07 October 2010

To linger at the edge

After supper last night we gathered for a lecture on Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef, the next two national parks we are to visit, and I went to bed ready for my first view of Bryce's luminous windows, fins and hoodoos. We awoke to the thickest fog I have ever seen. The temperature and the dew point matched exactly at 46 degrees.

We dragged our feet at every opportunity, Chrystal and Marc changing the schedule, moving our going out to the rim later and later in the morning: stopping at Bryce's visitor center to see the excellent film about the park and take in the museum, including a "geomoment" with Marc, and then at the lovely, old-style, hospitable lodge (front porch view to the right and dining room above) for another cup of coffee, all the while willing either the temperature or the dew point to change -- which, stubbornly, neither did.

Off to the rim with us (my first-ever view captured in the large image above). With zero visibility, I think our group slogged on with amazing good cheer, asking questions and responding to Marc's instruction as though the wondrous view were actually there before us.

Then, to our utter amazement and delight, the fog began breaking up, blowing, swirling to reveal mysterious formations, more and more of them out from us, below us, the scene changing with every nanosecond that passed. A truly magical, mystical experience that no words could ever describe. Enthralled, we walked from Inspiration Point to Sunset Point and moved by coach to Fairyland Point (the park's northern most outlook and where the wind howled), our precious time at Bryce growing short.

I wonder, had we simply walked up to the rim, the air clear and the view perfect, if I would have left Bryce with the same reverent feeling. I suspect not. Surely, viewing the clearing of the fog is a once-in-a-lifetime event.

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