Sunday, September 25, 2005

24,1000,1.2,,60,8000

That's a canyon on the North Fork Virgin River
that's only 24 feet wide with 1000 foot walls on the sides. This was in Zion. The 1+ mile hike follows the river all of the way. It even sports a small grassy area that was housing 5 sunbathing deer. The views were great, the temperature was perfect and the water crystal clear. A great little hike. The only issue is that on the way out Ainsley got too tired and I had to carry her on my shoulders. Not too big of a deal, but I did get a little tired.

We then took the shuttle over to the Weeping Rock and hiked their. It was a short .25 mile hike, mostly up hill. Ainsley powered through it. At then end you are literally showered with views of the weeping rock. The mountains of Zion are sandstone which allows water to work its way through the mountains. It eventually seeps out of the rock and in several places creates "hanging gardens" as vegetation is allowed to grow with from this water source. At this particular spot the water is really flowing and creates a beautiful scene from a shallow cavern out onto the rest of Zion.

We got to go through the 1.2 mile tunnel again. You can't help but marvel and the engineering feat that this tunnel represents while traveling through it. I quickly perused a book at the information center about the tunnel. It was completed in 1930! I was stunned to learn that it was that old and that they were able to accomplish such an unimaginable feat with the equipment of that day. They finished 6 days off the schedule because they took some extra time on a bridge. I can think of a lot of building projects that wished they were only 6 days late.


While all of this sounds great, and it was, it did pose a little bit of a problem.
As you may recall we had to stay in Hurricane which is about a 30 drive from the park. Our plan was to get up a little early and then do one quick hike and head over to Bryce for a quick peek and then head north to Provo. Well this didn't work out at all. By the time we had all of the fun I mentioned above and ate a little lunch we didn't leave Zion until around 4PM. Damn those interesting sites.

The new plan is to get to Bryce and just drive through, take some pictures from the car and move onto Provo. Yeah that is a lot of driving so late in the day but we need to get it done. So off to Bryce we go.

60 miles and about 1 hour and 45 minutes later we are in Bryce. It is truly amazing how much the geography can change in just 60 miles. The terrain between these two parks is nowhere near the same. It is hard to believe that these two sites are within the same state let alone so close. We caved and pulled into the first lookout point. Just a quick peek. Well that didn't work out. We walked along the rim for a little bit and found a trail that curved its way down to the bottom. Off we go.

It is awesome and a little awe-inspiring to be surrounded by these gorgeous and colorful spires and stretch up into the sky. We knew we had to go so we were going to just go down a couple of switchbacks and then come back. The scenery is like geological crack. Once you get a little you need more. Just one more corner, one more switchback, one more curve - just to see what it looks like over there. The hike was pretty easy and we reached the bottom in about 15-20 minutes. We kicked around for a couple of minutes and then I noticed it was almost 20 after 6 and the sun was going to set soon. We needed to get out of there before dark.

The issue now was that it was steep and we were sitting at 8000 feet. This is not an altitude we are used to hiking at. The air burned the throat a bit and the heart beats were hitting somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 beats per minute. I could feel my calf starting to burn - I suppose the lack of oxygen was showing me who was boss. We were able to make it out in about 35 minutes or so. I am so glad that we did it though. The hike was super. Ainsley was able to make it all the way back out by herself. I was really impressed, she required a little more rest but she did it.

We decided to make a B-line for the exit at this point knowing that we were too weak to resist another hike if presented. We hit Hwy 89 and make it to Richfield, which is a little south of center Utah. No this isn't Provo. The good news is that we really don't have any major sights between here and home to mess with our schedule any further. Fingers crossed that nothing else catches our eye.

Check out our photos of Bryce and Zion.

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