A Different Planet
We were determined to make the most of this trip to Bryce Canyon.
We drove over 1,100 miles from Portland Oregon to be here so now is our time! On our last post we said we had a big day planned. That big day starts now...
3:15 AM - My phone rudely buzzes like a prison break alarm and Nicole and I both groan heavily in unison. "There is no way it's already time to get up. Whose great idea was this anyway?!" Oh yeah, we planned last night that it would be a great idea to wake up at 3:15 am so we could hike 1600 feet down into the canyon in the dark--just so we could watch the sunrise from the canyon floor. It will be worth it!
4:00 AM - We start our descent down into the canyon from Bryce Point in total darkness with only the milky way and our headlamps lighting the way. The trail was only about five feet wide trail with a wall on one side and a seemingly endless abyss on the other. We shine our headlamps into the canyon and the darkness quickly consumes any light we throw at it. We slowly and carefully make our way down 1.6 miles to the canyon floor and to our destination. When we arrived the only way to know we had reached our destination was that the pre-dawn light was illuminating The Wall of Windows ahead of us. Trying to find the perfect scene to photograph when waiting for light that has yet to come is a particularly difficult challenge--especially in a place we have never been before. We settled on a location that had a couple different options within a short distance from us on the trail.
5:30 AM - Once the sun started rising above the canyon rim the magic began. Singing birds and glowing Hoodoos. Who could ask for more? We decided to move on before the light show was finished in hope of another location and angle further down the trail. We never found that angle but we certainly weren't disappointed! We found ourselves engulfed in the color of the sandstone on the hoodoos and inspired by the shadows that the sun was creating on the rocks.
At around 7 am, we ran into our first set of hikers. It's interesting to think that we hadn't spoken with any other people in so many hours but we had made plenty of furry friends with the local Golden Mantle Ground Squirrels.
As we hiked along the bottom of the canyon, we went through several small ascents and descents that lead us to different species of trees including Ponderosa, Colorado Pinyon, Rocky Mountain Juniper, and the infamous Great Basin Bristlecone. There were switchbacks, tunnels, and impressively expansive views that can only be provided by a canyon like Bryce Canyon or Grand Canyon.
Even though we had already reached the base of the canyon earlier that morning, we still seemed to find spots that were lower and deeper than where The Wall of Windows sat. We walked across a very impressive (dry) wash from post-winter run-off and rested just as we reached the beginning of the Navajo Loop Trail. Unfortunately, the Wall Street portion was closed for research and restoration, so we continued up the East side of the loop. Luckily, we were able to photograph two bridges on this side of the loop.
After a very rewarding morning, we finally drug ourselves out of the canyon at Sunset Point a little after 10 am. Needless to say, we were ready for breakfast and a nap.
The Wall of Windows - A different planet
The Science - The wall of windows is a fin or "wall" of sandstone that started as a plateau. During the winter months the sandstone is penetrated by water that gets into the cracks and freezes. When it freezes, the water expands and further opens the cracks until the pieces break completely off. Late summer monsoon rains wash away the broken pieces leaving slots and fins. The soft center of the sandstone fin will degrade quicker than the top hard layer of the limestone or dolomite eventually leaving a window or arch. That arch will eventually fall leaving a Hoodoo!
The Stupefaction - That moment when you are at the bottom of a 1600 foot deep canyon all by yourselves watching the sun paint the colors on to the walls above you. It was quite a scene to see and there was no way for our cameras to properly capture the grandeur of the scene before us.
Thanks as always for reading!
Lots of love!
-Robb and Nicole
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