Um, so I'll just say better late than never. We'll ignore the fact that this has been sitting in my edit posts list for almost three years.
For Labor Day 2008, Hunter and I went camping for two nights with my brother Scott, his wife Kristi and their two beautiful little ones Tyler and Reese in Bryce Canyon. The second night we were joined by Kristi's sister, her husband and their three children. We were quite the group of campers. Especially with 4 children under 2 1/2 years old. I, being somewhat scatterbrained that particular day when I packed for the trip, forgot to bring my camera. Of course, this means that I have no absolutely amazing photos of the truly awe-inspiring scenery that we enjoyed while camping and hiking around the area. Our campsite was right on the edge of the canyon, which means we had breathtaking vistas just over the rise that provided a nice little nook for our tents. I truly wish that I could capture the moment in words, but let's face it, I'm really not that talented with description, and frankly I just don't know if anyone could really do it justice. Pictures don't really do it justice either, so even the most talented writer should not feel taken aback by my dismissal of their talents in this regard. Okay, some pictures and descriptions are definitely better than others. Still, nothing is quite like being there and experiencing the beauties and majesty of creation in person. Well, since I forgot my camera, as well as forgetting that I have a camera phone (give me a break - I was camping, we had no service, my phone was off practically the entire time, and camera phone pictures from this particular phone were generally not that great anyway), I have hijacked other people's pictures to use in lieu of the pictures I might have taken had I been a little more with it the morning we left to go camping. In all honesty, these pictures are probably better than the ones I would have taken anyway. Hurrah for people who willingly share their lives on the internet. Oh wait...
Okay, so we departed on Friday, August 29th for our Labor Day weekend camping extravaganza. The car was incredibly full. More than incredibly full. I can't even begin to describe how full it was. Tyler had a nice little area around his booster seat in the far back seat that was pretty much just the right size for his little body and a pillow. At first I worried about him being smashed by the camping gear that surrounded him on all sides should we have had the unfortunate experience of being in a crash, but then I realized that pretty much everything around him was wedged into place so tightly that even I really couldn't move it. Then, of course, I realized that the rest of us would probably not fair very well either since we were all wedged into some sort of uncomfortable position with heavy and dangerous items over, next to, or behind our heads. As my brother put it, "If we crash, we all die." Glad to know I'd have company in Heaven. You may think I'm exaggerating, but really, imagine this picture to the right without the spaces and some people wedged in there.
This would have been a great time to take a picture. Alas, it was not to be.
We got there late and had some trouble getting the little ones to sleep as a result. The second night, when I could just put Hunter in the tent and let him doze off without anyone else around worked out much better. As it was, he spent time that night going between his pack-n-play (we had two of them in the tent - it was a nice, bit tent) and my sleeping bag. The next day, however, was worth the packed car and the somewhat sleep deprived night. Really, Hunter did amazingly well for his first camping trip and the fact that he was only one and a half years old. He's a champ.
We went on a beautiful hike while we were there (it was quite long for an 18 month old, but luckily I was able to borrow a baby backpack carrier for a good chunk of the time, which made life a lot easier). We did the Navajo Loop trail, which is 1.3 miles round trip, and takes you through the stunning Wall Street rock formation with walls and narrows that are characteristic of the formations in Bryce Canyon. I really loved it. For one, you get to hike through narrow passages like this:
The narrows and the Wall Street corridor were easily my favorite parts of the hike. In between the narrow walls of rock, there are several douglas firs that have been growing there for hundreds of year. They are majestic.
And, while being down there, you could look up and have views like this:
I really loved it. Around the campfire that night my brother told ghost/alien stories about the hoodoos which were thoroughly entertaining. Hoodoos are the spires of rock that are characteristic of Bryce Canyon and the Colorado Plateau and some other areas in the states. Supposedly, hoodoos are more abundant in Bryce Canyon than anywhere else on Earth. I didn't get my fact checker out for that one.
These are formed mostly by a process called frost wedging, where water seeps into the rocks and freezes overnight, which expands in the rock, creating little gaps and crevices, and then thaws again leave new holes in the rock. Bryce Canyon experiences 200 freeze/thaw cycles each year (if you would like this and other information on hoodoos, Bryce Canyon, and other national parks, visit the National Park Service website). Of course, according to my brother's stories, they are really aliens trapped in rock form. Who knows when they might wake up? ;-)
I would love to go back to Bryce Canyon, cramped car and all. It was beautiful, the company was fantastic, the hiking was thoroughly enjoyable (it always has to be enough work to make it worth it in my mind), and since I'm always a fan of camping, well, there you have it.