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All Hail the Queen

A while back, I took a trip to Utah to hike, explore and quietly consider what my life would be like as a mountaineering vagabond. If it wasn't for reliable wifi, I may not have come back.


The Beehive State offers some of the most breathtaking, alien, awe-inspiring sights this nation has to offer. We spent nearly every waking hour that week on the trails, but today I want to share with you one particular hike that I cannot recommend highly enough.


We spent several days in and around Bryce Canyon NP hitting most of their trails. The combo Queen's/Navajo Loop hike will forever hold a special place in my heart. It was not technically challenging - you'll undulate with less than 1000 feet of elevation gain. We went 'round in about two and a half hours making sure to stop for the best part of any activity: plenty of snack breaks.


The hike starts at either the Sunrise or Sunset Points, both of which are located on the Rim Trail, easily accessibly from the parking lots, and offer stunning views of the Bryce Amphitheater.



From there, head down into the Amphitheater. Beware winter hikers: the canyon ice will sneak up on you. We found that if we went slowly and were careful, we could get by without microspikes, crampons or hiking poles but did see plenty of folks with some or all of them. Older adventurers may want to consider some aids here. Note that if the weather gets too bad or the ice too dangerous, some of the trails may be closed.


Once you hike and slide your way to the low point of the trail, the hike is relatively straight forward. As a lifelong New Yorker, I had never experienced anything like those views. Standing on the rim, the canyon seems to extend forever, fading at the horizon like a Bob Ross painting into the brilliant blue sky. The snow capped hoodoos are foreign yet inviting, beckoning you for a closer look.


And closer you shall go. As you meander through the canyon, the hoodoos regard you as the foreign one. In this their place of creation and existence far beyond a visit or a lifetime, you cannot help but be drawn in by all the everythingness and the nothingness. This place of rock and stone is alive and constantly changing, evolving. It is quiet and stoic and eternal. It is for each of us and none of us but graces us with the chance to spend a little time among its wonder.



The hoodoos stand (Royal) guard on the way to Her Majesty. Make your way further down the trail and follow the signs for the Queen's Garden Trail. As you get closer, keep your eyes peeled for a small tablet noting the location of the hoodoo. It is a short walk from the sign to the famous Queen Victoria hoodoo. The Queen in all her glory is pictured below.



Maybe I just had unrealistically high hopes but I found the "payoff" of this hike to be rather underwhelming. We spent ninety minutes hiking through some of the most beautiful land in the country only to see something that kind of looks like the queen? I'll save my desperate pleas for conservation and environmentalism for later, but I have to think that she has decayed mightily in the preceding decades. Luckily I am a fan of all things cheesy, and I found the journey to be the destination. The hike was lovely. The views were incredibly. The vibes were immaculate.


Thank you Bryce, for your hospitality and for allowing me to spend a little time rubbing shoulders with giants. It is not so often that I can slip away from the city and get lost in somewhere as new, exciting and unfamiliar as Bryce. Whatever may be lost in the monotony and isolation of our tech-filled, fast-paced, concrete-walled world will always be found in the splendor, peace and joy of nature. And I know I have so much more yet to find.



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