Prattle & Jaw

Two blogs about a whole lot of nothing

Filtering by Category: Holidays

Utah 2018

In just over a week, I'll be doing two things for the first time (actually far more than that, but for the sake of brevity I'll stick with two).

1. I'll be going to Utah

2. I'll be going on holiday with my brother. And only my brother

So the first is a bit of a lie. I have been to Utah before, but usually when I travel to the US I make a beeline for Arizona. I feel like I'm cheating.

The second, though, is absolutely true. I think we've both grown up a bit since we were children and hating each other, so hopefully we'll both come back alive. But there's always the chance. At least we've discovered we share a love of the American Southwest, something I never would happen, to be honest. But there you go. He's persuaded me to venture a little further into Utah, and from what I saw just under two years ago, I won't be disappointed.

Our route is below (not including the obvious multiple stops at Arches and Canyonlands. 

utah-road-trip.PNG

So there you go. I can't wait. 

Zion Canyon and Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

A very early start today. The plan was to get up really early, about 4am, in order to get to Zion National Park before anyone else. This would mean hiking up the road to the trailhead (the park's shuttle service doesn't start until 6am), but then having the hike all to myself.

This didn't happen.

I did wake up at 4.30am, but managed to linger in bed until 5-something. Then I took the drive slowly, as it was still pitch black (and pitch black it really is in the middle of nowhere). I ended up getting the 6.30-ish shuttle, which was nice because it meant I didn't have to hike up the road, but a tiny bit of a shame as I was not alone. Anyway. I started out, not really knowing if I'd be able to complete the hike. The hike, you see, is a fairly strenuous one. First of all, you have to push through a lot of switchbacks. Incredible views make it manageable, but then you come around the corner and see the final 800 metres which clings to the very top of a narrow ridge, in some places just a few feet wide, with just a chain to cling to. Sometimes. 

 Yeah...no

Yeah...no

As I came to the stop before the final ridge, I seriously considered not doing it. The first 10 metres or so were along a steep slope, which didn't look very enticing. I ate, I drank, I clenched, and I went for it, and to be perfectly honest, that was the worst bit. At least, in terms of my nerves. There were sections with alarmingly close drop offs, no chain, and worst of all - people coming the other way (who gets the chain? WHO GETS THE CHAIN?!). 

 Here we go...

Here we go...

 That's a really small river down there

That's a really small river down there

 Oh good, a tiny chain

Oh good, a tiny chain

Boy-oh-boy was it exhilarating! Once I got to the final plateau, I was a bit sad to see it fairly busy, but I was completely high on the fact that I had done it. We all talked, congratulated each other, and had a good laugh – mostly centred around inappropriate jokes about falling to our death. 

 Yes, get closer to the edge, why not?

Yes, get closer to the edge, why not?

 Not a bad morning

Not a bad morning

The way back was much, much better. I also had the privilege of happily passing terrified looking people clinging to anything stationary asking, "How much further?" and "Is this the worst bit is the worst bit over will I make it?" Bless them.

 Down. But not too far

Down. But not too far

I actually stopped a few times on the way back - I didn't want it to be over. But over it was, and on the other side I talked to a few people I'd talked to on the ridge, joking and agreeing how happy we were that we set out early; there were a lot of people out there by now. Of course this goes to show that it's not all that bad, but it's not nice when you have to pass a group of people who refuse to let go of the chain on a section that's just a few feet wide. 

 An awkward chain situation just waiting to happen

An awkward chain situation just waiting to happen

I'm thrilled I've done it. I pat myself on the back. Not literally. 

 Hiked that, I did

Hiked that, I did

The hike down is pleasant. Good mornings are said over and over as I pass other hikers, and when I reach the bottom, I fall in to conversation with a couple from North Carolina who I met up at the top. They had both started out, but within just a few metres, she had decided not to do the final stretch, but he had pushed on. I passed her and exchanged a few nervous 'oh shits', before I moved on. I talked briefly to him at the end of Angel's Landing (the landing?), before he said goodbye and made his way back. We talk about Brexit, how Americans travel so much within their own country (I say I don't blame them - they say they don't have cool castles and Stonehenge), and how people know about Zion. They give me some tips on what to do, and I make my way back to the car. After a brief visit to the visitor centre, I make my way to another short hike. At least, I think I do. After much driving I stop for lunch at a Thai place, of all places, then realise I'm going the wrong way. Seeing as it was so dark on my way in, I'm completely disorientated. I curse myself repeatedly and grudgingly turn around. Not so bad really. But it's a nice drive, and I have nice views. 

It's a good little hike.

 Nice hike. Note tiny bridge to right hanging over nothing

Nice hike. Note tiny bridge to right hanging over nothing

It leads to a great view. 

 That's a canyon that is

That's a canyon that is

My time in Zion is at an end. I begin my drive back to Kanab, rather sadly. There's so much more to do, but holy moly, do my feet hurt. The weather is beautiful, the music is country, as I see signs for a state park, I think 'why not?' 

