One evening at Bryce Canyon National Park we hiked to Mossy Cave. This part of the park is not accessed the same way as the rest, and you could go there without paying, I think. (But come on, the whole place is incredible, and you need to pay to see the rest of it.)

The trail to Mossy Cave. (Click photo to enlarge.)

The trail to Mossy Cave. (Click photo to enlarge.)

The relatively short hike (seemed like 1/2 – 3/4 mile each direction?) took us to Mossy Cave and also a waterfall. I am a save-the-best-for-last-type-of-girl, so we went to the cave first.

I said in a previous post that I would not post a picture of the cave; I did not think I took one because it was not terribly photogenic. (OK, I took a couple, but they were close-ups of something specific that I’ll show you later.) But when finding pictures for this post, I found one.

Mossy Cave--granted, a bit boring. (click photo to enlarge)

Mossy Cave--granted, a bit boring. (click photo to enlarge)

It was a shelf-type cave with an overhang. (I am sure there are more proper technical terms for this that I am entirely too lazy to research.) It was a bit disappointing that we just walked to where it started and had to stop; no one was allowed inside (or under, as it really was).  But truthfully, that is NOT the reason to take this hike. The waterfall is.  (And the hoodoo arches with the incredible sky as seen here.)

The waterfall near Mossy Cave (click photo to enlarge--notice people below it.)

The waterfall near Mossy Cave (click photo to enlarge--notice people below it.)

The waterfall is just a short distance from the cave. A very shallow creek runs through this area and creates the waterfall.

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

My girls were in heaven. (But someone please remind me to take water socks on trips whether or not we think there will be water. There is always water SOMEWHERE!)

I loved the light on the creek. (My girls just liked the creek.)

I loved the light on the creek. (My girls just liked the creek.)

We knew there would be a waterfall on the hike, but we did not know how absolutely wonderful it would be. When we got there, people were playing in the shallow water below it. Not having proper footwear and having young girls, we did not let them play in the falls, but this picture gives you an idea of the size of it.

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On the way out we saw a couple of mule deer. It was our best deer encounter (other than chipmunks and ground squirrels) the entire time, BUT… I had been playing with shutter speeds with the water and forgot to change the settings, so none of the deer pictures turned out particularly well.

mule deer

mule deer

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August 2 was our first full day at Bryce Canyon National Park. We awoke to a temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit. That was reason enough to be there in August!

That morning we did “The World’s Greatest 3-Mile Hike” which is the combination of two shorter trails. One trail is the “Queen’s Garden Trail” and the other is “Navajo Loop.” We could not do longer hikes on this trip because of my ankle problems and because 4 miles is about the limit of our 5-year-old.

Here are the pictures. Most will enlarge if clicked.

This is near the beginning of our hike that started at Sunrise Point.

This is near the beginning of our hike that started at Sunrise Point.

A view of the Bryce Amphitheater between two hoodoos.

A view of the Bryce Amphitheater between two hoodoos.

The redness comes from iron.

The redness comes from iron.

The family on the trail.

The family on the trail.

This is why it is the "Queen's Garden Trail." The hoodoo formation on the left is said to look like a profile of Queen Victoria on her throne. (I'm not sure why it could not be any queen.) My daughters thought the formation just to the right of it, a little lower, looked like the head of a dragon. (This impressed them more than the queen.)

This is why it is the "Queen's Garden Trail." The hoodoo formation on the left is said to look like a profile of Queen Victoria on her throne. (I'm not sure why it could not be any queen.) My daughters thought the formation just to the right of it, a little lower, looked like the head of a dragon. (This impressed them more than the queen.)

This was the first experience my daughters had with cairns. They loved it, and the oldest one got into putting a stone on any one she could find--usually doing something difficult to balance. These cairns were in the bottom of the canyon.

This was the first experience my daughters had with cairns. They loved it, and the oldest one got into putting a stone on any one she could find--usually doing something difficult to balance. These cairns were in the bottom of the canyon.

The trail in the bottom was all-but-deserted, and quite different scenery than the top.

The trail in the bottom was all-but-deserted, and quite different scenery than the top.

The trees in the bottom had some terrific shapes for framing the stone parts of the canyon.

The trees in the bottom had some terrific shapes for framing the stone parts of the canyon.

This little area enchanted me. I loved the way the hoodoos and trees, similarly-shaped, were all together in a garden of sorts.

This little area enchanted me. I loved the way the hoodoos and trees, similarly-shaped, were all together in a garden of sorts.

I think this is "Wall Street." So named because not much sky could be seen through this part of the hike.

I think this is "Wall Street." So named because not much sky could be seen through this part of the hike.

This is near the top of the path out. This is QUITE a climb. Thankfully the scenery is spectacular, so it's fine to stop frequently to take pictures (rest). I think the hike would be easier to enter this way (Navajo Loop) and leave the way we came in (Queen's Garden). People were going down in this place in flip flops. I would not recommend that.

This is near the top of the path out. This is QUITE a climb. Thankfully the scenery is spectacular, so it's fine to stop frequently to take pictures (rest). I think the hike would be easier to enter this way (Navajo Loop) and leave the way we came in (Queen's Garden). People were going down in this place in flip flops. I would not recommend that.

