Friday, October 16, 2015

bryce canyon national park

 Fairyland Loop hike map

After a good night's sleep (the town of Panguitch is very quiet), we were on the road back to Bryce Canyon at 7:15 a.m., after chipping a thin coating of ice off the truck.  We went straight to Fairyland Point, a trailhead just barely within the park and were on the Fairyland Loop trail at 8:00 a.m.  We passed one other couple, whom we never saw again, and then had the first half of the trail to ourselves, only starting to meet hikers coming in the opposite direction once we got to Tower Bridge.

Extremely stylish hiking attire

The scenery was spectacular, under skies that started clear(-ish) and then clouded up - although we were grateful that we did not get rained on.  The trail surface was level gravel, not rocky, and went down ridges, past hoodoos, crossing washes and climbing back up, hugging the walls of the canyon.  The views to the left, out into the canyon were stunning; above us, the crazy hoodoo shapes loomed silently.

Some sections were very green

There was more green than we expected: manzanita ground cover, juniper, ponderosa pine, bristlecone pine and Douglas fir.  After climbing back up to the rim of the canyon near Sunrise Point, we walked back along the Rim Trail to the trail head at Fairyland Point.

All sections were beautiful

We finished the 8.0 mile hike in 3 hours 10 minutes, finding the parking lot full when we returned.  As the weather began looking more ominous, we had a quick snack (and beer) before dropping in at the visitors' center and then grabbing lunch at Ruby's Inn.  Our next stop was the visitors' center in Red Canyon and the fact that it was raining a little did not dissuade us from finding another hike.

Looking out into Fairyland Canyon

We decided on the Red Canyon Loop (Cassidy trail to Rich trail to Ledge Point to Rich to Cassidy) and were not disappointed.  There was a horse trailer in the parking lot (and lots of horse droppings on the trail) but we never saw any trail riders - or anyone else, save one lone trail runner at the very end.
Red Canyon hike map

This was another great hike: 4.5 miles, 1 hour 40 minutes.  There was not much elevation change but it was very pretty, following a wash up the canyon and then rising slightly with a ridgeline.  Up at Ledge Point, the whole canyon laid out in front of us.  The footing on the descent was slightly rockier but went down quickly and the finish back to the trailhead was out the wash we walked in.

Hiking up and along the wash

After cleaning up back at the motel, we were DELIGHTED to discover that the Cowboy's Smokehouse Cafe was open (cash only, beer in bottles) because we had thought we would be eating cold cuts from the grocery store back in our room.  H had the brisket platter and I had chicken-fried steak with green beans and mashed potatoes.  We cleaned our plates and immediately decided to come back again the next day.

View down into Red Canyon

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