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After a spectacular morning being awed by Bryce, the trail called.  And this wasn’t an “oh, we should check that one out later” or even a “that trail looks interesting; let’s pack up our camera gear and go for a hike!”  Nope.  This was a “ooh, I wonder what’s down that way… I must find out now; forget that I still have all of my camera equipment on me!”

Snowy Bryce Canyon at sunrise | LotsaSmiles Photography

Trails do that to some folks.  Especially explorers like us.  And especially in a place as beautiful as Bryce.

Hoodoos and trees in Bryce Canyon National Park | LotsaSmiles Photography

The trail calls

Like Reese’s Pieces on the ground, we were pulled inexorably forward by each new inviting twist and turn in the path.  What’s around that bend?  Ooh, a tunnel; what’s through there??  Look at that tree, that formation, that view!

One of our fellow hikers bending to get just the right angle on a tunnel in Bryce Canyon | LotsaSmiles Photography

Snowy hoodoos viewed through a rock tunnel | LotsaSmiles Photography

Before we knew it, we had descended all the way from the lofty Sunrise Point, and we found ourselves in the Queens Garden (complete with commemorative medallion to prove our progress).

Aaron marveling at the towering hoodoos from within the valley | LotsaSmiles Photography

We now had the choice of either retracing our steps to rejoin our abandoned friend at the top, or we could wave sayonara to our grown friend who could take care of himself and see what more the trail had in store for us.

Guess which one we chose.

The trail beckons

Hiker on a snowy trail below in Bryce Canyon | LotsaSmiles Photography

We continued our way through the Amphitheater until we came to the base of the Navajo trail.  We had the entire path to ourselves; it was wonderful.  There, we were faced with another decision (as our friend, still lost behind us, began to frantically text us to see where we had disappeared to): check out the Peekaboo Loop or call it a morning and ascend back up to Sunset Point.

A bird visited us as we deliberated.  The trail continued its alluring call.  We might not get another chance to explore its distance.

A small bird on the rust-colored trail | LotsaSmiles Photography

But sadly, we were weary and hungry (several hours into the day now, and we had yet to eat any breakfast).  We elected to head back, going up the north side of the Navajo Loop.  The map indicated the south side was closed, and a pair of annoyed hikers returning from where they were blocked a mere quarter mile from the top confirmed it.  Besides, we were curious to see the Two Bridges.

I reluctantly denied the beckoning trail, and we ascended.

The trail fades

Two natural bridges spanning a slot canyon in Bryce Canyon | LotsaSmiles Photography

These early morning hikes are the best – especially off-season.  There was next to no one around us, and we were free to simply enjoy the natural beauty of the landscape uninterrupted.  It was so peaceful.

Two hikers walking past a slot canyon | LotsaSmiles Photography

We soon came to the Two Bridges – a pair of natural bridges spanning a slot canyon.  It was a fascinating geological sight, though it was nothing to compare to Arches.  I was dismayed to look behind us and see some descending hikers just walking right past it.  Downhill, the offshoot isn’t as visible as it was for us going uphill, so it’s easily missed, and I was sad to see them continue on, not even aware of the wonder they completely bypassed.

Layers of snowy switchbacks, viewed from above | LotsaSmiles Photography

Rising out of the canyon and into the sunlight, we slowly left the magic behind us.  The snow was beginning to melt, and the snowy path was ice turning slush.  We rejoined the early crowd – those adventurous enough to stray from the viewpoint, though most didn’t go far.

Hoodoos in front of the Bryce valley, a natural hole in one | LotsaSmiles Photography

We also found our long-lost friend, back from his own adventure, and we finally answered our stomachs’ impatient insistence at sustenance.

The trail remains

Far too much to explore in one short weekend, we’d soon be back to reunite with the tantalizing trails and discover their many secrets.

Aaron posing in front of the snowy hoodoo landscape of Bryce | LotsaSmiles Photography

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