Monday, March 30, 2015

Bryce Canyon Hike... Holy Cow!

I promised to take Shirley to see Bryce Canyon on our way back to Canada this year.  I got to see it four years ago with my friend Lorne when Shirley and Gail were  in France. At that time we only looked into the canyon from the rim... but I have always wanted to experience it from the trails.

As we approached the viewing platform at Sunset Point we were next to a family with a 2-year old boy, and when he looked over the edge he exclaimed, "Holy Cow!"

I couldn't have said it better myself.

This is the first time I have tried to put a slide show on YouTube... so be patient with me... I will get better with experience. It has been fun trying to learn how to do this kind of thing. For best results, make the YouTube "Full Screen."

To help us find the best hike today we went first to the Visitor Centre and asked, "What is the best hike we could do in 2-3 hours?" They told us to walk along the Rim Trail from Sunset Point to Sunrise Point... then go down Queens Garden Trail and return back to Sunset Point on part of the Navajoa Loop.

Shirley paused for the ceremonial "starting hike" photo.

The quality of the stone posts and log railing along the Rim Trail are first class... and so was the condition of the whole trail.

From the Rim Trail looking back to Sunset Point it was cool to see the Navajo Trail that we will be returning on. It felt even steeper than it looks here... likely because we had already been hiking over two hours.

There were lots of benches... and it was neat to see people relaxing and enjoying the view off the Rim Trail.

At Sunrise Point we began our decent below the rim.

The Queens Garden goes down 320 feet... but we went another 300 feet lower to the bottom of the Navajoa Loop.

It is great to see so many people enjoying these incredible trails... the Queens Garden is likely the most hiked trail in the park.

Shirley found the trekking pole especially helpful going down.

I enjoyed watching these energetic young people checking out how high they could get... and how close to the edge!

Shirley told me to look behind me... there was a family with wonderful, bright colours coming down the trail! What a day! Blue sky! Bright colours! Hikers on the bluff rock upper left! What more could one ask for? Click. Click.

As the family approached this awesome backdrop, I offered to take their family picture here.

Is there a better place anywhere to take your family picture?

Around every turn in the trail is another interesting monument.

The trail had many switch backs.

Some of these monuments look like they could have come from Moscow.

Blue sky, red rock, Ponderosa Pine.

At last we got right next to the snow. It was such a warm day it won't last long.

Just a couple of days ago we were taking photos of saguaro's... but there were no saguaros here.

I almost made a wrong turn here... but Shirley knew we had to get back to Sunrise Point. These trails are pretty well marked. The problem is usually with the one reading the signs.

They are sure not afraid to build retaining walls here to make the path wider with a level surface.

More great retaining walls.

At first I thought that this hole in the wall was probably there all the time...

But after seeing several more of them, I realized that someone likely did some serious chiseling to pound the access thru.

What an incredible backdrop for photography!

I love to take pictures of people taking pictures.

On close inspection it is easy to see that this tunnel thru the rock took some considerable effort.

Shirley was surprised to find that the walls inside the tunnels were really quite cold.

Our hike today took us thru four different arched tunnels.

Some paths between tall vertical rocks seemed pretty tight.

Shirley found a resting spot in the shade under an overhanging rock.

The tall, dead trees looked most impressive with a backdrop of red rock and blue sky.

This was the closest we got to the snow... and also the most muddy here because of the melting snow.

I was surprised at the large number of small children here today... and the luxurious backpacks that the smallest kids got to ride around in. I would love to be small child growing up today with parents who would take me hiking in such luxury!

At the bottom of the canyon here we were at 7380 feet elevation... 622 feet below our starting elevation of 8002 feet.

To walk below these giants makes one feel very small.

It was a bit daunting to climb out of this part of the canyon... and this section of the trail had about ten very tight switchbacks, one after the other in close proximity. 

This is a shot from the top... it's hard to see all ten switchbacks in this picture from this size photo... but they are there and this was an impressive climb! To make the photo bigger, you can click on it and then zoom in.

I believe that "Thor's Hammer" is the most photographed rock in Bryce Canyon National Park.

I shot it more than ten times from at least five different elevations along the trail. I'm only posting two shots... one from the lowest and one from the highest elevation. Do you recall seeing another Thor's Hammer less than a month ago in the Chiricahua Hike?

There is no end of interesting red rock formations here.

It was fun to look back across the canyon and see the trail we already traversed. You have to look pretty close to see the path... but we hiked right thru the middle of all those rocks!

Longingly we are looking up as we get nearer to the top.

And we are all breathing a little heavier as the final few switchbacks have a steeper grade.

"I Will Survive!" That song was not written as a hiking song... but with some modifications to the verse, I think we could make it into another hit!

The end is so near!

One final shot of the red rock canyon before stepping back on the summit at Sunset Point.

With her heart rate monitor pushing the limit, Shirley made it! What a trooper! The end never looked so good!

Most of us who just came back have the same glad but exhausted looks on our faces.

The quote I chose for this hike is opposite to the hiking up mountains.

"To make it to the bottom is optional. To make it to the top is mandatory."