Because rain was predicted again today and we wanted to be comfortable hiking with the proper footwear, we decided to use the truck for our trekking today, north to Bryce Canyon National Park, Kodachrome Basin State Park and the red canyons of the Dixie National Forest. The most famous part of Bryce is its hoodoos. I had to look up hoodoos to see its etymology, since it is such a different word. I went to the NPS website and it says “hoodoos are tall skinny spires of rock that protrude from the bottom of arid basins and "broken" lands. Hoodoos are most commonly found in the High Plateaus region of the Colorado Plateau and in the Badlands regions of the Northern Great Plains. While hoodoos are scattered throughout these areas, nowhere in the world are they as abundant as in the northern section of Bryce Canyon National Park. In common usage, the difference between Hoodoos and pinnacles or spires is that hoodoos have a variable thickness often described as having a "totem pole-shaped body." A spire, on the other hand, has a smoother profile or uniform thickness that tapers from the ground upward. At Bryce Canyon, hoodoos range in size from that of an average human to heights exceeding a 10-story building. Formed in sedimentary rock, hoodoo shapes are affected by the erosional patterns of alternating hard and softer rock layers.” The website says hoodoo is an actual geological term, not just a nickname, but still didn’t tell why they are called that, so I looked up on other websites and it seems it comes from Voodoo originally –because the formations are so strange? No definitive answer found in the time I had to look. Sue – you are great at these obscure questions, so if you have time…?
Anyway, the hoodoos are about the most fantastic formations I have ever seen, and right now Bryce is my favorite place so far on this trip because of them. They stood in the canyon silently like sentinels, reminding me of the terra cotta soldiers we saw standing in their tomb in Xian, China. After viewing the orientation film at the visitor center, we drove eighteen miles along the rim of the canyon to Rainbow Point. At 9,130 feet, this is the highest elevation in the park. The air was brisk but was not too cold. We warmed up as we walked the one mile Bristlecone Loop Trail, and after walking through spruce and fir forests, we were rewarded by stunning, expansive vistas and an amazing 1600 year old bristlecone pine tree at the end of the trail. We stopped at every vista point on the way back, and at each we continued to be astonished by the hoodoos and other formations in the canyon. One stop was called the Natural Bridge, but the signs explained this was a misnomer, since natural bridges are actually carved by streams, while this arch was formed by wind, rain, and the freezing and cracking of moisture in the rocks. Other stops let us gaze over panoramic views of the Kaibab Plateau, toward the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, and into northern Utah. We enjoyed our lunch at a picnic spot in the forest, and then finally reached Inspiration Point, which most say is the best place to view all the hoodoos in the Bryce Amphitheater. Unfortunately, we discovered we had a small problem: Fred’s camera battery had run out and his other one was still at the RV in his charger. My battery was also running low by then, but we thought I had an extra battery that was fully charged. Wrong! My 2nd battery had not been charged – we each thought the other one had charged it the night before. Whoops! However, ever the problem solver, Fred figured out what to do: he parked the truck in a corner of the parking lot, started up the generator, hooked up my battery charger, and charged both my batteries! Of we went to take photos of the magnificent hoodoos in the Silent City. I had first walked up the very steep hill to Upper Inspiration Point to take pictures of the Silent City when my battery ran out, so then after it was recharged, I walked back up that steep hill again! I was puffing due to the above 8000 feet elevation, but the view was totally worth it! After staring at the hoodoos for a long time, we continued on our travels to see the Bryce Lodge built in 1924-1925. I liked the lodge at the Grand Canyon better, although this one was also nice. Our last stop was at Sunrise Point where we had one last view of the hoodoos. When leaving Bryce, we were lucky enough to see several pronghorns grazing in a small pasture but none of our quickly snapped pictures were in focus, so those memories are in our brains.
Our next stop was Kodachrome Basin State Park, a small park surrounded by colorful cliffs. It boasts the world's only collection of "sand pipes," 67 in all. Sand pipes, also known as "chimney rocks," are oddly shaped rock pillars that rise from 6 feet to 170 feet above the ground. Geologists are still unsure how the pipes formed, but they seem to have been extruded up through the ground. The park got its name from the leaders of a National Geographic expedition in 1948 who used the then relatively new brand of Kodak film. By now it was pretty clouded over, so the colors were not as vivid as we had hoped they would be, but the pipes were yet another type of rock formation and were interesting, though not as cool as all the hoodoos in Bryce. On the way home, we stopped at one of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument visitor centers to see where we could get into the monument on another day. This park is really rural and undeveloped, and we found out most of the roads are only able to be traversed by 4 wheel drive vehicles, so we will only be able to skirt its edges. Then we drove back to the ranch along scenic highway 12, and saw even more red rocks and hoodoos standing like soldiers along the highway. By then the clouds had dissipated, and the colors were magnificent. It should be illegal that we are seeing so many gorgeous sights and having so much fun, but it isn’t, so we are glad we are having such a great time!