Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thanksgiving in Utah - Day 2 in Bryce Canyon

After a great hike in Zion and a great Thanksgiving dinner just outside of the east entrance we slept like babies.  The Best Western at the turnoff to 9 turned out to be a great deal for 60 bux a night.  Rooms were perfect!  We got up early the next morning and hit the road for Bryce Canyon.  It isn't too much more than an hour or so to the north and the drive was quite nice.

Getting started at Bryce Canyon on the Peek-a-Boo Trail
We were greeted by single digit temps and thick snow all over the Bryce Canyon area.  It is much higher in elevation than Zion - 8000ft+ at the top vs. 5000ish around in Zion.  We decided to try the Peek-A-Boo trail which is a 5.5 mile loop through the heart of Bryce Canyon.  Like all of the hiking trails in Bryce Peek-A-Boo starts at the top of the canyon walls and descends drastically.  The thick snow made it a real challenge in a lot of areas.  Some of the unpacked snow was over knee deep and kept our pace pretty slow!  However the snow really made the area beautiful.  I had been here before so it was great to see the mars-ish terrain covered with white!  I wish we would have brought some skis - quite a few good opportunities for some downhill cross country action!

The hike was amazing.  I think my GPS said we lost and gained overall about 2000ft of elevation.  The rock formations and windows were just amazing.  If you haven't been there you have to visit!  The peek-a-boo trail was great!
Wall of Windows - Bryce Canyon
Just getting started but a great view of the canyon.

Sun rising through the hoo-doos

More great shots of the red walls in Bryce canyon

Great photo of the sun shining off the snow in Bryce

Name that rock...

Thick snow!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Thanksgiving Day - Zion Canyon, Utah

We decided to forgo the normal Thanksgiving holiday and spend a few days in the Zion and Bryce canyon area in Southern Utah.  I had hoped that we would be able to camp and spend a mini-fortune on gear the week earlier.  The weather had different plans for us as a blizzard blew through Utah the day before we got there.  Instead of temps in the 30's at night it was into the single digits.  Time to change plans!

We arrived at Zion Canyon Lodge at 8pm on Wednesday to spend the night in a warm cabin and then give hiking a shot in the morning.  We woke to -12 degrees!  Wow - truck would barely start.  We go a warm breakfast, bundled up and headed into Zion.

Walter's Wiggles
We headed up towards the trail to Angel's Landing.  The hike was cold but great until we got to the Walter's Wiggles area.  It was completely iced over and as slippery as can be.  We were able to slowly make our way up the 20 switchbacks knowing heading down would be much more challenging than going up.  Once through there we quickly realized that the treacherous last half mile on Angel's Landing wasn't an option.  It was completely iced over!  It's tough under great conditions, no way I was trying it covered in ice!

We decided to head up the West Rim trail and explore areas where we haven't been.  This turned out to be a great decision. We only saw a few people along the way.  It was mostly covered in snow but not packed to the point where it was too slippery.  The various lookouts over the canyon along the trail were just amazing.  The snow actually really added to the beauty of the area.

Getting started towards Angel's Landing

Along the West Rim Trail in Zion National Park
Snowy conditions in Zion

Day 2 we headed to Bryce Canyon...