Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Life Elevated Part 2 - Hoodoos & Basins

Trip to Zion & Coral Pink Sand Dunes (Life Elevated Part 1) were almost over and I headed north-east on 89 towards Bryce. Just after entering Scenic Byway 12, I was stopping every 1/4 mile for scenic lookouts and taking pictures. I just could not resist some of those views of Red Canyon/Dixie forest.

Jaw dropping drive !!

After countless stops for photos, I finally made it to Bryce at 1:30 pm.

Goal was to do Navajo-Queens garden loop. I started on Navajo trailhead near Sunset point and was blown away by picture opportunities at every step. I did not want to rush so decided to just do Navajo round trip hike today and do the Queens garden round trip tomorrow. What a spectacular place !!!.

At first I was blown away by the scenes of Amphitheater from the Sunset point but what really gave me a kick was going down into those hoodoos.

And looking up at the hoodoos from Wall St section of the trail was equally splendid.

I wrapped up the hike with a short run along the Rim Trail just hitting all the view points. It felt great just looking at the spectacles as they unfolded at every turn. It was almost sunset time and I had forgotten my camera in the car. Exhausted by day's adventures I exited the park and checked in to Ruby's Inn for the night. My plans for next day included hiking Queen's garden, Kodachrome basin, Grosvenor Arch and then driving all the way to Circle D Motel at Escalante to crash for the night.

But I woke up in the morning to snow,rain and ridiculously cold weather that threw my plans out of the window. After eating breakfast, I checked out of Ruby's plus inn and headed to Bryce to hike Queens garden. When I stepped out of Sunrise point parking lot it was snowing pretty bad and there was absolutely no visibility. Plus it was ridiculously cold even though I was wearing 4 layers. Didn't want to hike in these conditions. Just decided to drive down towards Escalante and see what I can do along the way. Driving down on highway 12 from Bryce Canyon city to Escalante was quite challenging in that snowy conditions. I'm really glad I rented the 4WD.

As I approached Kodachrome basin state park entrance near Cannonville , it was still snowing bad. Stopped at the visitor center which was closed. Totally bummed and resumed to drive towards Escalante. There was no snow in the town of Escalante and it wasn't that cold either. Reached Circle D Motel by 12:30 pm. The motel manager there was very courteous and allowed me early check-in. Put on my running gear and went for a run. Ran about 7 miles up and down highway 12 including few laps at Escalante High school track. This made my day. I was impressed with myself in turning a lousy day into an awesome one :) .

Thats a gorgeous track overlooking the mountain. 
Woke up early next morning hoping to explore Kodachrome Basin State Park , Willies Creek slot canyon and Grosvenor Arch. Reached the park around 9:00 am . It was super foggy and there was hardly any visibility. Ranger told me fog usually disappear by 10 am and he was right. Wandered around the park and then started the Panaroma Trail hike around 10 am. It was breathtaking hike. I was simply blown away by the cylindrical rock formations. Snow covers on these formations made it even more picturesque.

Foggy in the morning

Ballerina Spire

This spot is rightly named Hat shop :)
Took my time and reached Panaroma point which was the best part of the whole hike. 
Doesn't it look like Niagara falls in the background ?

As I exited the park, I noticed ranger was missing and it was bit scary imagining I was the lone soul wandering in the park for past few hours.Upon exiting the park, I turned left to visit Grosvenor Arch but the road was so muddy and wet that my 4x4 tires got jammed few times in the mud. It was almost 1 pm and didnt want to risk 23 mile round trip drive in that road conditions. I felt I had some unfinished business at Bryce so drove back to the park. The roads and rim trail was super icy and Queen's garden hike didn't seem like a good idea. Just visited all the view points for pictures and drove back to Circle-D.

There are lot of options around Escalante for next 2 days. But no idea how the muddy road conditions are going to be. I think its the logical point to stop here and blog rest of adventures in another post. 

Life Elevated Part 3 - Center of the Universe