Thursday. May 17. 2018.
Near Capitol Reef.
Yesterday, I got to Bryce Canyon early in the morning and stopped by the visitor’s center to plan my day. I did have full intentions of hiking down into the hoodoos, but when I got to trailhead of the hike I was going to do, I opted out. My body was still just too worn out from the day before. Heck, I was limping down basic stairs because of my right knee and the two toenails I am going to lose. So I stuck with the ‘Around the Rim’ trail and saw the four viewpoints. Which they were definitely beautiful (although I would not be able to tell the four apart when presented with pictures.) I also did the scenic drive and saw the highest point of the park and the natural bridge. Although I would have liked to have hiked one trail and seen a sunrise or sunset, people are not wrong when they say you only need one day in Bryce.
I was done by 3pm, and I set up camp in another dispersed camping site. Which let me tell you, is the greatest thing ever. On public lands (i.e. National Forests and lands under the BLM) you can camp for free on the spots already created. The only catch is there is no bathrooms or such, but I have just made a point to pee before I arrive and I have been fine. It is just another advantage of the West.
Anyways, I parked at a place right outside of Bryce and fortunately had cell service for the several hours I had to waste (kicking myself for not bringing a book or hammock, lesson learned.) I was able to text my family and facetime my mom and kitties. Which although it helped the homesickness, it did not completely heal it; I would have definitely enjoyed some company with so much free time. I also facetimed my older sister and niece earlier in the day at one of the lookouts, when I mentioned Bryce, my sister started questioning me about the guy Bryce I was there to see. When I informed her it was a national park, she said “only hikers would know that.” Hence this post’s title, and the joke I now have a boyfriend named Bryce. Classic.
Today I woke up at 6am and drove the 2.5 hours to Capitol Reef. I did all the scenic day things to do, and had originally intended to backpack Halls Creek Narrows tomorrow. However, there is currently a good chance of storms, and thus flash flood warnings. Capitol Reef is formed by a waterpocket fold, and although a desert, water is a big part of its formation and beauty. Many of its hikes are through narrows and slot canyons, things that have a much higher chance of flash flooding with any rain. So that plan is likely out, but I am honestly not as bummed as I should be about it.
Capitol Reef is grand, but I do not think I need another two days here. Today I did the Hickman Bridge, Grand Wash, and the Capitol Gorge Trail. They were all relatively easy, the bridge was the only hike with a little elevation gain to get to it (nothing like climbing out of a canyon) and the Capitol Gorge Trail had a .2mi detour to “the tanks” that were lacking water. But the place is a desert with a lot of sand and hot rays of sun, so it is no surprise the tanks dry up most of the year. And after seeing the easy narrows of the Grand Wash, I am okay skipping Halls Creek. They were ultimately just river beds. I am not downplaying their beauty, it was definitely worth the walk, just not something I needed to then spend two days doing. One day when I am living out west, I will definitely plan to revisit Capitol Reef and see more of the dirt road adventures, especially some slot canyons I can spend a day hike exploring.
I did get to stop and see the petroglyphs on highway 24 and some at the beginning of Capitol Gorge, which was really neat to see. I have always loved history, and seeing them is just really cool and humbling to remind us of the Native Americans that lived here before us. The Fruita region is filled with history actually, and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the first settlers, their orchards and school, and the like.
After I did the scenic drive (the end of which being where Capitol Gorge is located) I headed into Torrey for an early dinner. I have not ate too many dinners this trip, because I do not want to clean my pot primarily (and dehydrated food does not sound the best if you don’t have much of an appetite.) So I had Slacker’s Burgers, and they were bomb. I had the chicken malibu sandwich with sweet potato fries, and I highly recommend. Their food is made to order, but I had no problem with the short wait, especially with wifi to catch up with my family and social media. They apparently have really good ice cream as well, but I did not indulge in a shake, this time.
Now it is almost 6pm and I am set up at a dispersed camp site just outside of Capitol Reef, this time without service to entertain. Looks like I will attempt to just catch up on sleep, maybe.