Week vacation in southern Utah, part 1

Ahhh, back in Nebraska after a much needed break from the old daily routine! Considering that I seat on chair for hours on end at the office, I don’t think there is anything more diametrically opposite than going on a week long hiking trip and walk between 6 to 8 miles a day! My parents are big hikers and they planned this big trip to southern Utah to do three national parks: Bryce canyon, Zion and the Grand Canyon. Lots to do and lots to see!

It did not take long for things to be a bit interesting. Obviously, I live in Nebraska and, as you may remember, my parents and sister live in Manhattan. Coordinating two flights should not be all that hard right? Turns out it was, because the best we could do was me arriving 4 hours before they did. That was better than the original plan that had me arrive another 2 hours earlier. There was not much I could do so I ended up finding a nice bench in a corner of the baggage claim area and read for a while. I brought the first Jack Reacher novel called Killing floor for the trip, pretty good good I have to say though a lot of easy foreshadowing to pick up on. I actually read through maybe a third of that book before my parents and sister finally arrived. They had quick launch, and then it was time for the road!

The trip took the better part of maybe four and a half hours. Nothing crazy to report, though I noticed something strange. Utah is fairly desertic and as far as I know, which is not much I admit, there isn’t any big lake or river, but we kept seeing people with boats on trailers! You’re in the desert! Why do you have a boat? Maybe someone from Utah will read this and let me know because I am really confused.

We stayed at the Bryce Canyon lodge inside of Bryce Canyon park and it was a very nice place. The main lodge building had the restaurant for breakfast/diner, the reception and a gift store. The guest rooms were split between two buildings and individual lodges. Our building had WiFi but you had to be really lucky to get it to work. It flat out refused to connect with my Surface tablet. I could see it in the settings page and put the password, but it always returned with a message saying “connected, no internet”… My phone worked better, but depending on how many people were in the lodge it varied from OK to barely usable. Anecdotally, I tried to write a blog post there but the internet was so bad, WordPress could not even automatically save a draft and I ended up losing what I started writing… Cell reception was not any better, though I did manage to receive a phone call in one of the reception spot, unfortunately it was a scam about credit debt.

The first day was a warm up day, to see how we would react to the altitude. Going on a hike that has 700 feet of elevation is not all that hard, doing that hike at an altitude over 7000 feet can be. Thankfully we were all well prepared and had relatively little problem. We started at Sunset point by going down a path called Wall Street, which is a very impressive and narrow canyon (Pictures below), and finished the loop by walking toward Queen Garden ( which is called that because there is a rock that looks like a statue of queen Victoria) and back up to Sunrise point. A nice and short walk. This was one of the more crowded trail we did but there were some nice sights to see.

 

We ended up deciding that we were more in shape than we thought and drive to Red canyon for a second hike. We wanted to do a Loop of on the Butch Cassidy trail and the Rich trail, but we stop at the wrong parking lot and ended walking half a mile up a dried river bed. Oops! It did not take long for us to realize our mistake (I did have to use Google maps to verify where we were…) and did find the actual trail just a 100 yards or so down the road. It was a nice trail but it was very warm, and we had a small moment of panic when we discovered that my mother reacted badly with Gatorade. Overall a good day of hiking.

The second day was bit more ambitious, and we went for a longer loop called Fairyland loop and that was truly spectacular. If you do the tourist thing of only seeing the points of view from on top of the canyon rim, you are missing a lot. The views you get from down below are far prettier. It was bit more strenuous than the day before but as the idiom goes, slow and steady wins the race. When hiking in arid and warm climate it is important to stop and drink often, plus at 7000 feet you need to catch your breath more often. There is sneaky way to do this hike because the parking spot for the Fairyland scenic view point is actually outside the park, you don’t have to paid to get in to start this hike. We met several groups that were doing the hike the other way around and we suspect that it was because they had not paid the entrance into the park.

 

We wanted to finish the day with another small hike from Red Canyon and found a hike in the guide that was advertised as having 14 arches in less than a mile and a half of trail. That sounded very nice but ended up being very disappointing because we found none! Due to the fact that the rock formation are made of sandstone, it is likely that the arches simply eroded away between when the guide was updated and when we went.

And that is it for part one of this big trip installment. Next time I tell the story of the longest mile in the universe and how I dropped my phone in a river…

 

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