Day Thirty-One: Walking in the Forests

Map Miles: Today: 22.4/ Total: 520.4

GPS Miles: Today: 22.5/ Total: 550.4

Today’s Miles Sponsored By: Ian, Dan, and Jim

I woke up to turkeys gobbling somewhere near the tent. Today was a solid day. Nothing awful, nothing spectacularly mind blowing, just pleasant relatively easy trail walking through some nice forests. From the open Ponderosa stands of the mid elevations to the denser Douglas Fir groves at the higher elevations it was just really nice to see trees! I didn’t realize how much I’d missed them. So it was a good day, I just need to not use yesterday’s majesty as a benchmark- that’s just not possible to top (yet).

Pink cliffs through the forest

It took me the full morning to finish the remaining 12 miles of the Under-The -Rim Trail. It continued it’s up and down trend through the forest. There was also a rather large burn section I passed through. 

One of the few burn zones I’ve seen in Trail.

The zone actually started yesterday, but the campsite where I stayed had been spared. The hiking through here was made a little more tricky because of all the blow down. At one point in this section I found a jetboil stove complete with spoon and half eaten oatmeal sitting in a tree nook. I took note of it and in about a mile ran into a backpacker. I asked about his jetboil and he was indeed missing it, thankful that I’d seen it and took off backwards to get it.

The trail ended at Rainbow Point, the high point of the park at 9100 feet. Going so high meant that I had to deal with a little snow too.

Snow on the slopes looking towards Rainbow Point.

When I finally arrived there I took a cold and very windy lunch in the information kiosk. I even put on my puffy while I ate! Just as I was packing up, the park geologist came up and announced he’d be giving a geology talk in a few minutes, so I plopped back down and stayed. He talked about the Grand Staircase.

Illustration of the Staircase from the Bryce Canyon NPS brochure.

I wish I’d taken notes because he did a great job explaining the geologic history behind each of the different layers, which were old seabeds, which deserts, which dinosaurs or giant crocodiles or sea creatures lived in the different layers. It was really nice. My favorite line was (paraphrased) “So Bryce Canyon isn’t actually a canyon but a naturally eroding and receding Plateau. But Naturally Eroding and Receding Plateau National Park doesn’t sound quite as nice. So we’ll stick with Bryce.” He also pointed out that from where we were standing we could see three of the five! The pink cliffs, the grey cliffs, and the white cliffs.

Panorama from Rainbow Point. The Pink and Gray Cliffs are easily visible. The White Cliffs are seen in the distance on the right.

My lazy and informative lunch over I returned to the trail where it descended down to Riggs Spring. The worst part was the snow in the beginning- long stretches of it.

Traversing on snow.

Once I dropped in elevation though everything was pretty easy. 4.5 cruisy miles to the spring and then continuing past it I picked up an old jeep track that took me out of the park.

The official park exit.

Once out of the Park it was more jeep road following on something called the Great Western Trail. Not really sure what that is but the trail wasn’t all that nice even for a 4×4 road. I intersected with Skutumpah Road again which led me into the final mile down Bullrush Gorge- back in the sandy wash bottoms again.

The early parts of Bullrush Gorge

Out of the park also means I’m back in cow country again. It had been nice in the park to only need to single treat my water sources. I’m camped in cowpie country (though they’re all old) There’s even a salt lick nearby. Tent went up again for warmth as the weather report called for another low 30s night ( though my water didn’t freeze yesterday, so it didn’t get that cold). Goodnight world! Into Kanab tomorrow!

Cowpie camp.

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