I woke up, checked out and walked to my car. I took a banana out of the cooler and stared West at the Wasatch front. As is the custom in the mountain west, the college had put a big, serifed “Y” upon the hillside. I looked at Gaia, and found the area to be awash in trails. Every drainage had a trail, and the backcountry looked wide and well traveled. I gave some thought to running up the “Y”.
Instead, I headed out for the only Espresso bar I could find on Google Maps. It was south of downtown in a creative space dubbed Boxcar Studios. This, apparently, is where I should have been the whole time. The people here were calm, outdoors friendly and older.
It was during this time between tossing the banana peel in the courthouse dumpster and sitting outside “Rugged Grounds” with my coffee when the intensity of the mindstorm I had been dealing with for some months had finally started to subside. I was beginning to feel genuinely happy.
I headed south on I-15 to the junction with the start of I-70, and headed east to US 89.
I-70 took us into the mountains, and 89 went further. Being off the freeway in the PNW could mean anything, but 89 is a solid road, even if it went through a bunch of winding canyons.
It eventually leveled out to high desert, and I took the short spur of Hwy 12 to Bryce Canyon National Park.
There was no snow and no shortage of tourists. I pulled into the sunset point parking lot, and was stalled behind someone waiting for another driver to finish up with their cell phone before reversing out. I drove around that mess to an open spot twenty feet away, right off the short trail to the rim.
I changed into running clothes, put on my polyester snap-down long sleeve shirt, buff and pack and ran down into the canyon.
It was high. Higher than SLC, and it was both cold and hot. I found myself sweating profusely, having not been exposed to temperatures above 50 degrees in months. I was having the expected struggles.
At the bottom I explored a bit, and eventually settled on the Peek-a-boo loop. It’s a three mile loop on trail with a handful of tourists out hiking in Swiss Army backpacks.
After about half a mile on this trail I was again overcome with the “automatic, negative thoughts”. I was unprepared for this heat and cold. I didn’t have any rain gear, and there were squalls in the distance. Scattered thundershowers were in the forecast in three hours or so. It was also hot. Nobody knew I was here. I was alone. I don’t know if I brought enough water. How much would I go through?
I got to a pass that then dropped slightly into Peek-a-boo, but elected to turn around and run back. The strava app on my watch was not doing a good job of recording distance or time because of an unpredictable “auto-pause” feature. It was just too much.
So I ran back the way I came, but continued along to see the Queen’s Garden and exit the canyon at Sunrise Point. It was then a half mile back to my car.
It wasn’t a long trip, but by the time I was back to the rim the sky was dark and the wind was howling. A storm was definitely underway.
There are a bunch of offload campsites near Bryce on Hwy 12. I almost took an option on one, but it was seven dirt miles to the campsite. For once my anxieties were probably helping, since I figured the road would become impassible if the storm that was coming was major.
I kept driving into what I figured was public lands, parked at a pull out and took stock of what was around. I knew that Grand Staircase Escalante was nearby, and I wanted a look around. Thunder roared. Lightning streaked off in the distance. Time to go.
The downpour hit around 7:30. It was bad. Really bad at times. It come and go, but it would always come back. Darkness fell as I pulled into Kanab. The “little Hollywood in Utah” was a little Boulder or Sedona, or a big Van Zandt. Dinner was pleasant as were the owners and staff. I got a “heavy beer” and decided to spend the night in the nearby “Parry Lodge”. It was a quintenssinal, albeit nice, 60s motel.
I unpacked all my things from Gerswhin. Plugged everything in and hung the clothes out to dry. I went to be late, but calm.