Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Rainbow Point & the Bristlecone Pines

Tuesday June 28, 2011
Bryce Canyon National Park
North Campground Site 45

Well I’ve run short on great running trails.
There really isn’t anything fabulous like
at Zion and North Rim so I ran the roads
today.  Not bad but the altitude is 8000 feet
and my lungs are struggling.   It was a tough run
and I’m really not looking forward to repeating it
day after tomorrow.   If my chef would stop
making such good food and desserts perhaps it
wouldn’t be so necessary.   LOL
We hung around doing this and that until
around 1:00 and then decided to do the
Rainbow Point drive and viewpoints.
After such a torturous run, I wasn’t much
into anything big as a hike.
The drive goes from Bryce Point up to the end of the
park road at Rainbow Point, a distance of 18 miles.
We decided to start at the end and come back
toward the campground so that if we weren’t able
to do it all, it would be easy to pick up the
other view points later.
When we got to Rainbow Point,
(notice the elevation)

the wind was gusting over 40 mph. 
We’d packed a lunch rather than
just have lunch before we left
so that we wouldn’t be further delayed.
At this point we were both hungry and
so we took a look from the point.
I think the winds made the viewing distance
better actually.  IF you could keep yourself from
being blown over.


We found a picnic table for our
lunch of fruit, sandwiches and chips.
I warned David about the wind.
He opened up his container of chips,
I left the top on mine.
Within minutes a gust came along and
threw his container 40’ away,
the lid in as far in another direction
and the chips everywhere.
Boy do I wish I could have had a picture of the
look on his face. 
I hunted for chips in the bushes nearby since
they weighed more than their containers obviously,
and didn’t fly as far.
David went much further afield and found the
red lid pretty quickly.  It did stand out after all
But the bottom of the container was clear. 
After a more prolonged search he found that too
and we finished our lunches holding tightly on to everything
No lunch picture obviously but we
did take a shot of the spot in order to
remember “the great lunch caper”.
After lunch, although the winds had not died down,
we decided to do the 1 mile Bristle Cone Pine Trail.

Rainbow Point Drive 028A

There was quite a bit of devastation on the
trail due to parasites, fungus and disease.
lots of dead trees and those that had come
down had in some cases brought healthy trees
down with them.  It looked like the park service
had worked a lot on keeping the trail clear.

Rainbow Point Drive 035

Rainbow Point Drive 034A 

This debris makes this area ripe for a much hotter fire
than would occur if natural fires were more
frequent here.

Rainbow Point Drive 031

David took this shot to make sure it
would be in the blog since I am not usually
the one to violate the “rules”.
But with editor’s license, I will explain
that I had walked out to look down into
the canyon before I came to the sign.
I did not see the sign and then deliberately ignore it
as SOME people “sometimes” do! 
Or should that be as sometimes people sometimes do???


At the far point on the loop trail we came out into
a windy clearing and got our first sight of
the Bristlecone.
As “maybe” you can read on the information sign below,
Bristlecones like living in places few other plants can exist
such as bare rocky ground and extremely windy spots.
Just like where we were!
They are thought to reach an age far greater than
any other known living organisms,
up to nearly 5000 years.
The Latin name is Pinus Longaeva
They grow in isolated groves at and just below tree line.
Because of cold temperatures, dry soils, high winds,
and short growing seasons, the Bristlecone grows
very slowly.  But the Rocky Mountain population is
severely threatened by blister rust infection and
pine beetles which have caused the destruction
we had just seen.
The oldest known Bristlecone is living in an
undisclosed (to all of us, not to scientists) location
in California.  Named, of course, Methuselah its age
was measured by core sample in 1957 to be 4,789 years.
You can see why we wanted to be sure to see these trees.
In this picture you can see the 1600 year old
Bristlecone whose trunk they say had been dead
a long time but a branch had continued and become a new tree.


But here is the tree now standing just
behind the sign.


The branch apparently didn’t make it either
(rust?  beetles??)
and the park service hasn’t altered their signage.

Just around the corner still in the worst conditions
on the trail we did find this young one
looking very fine.
Although Bristlecones are not usually stout
at the bottom but rather tall and slender.
We’re still pretty sure from looking at the
Bristles that this is one.

