A Travellerspoint blog

July 2020

Utah Day 5: Zion

sunny 102 °F

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Zion National Park had been closed for a while, and now requires that guests register for a spot on a tram. It is relatively crowded compared to the other places we have visited, which is a bit scary with the virus still out there. However, it seemed that almost everyone was wearing masks (including us) and that the hikes took us to less populated areas.
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The danger of flash flooding in slot canyons was low, so we felt that it was safe to hike (we actually avoided the real slot canyon of The Narrows, and only went to the river walk).
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The tram (modified to carry fewer people and require social distancing, and with all windows open) carried us into the canyon. The park is not designed for a lot of cars, and there are few places to park within the canyon, so we had to do all of our hiking from the bus stops.
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The river walk was an easier hike, but it leads to the Narrows, which are as the name describes a narrow slot canyon. We walked along the easy section of the river. The canyon feels similar to Sedona: we felt like Sedona is what would happen if someone built a city in the middle of Zion National Park.
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There is actually a lot of swampy land alongside the river. Catherine hoped it wouldn't be porous like bogs and sinkholes tend to be.
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A couple pictures of us during the hike. There were a lot of very bold and interested squirrels who kept trying to get to our bags and showed great interest in any water bottles or food that we had out. Though they reminded Catherine of Flora, we successfully avoided them and got them to go away.
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We finished our hike and then took the tram to one of the stops, with the intention of hiking from that stop to the lodge along the grotto trail. Anthony was interested in hiking more than that, but Catherine and Katie were not. Daniel and Anthony went across the street to a trail that crossed a bridge, and then just followed the trail...
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...which began to climb.
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In fact, it climbed quite a bit until we were high above the canyon. The trail was beautiful and the view of the canyon below was amazing. There were only a few other groups along this trail.
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We referred to this canyon as Owl Canyon because of this sign, but looking online we found that it is actually called Refrigerator Canyon because of the cold winds that blow through it. We met a group of hikers coming down who explained that it was the hike to Angel's Landing, one of the most famous hikes in Zion National Park. Apparently it was formerly called the Temple of Aeolus, after the god who kept the winds in Greek mythology. They said we were about twenty minutes from the top, but we had promised Catherine and Katie that we would be down by 6:30, so we didn't have the time to continue up the mountain, so we turned around.
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The way down. We met with Catherine and Katie back at the bus stop and decided to continue the hike to the lodge.
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The "grotto hike" to the lodge mostly followed the road. It was easy and beautiful.
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This statue of a ringtail cat reminded us of Flora.
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There was one loop that was open to drive, and so we drove around the park to the degree we were allowed and saw a lot of interesting sights, including the famous tunnel.
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Right outside the park is a brewery called Zion Brewpub. We had a dinner there, which was delicious. We had a very full day at the park, and it was an amazing thing to see on this trip.

Posted by danielcatherine 16:04 Archived in USA Tagged river wind mask tram zion refrigerator owl angel's_landing ringtail aeolus social_distance Comments (1)

Utah Day 4: Fry Bread Adventures

sunny 76 °F

Having done a lot of hiking and driving, we decided to have a slightly more relaxing day today. We went on a short drive around the area, and stopped at a few lookouts.
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Some views over the side of the amphitheater at Cedar Breaks.
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There are a lot of old lava flows and cinder cones around the area. It's a very interesting landscape.
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Our last and most delicious adventure for the day was going to a restaurant in Parowan called Hamburger Patty's. They serve fry bread, which is a Native American bread. It can be served as a savory dish, such as a "Navajo taco," or as a sweet dessert-like food, with sugar and cinnamon or honey butter. We had it this time with honey butter, and it was delicious.

Posted by danielcatherine 11:59 Archived in USA Tagged lava drive amphitheater cedar_breaks cinder_cones fry_bread hamburger_patty's Comments (1)

