Hoodoos on Horseback

Wednesday-Saturday June 6th-9th, 2007
Bryce Canyon National Park

Upon our arrival, it's spitting snow and a chilly wind is stirring...

Bryce Canyon is my Dreamsicle Park. Gaze at the orange, pink and vanilla colors of all those dreamy shaped hoodoos - dust them with a little snow and 40 degree temps - and pure fantasy takes over. The forces of nature have sculpted a whimsical landscape in this place ~ one in which fairies must surely dwell. I really like Bryce!

I had the rare pleasure of going for a bird walk sponsored by the Park during our visit. Mark was staying off his feet for a couple of days (find out why below) and Vance had no desire to be an early riser, so off I went. Birders are the nicest folks. I'm not a serious birder.....I just love to watch them and I'm beginning to identify some birds by their song. Those who really know birds are generally very helpful and willing to share information with others who are new to the sport.

The real bonus on this outing was meeting Anne. She told me that she and her husband had been traveling and living on the road for 17 years (without a home base). She hikes and walks everyday and it showed - she was absolutely ageless. Soon they'll head north to summer in the Canadian Rockies. After spending a few hours in her company I felt deeply inspired. I hope that I can have as much zest and vitality for life as Anne does when I reach her age.

Did we spot any birds? Yes, 14 different varieties. We were all hoping to see a Western Tanager, but it eluded us the entire morning. After the group parted I decided to walk thru the woods to the Lodge for a cup of coffee. I heard its song before I spotted it.....a flash of vivid yellow and there it was...the Western Tanager. What a beautiful bird with its brilliant red face. It was so close, I didn't even need my binoculars. I was thrilled.

I, on the other hand, was bummed. Seriously bummed. There are two parks I've really been looking forward to hiking in - Bryce Canyon and Zion. So of course like an old pack mule, I come up lame when we get to Bryce.

I've got a weird form of arthritis that flairs up in my joints occasionally. Neither the doctors or I have ever been able to quite pin down what it is and what causes it, although I do think there are environmental factors - what I eat, drink, etc.... When it happens, particularly in my feet, it's painful enough that I'm usually out of commission for anywhere between a few days to a couple of weeks. The worst part is my feet swell up, making it hard (and painful) to wear a shoe. Usually, this isn't too much of a problem if we are at home, but occasionally the timing is bad, such as one time during a backpacking trip in the Smokies with several other homeschooling families ;-(

So when my right foot started throbbing and swelling up the day before we got to Bryce, I was rather bemoaning my fate. I iced it down as much as possible, and Denise relieved me of most of the driving duty. I stayed off it for a day or so, then hobbled around Bryce as well as I could our first day going into the park. Reading all the descriptions of the wonderful hikes down in amongst the strange formations simply bummed me out more.

Then I noticed the sign for the horses ;-)

Bryce Canyon offers horse/mule rides down into the Hoodoos, which is exactly where we wanted to hike. We signed up for a 1/2 day ride, which was perfect - long enough to get a good view from below, but not so long the the heat, dust, and the methane powered farts from my mule 'Dixie' got overly tiring! When ole Dixie got going (in every sense of the word) up a hill, I really felt sorry for the lady riding immediately behind me. I certainly had a 'gas powered' form of transportation ;-)

The ride was fun, scenic, and worked out great. It was a little unnerving when we first realized our tour guide was 15 years old, but 'Stetson' was great, keeping a good eye on Vance and 'Mouse'. My foot was spared, however other parts of our bodies paid dearly for the next couple of days ;-(

When it was time to head out to Zion, feet and rump were back to normal. My nose, on the other hand....

Vance: Bryce Canyon NP is not really a canyon. It was all formed by erosion. It wasn’t cut by water. We enjoyed Bryce a lot. We did a horse and mule ride into the canyon.

William Bryce, who the park is named after, said about the canyon, “It’s a hell of a place to lose a cow.” Back to the mule and horse ride, I rode a mule named Mouse. Mom rode a horse named Garth and Dad rode a mule named Dixie. On the way back up, Dixie became gas powered.


Prev - Life's just a bunch of Cherries | Home | Index | Zion National Park - Next

We support the following organizations...