And this unusual double
which has more the typical Bristlecone shape.


And this tall thin one clinging to a bare wind swept slope.
We are sure hoping these amazing trees will
make it to very ripe old ages.

Rainbow Point Drive 051

The other loop of the trail had much much
less destruction.  I haven’t been over to the
Visitor Center to ask what the current situation
is there but I’m hoping the damage has been
halted somehow before it affects the rest of this
lovely high elevation forest.
Rainbow Point Drive 058

On the way back to the car we passed this
GREAT idea!   Way to go NPS!!!!
Where can I get one about 1/10th this size
for my RV???

Rainbow Point Drive 060

Next stop
Notice we are going down in elevation.
I told myself I was  going to limit myself to one picture
per stop and I did try,  but it was really hard.
This place is just amazing!

The Paiute Indians have occupied the area around Bryce Canyon
since 1200.  Their legend about the Bryce
Canyon Hoodoos says that
“Before there were any Indian People there were
the Legend People, the To-when-an-ung-wa
who lived in Bryce Canyon.  There were many kinds,
birds, animals, lizards, but they all looked like people.
They were not people but they had power to make themselves
look that way.  They were bad people, the tale is not
clear on exactly what they did to get that label but because
they were bad, Coyote turned them all into rocks.
Some standing in rows, some sitting down, some holding
on to each other.  You can see their faces with the
paint still on them Just as they were before they became
I’ve been trying to see these people
and think I finally did.
Do you?

How about now?
Does this next picture look like a Castle or what??
All it needs is Knight on his white horse.
Or is it made out of spun sugar?
Notice those are full size trees.
Boy do I wish there was a path down there.


Next stop and we’ve gone back up a bit
in elevation
I don’t think this is where Bonanza was filmed.  :-)

This must be a bad queen from the previous castle.
Guess she was away from home when Coyote
made his move.
Maybe Coyote was insulted when she turned
her back on him.


As you can see, we were there with
a dozen of our closest friends.
The drive is much more populated than
the trails.  I wonder why??
Rainbow Point Drive 113

Rainbow Point Drive 118 

Off to

Rainbow Point Drive 123

But, we were told, this really isn’t a natural “bridge”
but actually a natural “arch”.  Bridges are carved
by rushing streams while arches are sculpted
by “more subtle” forms of weather.
Whatever you want to call it, it’s certainly beautiful.

Another face?

We went on to
Rainbow Point Drive 134 

When I saw this sign, I thought these had
all been more than FAIR views.


Rainbow Point Drive 142

See any thing?  Anyone?
Rainbow Point Drive 148

We walked down the trail to
Rainbow Point Drive 153

Nice trail
Rainbow Point Drive 163 
but  we didn’t see anything
from either direction that
looked like a Pirate or a Pirate Ship.
Here’s some of what we did see.



Next stop on the drive was Bryce Point but we
plan to hike over there tomorrow so we skipped
that one and went on home.

It was nearly dinner time when we got back
so David put together a Red Bean Toss for dinner
and I took my laptop and phone over to
the General Store to recharge while I worked on
the blog.
Here’s my set up.
I was all alone on the porch.

Rainbow Point Drive 168

except for this fellow who was checking out the crumbs

Rainbow Point Drive 167

After dinner we spent some time looking at
the other trails we’d like to do and
figuring out when might be best to do them
based on their length and the predicted weather.
So we’ve got a plan for tomorrow…….

Bryce Canyon

Monday June 27, 2011
Bryce Canyon National park
North Campground Site 45

We had a lazy morning
including this great breakfast

Bryce Canyon Day 1 003

thinking we had plenty of time to enjoy our
hook ups before we drove the 6 miles
up to Bryce where we had a reserved site
for the first night.

Bryce Canyon Day 1 006

Got here about noon and luckily saw the
campground host nearly first thing and
found out from him that there is going
to be a big astronomy doings starting
tomorrow for a week and nearly the
whole Loop A is reserved for them.
These appear to be the longest and most
level sites.

And more interesting, that he expected there
would be a run on the other sites this afternoon
and tomorrow given that.
SO we thought hmmmm
we have a reserved site for tonight
but it’s not one we would have picked actually
and is reserved for
ever into the future it looks like
so we can’t stay there anyway.