Utah Day 3: A Tropical Vacation

sunny 76 °F

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We slept in a bit, and then went on a short hike nearby in Cedar Breaks National Monument. This one was called "Alpine Pond" and involved hiking first to a small pond and then to the Chessmen overlook where we went yesterday.
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There were a lot of fir and spruce trees, as well as pines and a ton of wildflowers.
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There were a lot of fallen trees, mostly due to the bark beetle infestation that seems to have mostly passed by now. We arrived at the pond, which was beautiful but very full of bugs. We saw water bugs walking across the water and bees pollinating the wildflowers nearby.
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Most of the trail felt like we were walking through a forest, and didn't feel at all like we were on the edge of a plateau. But occasionally we would get glimpses through the trees of the majestic canyon/ amphitheater to our right.
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Some beautiful wildflowers that looked like something a fairy would live in.
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A meadow at the turnaround point for our hike.
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Along the way back.
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This yurt at the trail head is used as a kind of ranger station. It has a wood stove and looks kind of cozy inside.
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We then drove to Bryce National Park. There is a town just outside the park called Tropic, apparently because the early settlers were planning to grow "tropical" fruits like peaches and grapes there. In Tropic there is a small restaurant/ food truck called IDK Barbecue. We stopped there for lunch before going into the park.
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Bryce Canyon is really more of an amphitheater than a canyon. It is an amazingly beautiful location, although being there for sunset was a bit less impressive than it probably is at sunrise given that the amphitheater faces east.
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There were a lot of areas where guests could hike down into the amphitheater. Anthony and Daniel decided to climb down into one of them.
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The one we hiked in was called "Wall Street" and was part of the Navajo Trail loop. We didn't do the whole loop, we only walked down into the canyon and got to an area where there were trees growing up through the narrow cracks.
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We drove deeper into the park and stopped at various lookouts, which allowed us to see the sunset over the ridge, which was very impressive and beautiful. It was a wonderful day at Bryce Canyon, which is an incredible place.

Posted by danielcatherine 11:34 Archived in USA Tagged sunset wall_street hike tropic national_park bryce_canyon barbecue alpine_pond Comments (0)

Utah Day 2: Peaks and Petroglyphs

sunny 100 °F

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Our first stop was lunch at a highly recommended Mexican/ Salvadoran restaurant in the town of Parowan, which is just down the hill from where we are staying. The food was delicious. Their chile rellenos are especially different from what they are normally like, but in a very good way.
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We then drove to the Parowan Gap.
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Which is the location of the famous Parowan Petroglyphs. These were carved into the stone by various Native American tribes over the years. It seems as though the area was a common stopping point during migrations or hunting expeditions, and that various groups over the years added to these glyphs. There are various possible explanations for the different images, with different tribes and archaeologists sometimes having very divergent ideas of what they might have meant. It is interesting that the local tribes were generally agricultural: we had a bit of a discussion about the relationship between agriculture and religion, and how ceremonial images might become more important to a culture that farms rather than hunts for their living.
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There are petroglyphs in most of these images, especially on the darker parts of the rock. Some of them seem to depict astronomical events, such as meteors falling to earth. A modern observer is likely to see some of the figures as aliens (some of the human figures have what look like antennae) but it is important not to read too much into your own interpretation (these figures could simply be, for instance, a shaman wearing antlers). It is hard to imagine what caused people to carve these things into the rock. You wish that you could understand what they were thinking and why they organized the images the way they did.
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We also stopped briefly at the Dinosaur tracks site, also in the Parowan Gap. Since it was very hot we didn't do much of a hike there.
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Next we went to Cedar Breaks National Monument, where we could see the "Chessmen," supposedly formations that look like chessmen but in fact formations that just look like rocks. Nevertheless, it was beautiful.
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These "amphitheaters" in the sides of mountains seem very common here. They are all like miniature Grand Canyons.
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You are able to drive to the top of Brian Head peak, which we did.
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It is over 11,000 feet high.
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There is a small shelter at the top which was nice to shield us from the wind.
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We watched the sunset from the peak and then headed back down to our resort.

Posted by danielcatherine 15:06 Archived in USA Tagged mountains food petroglyphs dinosaurs amphitheater peaks parowan brian_head cedar_breaks chessmen Comments (1)

Utah Day 1: Mountain Meadows

sunny 113 °F

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Flora was a lot of help with our packing!
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We stopped in Las Vegas at Cornish Pasty Co.. We have gone there before, to the location in Flagstaff, but this was our first time visiting the Las Vegas location. Usually we go to Flagstaff in the winter, when the weather is between 0 and 15 Fahrenheit. In Las Vegas today it was 113, so not usual "pasty weather" for us. The pasties were wonderful as they always are in Flagstaff. We will stop by on our way back to pick up some half-baked pasties to freeze and have at home.
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We diverged from the path to visit the site of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. It was a very sad event in history and it was amazing to see where it actually happened. It was a beautiful location and it's sad to think that such awful things happened in such a peaceful seeming location.
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The memorial, sadly, seemed a bit sanitized and doesn't go into much detail about what happened. The original memorial had a cross, which reflected the Christian faith of the victims of the massacre, and the current memorial does not. We both thought that the cross should be replaced. Nevertheless, it is good that there is a memorial there at all. The flags are the United States and the flag of Arkansas, which was the point of origin for the people killed in the massacre.
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This is supposed to be the old wagon road, and the ruts are still visible in how the grass grows. It makes it easy to imagine wagon trains coming through this location.

We arrived in Brian Head, where we are staying, late. Our room is very nice, and we are staying at a very high elevation which will help us get acclimated for our hikes.

Posted by danielcatherine 14:59 Archived in USA Tagged las_vegas utah flora arkansas massacre pasties mountain_meadows Comments (0)

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