|Peregrine falcon, perched atop a ranch entry gate. Torrey UT.
|Fall foliage, Torrey Utah.
I got up before Wayne so I backtracked a little bit to where we entered Torrey because I saw some great scenic spots that begged for morning light.
|Torrey log cabin schoolhouse and church, built 1898, Torrey Utah.
Even though gusty winds rocked us all night long, Wayne slept through it and I did not, but I’m still generally an earlier riser than him, and this morning was no exception.
|Sunrise over the hills behind Torrey Utah.
The morning light in Torrey exceeded my expectations and then some!
|Pioneer home, Torrey Utah.
In less than 1/2 hour, I snapped all the Torrey-town photos I planned to take and returned to find Wayne staring at his screen, without his morning wake-up juice yet. I’d already make my morning chai, drank it, washed, dried, and put away all the dishes from it.
|Natural Bridge, Hickman Trail, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah. I love the tree and its shadow.
I made Wayne his coffee. “Would you mind if I took a leisurely morning while you do your hike?” he asked. No problem, I told him.
|Natural Bridge on the Hickman Bridge Trail, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah. View on the way up.
The park literature lists the hike as moderate, an 800-foot elevation gain, a little less than two miles, round-trip.
|Natural Bridge on the Hickman Bridge Trail, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah.
View on the way back.
Wayne heard Hickman Trail was popular, with limited parking, which is part of why we planned to get there early. I nabbed one of the last spaces in the parking lot.
|Cacti & wood off Hickman Trail, Capitol Reef National Park.
While the drive into both Grand Wash and Capitol Reef Gorge Trails were jaw-droppingly stunning, and I loved the narrow canyon walls on both trails, the Hickman Bridge trail captivated me more with its variety.
|Petroglyph wall near Hickman Bridge trail, Capitol Reef Park, Utah.
Heading back to a caffeinated husband, ready to hit the road toward Bryce Canyon, I found myself unable to resist checking out the massive orange rock face with petroglyphs on the way back. I found the rock face more intriguing than the petroglyphs, but you’re welcome to visit Capitol Reef to let me know whether or not you agree!
|Aspen grove, off scenic byway 12, between Torrey and Boulder Utah.
Wayne and I planned to caravan up scenic byway 12 to the Bryce Canyon area. However once Wayne looked up the elevation changes through its mountain passes, he took the flatter, more direct highway 70 to the Bryce Canyon area. He encouraged me to take the longer, more scenic route in my Prius. I did.
We eliminated Zion for our list of parks to visit this trip. Our new BLM campground neighbor flagged me down as I was about to leave, and told me he just left Zion. He said Moab, the town adjacent to Zion, was a zoo and made that much worse because the roads were torn up for construction.
|Multicolored aspen grove, off scenic byway 12, between Torrey and Boulder Utah.
There were lots of scenic lookouts, but most were not photo-worthy. All the winds stirred up so much dust, distant panoramas were hazed out.
However, the steep, twisty climb up Great Basin Park didn’t give me an opportunity to take as many aspen photos as I wanted, but scenic byway 12 gave me another shot at it. The wind gusted here, too, “quaking” the aspen (though they seemed more to titter than to quake on this fine fall day).
|Rocks and waves of multicolored aspen groves, off scenic byway 12, between Torrey and Boulder Utah.
Why do some aspen leaves turn red, I wondered as I saw copes of them. The analogy Alaska Science Forum gives is that it’s genetic—the equivalent of these more fiery specimens being redheads, rather than blonds.
|Approaching Grand-staircase Escalante Park off scenic byway 12, between Torrey and Boulder Utah.
Scenic Highway 12 also passed through Grand-staircase Escalante National Park.
|Add caption Calf Creek Recreation Area, Grand-staircase Escalante Park off scenic byway 12,
between Torrey and Boulder Utah.
While my photos don’t do Calf Creek justice, it was my favorite part of the drive along Highway 12. Wayne’s route was flatter and more agricultural. He arrived over an hour before I did, as he didn’t make any scenic stops, though he said the highway he took was also pretty.
|Fremont River, Grand-staircase Escalante Park off scenic byway 12, Utah.
Tomorrow, we hike in Bryce Canyon National Park.
Tonight, from another free BLM campsite, we enjoyed a starry night sky, with the Milky Way again easily visible. But it is chilly; as I write this it’s 31 degrees, headed for a low of 25 overnight.
Vicarious travelers are welcome! I’ll continue to post as frequently as I can, mostly photo-heavy posts, like those I’ve done so far for this trip.