I turn on to a small road, which to me, is heaven. It's the first time I've driven on a small road this trip, and I can't drive slowly enough. This whole trip has felt different to me from the last ones, and I think part of the reason why is because I'm kind of pushed for time. This means sticking to main roads - no exciting forest roads. This road, however, while not a forest road, is unmarked, and empty. I turn the AC off, roll the windows down (roll? Do people still say that?), slow way down, and enjoy it. 

 Yes please

Yes please

After a while, I wind up at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, and what a lovely place it is. 

 Sand

Sand

 Crazy colours and stuff

Crazy colours and stuff

Lots of sand. I climb to the top of the highest dune, and sit for a while and contemplate stuff like, "Should I have a burger for dinner, or not?"

Once decided, I head back to the lovely drive, and this time, I pull over, and get out to enjoy the view. I'm not in Arizona, but this is the highlight of my trip (well, this and The Wave). These quiet moments, with spectacular scenery and a hot breeze on my face. I'm going to miss it. 

 Country

Country

Reluctantly, I get back in the car, and head towards the motel. I manage to drop my camera on the tarmac as I get out of the car, but as far as I can see, no damage is done. Phew. I pack a bit, then head out to The Rocking V Cafe, just around the corner, for dinner. I have an incredible meal of salad, fish tacos and local craft beer. The waitress, Jessica, is so goddamn smiley that I have to bite my lip not to laugh. It's one of the best meals I've had out, and I leave, full and very happy. I do like Kanab, 

I sit outside my room for a bit, enjoying the evening sun. I'll be sad to go, but I'm also really looking forward to seeing my family again. I miss them so very much. 

Now I'm back in bed, packed, watching an NFL game. Or trying to, anyway. It's that or Pearl Harbour. 

Tomorrow I head back to Phoenix for my 7.30pm flight back to London. I'll try to break up the drive as much as possible, stopping first at Page, then for lunch at Cameron Trading Post, before pushing through the last three hours to PHX. It'll be a dull day, with no internet, so there'll be no update until I'm back in Copenhagen. I'm sure you'll live. 

I'd just like to add that now Parks and Recreation is on. This is full circle. I started watching this on my first solo trip to Arizona. What does it mean? Probably that I watch too much TV. 

Goodnight. 

Bryce Canyon

Another post written in bed, with throbbing feet, and tired eyes. Started out early, and a short Skype with the family who were in the park. Melvin was more determined to go down the slide than talk to me, but that's life. 

I had a quick breakfast in bed, then hit the road towards Bryce Canyon. For some reason I thought it was two hours, but it was actually closer to three. Oh well. It was a beautiful drive (although the road was littered with dead deer) and I listened to some kind of talk radio station. I heard a very funny story about a couple who had been arrested shortly after dropping their kids off at the first day of school. They had been smoking a celebratory joint in the car, and were caught because while the speed limit was 25 mph, they were driving 6. 

I can't get over how different, almost immediately, Utah is to Arizona. It's green. There are rivers and relatively lush fields. It's really, really beautiful. Huge meadows with ridiculously picturesque creeks winding through them, rolling hills, cows dotted around, and red and white wooden houses with obligatory picket fences. It's just gorgeous. It's what I imagine pioneer American to have looked like. I'd stop here if I was wandering around looking for somewhere to call home. It's far more appealing than the neighbouring deserts of Arizona, that's for sure. Anyway, because of all this, it's a lovely drive. After a couple of hours, I spot the familiar red rocks up high in the hills, and just a short while later, I'm at the park. 

I have a quick lunch, and then head out to hike. I've been to Bryce a couple of times before, but never gone below the rim. It is – as with most canyons – definitely worth it. 

 In all her glory

In all her glory

 Hoodoos what you dos down there?

Hoodoos what you dos down there?

Once I leave the popular trail, the crowds disperse and I'm on my own for great stretches. It's hot and hard, but extremely beautiful. 

 The switchbacks going down

The switchbacks going down

 Twisty paths

Twisty paths

There's a lot of up and downs, but some spectacular views. 

 A walk along a ridge

A walk along a ridge

I must admit I was pretty pleased when I rounded the corner and found myself back at the start of the loop. I ate, I drank and I considered doing another hike, but time wouldn't allow it, so I started back up the switchbacks to the rim. 

 On the way back up

On the way back up

What a beautiful place. 

 Hoodoos

Hoodoos

An hour and a bit later, dodging more dead deer, and I was in Kanab, my final spot for this holiday. Kanab is great. It's a small town, but with a really friendly feel to it. It was settled by Mormons in 1870. There are quite a lot of churches, but not as many as Page, interestingly enough. Page has 28 churches. 28! For a town of just under 7,300 people. Anyway, it's very nice here, I recommend a visit. 

 See them hills? That's my motel to the right. Flags everywhere on 9/11

See them hills? That's my motel to the right. Flags everywhere on 9/11

Tomorrow is more hiking, this time in Zion Canyon. I'll be doing Angel's Landing – a hike along a huge ridge, with 1000 metre drops to either side. Eek. For now, I'll sit here, with my belly full of ribs, and watch some telly.

Copyright © 2014, Lara Mulady. All rights reserved.