Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Bryce Canyon, Utah - Snowshoeing

Shawn, Jacob, and I welcomed 2012 at Joshua Tree National Park in southern California surrounded by palm trees, yuccas, warm sunshine, and unusual rock formations.  The year was spent as it was greeted - outdoors - and filled with backpacking and camping trips, many miles of biking with new friends, hiking, snowshoeing, and several fantastic races.  The year ended outdoors with good friends, just like it began, but much colder this time.  2013 was welcomed at Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah.

Bryce Canyon National Park

I headed down to Tropic, Utah with Keith, Melissa, Robert, and Ryan on Saturday morning and we checked into the cabin at Stone Canyon Inn that would be our home for the New Year holiday weekend.  As much as I love to camp, it was definitely nice to have a little luxury and sleep indoors with the sub-zero temperatures overnight at Bryce Canyon.  Tropic is a small town just south of Bryce Canyon so we had easy access to the park with a 15 minute drive.

Our cabin for the weekend

We spent the rest of Saturday afternoon checking out a few of the overlooks from the rim of Bryce Canyon and walking down some of the trails near Sunrise and Sunset Points.  We only had a couple of hours of sunlight so the afternoon was essentially a preview of the canyon for the rest of the weekend.

Most of us - Melissa, Keith, Ryan, Rob, me

Sunrise Point

Keith and Rob near Sunrise Point

 Keith and Rob

Hoodoos at Sunset Point

I woke up early Sunday morning and took a walk to watch the nearly full setting moon over the canyon and the sun rise over the plateaus to the east.  Even with several layers of clothes and hot coffee, it was a cold experience, but well worth it.


Moon set over Bryce Canyon


Katy and John joined us on Sunday morning and we spent the rest of the day snowshoeing within the canyon.  We began our trip at the Tropic trail head not far from our cabin, joined the Peekaboo Loop trail through the spectacular hoodoos of the main canyon, and exited the canyon back at the Tropic trail head.  The total distance was about 7 miles and took us about four hours with plenty of time for pictures and snacks.  The views were spectacular and nonstop along the Peekaboo Trail.

Ryan, John, and Katy

 Snowshoeing Peekaboo Loop

 Frosty lunch break

Rob and Ryan on Peekaboo Loop

Peekaboo Loop Trail

Snowshoe refreshments

We spent Monday at Rainbow Point near the far end of the park.  Far fewer people visit this area and the snow was much deeper.  Snowshoes were the only way to get around and we did the entire Bristlecone Loop trail along with a portion of the Under-the-Rim Trail.  I had never been beyond the viewpoint at Rainbow Point so these were new sights for me.  The wind and cold, along with difficulty finding the trail in the wind blown snow, forced us to turn around on the Under-the-Rim trail after about an hour.  Keith and I spent the rest of the afternoon checking out some other viewpoints along with the visitor center.

John being a Republican

View from Rainbow Point

Bristlecone Loop Trail

Keith and me on the Bristlecone Loop Trail

Under-the-Rim Trail

Despite the late-night New Year's Eve celebration at our cabin, we woke up early on New Year's Day to watch the sun rise over Bryce Canyon at Bryce Point.  The reward for enduring the sub-zero temperatures and gusty winds was seeing the sun break the horizon just over Navajo Mountain.  The Hopi call Navajo Mountain Tokonave, or "Heart of the Earth".

Sun rise above Navajo Mountain

The sun rises on 2013

 Sunrise at Bryce Point

Bryce Canyon at sunrise

May your 2013 be more successful than our group photo