Sunday 14th May – A Stroll in the City of Rocks

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It was Mother’s Day at Bryce Canyon! While I’ll tell anyone I meet that every day is mother’s day, I thought it fitting to make pancakes for the Mum amongst us. I was up before everyone else so hopped to it. By the time everyone had emerged, I had a stack of pancakes for everyone to dig in to. I made mine into the Dan special with bacon, eggs and syrup while the others enjoyed them with different spreads like the normal Australians they are.

The morning process was slower than usual for the D&K clan, mostly because Emma was still in a foul mood, but we got there in the end! Tom and Cat had suggested the Fairyland Loop hike for the day’s activity, based on a recommendation from their friend Ken and so we all went along. Tomcat rode off on their bikes to get to the trailhead and we all piled in to D&K’s car to get to Fairyland point. It would require an extra 3 miles of hiking for one person to go back to the car, but it meant that the kids and two adults could catch a bus back to camp after five miles, instead of doing the full 8 miles loop which was a bit of a stretch with the little ones.

Despite the line of cars parked along the road leading into the carpark, we managed a Colin Edwards park right at the door. We were already packed and ready to go so once everyone was snug in their backpacks, we set off. The Fairyland trail is at the very north end of Bryce Canyon and so not as populated with hoodoos, but right from the rim, it was an impressive view.

We started our hike by descending down into the canyon, twisting this way and that along the compacted ground. We were all in agreement that these rock towers should fall over at the slightest wind, or melt away at the hint of rain. It was incredulous that such crumbly looking things could remain standing tall for so long.

The wind was strong in the canyon and Emma was absolutely convinced that things would blow away, no matter how much we tried to convince her that we were heavier than the wind and wouldn’t be going anywhere. After a mile or so, we found a shady spot somewhat out of the wind where we could have some lunch. Despite a breakfast that hadn’t been too long ago, I dug into a wrap and biscuits. On our way again, there were multiple adjustments to hats and clothing to make sure everyone who wasn’t walking was warm enough in the wind.

After a short climb, we started descending again and as we passed a couple of people, I did a double take as I saw a guy I thought I recognised. He did the same to me and we realised we knew each other. Danni and I had climbed together at the gym in Fremont on a Tuesday night. He couldn’t believe it and I felt that way even more so considering the crazy run-in I’d had only a few days before! He introduced me to his wife and explained that they’d left their jobs two months ago for a year of travel in a van, just like me. How cool! We swapped a few tips for Moab and Zion and generally smiled our faces off that we’d run into each other before wishing each other happy travels. How many people live and travel in this country and I happen to run into the people I know all the time?! I must be doing something right…

D&K had walked on so I caught up, just as they were doing some pack adjustments to make sure everyone was comfortable. I shared my surprise with them at meeting yet another friend on a random trail. Past the halfway mark, we took a short turn off to take a look at Tower Bridge, a natural formation that looks a lot like a castle with two pillars and a drawbridge between them. It even had an isolated tower at the back of the castle for the locked away princess (yes I like my imagination). We stopped here for another rest and I lay down on the ground, listening to a couple of young guys discuss the ins and outs of Silicon Valley. They were clearly in their last few years of university and contemplating their futures at one of the tech giants, such as Google or LinkedIn. I wanted to shake them by the shoulders or say something smart, but I resisted and just listened to their naivety. After a short bout in the shade, I moved my relaxation to the sun so I could warm up and just as I did, Tom and Cat showed up! They’d started a few miles behind us at a different trailhead and caught up. Emma was happy to see them, as were the rest of us. Emma played the tickle game with me a little bit before we got going, maybe we’re friends again?

Me and Kylie hung out at the back for the rest of the trail, a climb up out of the canyon, the hoodoos getting ever closer to the trail. At the top, we found the rest of the group chilling out on a few logs waiting for us. We confirmed with Emma that she wanted Daddy to go and get the car instead of me so Derek went off while we went to find the bus. Tomcat split off from us to retrieve their bikes and we walked to the Lodge to find a bus stop. Turns out we could have shortened our walk and taken the bus from Sunrise, but it meant we got to see a group of horses and their riders come up from out of the canyon and to the corral. It looked pretty fitting to be riding a horse in a place like this.

We didn’t have to wait at the bus stop, arriving just as a shuttle came along. After asking the driver how to go south, he told us to get on with him, going north, then get on another bus to go south. It all seemed a bit convoluted, but we went along. It was hot inside the bus and with standing room only, it was a challenge. Emma was offered a seat but Kylie and I struggled as the bus driver insisted on putting the brakes on and off in binary mode. Two stops later, we were at the visitor’s centre and waiting for another bus. More confusion at the order of the stops and we weren’t sure if we’d get dropped off at the campsite, but the very happy bus driver did halt outside the campground and commended me on managing to carry my backpack and two kid-carrying backpacks. We got Oliver back into his pack and with Emma between us holding both our hands, Kylie and I walked back to camp.

Tom and Cat had beaten us there and had taken up station in their comfy positions, Tom in his comfy chair and a bag of tortilla chips and Cat laying under their obnoxious outdoor enclosure, not feeling too well thanks to a cold. I took my shoes off quick smart and found a spot in the sun where I called Mikey and had a good chat since it had been so long between conversations. We struggled a bit with reception, but I eventually sat on top of my car for a successful phone call. We finished just as the sun was losing its warmth so, after a sneaky sink shower in the camp kitchen sink, I joined the others loitering about in camp. We all set about cooking dinner, comparing our choices of food. D&K had pesto pasta, I got to experience spam for the first time thanks to Tomcat’s spam pasta and I made Spanish rice which impressed everyone.

Tom fiddled around with his camp stove, having decided to pull it apart in the hopes of making it work better while I did the dishes and Kylie made hot chocolate to warm her family’s bellies. Derek took a shot of medicinal brandy in his since he seemed to have contracted Kylie’s cold and needed relief. The temperature went down quickly so once all the dinner stuff was packed up, we all retreated into our homes for the night to stay warm.

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