Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Another re-visit occurred at Bryce Canyon. A quick hour's drive from Escalante, we took a spot back at Bryce Canyon Pines, where we'd stayed before and where we made the happy acquaintance of Tommy & Danielle.

First thing I did when we arrived was suit up to take another crack at riding the Thunder Mountain trail in nearby Red Canyon. Last year I was unable to complete this loop because of evil sticky cement red mud from hell, which I still find remnants of whenever I clean my bike a year later. This time the trail was bone dry, and we all know how dry bones are. Once again I endured the four miles climb on paved bike path, and the two miles climb on gravel road to get to the trailhead. Once again I enjoyed the sinuous singletrack as it threaded in an out of countless minor canyons. Once again I took joy in breaking out into the open to see the hoodoo-encrusted Red Canyon laid out before me. But this time - no malevolent mud - and I finally got to enjoy the downhill run that I'd twice climbed out to seek. This red ribbon of singletrack stands out as one of my most favorite pieces of trail - expertly routed along spines of earth, along dizzying dropoffs and postcard vistas; swooping turns, nearly impossibly tight switchbacks, through towering hoodoos - really awesome!

When the adrenaline-fueled downhill bomb-run was complete, the trail became smooth and buff, but still nice and narrow, and pointed downhill just enough to let mother earth's ever-present pull of gravity propel me forward. As my speed approached that of a proton in the Large Hadron Collider even slight turns became hairy, so frequent braking was required to keep me out of the woods. What a finish! I'm so glad that we returned so that I could succeed in completing the fabulous Thunder Mountain trail!

Nancy and I returned to Bryce Canyon National Park to hike again the Queen's Garden and Navajo trails which we so enjoyed last year. And despite having seen all of these natural wonders before, we were still captivated, and couldn't resist taking dozens of photographs. The only amusing downside to this visit were the busloads of French-speaking persons who streamed down the trail towards us, filling the air with their righteous indignation, reluctant to make space for us to pass. Still, their presence could not detract from the astounding beauty of the hoodoo-studded canyon:

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