Bryce Canyon City, UT
Tuesday dawned cloudy with a forecast of scattered showers, so our plan for a long hike in Bryce Canyon was cancelled. Instead, we drove the Jeep west on Rte. 12 to Kodachrome State Park. We thought about a short hike in the park, but a downpour of sleet again altered our plans. The name of the park comes from a 1948 National Geographic Society expedition. The color and beauty found here prompted them to name the area after the popular color film. Many monolithic stone spires called sedimentary pipes can be seen from the main road. One was right next to the parking area where we waited out the rain/sleet so we took a picture once the precipitation ended.
The sky cleared a bit, so we took a dirt side road out to a trail that lead to an arch.
A hike of about a half mile led us to Shakespeare Arch. The trail continued in a loop for another mile, but we didn’t trust the weather and returned back to the Jeep.
On the drive back to Rte. 12 we were slowed a bit by some “wild” life on the road. After standing in the middle of the road for a few minutes, this sentinel apparently decided we were not a threat and moved over to the side of the road, allowing us to pass under his watchful eye.
We returned to Rte. 12 and turned west toward Bryce Canyon. But before returning to the motorhome we made one more stop for a very short hike to a waterfall and a visit to Mossy Cave. There is a small parking area just four miles east of the intersection of Rte. 12 and Rte. 63 (which leads into Bryce Canyon NP) where the trail begins.
The trail is only about a half mile through Water Canyon along what seems to be a natural stream. But looks are deceiving, as this is not a natural flow of water. This stream bed was a dry wash which served as a channel for snow melt and rainwater to flow off the mountains. But it was dry when there was no rain and all the upper elevation snow had melted. From 1890-1892 Mormon pioneers labored with picks and shovels to carve an irrigation ditch from the East Fork of the Sevier River, through the Paunsaugunt Plateau, into this canyon. Every year since its completion in 1892 (except during the drought of 2002), this canal known as the Tropic Ditch has supplied the communities of Tropic and Cannonville with irrigation water.
After crossing the Tropical Ditch twice, the trail soon splits, with the left fork leading to the cave and the right to a waterfall. We took the right fork and headed u to the falls.
It rained (and snowed) quite a bit the previous day, so the water flow was much stronger than normal.
We returned to the split in the trail and hiked up the short distance to Mossy Cave. Mossy Cave is not a cavern but a shelter cave. Water from an underground spring seeps through the rocks and drips onto the cave floor year round. Depending on the season, you will see the large overhang filled with moss and giant icicles.
The “cave” isn’t particularly impressive except snow and ice remain inside long after the white stuff has melted all around. The cave remains cool and moist year round with the water dripping from the ceiling and providing a good environment for the moss to grow.
The weather was beginning to deteriorate so we returned to the motorhome for the rest of the day. Since it is the second week of May, one would expect to be able to sit outside and enjoy the warm Spring weather. But wait, this the high country of southern Utah, where Spring is apparently a synonym for Winter!
First it began to rain. OK, so April showers are a bit late. Then it began to sleet and hail. That’s a bit unusual, but we can handle that. But then the snow started!
This is ridiculous. We live in a home with wheels and its mid-May, yet we’re sitting in a park with enough snow that it covered our roof top satellite dome, cutting off our Directv during Dancing With the Starts (what a disaster).