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Bryce Canyon & Kaibab Plateau

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Bryce Canyon & Kaibab Plateau

Postby DJG » Mon Aug 04, 2008 1:20 pm

Got back on July 27th. Didn’t make it to Kodachrome State Park nor down Cottonwood Canyon Rd this time, but did have a fantastic but short trip through some spectacular country:

Spent the first couple nights in Bryce Canyon NP car camping. Did some day hiking in the canyon through weird landscapes of hoodoos, bridges and towers. Got some rain each day that turned out to be more than just occasional but figured that was par.

Headed south and took Hwy 89 the long way to the North Rim by going left at Kanab and driving past miles of those Vermilion Cliffs. Stopped in for info at the BLM Visitor Center in Kanab. The helpful woman there suggested several places worth checking out for our future trip to Grand Staircase-Escalante (not enough time this trip to do it justice) and we bought a map or two to aid in that endeavor. She also suggested we visit the other BLM Visitor Center in Big Water for better info on dinosaur fossils. She explained each of the BLM Visitor Centers in the area have a particular focus (the one in Kanab has more of an anthropological focus, I forget what she said about the other two in Cannonville and Escalante). Got well received at the other BLM Visitor Center in Big Water, wonderful facility and restrooms. The place was recently built, is in the shape of a nautilus shell and provides some geological and palentological insights into the region.

On short notice we got two nights’ lodging at the North Rim: the first night in the older deluxe cabins, the other in the motel units. Both were fine and welcomed. Dined in the lodge overlooking the canyon as condors floated on by, not sure if anyone else noticed it.

Checked in with the GCNP Backcountry office to modify our permit for camping in the backcountry. We decided that carrying 3 days’ worth of water was just too much weight for us, so we modified our camping to car camp and do some day hiking. We headed out onto the ridge, off the highway and into the woods, where we had the place to ourselves with the exception of some day visitors and some local wildlife. Hung out one day simply enjoying being out there, taking in the vistas and sounds and lack of sounds. A gazillion stars twinkled back at us as we lay watching in awe in the silence of the night.

It was the next morning we noticed the fresh “cat” tracks in the sand just outside our campsite. Were we being stalked? Were we being watched? From that point on we truly watched over the others’ back, and didn’t get too far away from eachother in case this shy cat had other plans for us. That night we lay in the tent watching the sky only this time as it got darker, the lightening flashes got closer, and closer. Around us lay the giant dead soldiers of lightening strikes of days gone by, some blackened by fire, some in mere pieces, blown apart by powers we can only guess at, and fear. After an hour of taking in these flashes we decided to get in the car and drive up off the ridge, into the forest for better protection and spend the night in the car. Its lonely out there at times like this. It was a decision only fate and destiny could clarify for us: stay and get proven correct or budge and play it safe? Dawn came slowly as I rubbed the little sleep from my eyes, contorted as I was in the front seat behind the wheel. In the growing light of day our campsite looked just fine. Score one for budging and safety I guess.

Proceeded with our plan to get in good day hike this day, so off we went after that great cup of coffee, hot oatmeal and scenery all around us. Trudged out, down and up and around to a spot of our liking for lunch break. After a three hour hike our little new spot was very comfortable and would work nicely for a couple hours’ rest before heading back. However, in just 30 minutes the distant dark clouds got close enough for the lightening to appear probably much closer than it was, but we remembered it can leap 7-10 miles and just loves those conductors of juice close to the exposed rim, like us. So back on with the day packs, gobble the lunch, slurp some water and its off we go, back from where we came. The seranade this time wasn’t from the eagles, hawks and perigrens, not even from the ravens, but the not-so-distant thunder from blackening skies overhead. While nervously making our way back we decide that tonight we’ll move upridge and through the woods again only this time we’ll seek some more solid shelter. Hated to leave it, wondered about the cat but needed to feel like I was on vacation instead of a new game show called Beat The Odds...

Our move paid off as we got the last available vacancy at the Kaibab Lodge. What a wonderful, relaxed setting, friendly staff and we arrived just in time to get cleaned up in a real shower (not our solar shower bag hanging from a broken tree branch) and after a short wait had a simple meal that tasted great with a cold local beer. Later, another guest asked us “So what did you think of that hail we got earlier around noon?” That would explain the standing water everywhere and the new chill still in the air.

Not wanting to head home too quickly we found another nearby dirt road out to the East Rim to take in the sights from there. Driving slowly and deliberately we stopped several times on the way to the viewpoint to take in the deer and flowers and all the rest that the Kaibab forest offers. Flowers, flowers, flowers anywhere they can get some sun. And those bees! You know about them, they are truly so busy with so little time and so many flowers to get to.

Timed it just right so that we arrived at Jacob Lake for a gnarly sandwich and a thick malt. Strolled over to the Kaibab National Forest Visitor Center for a debriefing on things new and old after our stay out in the forest, very helpful to have someone there with some local knowledge.

On our way out of the region we made one last stop at Pipe Springs National Monument to see what its about and learned a bit more of the local history and such. Well worth the short time we spent there.

Back in the car with U2’s Joshua Tree blaring...:

“I want to run, I want to hide
I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside
I want to reach out and touch the flame
Where the streets have no name

I want to feel sunlight on my face
See the dust cloud disappear without a trace
I want to take shelter from the poison rain
Where the streets have no name

Where the streets have no name
Where the streets have no name
We’re still building, then burning down love
Burning down love
And when I go there I go there with you
It’s all I can do...”

It sounded just right as the sky and land each stretched out before us, continuing to give us something more to marvel at. Looking over our shoulders we could see the gray clouds had just kept on piling up into one large puffy pillow of towering darkness before they opened up their offerings on those still up high on the Kaibab Plateau.

Seemed silly to find ourselves in Nevada, in the casinos of Mesquite, but I didn’t mind being a winner here. My wife and I felt we had scored already and we rode that glow all the way back home.

Last edited by DJG on Wed Aug 06, 2008 3:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Bryce Canyon & Kaibab Plateau

Postby Snow Nymph » Wed Aug 06, 2008 2:57 pm

That's the song that I listen to while driving to the backcountry! Sounds like a great trip. SnowDude and I spent a few days in Utah, that was the start of "Snow Nymph and SnowDude". :friends
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison

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