Canyons

Trip Start Mar 10, 2011
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Trip End May 05, 2011


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Flag of United States  , Utah
Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bryce Canyon is mistakenly named as it is actually a natural amphitheater.   Here the flow of mountain snowmelt carves its way down to the creeks below and flows into the Grand Canyon.  Because of this natural architecture and elevation above the smog from the west, the views here are the most spectacular and varied of all the surrounding canyon lands.  Massive plains stretched as far as the horizon where they dropped precipitously into the abyss of the Canyon, snow cossetted the nearby peaks of the Rocky Mountains.  All the while the winds howled, bringing in fresh coats of powder for us and our vehicles.
First we explored with mules, winding down the steep inclines through mud and snow.  Our guide to the bottom was a friendly wrangler (from nearby ironically named Tropic).  Here he told us that the Piute Indians native to this region considered Bryce a haunted valley.  As we looked up it was hard not to see why.  Amongst the sleet and snow the Hoodoos cast peculiar silhouettes and the wind sung siren's songs.  The Indians who lived here rarely came into the valleys of the canyon, believing in fact that the Hoodoos were stray travelers who had been lured here and turned to stone by the trickster coyote.  As we rickshawed our way back up via secluded grottoes, I felt uneasy.   This was partly because of the ghostly sights in the rock, partly because my trusty mule Mike was puffing furiously.   Either Mike was not as fit as the other mules, or I had eaten too many rich American breakfasts.
Breathless from a blend of altitude, exhaustion and exaltation we then proceeded to lose ourselves in a perilous mountain pass.  Here the snow leafed roads were apparently plowed twice daily yet when we arrived lat in the afternoon it was already overdue for its second.  On both sides were fantastical views of ice lakes and vast forests of snow leaden pines, yet on the roads it was anything but idyllic.  Driving here was little more than a motor slalom.  We did eventually make it down after a few close calls, and rewarded ourselves with a beautiful dinner in a mountain cabin.  Here in the Dixie National forest by a warm fire, I had never felt so comfortably distant from home.
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