Sunday, July 24, 2011

What I Did Last Summer (Hwy 12 Reprise Part Two: Bryce Canyon)

In June 2009, I rode through Bryce Canyon, but didn’t plan time to hike.  (It was just as well, I got rained on most of the time, anyway.)  But it hurt to look down into that fairyland of pink and orange hoodoos and then ride away without exploring further.  I decided then and there that in 2010, hiking in Bryce Canyon would be a touring priority.

I had some serious business to accomplish on the way, however – sport riding on Fish Lake Road.  Fish Lake Road! – the very place I fell in love with sport riding, in my pillion days. Back and forth, back and forth, all afternoon, each time faster…    Now it was time to enjoy Fish Lake road from the cockpit end of my own motorcycle.  That was the plan, anyway.   Ever ride a motorcycle in a 40mph crosswind? It takes a bit of adjustment to stay on your path. All well and good until – whoosh!  Gust!  The wind puts you, momentarily, over THERE!.  And then, for a split second, the wind lets up. Whoa!  Now you’re over HERE!  It took a lot of effort just to keep the bike between the lines even at a conservative speed.*   So much for tearing up the asphalt.  Next year, next year…

I arrived at Bryce Canyon exhausted from a day of battling the wind, but happy. I got the very last spot at the campground near the trailhead. I could park the bike for the rest of the day without worry, and go on a short hike before sunset.  My Canon G11, the replacement for the Lumix that kicked the bucket a month earlier in Colorado, endured its first sandstorm on the trail.  (No, the wind hadn’t let up.)

Rock formations on the Queens Garden Trail

I had planned to squat on my campsite for two nights, allowing me a chance to hike down to the bottom of the canyon the next morning.  Here are a few views from the Navajo Peekaboo loop.

Bryce Canyon Navajo Peekaboo Trail 033
I’m going down THERE.

Bryce Canyon Navajo Peekaboo Trail 032
Some steep switchbacks start me on my way down, down, down...

Bryce Canyon Navajo Peekaboo Trail 016
I was the first to spot this rockslide, blocking the trail.  The trail was closed later to clear path.   I’m glad I got up early!

Bryce Canyon Navajo Peekaboo Trail 020
A closer view of the “hoodoos” that make this canyon famous.

Bryce Canyon Navajo Peekaboo Trail 019
One of the many windows in the “Wall of Windows”

I’m a fast hiker. That meant I had plenty of time left for a nice 250 mile day ride across the Markagunt High Plateau Scenic Byway (next year I really must detour to the Cedar Breaks National Monument via UT 143...) through Zion National Park and back to my campsite before dark.  I knew there would be construction on the road through the park, but never having been there, I figured it would be worth the trouble.  What I didn’t plan on is not being allowed to stop to even take a photo!   Just as I had vowed to make Bryce Canyon hiking a priority for 2010, Zion had become my June 2011 priority.  Except, that tour was cancelled. The mantra continues… “Next year, next year...”

Good night, Bryce Canyon!  Sunset from the Rim Trail.

* This phenomenon is exaggerated if you're riding a small, light bike (like my Kawasaki, and even more - or less - so, the Ducati) and you, too, are small.  (Easy enough for a speedo to read more than the bathroom scale.)

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