So why not find a campsite
we can stay in just in case there
is a run on sites.  The very nice
campground host said it would be
possible to swap sites so off we went.

Here’s our genial host conversing with
a Park Ranger in “official uniform and position”

Park Host

There are 4 loops in the North Campground,
2 for tents
and two for RVs.
Our reserved site was in Loop A
where you can reserve about half of them.
Loop B was up the hill.

So we went scouting.
And decided we’d stay at least a night
or two in A-45

Bryce Canyon Day 1 014

So here we are.

Duckie’s view
Bryce Canyon Day 1 016

There were a couple of sites we liked
better but they were taken.
And A-45 turned out AMAZINGLY,
given the sites here,
to be perfectly level.

If we stay here long enough, perhaps
we’ll move to one of the others.
Perhaps not.
We do have some cool neighbors with
silver lame streamers blowing in the
wind off of their awning.  I want some of those.
Glitter R I!!
Glitter Streamers

We haven’t really decided what to do
about the “holiday” when every one
comes out of the woodwork to
the parks for their 3 or 4 day holiday week-end
and it’s tough to get a reservation or
a site.  Oh those problems
for full timers with the week-end warriors.
Poor things, we’ll work around them.

There isn’t much to set up when you are boondocking
and don’t even have to level up so
after a quick lunch we were off to the
Visitor Center to find out
about the park.

Bryce Canyon Day 1 021

We watched their 20 minute film.
I noticed David slept through about half of it.
Now I know why we had to stay and see the
Zion film twice.  :-)
We looked over the hiking information and
bought a hiking map.

Then it was off to check out the other campground,
and the Bryce Canyon Lodge.
Sunset is further away from everything and
thus quieter.  There are fewer sites,
more trees but the sites are smaller.
We MIGHT be able to get in with our 34’ rig but
my guess is anything bigger than us would not.
No pull throughs only walk ins.

On to the Lodge.
I was surprised to see that Xanterra,
the private company that seems to manage
all the National Park Concessions,
does not manage this lodge any more
a group called Forever Resorts does now.
Not sure if that makes any difference in the
Lodge since I’ve never been here before.
But some of you might know.

Bryce Canyon Day 1 032

The lodge was built in 1924-25 using local materials.
It was designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood who also
did the Zion Canyon Lodge and the Lodge at the North Rim
of the Grand Canyon.  But this is the only one of the 3
which has not burned down and is thus is the only
remaining completely original structure.
The Lodge and 15 of its original cabins were declared
a National Historic Landmark in 1987

Here is the  lobby and one of the great fireplaces in the lodge.
There is free Wi-fi here and electrical outlets
near some of the comfy chairs.
Notice the log lighting hanging from
the ceiling.  Not a candelabra but certainly a
different kind of trac lighting.


Bryce Canyon Day 1 027

The dining room.
It did seem strange to see
people going into this linen
table cloth and silver dining room
dressed in hiking boots and dusty shorts.

Second big Fireplace.
Sorry for the window glare.
Sure wish my camera had a setting for back lighting.
Of course, maybe it does but
you have to read the manual to find out!  :-)

Bryce Canyon Day 1 029

Here is the information desk
and down the hall at the end is
the Gift Shop

Bryce Canyon Day 1 024

And the Auditorium with the 3rd great fireplace.
They do the Ranger talks for the Lodge here.

Bryce Canyon Day 1 023

Bryce Canyon Day 1 022

Next on our list of things to check out was
The General Store

Bryce Canyon Day 1 038 

How about the van parked out in front?
Are flower children returning?

Bryce Canyon Day 1 039

We decided after a quick look around that
we were too hungry to be in a market
and went back to the coach for dinner.

After dinner David checked the batteries just
for good measure.
Bryce Canyon Day 1 040

And then it was time to see
some of the Natural Wonders of Bryce Canyon.
So we went out an hour before sunset to
try and catch some great sunset color.

The sunset was too far away and with not much color
but here is some of what we did see
from the Rim Trail
which runs along the edge of the Campground.

Bryce Canyon Day 1 054


And one last shot, well from three vantage points




Just magnificent!!!
Can’t wait for tomorrow.