Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Anniversary Getaway: Bryce and Zion

 Our initial plan for our anniversary getaway was Havasupai, but after calling more than 100 times and discovering they were booked up, we made other arrangements. I was disappointed, but shouldn't have been. This trip turned out to be great! It was wonderful to take a break from daily routine and obligations. Mom, Dad, and Janna really stepped in to take over things at home so we could do this. I am so grateful to them.

 I was reminded that Bryce Canyon is one of my favorite places. We were concerned as we first drove up there because it looked like a big storm was approaching. We had snow flurries at first, but the clouds parted and we got to see some spectacular vistas. It's lovely to be free to go on whatever hike we want to. Fairyland Loop was a new one for us. We jogged down in it, which was easy because it was a gentle downward slope. The colors and formations are something else!
 You just have to constantly stop and take it in. There's something about the contrast of the green trees against the red rock with the blue sky in the background that makes an impression.
 These were more pale in color compared to other sections of the park. So I can see where they called it Fairyland Loop. It's got a magical, other-worldly feel to it.

 I wanted to capture the beauty with this picture. Makes me want to go back again sooner rather than later! This was on the Navajo Loop/Queen's Garden Trail. They link up, which made for a nice hike. Down in the bottom it was cooler with shade. It felt good to go a little slower and take in the views.
 Lots of people filing through here, but lots of cool formations in a concentrated area.

 Millions of years in the making!
 Is there an orangey tint going on here?

 I'll bet catching this at sunrise/sunset is spectacular!
 Just look at that!

 Even for those who can't do the hikes for whatever reason, there is so much to see from the stopping spots along the road. Lots of points at which you can park, get out, and look around.
 Chad really wanted to do another hike here. We'd already done a couple of decent hikes, and I was feeling chilled. We began one, but the clouds covered the sun, and I started to shiver as we made our way down. I had to call it. I just didn't have it in me to do another one, especially with it starting to get colder. But I felt like we had a full day. I know Chad would have loved to do this last hike, but he was content to keep me comfortable and safe by turning around. Thank you, Honey!
 As we drove away from the park, I watched the clouds in the distance. Caught a glimpse of a brilliant rainbow. What a wonderful, unique place Bryce is!
 We were looking forward to continue our adventures in Zion. And since we'd already done two of the "big ones" we'd had our eyes on before (Angel's Landing and the Narrows), we looked at other possibilities.Observation Point was the big one we decided on.
Climb, climb, climb! Incredible views along the way.
This is a 2,100 feet elevation gain. Unrelenting uphill. It's 8 miles round-trip, and seems like you'll never reach your destination.
Thankfully, along the way there was so much beauty. And the anticipation of reaching the destination keeps you going. Plus, not wanting to hold up your husband with his long legs and quick pace.

Going through Echo Canyon was something to behold. It's beautiful and unexpected along the way.
Flaming red flowers find a way to grow out of the mountainside.
And there is the view from the top. I didn't realize, starting out, that we would end up higher up than Angel's Landing! But you can see it down below. Which means we were REALLY high up!
Chad looking over the stats, or planning our next hike...
Feeling chilled now that we're at the top with the breeze.
Gorgeous day, gorgeous world!
Made time to attend the temple to do baptisms for my family names. So grateful Chad has worked hard to do this for my side of the family. Aunt Geri says she thinks it's one reason we married--so our side of the family could get all this research done.
Between our days of hiking, we did take a good day to recover and be completely lazy back at Mom and Dad's house. Binge watched a show, napped, went out to eat...so lovely!

Of course we connected with home while we were gone. Technology makes that easy! Here we are, sending love via text:
 Skyping about what we've each been doing. Matthew is climbing on Mira's back while they're talking/being really silly.

After church Sunday we drove out to the Mountain Meadows Massacre site. It is really difficult to comprehend the events of that day. And heartbreaking when you read the names and ages of family members who perished. But I'm grateful to those who have kept this memorial.

 We also drove out to Pine Valley to see the old church built by Ebenezer Bryce (whom Bryce Canyon is named after).
 Meetings are still held here. The primary meets in the old one-room tithing office.
 We got to see up above where you can see how it was constructed after the manner of a ship, since that is what Ebenezer Bryce was familiar with building.
 We were given a tour of the church, upstairs and down.
 It remind me of homes on the east coast.
 Pine Valley is higher in elevation and just beautiful. Lots of trees and cooler.
 Deer spotted in the distance.
 Chad and I had an overnight backpacking trip planned in Kolob Canyon. It was a glorious morning to start the hike. Thankful for capable bodies that can carry a pack and hike! It was several miles to get to our campsite (#2, I believe).
 The views along the way are stunning! I so appreciate the beauty of the earth when we can get away from everything and just take it all in.
 Home sweet home for one night. Except that if I knew what that night would be like, I would have chosen to make this a day hike!
 We dropped off our gear and set up our tent, then continued along the trail to Kolob Arch.

 I loved being able to walk along the trail and see this majesty all around!

 Lovely wildflowers were everywhere. We could see signs that it had rained not too long ago, but thankfully everything was pretty well dried up for us.
 We had to cross the stream numerous times.
 Kolob Arch was 7 miles in from the beginning of our hike. And that last little bit was a little tricky, trying to find the arch itself. When we finally came upon it, I understood why we'd missed it. You can't see blue sky from this vantage point. The magnet we brought home with us as a souvenir shows sky, but I don't know how in the heck the photographer was able to capture that image. You'd have to bushwhack your way through some pretty intense vegetation in order to get that. 
 See the arch above Chad's head?
 We started our way back, and it started to rain. By this point, we'd already hiked quite a distance. The rain made the trail difficult in many places. We were slipping and sliding around quite a bit. I was ready to be back at our campsite. But we had several miles to go! When we finally made it back, the rain started to let up. We were pretty wet, and the sun was getting close to going behind the mountains for the evening. We expected it to be in the 30's that night, so we knew we needed to dry out everything we could as quickly as possible. We laid out clothing over bushes and trees to get the last minutes of sunshine. We were pretty hungry, so we fired up our little propane stove. I was feeling cold, and my hair was wet. Chad suggested I dry my hair over the stove. Great idea, I thought. It was working well, and I was so glad to have a way to dry my hair so I wouldn't suffer all night long. Well, I just got myself a little too close because my hair started to SINGE! It wasn't horrible, and I still thought it was worth it to get dry! That night was one of the most awful nights camping ever. I shivered and whimpered all night. It felt like it lasted forever. It was hard to tell how much I actually slept because it was just fitful. We were glad when morning came and we could pack up and hike out. But really, even with that night, this backpacking trip was amazing.
 On our way home we had plans to stop at another state park higher in elevation and do a little hiking. But the signs informed us that it was closed due to snow. After stopping to get a cool picture of this LDS church, we continued on our way home.
 On our way home, we had time to spare, so we stopped by Ashton Gardens at Thanksgiving Point. It was the tail end of the tulip festival. Lots of others milling along the path. Beautiful garden!

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