Day 8 (Bryce Canon)

I woke up earlier, so I decided to go to Sunrise Point and join about 30 other people watching sunrise. After the sun came up, I went back to my car to eat, finish packing my bag, and start a combo hike made up a few shorter hikes.

I went through Queen’s Garden, Navajo Loop, and Peekaboo Loop. Navajo Loop was stunning. The early morning colors reflected beautifully on the rock walls.

Peekaboo Loop was so-so. It is a horse and hiking trail, which meant trying to avoid horse poop for part of the hike.

On the way out, I ran into some people, and they asked “Which direction should we go?” I had hiked it clockwise like the park suggested, but I didn’t think it was that great, so I responded with “Either way works, but I did it clockwise. It was so-so.”

We had a little back and forth as they debated whether to do it, and I said, “I’m from the PNW. I hike a lot. I have high standards.” They quickly said, “We’re from Jersey. We’ll probably like it” “You’ll love it”, I replied.

I listened to part of a ranger talk with Ranger Zack. I am thoroughly impressed with all park rangers. They have such enthusiasm, patience, and love for their jobs. Where do they find these people?

I loved Bryce. It was less busy than Zion and had a beautiful environment. I did take issue with one of their signs claiming military men “discovered” these lands while acknowledging down below that Native people lived here before. My definition of discover doesn’t quite match their definition.

After a day of hiking, I decided to drive to the hotel I had booked in Bicknell, Utah, which is about 25 minutes from Capitol Reef National Park. Google Maps had me go one direction, but the road didn’t exist, so I kept going on another road and saw it could get me there.

It turns out I accidently drove on Scenic Byway 12, and I am glad I did! It was jaw-droppingly beautiful. It took me through Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, and it was incredible. I found it fascinating how each section of the drive had different ecosystems. One was very rocky and then another had Aspen trees. I had never gone from such different environments in such a short amount of time.

I’m now in my overpriced hotel and already cringing at the prices near Moab for when I want to get my next hotel in a few days.

I’ll spend a day or two in Capitol Reef and then move on to Canyonlands. I’m not sure how long I’ll spend in Canyonlands. It looks like they have great hiking, but I’m also exhausted. I’ve hiked four days in a row totaling about 26 miles.

I also treated myself to a restaurant tonight, including buying a drink (agua de Jamaica). Normally, I am too cheap to buy a drink at restaurants because of the mark-up, but it felt nice being clean and eating out.