14 June 2015

Fairyland Loop

Bryce Canyon National Park

Parking near the general store and trailhead is hard to find, but we manage after a few minutes. My dad and stepmom are off on short things and viewpoints, but I am off to get down among the hoodoos. After a leisurely breakfast and a long drive, it is not the least bit early for a hike that can get quite hot.

a spread of layered rocks
An extravagance of carved layer rocks lay ahead of me.

There are several trails that leave from this area and once I am to the right starting point, it is well marked. This marking includes a sign about the "I hiked the Hoodoos!" program where you can get a pin for hiking at least three miles along a trail marked with a "benchmark" and taking a rubbing of it. Tower Bridge is one of the benchmarked trails and at 1.5 miles (1.7 according to the sign), is the only one that completes the requirement by itself. I start down the trail and there are instant hoodoos.

lonely hoodoos scattered before a wall of hoodoos
Hoodoos near and far, singly and in small groups and making a wall. There are hoodoos everywhere.

small grouping of hoodoos
The hoodoos gather to chat among themselves.

The trail is wide and flat as I travel down it. There are a few people coming up from the other side and a few others coming up from just going to the bridge. There is plenty of room to pass each group. The smoothness allows for never looking at the trail and just looking around at the rocks. There is a little weather moving in and the little clouds are keeping things a little cooler than expected.

trail winding the edge toward a gap in a wall
Wide and easy to travel trail as it makes its way to a break in the upcoming wall.

hole in the wall to look at another wall
Looking through a window near the trail to the Chinese Wall behind it.

Sitting for a half hour and sketching is brought short as I go for the green and realize a few small drops have started. The trees seem very important to the whole look of the place, but will just have to be left out. The drops are few but the ink is not waterproof.

green leaves with puffy seed pods
There are a few flowers, but this one in seed looks the most exotic to me.

hoodoos and big puffy clouds
More hoodoos in the hills.

The trail drops down into the canyon and I am now looking up at only a few hoodoos instead of taking in a vast expanse full of different groupings. There is an old washout of the trail and it crosses the creek bed a couple times as the rain gets harder. The drops seem big and lazy, but the washout reminds one that it is good to be alert in the gully.

redder rocks in the lower canyon
The rocks get redder down in the canyon.

There is a spur off to Tower Bridge and I have found the "benchmark" in the spattering of directional signs. There are three of four groups at the viewpoint. The folks coming the other direction seem likely to skip it, but I turn down the spur to see it. There is trail further down the canyon from it, so I poke my way down it to see where it might be going. There is a trickle of water on the surface along the way.

Tower Bridge
The view of the Tower Bridge from the spur toward it.

more hoodoos
Some guards below the Tower Bridge.

yellow water in the bottom of the creek
A trickle of water that is an interesting color.

People are climbing up to stand directly under the bridge as I wander past again and turn to continue on to Fairyland. The bridge is easily visible from the trail from this side, which is probably why those coming from this direction were likely to pass the spur.

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge viewed from the Fairyland Trail.

dark clouds over half the canyon
The changing weather over the canyon.

The trail up to Fairyland Point is much longer, so does quite a bit more rolling as it climbs back to the rim. It winds this way and that among ever changing hoodoos. The general feel on this part is a little softer than the first part.

hoodoos that bulge in the middle
Each grouping of hoodoos has its own character.

hills with a hard top sticking out into a canyon
A hard layer protects one layer into a ledge.

fat hoodoos down the hill
Looking down on some fat hoodoos again.

The climbs are easy and the drops meandering. This is a very easy trail to hike and made a bit more pleasant by the sun hiding weather.

block of rock with an opening at the right
An arch stands against the sky above me.

Sinking Ship
The distant Sinking Ship trying to stay afloat just a little longer.

a tall tree with the hoodoos
There are a range of trees among the hoodoos as well.

drainage with a lot of structure
Some drainages have more elaborate decorations than others.

large overhang at the top
Back in the bottom of a canyon again.

Eventually, there is one last climb that really is going toward the rim. More extra trails and a larger concentration of people mark the end, as does a "Bryce Canyon Wilderness area" sign.

wide trail climbing to the top again
One last climb.

I arrive an hour before the generous plan and take a moment on the seats. Plenty of time to finish the loop, maybe that should have been the plan. The railing and benches have recently been varnished and the smell is ruining everything after a few minutes. It is far too much, so I start meandering down the Rim Trail. I may as well see what it has to offer for a short way.

more rounded hoodoos
Looking across the hoodoos below Fairyland Point from along the Rim Trail.

The Rim Trail does not stay strictly along the rim. Along with the hoodoos, meadows are on view.

pointing the way back to the start
One of the meadows along the Rim Trail as it starts back toward Sunrise Point.

more hoodoos and an arch
Of course, there are also the views out over the canyon, including a few random arches or bridges.

Heading back to Fairyland Point, my ride has arrived a half hour early and is making some way down the way I should be coming from. The rain was much harder down at the far end of the road, shortening the time they wished to stand about with mouths agape.

©2015 Valerie Norton
Posted 22 July 2015

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