United States
Deer Canyon

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    • Day 7

      Natural Bridges National Monument

      June 2 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 20 °C

      The National Park for today is the Natural Bridges National Monument. There are three natural bridges all connected by a road and then a path down the side of the canyon so you can end up underneath them.

      The park was really quiet, although it only takes 2 Americans in the distance to break the serenity, they do shout rather than talk.

      The views were great and the hikes down were fun, with some ladders and scrambling involved.

      Bonus knowledge, according to Utah, bridges are formed by flowing water, while Arches are formed by other forms of erosion. So they can look the same, but the cause gives it a different name.
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    • Day 6

      Natural Bridges National Monument

      June 2, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

      It was another day of driving. We drove from Capitol Reef to Natural Bridges. There were more exquisite views as we drove east and then south. I especially enjoyed looking over White Canyon as we drove along it. I can see how people we enjoy backcountry hiking into the canyon. In a curve of the road, we saw the lodge at Fry Canyon where we stayed 18 years ago with Scott's parents. I remember that it was out in the middle of nowhere. It sure is. It is closed now - not a handy location for most tourists as their aren't any other amenities or attractions nearby.

      We arrived at Natural Bridges National Monument just before noon. After a stop at the visitor's center to ask about hiking, we were off to the overlooks. Natural Bridges is a one-way loop road with overlooks giving a view of three rock bridges and one area of cave dwellings. We ate our lunch at a picnic area (sharing a table with some French visitors) while reading more about the hikes. The one we wanted to do was from the first bridge overlook, under the first bridge, down the canyon wall, along the stream at the bottom, past the cliff dwelling, under the second bridge, and up the canyon wall to the second bridge overlook. Only problem - 500 foot elevation loss going down to the bottom and 400 foot elevation gain coming back out. Ok, so going down wouldn't be bad but coming back out was going to be difficult and we have Scott's heart to consider.

      The other consideration is the fact that the car will be at the first overlook and we come out at the second one. It is a two mile hike back to the car. Ugh. So, we drove to the second bridge and thought about walking back to the first hoping that we could get a lift to our car. (Since it is a one-way loop, cars would only be going from first bridge to second and this way we would be going that direction, too.) When we got to the second bridge we looked around and talked to a lady who had just done the hike. She was waiting there while her husband was walking back to get the car. She told us how wonderful the hike was and how much the boys would enjoy it. There was some shade and some trees and you could scramble up to the cliff dwelling. Oh we wanted to go, but didn't know if we should. We walked around a bit and finally went back to our car having decided that we will go and I will be the one to walk back after getting out of the canyon. The husband had returned and was picking up the wife, Scott said we should ask them for a ride back around to the first bridge - that way we would have our car at the second bridge when we got out. So I did. They were very gracious and made room for the four of us in their minivan and drove around the loop back to the first bridge. (This meant that they drove the loop an extra time just to drop us off - how kind.) We had a nice chat with them in the car. They had a book of 77 hikes to do with your kids in Utah. They had started years ago (their kids were now in their upper 20s and early 30s) and this was one of three that they still had to accomplish. They checked them off and dated them as they did them. How neat! So glad that we met them. Kim and Kathy from Utah, we are blessed to have met you !!!!

      So, we did the hike. The trip down was great. Even a couple of ladders on the steep parts. At the bottom we were right under Sipapau bridge. Pretty neat. It was difficult to get a good picture because we were so close but it was great. Then we walked. It was a pretty good walk. There were patches of shade; sometime under the edge canyon walls and sometime cottonwood trees. We were walking in sand most of the time which slowly filled our shoes. It is amazing how the sand gets in and works its way down to your toes inside your socks.

      We almost missed the cliff dwellings even though we had been watching for them. It was a truly a scramble up the curvy sandstone and onto the platform where the ruins were. Luckily it wasn't all that far up and the platform was quite wide at one end. We gently looked around the buildings without walking in or disturbing anything. We thought we might have seen a small pottery shard but we weren't certain. It was nice to feel like a real explorer and extra nice that we were in the shade. Looking at the park information, we realized that we had missed the "horseshoe cliff dwelling" and had stopped at a different one - one they don't mention. Hmmm. We felt bummed that we missed the one named cliff dwelling and yet happy to have stop at a different one. It is easy to see why ancient people would live in the cliffs. The stream in the canyon would make the shore unsuitable (seasonal flooding) and the surface of the mesa is rocky, dry, and has little shelter. The cliff caves were natural shelter and halfway between water below and the hunting on the mesa.

      Back to walking the stream. The walk got longer and longer. It was nice that I have my Apple Watch tracking our distance. It helped us keep track of how far we had come and how far we had yet to go. We were rationing our water on this hike more that we had on any other hike. Even though we had more shade, we were thirstier. The canyon was quite lovely with curves and swirls in the sandstone grain of the rock and curves and twists in the shape of the canyon walls. I don't think our pictures will do the canyon justice.

      We were hot and tired by the time we got to Kachina bridge and the hike up and out. Before we started up, we laid down on a big flat rock in the shade of the bridge. It helped to cool us down. We also found the petroglyphs nearby. On the hike out we took it very slow stopping after every 10-15 steps up. We drank the last drop of water which made carrying the bag easier on the boys. This wall climb was mostly switchbacks along the face of the wall with handrails in a few places. We were all glad to be at the top and we poured the melting ice out of the cooler into our water bottle and drank it down. We did stop at the last bridge on our drive out of the loop and back to the visitor's center. We filled up with water when we got there and tried to fill ourselves back up, too.
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    • Day 39

      Bridge Bagging [Natural Bridges NM]

      May 7, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

      We began our ten-mile bridge bagging quest by gazing down on the second largest natural span in the world-- Sipapu Bridge. Surreal! We then descended steeply down to the valley floor using some sketchy hand bars, etched toe holds, and wooden ladders that OSHA clearly hasn't inspected in decades.

      After marveling at the gabillion ton span we headed downstream to find the next one-- Kachina Bridge. This one offered a bonus in that it's base was festooned with petroglyphs.

      Then it was on to the last one-- Owachomo Bridge. Along the way we espied another gallery of petroglyphs and a ruin high up from the valley floor.

      Really an amazing afternoon to see so many natural and man-made wonders in such a lush concourse.
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