Friday, November 26, 2010

Canyon Marvels: Bryce, Zion, and Grand

After waking to chatty tourists snapping cameras around us, we blast the heat on our way to the trailhead, still wearing our sleeping bags. Bryce Canyon National Park boasts complex formations called hoodoos. They are created by the freezing, melting and refreezing of snow and ice on limestone-covered sandstone rock. They are mesmerizing. Ab-so-lute-ly mesmerizing. We must have at least 150 photos of Bryce alone because each time I capture a view ten more follow requiring immediate finger-triggering. We hike into the canyon, the crispness of pines permeate the air. Being at a higher elevation, there are smatterings of snow still visible between the hoodoos, and of course the cool temperatures make for a nicer hike.

Zion National Park is beckoning and being only a little over an hour away from Bryce, we zoom over to get a free campsite for the night. These treasures are all over the U.S. but they’re tucked away and travelers must know whom to ask. Independent, local coffee shop baristas are usually a wealth of information about life off-the-grid. We splurge on a bottle of red zinfandel to drink by the Virgin River while dialoguing the many gifts we’re grateful for, our sentiments intensifying the closer the bottle comes to empty. The next day, Bridget ventures into the red cliffs of Zion for hiking bliss while I zen-out at CafĂ© Soleil working on this blog. We each have only till noon to do our own thing since we want to make it to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon by nightfall… or midnight.

Our late night arrival to the Grand Canyon National Park with the temperature pushing 30, we opt to spend another night in the car instead of entering our not-so-united states of irritability. Upon waking, we choose a hike for the day and begin our descent into the crevasse of billions of years of geologic history written into layers of rock. My most humbling experience on this trip is hiking back up to the South Rim after a two-hour walk down. I consume the wonder with every step. Each plant demands my respect while the defined layers of evolution in the rock whisper that I have much to learn. Although the man-made stairs continue to revert my focus to the task at hand, returning to civilization is not my priority. Incredible, breathtaking, spectacular and magnificent all combined together and intensified to their greatest degree of splendor, can still not adequately describe the glory that is the Grand Canyon.

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