In the morning, we were on our way to make the one and a half hour drive from Zion to Bryce Canyon National Park when one of our tires was losing pressure. Luckily, there was help from Roger at the local Sinclair gas station. He patched the leak up in no time and for a very reasonable price despite the fact that we were desperate travelers on the road. We gladly tipped with much gratitude.
So we missed our appointment for the 10am ride, but luckily we were able to reschedule for the afternoon. The morning ride we missed was under a beautiful blue sky, but the afternoon held its own charm of gray clouds and snow. Now I can say I rode through Bryce Canyon in a snowstorm.
We signed up for a the mule and horse ride at The Lodge at Bryce Canyon, and the guides took a look at us to decide which trusty steed we should get. Most of us got mules, some horses.
The mule I got assigned was Tony (the poor thing).
As we started our trail, our first stop was a fairly treacherous zigzag path, and Tony just walked right out to the edge where the trail dropped off into a slide down the canyon, tippy-toe-ing as much as a mule can tip-toe. At first I thought I should redirect Tony and pulled a bit on the reigns away from the edge, as if asking him a question. I figured a mule should know not to walk off a cliff, even if a rider has no idea what she’s doing, but I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to do some sort of steering. Then Tony just kept walking along the edges.
After a couple turns, our guide at the front said, “Tony’s got a nickname–Rim Walker.”
“I can see that,” I responded.
Most of the beasts we rode on liked to walk the rim, actually, but I guess Tony liked to court death a little more than others. I realized I just had to let Tony do his thing. The drop wasn’t really that bad, I convinced myself, since there was somewhat of a slope and some shrubbery I could grab a hold of. All I had to do was avoid getting pulled under Tony if he fell and make good use of my non-existent judo rolling skills.
If you can’t tell in this picture I took of Tony on the edge (with me riding on top), there’s quite a slope down, although this isn’t the most sheer of the drops he rim-walked on. You’ll have to pardon me in that I didn’t exactly focus on taking pictures at those moments.
“As long as you love life,” I told Tony the mule, “I trust you. At least you’re not named Marvin.”
“How’s it going on Tony?” our guide yelled up at me from a few zig zags below.
“I’m ready to roll if he does,” I called back.
Bryce under the dark gloom and clouds with all the red rock, sand, and soil really made me feel like I was actually on a mule ride on Mars.
The hoodoos, or large thin rock pillar formations, could be easily seen as Martian guardians of the canyon. Apparently Native Americans used to avoid coming into this canyon since the hoodoos looked like men turned to rock. Ancient Aliens anyone?
Another interesting fact I learned was that when lightning strikes a tree, it twists it all up, even up to the tips of its branches. Since the canyon is heavily composed of iron, it acts like a lightning rod funneling the strikes right into itself. So there were plenty of lightning twisted trees all around us.
Next up, canyoneering outside Zion.