroglyphs with ancient etched rock pictures remind hikers that they’re only a speck on the history of this land
  • Erosion has left a couple windows of rock open, allowing brave souls to scramble up and take catch sight of the other side
20161010_110413
Take a peek at this!

Whatever the reason, I did my fair share of peeking on my journey. In 5.5 hours I ran into only two fellow humans. This is ideal for me – solitude with a sprinkling of personal contact. (The ravens* kept me company; their wide array of noises only got on my nerves once two of them began to follow me.)

Canyonlands is a special place. The desolateness of the desert coupled with the cloudless sky and fresh air invoked feelings of true freedom. And the sights, naturally, were phenomenal.

If you’re ever in the area, you should really take a peek. 🙂

20161010_112425
These petroglyphs don’t look like much, but they’re really old… which makes them cool

* They’re actually really smart birds