Canyons and Quilts

“Well Bryce, it’s been a slice,” is what Tom and I said to each other as we left Bryce Canyon National Park. We enjoyed our two-day adventure in the canyon, hiking the Navajo/Queen’s Garden/Peekaboo Loop day one, and the Fairyland Loop day two. We explored the different viewpoints by car, and saw a double rainbow at Rainbow Point.


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The town of Panguitch got a visit from us because of the infamous Quilt-Walk Festival that takes place the second week of June. I was amused by the sound of this festival, even though I have no idea how to quilt; and, it was definitely an amusing experience.

Back in the late 1800s the town of Panguitch experienced a winter harsher than what they were prepared for, leaving them without enough food and supplies to get through the winter. Seven men were sent by foot to the next town to get supplies, but soon were helpless in the midst of the snow drifts and deep fields of snow. They stopped to pray on their quilts, and when they got up they noticed that they did not sink in the snow while they were on them. So, they walked to the next town on their quilts and saved Panguitch from starvation. Every year the town celebrates these heros with a 4-day festival.

The first thing we did was check out the Quilt Show at the local high school, where we saw beautiful hand-make quilts, and vendors who were selling all kinds of quilting equipment. We noticed very quickly that we were younger than most of the people there by about 40 years. We went on what was advertised as the Quilt Walk (hey, I thought I’d see people walking on quilts!), but it was a walking tour. The tour guide was a former mayor of Panguitch, now in his late 70s, and he knew a lot about the town. At first it was interesting to learn about the locally-made red bricks that were used as currency back in the day, which is why there are so may red-brick buildings in the town; but, the tour got boring when he described many details about every building in the downtown area. Tom and I left feeling perplexed by the experience. The next day we attended the pancake breakfast – all-you-can-eat for $6 – yum.

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Our next stop was Grande-Staircase Escalante National Park. Unfortunately, due to recent rains, one of the places we wanted to go was in poor condition. (We had already been faced with this a few days prior, in Kanab; we sadly had to forego hiking the Wave, and went to Bryce earlier than planned.) Rather than dwelling on the hikes we could not do in Escalante, we decided to hike Lower and Upper Calf Creek Falls. They were both easy and beautiful. I was hoping to swim beside the falls, but the water was very cold – around 50*F.

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The next day, we hiked Phipps Wash. There was no trail for the majority of it, but rather, we followed a mostly dry river, navigating around dry falls and water holes. We had to bushwhack in a swampy area, and at times unexpectedly sunk ankle-deep (and a couple times knee-deep) into wet sand. We got off-trail a few times and had to consult our GPS. The end result was incredible – Phipps Arch. After getting off-route for most of the way back to the car, we agreed that the hike had been fun, but less so because of the ambiguity of the trail described in our guidebook; a 3-4 hour hike turned into a 6-hour hike.

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Escalante NP is great – free camping, less touristy than other parks, and beautiful. Fingers crossed that the washed-out roads to Peek-a-boo and Spooky Gulch are better today. If we can’t hike there, we may move on to our next destination – Capital Reef National Park.

Thanks for reading!

Zion National Park

Hello everyone from Zion National Park!

Since I last wrote, Tom and I spent two more days at Maple Canyon. Five days was sufficient for now, until we return in two weeks for another two days. In all, Maple was wonderful. We enjoyed our secluded camp site, the easy approach trails, and the beautiful climbs and views. Tom spent a lot of time on 5.12a climbs, while I focused on leading between 5.7 and 5.9, with one 5.10b lead climb. I have been trying to get my endurance back up, as bouldering for the last year has left me with increased strength and technique for hard moves, but low ability to sustain myself on 30 metre routes. Highlights from Maple Canyon include the 5.8 three-pitch climb called The Great Chasm, The Pipe Dream Crag where Tom played on some 12s and I lead an overhung 10b, and the many breezy 5.6, 5.7, 5.8, and 5.9s that I sent on Oxygen Wall, Billy the Kid, Engagement Alcove, Simpson Wall, and Orangutan Wall. I hope to climb some harder stuff when we return, but I am very pleased that I am getting some good lead practice. And finally, another highlight was meeting a nice couple from Colorado called Sarah and Zach, who were on a long road trip, just like us.

We drove from Maple to Zion, and camped for free in a back road. Our little car struggled to get up the dirt road, but we made it, and the view was spectacular. The next morning we got up at 7:30 and went straight to the Zion campgrounds to race against the other million tourists who also wanted to secure a camp site. We thankfully found one, and then spent the day hiking. We started with Angel’s Landing, where we were surrounded by hundreds of other tourists who wanted to do the same. We hiked Walter’s Wiggles, and cruised the chains that brought us up steep cliffs to the top. When we got back to the bottom, two and a half hours later, we had lunch, then hiked up another trail called Observation Point. This hike took longer, but was less steep, and the view was incredible.

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Day two in Zion was spent hiking the Narrows, a hike that is almost entirely in a river; at times we were waist-deep in the river, other times we hiked on pockets of land. Using hiking poles to help keep balance, we hiked about 2 ½ hours in the river, surrounded on either side by 1000-2000 foot-tall red walls. At its lowest distance, the walls were 6 metres apart. We turned around when we did because to go on required going up to our chests in water, and we figured we had already seen what there was to see. Plus, we were chilly. The Narrows was great; I loved being in the water.

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During our third and last day in Zion, Tom and I hit the back country, where we were alone the entire time. We rock climbed a multi-pitch called Led by Sheep; this climb gets its name because the mountain sheep climb the steep slab to the top to feed off the plants. It was a very enjoyable climb, rated 5.5 slab. The hardest part was the class-three slabby approach. We were both hot and exhausted, so we went for an ice cream in the touristy town centre afterwards. Great adventure!

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Today our Zion adventure comes to an end, after we visit Kolob Canyon, which is still part of Zion National Park. Right now we are resting at a cafe, freshly showered, and waiting for a load of laundry to finish. Thanks for reading, and for the encouraging and supportive comments. Much love to friends and family back home.