Myths & Legends – Utah Adventure Part III

The Legend People, were notorious for living too heavily upon the land. They would drink up all these streams and the rivers in the springtime so there would be no water left for all the other creatures come summer.

And if that’s not bad enough, then in the fall, they would gobble up all the pine nuts; there would be no pine nuts for the other animals to eat to help them survive the winters. This behavior by the To-when-an-ung-wa went on for years and years and years, and all the other animals and all the other creatures complained about how rude they were and how reckless they behaved. And they finally got the attention of the powerful god, Coyote.

Coyote is famous for being a trickster, he decided he would punish the To-when-an-ung-wa in a very creative way. He invited them to a banquet and he promised enough food to be able to eat all day long.

So, of course, all the To-when-an-ung-wa came and they dressed in their finest, most-colorful clothing or in their most elaborate war paint, and they sat down to Coyote’s great big banquet table. Before anyone could take a single bite, he cast a spell on them that turned them to stone. The To-when-an-ung-wa tried to flee up over the top of the canyon rim, and in so doing -almost like a scene from the “Titanic” – you see them trampling on top of each other, writhing bodies trying to escape over the edge of the canyon, and clustered right on the brink.

Here they stand to this very day stuck like rocks. The geologic forces of weather and erosion have worn them away to the point they just look like towers of rock and no longer like statuesque cursed beings.

April 26, 2018 – Zion & Bryce Canyon

We’ve been consistently eyeing the weather. It would go down below freezing at night in Bryce Canyon. The park is only an hour and a half from Zion, but a totally different world.

We slept past sunrise, made a delicious chickpea hash breakfast, then broke camp for the last time in Zion. I felt apprehensive about leaving a place that I just began to scratch the surface of. I have by all means fallen in love with Zion. The only thing which kept me from tears was looking up at the cliffs above and promising to return. Zion would always be here, and I could make my way back.

Before leaving we decided to take one last stab at bouldering since we still had the crash pad. We parked over by the Zion administrative offices and walked to a nice boulder which had several routes ranging from beginner to intermediate. THE CLIMBING WAS SO MUCH FUN! I’m thoroughly addicted, and I can truthfully say I climbed Utah sandstone. It’s not easy, even this beginner/intermediate boulder posed many challenges. Climbing not only is a great physical workout, but it also does something more. It gives me more confidence than any other activity I do.

Anton and I crossed the street, and went down a steep path till we found an entrance. There was a deep pool, but with enough rocks for Anton to go across. He threw a few large rocks in to help me get across. I got a little wet, but in the desert heat I would dry quickly. We didn’t get much further. Without water boots it was impossible unless we wanted to destroy our normal hiking boots.

We then found Keyhole Canyon (Zion is very ‘slotty’) and ate our lunch inside, it felt like an air conditioned room. My favorite part about slot canyons are the waves. The water which eroded and carved the canyon makes the walls look like a sandstone river. This canyon eventually became impassible without proper footwear, but my gosh was it pretty.

Bryce Canyon City (it wasn’t a city, believe me) was at an 8,000 foot elevation. This was the highest elevation I have ever stood at. After setting up camp we fell asleep in the hammock, a much need nap, I felt exhausted.

After waking we drove up the park road and stopped at every single pull off on the way back. The hoodoos were stunning, but I had a difficult time showing enthusiasm. I felt tired and sick. The days of this wonderful trip were starting to wear down on me.

On the bright side our campground was owned by the hotel next door which gave us access to the indoor hot tub. Soaking in that hot tub was like sleeping for 12 hours then drinking a big cup of coffee. I felt rejuvenated afterwards and slept like a baby that night despite the cold.

April 27, 2018 – Bryce Canyon

It was a special day, I felt at peace. The day started earlier in the frigid 30 degree temperatures. We saw the sunrise at Bryce Point, words cannot begin to describe the beauty which lay before us.

There were about 30 other people at the overlook, conversations existed, but when the sun peaked over the distant mountains the only sound which was heard was the breeze whistling through the canyon. The rock formations below glowed in the sunshine.

After we got an early start on the Fairylands Loop trail. It was a nine mile day going down into the canyon. Finally we could get up close and personal with our hoodoo friends! I am happy to report that on this hike I finally let go of my fear of snakes even though the valley was teeming with rattlesnakes. Anton was dying to see a kitty (aka mountain lion), but I was perfectly content not seeing one all day. This hike felt hard when we started climbing up the canyon once again, even though the slope wasn’t really steep. The elevation was definitely getting to us. We reached Sunrise Point and went into the campground store where they luckily sold very refreshing local craft brews! The last 1.5 miles back to Fairylands Point was an easy ridge stroll. Overall I would highly recommend this as a day hike that anyone could accomplish.

After a nice soak in the hot tub and a sampling of local cuisine, we drove out to Yovimpa Point for our final National Park sunset of the trip. The cold and wind were kicking in full force as we approached the empty overlook just in time. As usual Anton set up his Gopro for time lapse and we both had cameras at the ready.

The sunset became spiritual. I could hear the hoodoos whispering to me through the wind. I didn’t know what they were saying, but I knew their message was important.

Between the world around me and the person I was with, it was the most beautiful experience of my life.

April 28, 2018 – Bryce Canyon, Park City, & Going Home

We are so bad, we woke up at 6:30 am and nearly missed our last sunrise at Inspiration Point! We caught it just in time. For many parks I noticed that the sunrises and sunsets were all quite the same. Bryce Canyon put on two unique shows every day. I could watch a Bryce sunrise/sunset every single day and never tire of it.

After walking about halfway down the infamous Navajo Loop trail, we were sadly stopped at a trail intersection due to a rock slide danger. If we were caught going up we would each pay a $1,500 fine. So sad, we were looking forward to seeing Wall Street. Next time? We opted to take a slightly longer route instead of going back the same way we came. I was getting a bit moody due to complete exhaustion, but my mood improved as we ventured on through Queen’s Garden. It was a lovely garden of guess what? Hoodoos! Obviously I really like hoodoos.

This would conclude our many miles of hiking on our trip. The adventuring was sadly over. We drove several hours back to Salt Lake City taking a side trip to In n’ Out Burger. Where have you been all my life? You absolutely must order your burger “Animal Style”, just trust me on this.

We also made a side trip to Park City in the center of the Wasatch range. The mountains were big, but not as scenic as the beautiful White Mountains in my opinion. A few of them tempted me, I wanted to climb them. 11,000 footers, I could march to the tune of that. Park City is the largest ski resort in the country, but sadly closed for the season. We enjoyed the shops and galleries, as well as a local brewery and winery. I may need to go back to Park City someday…when there is snow!

The usual airport insanity followed and our flight left on time at midnight. We were still taking off when my motion sickness patch totally knocked me out. I slept deeply, and woke up to see Boston emerging through the clouds. Happy to be home, but already missing my beloved Utah.

Utah is a special place, there is nothing else like it in the world. You have to see this place to believe it. I hope your adventures take you there.