Day 1: FAIRYLAND
It was about 7:30am when we checked out of the Bumbleberry Inn. Like our trip to Zion three weeks ago, we drove up here last night. However, unlike the last trip, we learned our lesson and got separate rooms so Dad’s snoring wouldn’t mess with my light sleeping.
In any case, we deliberately made our way out the east end of Zion while catching views of the sandstone cliffs near the entrance to the Zion-Mt Carmel tunnel as well as the Checkerboard Mesa further to the east.
The main goal of this trip was to visit Bryce Canyon National Park. Unlike the trip that Julie and I went on with a pair of good friends back in June 2001, this time we were intending to go into Bryce Canyon’s vast amphitheaters to get close to the many hoodoo formations. Last time, we were merely content to just check out all the drive-to viewpoints. So this trip was sure to be much more impressionable and intimate, I’m sure.
The first thing we did was to drive a little past the turnoff for Bryce Canyon National Park and continue to the roadside trailhead for Mossy Cave. We’d eventually get there at around 10:15am. The skies were clear, and even though there were already a few cars parked here, it was still calm and quiet on this morning.
We knew that this was going to be a very short hike (about 0.3 miles from the trailhead each for the Mossy Cave Waterfall as well as the Mossy Cave itself). And for sure this would be our first close-encounter with the hoodoos from below instead of above. What we didn’t expect was that the hoodoos made some pretty interesting formations like the one that resembled Scooby-Doo, the cartoon character dog.
It didn’t take long for us to reach the Mossy Cave Waterfall, but the waterfall wasn’t flowing on this day. We weren’t sure exactly when this waterfall would typically flow, but we knew that it was one of the few places where you could see a waterfall with hoodoos together (even though the waterfall’s stream was man-made).
Soon afterwards, we then headed to the Mossy Cave, which was really nothing more than an alcove or overhang. What was striking about our visit to this little landmark was that there were icicles still inside the alcove! That was kind of cool, and we even touched the ice to assure ourselves it was real!
After having our fill of the alcove, we then headed back to the car, eventually reaching it at around a little after 11am. Now, we were anticipating our visit into the main part of Bryce Canyon.
At around 11:30am, we arrived at the trailhead for the Fairland Loop trail. The intent was for us to do the entire 8-mile loop trail, and this would be our first immersive experience amongst the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon.
The trail descended as we followed a clockwise loop as we started off going towards the left. Immediately, we were eye level with the tops of many hoodoos as we were making our descent, but soon enough, we were below them and along an undulating trail that weaved between some hoodoos but pretty much went between cliffs that had hoodoos hanging on them.
The hiking was mostly quiet as we passed between some interesting formations. One in particular had a pair of holes that almost seemed like they were a pair of eyes on a wall.
It wasn’t until around 2pm that we finally made it to the impressive Tower Bridge formation. And sure enough, the right side of the formation beared a rather uncanny resemblance to the real Tower Bridge in London.
So we took our time admiring this formation and taking people shots. When we had our fill of the eccentric formation, we then continued on with the loop as the shadows were starting to get longer the more the afternoon progressed.
Finally at almost 5pm, we completed the loop and were back at the trailhead. The hike felt long and the remainder of the trail felt somewhat anticlimactic after the Tower Bridge Formation. So at this point, we were pretty saturated with hoodoos, and now it was time to go to the lodging at Bryce Canyon so we could finally check in and get settled.
We ended up eating at the lodge since there didn’t seem to be many options lest we drive quite a ways to leave Bryce Canyon, and when all was said and done, we tended to our hygiene and had a pretty restful sleep.