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Beyond Bryce 1 October 2014

787 : 1866

Beyond Bryce

<p>Yet when all is said and done,...

Yet when all is said and done, the Grand Canyon is nothing more than that: a giant hole in the ground. To get into it at all requires the investment of a hot, tiring day ... and then you're only a third of the way down.  The ranger who helped me research our proposed hike cautioned, "Remember, down is optional, but up is mandatory!"

We did get a good view of our Kaibab Squirrel, but she was not interested in being photographed to advantage. We skirted the North Rim, admired the arch, stood in awe of the magnitude ... and decided to move along a day early and experience some of the lesser spectacles along the road.

788 : 1857

I understand Yosemite, and even, (although I am not smitten) Yellowstone. But it baffles me, why so many from around the world flock to the Grand Canyon ... and why so many imitators on every continent and on many islands exist.

Through the arch you can see the mighty Colorado River ... not exactly the author of this great excavation: the current geological notion is that the whole Colorado Plateau, which the Grand Canyon carves its way through, was gradually upthrust by tectonic forces, but the river, which rises in the Rocky Mountains of northern Colorado, kept incising its course as the land around it rose.

The scale of the Grand Canyon, granted, is impressive – look at those tiny people (and the railing thoughtfully provided by the NPS). The sense of being on the brink of something so enormous and ancient (assuming one subscribes to that notion) is memorable. I'm always glad I've been, and I'm glad my daughter got to see it in its best light – from the North Rim – but she and I found it very easy to move on in search of something a little more approachable.

789 : 1850
<p>But first, since we were going...

But first, since we were going right by, a nod to another favored tourist destination that doesn't really get us very excited: Bryce. The wind was howling; tourists were shivering in their shorts (this is the Southwest Desert, right?), hats were flying, shutters were clicking, busses were jockeying for position ... and we spent a total of 55 minutes in the park, including time to visit the Visitor Center and buy a patch proving that we were here.

790 : 1847

But on the eastern horizon, the Escalante beckoned! Our road can be seen winding into the mighty staircase that climbs over the plateau in the distance. Sienna promised a little known Utah State Park campground with hot showers and fascination rock formations at Kodachrome Canyon just a ways down the road (and out of the wind) and so, away we went.

 Tomorrow: the Escalante!


 We arrived, and the friendly ranger assigned us a beautiful campsite, in plenty of time to watch the magnificent evening light illuminate the basin around us. Another cold night – below freezing –  but we were happy down here amongst the beauties rather than shivering on the rim above.

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