Life lived out of a vehicle is pretty ideal until you get sick. At midnight I bolted awake, drenched in sweat. I had to leap out of the 4-Runner and dig a pit beneath a juniper in which to puke into. The Milky Way was twinkling, the near-to-full moon casting shadows in the forest but gripped with a stomach flu I was fixated only on the red dirt in my pit. For five hours back and forth I ran between the 4-Runner to sleep and my pit to get sick – first to throw up dinner, then lunch, then bile once there was nothing left remaining. My fever would ebb while I was outside in temerpatures well below freezing, in little more than long johns and wool shirt. How I wished that evening for four solid walls, a couch and a flush toilet. Instead, I toughed it out and slept away the following day on various benches along the rim of Bryce Canyon.
Bryce Canyon can be a comical zoo. Tour buses filled with loud and obnoxious people shuffling along, snapping selfies in ridiculous poses. Many barely seem to pause to stand for a moment in stillness and silence, without holding their camera phone in their face. They do not seem to truly look around at the mountains, hoodoos, fins and pockets. This is the reason I have a pretty strong dislike for selfies. A place as stunning as this shouldn’t be about your face.
We arrived early and gulped back a quick oatmeal breakfast in the parking lot at Fairyland, just outside Bryce Canyon. We were alone here watching the sun come up. And then we set of down the well trodden thirty kilometre trail around the hoodoos, fins, pockets windows, arches and canyons between Fairyland (BLM land) and Bryce Canyon.
Following our long day hike I wanted to hike the Below The Rim Trail for a day but as seems to be the case often, I am rarely given hiking information from park staff, be they Canadian or American parks. If I ask for information on hikes beyond the tourist favourites, for the more difficult and remote, Park staff will quite forcefully try to direct my attention to those easy tourist trails.
I left frustrated and set off on my own anyway. It’s hardly remote or difficult. It is merely a trail undulating below the hoodoos, across hogbacks. It is pretty but hardly the unforgiving, dangerous backcountry route the parks people were trying to build it up to be. Sometimes I want to be rude, tell them I’m a solid backpacker with twenty years of off-trail backpacking experience in the Yukon and Alaska. I’m curious to know if I were a man asking the same questions, would the reaction and information given be different. Next time I will send John in to ask questions and see what happens. A full twelve hours of wandering below the rim, starring up at the hoodoos and the idyllic blue sky above above set a kink in my neck but Bryce Canyon’s beauty was worth every hour of discomfort I experienced from that neck kink that would not fade for a full two days.