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Bryce – Jelly Legs Jones

After spending a glorious 4 days with Saundie and Donna in relative luxury at the Worldmark in St. George, thanks to Ken, Ali and I turned back on the RV, got the fridge cold again, moved all our food back in, put away our 5 loads of clean laundry and headed to Bryce Canyon National Park. The circus train was back on the road. The fearsome four was back down to the intrepid two.

The view from our balcony at the Worldmark

The view from our balcony at the Worldmark

Our legs were sore that morning from the Angels Landing hike we’d done the day before, but it wasn’t at it’s worst yet. The drive was uneventful though we did climb a fairly steep mountain on our way as we traveled north and east into Utah’s Dixie National Forest. We had a reservation at Ruby’s Inn RV Campground, which is just one part of a really big complex of buildings and services located just right outside the park entrance. There’s a general store with clothing, groceries, and a gas station, plus a full Best Western hotel lodge with an indoor pool and hot tub, a restaurant and several other buildings of rooms. It was cold and cloudy that late afternoon when we pulled in, so we of course went straight to the hot tub!

The next morning started off with a groan as we attempted to lift our legs out of bed and tried to use them to carry our bodies to the front room. We were like a couple of Frankensteins, walking with arms out in constant search of a surface to lean on, stiffly dragging our now defunct appendages behind us. Once again it wasn’t at it’s worst yet, that came when we tried to walk down the stairs out of the RV. Let’s just say it was a good thing we waited until 10am to try that because our cries of pain would surely have woken up the neighbors.

We managed to get ourselves in the car with just a few more whimpers and drove the 5 minutes to Bryce Canyon. We’d reviewed the trail map and loosely planned to do a couple of short hikes that started at the overlooks but mostly stay on the Rim Trail.

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The thing about Bryce is that it’s a canyon, so if you’re not walking or driving around the rim, you’re hiking down it’s very steep walls into it and then back out again up those same steep walls. We tried that day, we really did. We parked the car at Sunrise Point and set off down the Queen’s Garden Trail. Lord have mercy. Our thigh muscles went into a PTSD induced fit in the first 4 steps down the steep incline. It was too similar to the Angels Landing incline and those particular muscles were not having it. We made it about a quarter mile down and decided to turn around and crawl back up before our legs went on a full sit down strike. The Rim Trail was all we could manage that day, but there was no shortage of beauty for us to enjoy.

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We had 3 days to see Bryce, so having spent our first day almost exclusively up on the rim with broken legs, we decided to rest them completely on the second day so that the third day we could go back to the park and hike down into the canyon. Our day of rest involved sitting in the sun on the fun side of the RV, riding our bikes to the general store, trying on hats and looking at all the “stuff” and general lazing about. It was a much needed easy day.

Then day 3 dawned. The Navajo Loop Trail was one of the most popular trails and we’d read that it took you through Wall Street which is a feature my mom and step dad remembered seeing when they visited years before, so that was our pick. The legs, having been satisfied with the settlement that had been negotiated, were back to work with only a minimal amount of grumbling. Once we were on our way down the trail, the awesome hoodoos engulfed us and all attention was diverted to the eye balls.

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Until we turned a corner and found this:

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We’d known it was coming, but still our hearts sank slightly as we took in the full height of the switchbacks that snaked their way down below us. Deep breath, a whispered prayer – is there a patron saint of sore legs? I just looked it up and the closest seems to be Werenfridus, the patron saint against gout and stiff joints. Oh you Catholics, you’re so cute!

For anyone visiting Bryce, be sure to get yourself down into the bottom of the canyon, it’s an altogether different experience from just walking around the top and looking at it from above. I’ve already stated my affinity for hoodoos, so you know I was in seventh heaven as we weaved our way along the trail, in and among my towering friends.

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At the bottom of the canyon we met up with a sign that informed us that Navajo Loop Trail was closed in another half mile right before Wall Street. Boo! We decided to stay on the trail and take it as far as it would let us go then just turn around and come back out the way we’d come in. I was a little bummed out that I wouldn’t get to see Wall Street, but it’s awfully hard to stay disappointed for any length of time when hoodoos and chipmunks are around.

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It was such an incredibly beautiful day, the bright sun, the blue sky, the green trees, the orange rock, all of the canyon was beaming with energy, showing off the very best of itself. We finally hit the end of the road and made our u-turn, so full of joy we nearly skipped our way back…

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…until we found ourselves at the bottom of the switchbacks. Oh holy Saint Werenfridus, please help us!