Friday, May 22….
Time to ride!
At some point on Thursday, I’d booked a horse/mule/general quadruped ride down into Bryce Canyon.
You have two options: a 2-hour, or half-day trip. The half-day is really just about four hours. We opted for the latter. It wasn’t cheap, but it really was worth it.
Despite my near-terror at times.
You might already know this, but the thing about these creatures and the trails down into canyons involving switchbacks on ledges and cliffs is that their preferred path…is the edge. As in the outer edge of the path. With you perched on top of their hundreds and hundreds of pounds, looking down, watching them pick their way delicately along (did I mention?) the edge, dislodging gravel that you can hear tumble many feet in a downward direction.
It’s the same at the Grand Canyon, and I read that there are something like 140 switchbacks going down (on the south rim, I’m thinking, since that’s the steeper side), and I know now I wouldn’t be able to handle that.
All right, let’s backtrack.
The ride left very early – we were supposed to be there by 7:45, and we were, gathering first at the Bryce Canyon Lodge, and then heading down to the corral where we’d be matched with our rides. There was one trail guide for about every 6 or 7 riders, it seemed. I got a mule – I don’t know what that says about me, but I did. The boys got horses, and they, being the only children in our group, rode right up behind the guide then me, then the other 4 riders.
Various pieces of advice were given, the most important being:
- Don’t be afraid, nothing will happen, it’s safe, etc., etc.
- Don’t get too far behind because you don’t want your ride to start running to catch up. Because……?
Better not think about it. Just keep up with the pack.
The guide was a very nice, super-polite young man, who gave us a few tales about the canyon and what we were seeing, but honestly, not as much as I had expected or hoped – somehow, I thought it would be just a bit more informative regarding the geology and history of the area. Like anything else, it all depends on your specific guide, I suppose.
And yes, I was a little nervous. It’s just nerve-racking, as the heavy beast plods along on the edge of a cliff. (Did I mention the edge?). It’s bad enough when the path is straight, but then you get to the switchback where the animal is going to turn, if not on a dime, at most on a half-dollar, and the gravel is rolling around and dropping..
The woman behind me was on a horse named Comanche, and, well, better her than me. It was fine, of course, but Comanche was just a little more rambunctious than I would have been comfortable with, and there was one point at which he paused and saw something decent to eat right over the edge, and with his weight, there was a little bit of slipping and sliding, and…
…I’m glad I wasn’t on Comanche.
But of course it was all fine. Every time. But I won’t deny that I was breathing easier when we finally hit the bottom of the canyon.
And that’s another thing. Looking at Bryce from the rim, I had thought that the hoodoos represented the whole of it – that the base of the hoodoos reached the base of the canyon. But no! Not at all, not even one bit. The hoodoos actually begin far above the canyon floor, which is lightly forested with some mostly dry creekbeds. (Remember Bryce “Canyon” exists because of a freezing/thawing cycle more than water flowing at the bottom). It’s where we stopped for a restroom and water break.
Despite my terror, I am really glad we did this. The boys claimed they weren’t scared at all, so good for them. I mean…good for them.
I’ll write more about this later, but after going to the Grand Canyon, I can see a Rim-to-Rim experience somewhere in my future, but…I’ll walk it, thanks. No question.
After lunch in Tropic (here – the boys really liked the hamburgers), the older boy was wiped out and was ready for a rest, but the ten-year old wasn’t near finished, so he and I headed back to the park to do some more hiking.
(I thought I had photos, but I guess not…)
Then, as we left the park, I saw the turn-off for the Fairyland Loop (which is actually before the pay entrance to the park), so we decided to check that out.
If we ever go back, I would finish this one out. We just walked a little way out on it, since we needed to get back but the landscape and trail itself (see how it goes out in the middle there?) was distinctive enough, I think it would be quite interesting to follow.
Navajo Trail was quite crowded with all kinds of folks, individuals but most in tour groups (Germans, Japanese & Backroads, I noticed in particular)
Back to the hotel – there might have been swimming that night – it was either then or the night before – in the substantial indoor pool at Ruby’s – but no overpriced buffet for dinner. There was a Subway a couple of miles away, so that would have to do – with no complaints from anyone.
A common sight in public places in Utah. Everything you need.
Tomorrow…heading south, on our way to the Grand Canyon….