Saturday, May 05, 2007

Zion to Bryce

From St George, I headed back towards a drive through Zion, on my way to Duck Creek and Bryce. The weather was poor, which prevented me from getting some pics of the magnificent landscape from St George through Hurricane. Here, the plateu has broken and lifted into slanted peaks in places. It looks like what a sidewalk does when a tree root underneath wins the battle. Only on a grand scale, miles in length and hundreds of feet in height.
As I approached Zion the weather started to lighten. As I passed by the virgin river, It had the appearance of the Colorado in its muddy coloration. I wondered if there might be some fresh waterfalls in Zion Canyon, so after numerous stops for more shots of the storm clouds hanging on the cliffs, I took the shuttle up canyon and saw two falls.
On the way out the east side of Zion, it started to snow. It was off and on until I started the climb up towards hwy 14 and Duck Creek, where it got pretty thick. The weather was supposed to be finished by early afternoon, and we are heading into a warming trend. With that in mind, and not wanting to meander on dirt snow laden forest roads in a storm, I decided to go on up to Bryce. I could do a driving tour of the park on Tuesday while there might be fresh snow on the hoodoos, and backtrack to 14 later in the week. So, off I go. The snow was so thick to be almost whiteout conditions. I pushed ahead and must have missed some great scenery on the way. It was near dark when I arrived outside Bryce, and still snowing hard. Looking at my alternatives for the night, I chose to stay at Ruby's resort, taking a camp site. This allowed me the amenities of the resort, which included a heated indoor pool and spa :). Guess where I spent my evening?
My driving tour of the park on Tuesday included several hikes at the rim of the canyon. The trails were severely muddy from the snowmelt, slippery and leaving clods of clay clinging to the shoes...No way am I going to try to descend into the canyon until this stuff dries out.
Hoo (doo) are you, hoodoo, hoodoo...
I'm sorry. That crept into my head on a rim walk (The Who's "Who are you"), and just would not go away :)
What an incredible landscape this is! I spent the entire day taking it all in, and cannot wait to get down below at the foot of these things.
I decided I will head back to hwy 14 on Wednesday,allowing things to dry out some more in Bryce before doing any serious hikes. I drove into Dixie NF, within a mile of the park entrance and camped along Dave's Hollow. Seemed appropiate :). I saw more Prong horned antelope on the way out. They are funny to watch. They do a normal stride until going into alarm or escape mode. They then switch to a prance where are 4 legs are working in unison. Boing a boing and off they go. They switch from one mode to the other without any effort...
I also saw the largest gathering of Mule deer that I can recall ever seeing. Two groups totalling 20 or more deer with a 20 yard area. And I also saw a big red fox, in its winter coat :).
"It's a hell of a place to lose a cow" Ebenezer Bryce
Q-If the forcast at the lower elevation (7,600') calls for partly cloudy skies and a high in the mid 40's, what will the wind chill be at 9100', with 30 miles an hour plus winds, at the edge of Rainbow Point?
The sort of good news about that drive is that the van is actually broken now...not an intermittent problem any longer. The Oxygen Sensor light came on, and it is now an even worse slug on uphills. All I have to do now is find a VW mechanic out here somewheres...

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