The most astonishing thing for a Dane (or most Europeans I’d say) when visiting the US is the wide open spaces that are incomparable to anything I’m used to in my corner of the world. Sure we have the sea but when it comes to wide expanse in land we are at a loss. There’s always some house or field or village tell-tale of inhabitation. In the US you can let your eye wander without meeting anything but nature, nature, nature for miles on end.
A month ago I visited the National Park of Bryce Canyon in Southern Utah and it was an amazing experience.
I arrived in the late afternoon which was early enough for me to drive down the length of the rim of the canyon and on my way back step out on all the viewpoints – terraces with extra good views over the canyon. I found it extremely difficult to photograph there since the contrast between the depths of the amphitheater (a better description really than “canyon”) and the open spaces beyond was so great at this time of the day. At sunset though the colours were marvelous.
And so they were at sunrise. I got up the next day while it was still dark and the shooting stars were still falling and drove to Sunrise Point. The beauty of it all in the frosty morning is something I recommend everyone to experience.
When the sun was up I took the short drive to Sunset Point and started my descend from there.
The formations are called hoodoos and they are the product of the water content of the red earth freezing during the night and melting during the day around 200 days a year. When the water freezes it expands and breaks the rock. So slowly these strange figures appear and disappear.
I had decided on a trail – a moderate hike, but somehow I was tempted into taking a turn at some point and found myself on one of those hikes the map categorised as “strenuous”. And so it was, this loop with the dangerously cute name of “Peek-A-Boo Loop Trail”. Almost 9 km with a difference in height at about 500 m starting up on the rim and returning to the rim.
Combined with parts of two other trails I think I must have walked around 12 km and most of them either up or down. So I was beat after the four-five hours it took. Not to speak of the day after and the day after that.
But it was amazing. The cleanest air I have breathed since Greenland and silence, silence only broken by trickling water, a pebble rolling dow a slope and my own panting (not just because I worked hard but also because the air was thin at 2,5 km above sea level). I loved it. And sitting down for a rest revealed little creatures like this fellow.
Much more fit and shy than his cousin who I met near the park grocer begging for food and doing little tricks to get it. Look at those cheeks!
The bird is a Steller’s Jay and I saw one on my hike as well, with its blue shades beautifully set against the red rocks. Not quick enough with the camera unfortunately.
I was very lucky with the weather. The day I arrived they had had a thunderstorm which made it dangerous to climb down the amphitheater – I saw many dead trees that had been hit by lightning. But the day I spent there was a bright autumn day with some fall colours still lingering on the few deciduous trees.
I was completely taken with Bryce Canyon. Go there if you can – one of the wonders of the world!