We made it out! One 5-year-old was very, very tired! She walked most of the way herself, even the last, uphill part.

We made it out! One 5-year-old was very, very tired! She walked most of the way herself, even the last, uphill part.

This is actually part of the rim trail between Sunset and Sunrise point. This hiker, with bad ankles, was limping a bit by this point.

This is actually part of the rim trail between Sunset and Sunrise point. This hiker, with bad ankles, was limping a bit by this point.

If you are interested in last week’s Bryce Canyon (which is not technically a Canyon, but I will address that later if I have space) episode, go here.

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The different aspects of the comments of my last post was interesting to me. The comments about the snake surprised me as it was only a small part of the experience. But I liked it, because snakes fascinate me.

No, I do not want to own one and let it slither all over my house. Truth be told, I do not even like to hold them very much. I have a huge irrational phobia of worms, and poor snakes make me nervous because of their worm-like shape–not because they are snakes. I would actually hold a thousand snakes before I would hold a harmless worm, but I prefer to hold neither. (I understand the irrationality of this, but we all have to have some weird quirks.)

So I thought you might like to see the best close-up I have of the snake from the last post.

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

Celeste from Celestial Ramblings thinks it is a Bull Snake.  (It did not hiss, Celeste.)  Now I trust Celeste’s identification completely. She knows her animals; that is her job. But I grew up in Missouri where every brown harmless snake of size is a bull snake and every black one is a black snake. I think I need some reptile education! Or maybe there are lots of types of bull snakes. But probably where I grew up, all brown snakes were called that no matter what they were. (This is not to say no one in Missouri could distinguish between snakes, but let’s be honest. The general population is not that interested in snakes.)

This reminded me of another time I got some good pictures of a snake.

It was Labor Day weekend three years ago. We were hiking at the local extinct volcanoes. Chic was almost five, and Chicklet was almost 2-1/2. This meant Chicklet was riding on Prince Charming’s shoulders. We also had the dog with us, who thankfully seems to have a natural inclination to avoid danger. (I just read about snake training at Damp Dog’s Blog.)

That year there had been a lot of rain beginning in mid-July. By Labor Day, our world was very green (in a desert-y sort of way).  The dirt trail was washed out in several places. We had to be very careful to not fall into crevices in the trail.

Prince Charming was in the lead, then Chic, then me. Suddenly Prince Charming stepped quickly away from the solid trail and fell, breaking through the washed-out part, leaving a giant hole in the trail.

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

Our Storm Cloud, Chicklet was safe, but screaming. This made Chic cry. This made me irritated. I asked why he had not been paying attention or whatever to do that because we had one hysterical and one unhappy girl on our hands now.

He pointed. There, next to the trail, with his footprint only a couple of inches from it, was a rattlesnake.

Can you see the footprint just below the snake on the left of the photo? (click photo to enlarge)

Can you see the footprint just below the snake on the left of the photo? (click photo to enlarge)

He nearly stepped on its tail, which caused it to coil for strike. All hysteria was forgotten by me since I had a new camera. I started getting closer and closer to take pictures. I am not a complete idiot; I made sure I was never close enough that it could reach me if it decided to jump and strike.  But I really did have a good time getting pictures with my worried husband and crying children in the background.

In the end, the snake was tired of us and left. I ran ahead trying to get a better shot, but it was only interested in leaving, as are most snakes I have encountered in my life.

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

This is the final installment on my Tent Rocks Series. If you want, you can check out Part 1 and Part 2.

As the climb gets steeper and goes higher, the views become more amazing. Seeing the “tents” at eye level is just an incredible sight.

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

A close-up shows the brilliant blue sky.

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This is the view after we have climbed well above the tent tops.

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

From the top, one can see dozens of miles in any direction.  This direction I believe is looking toward Bandelier National Monument, to which I have never been but think I really need to if for no other reason than I have heard it is beautiful, and I could then show you.

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

This view is back towards the Sandia Mountains. This is not a fabulous picture; it is one we had taken of us a couple of years ago. We were going to have my niece take one on our trip there last month, but Chicklet was tired, and fell, and was screaming, and it was just time to go. It is a great spot for pictures. I love the background for picture-taking. This is a must-have photo if you go to this place.

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When one reaches the top, the end of the trail is not there. Many do not continue on the narrowing pathway to the very edge of the cliff, but usually at least a few of us go. It is getting to the point that this Mommy does not go because it puts her heart in her throat to watch her kids invincibly walk on that trail, especially if there is wind. Daddy seems to be made of sterner stuff.

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This is what Daddy and Chicklet look like at the end. Chicklet is small for her age, and still desperately needs a daily nap. A hike like this is a little too much for her, so Prince Charming assists on the way back when it is flat.

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There are secluded picnic spots at the bottom, and we always have lunch there. If someone does not fall asleep on the way home, it is an amazing thing.

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This is a continuation of last week’s post about Tent Rocks. Here is some more of the trail scenery.

This is still the trail to the top. Last week I stopped somewhere between 1/2-way and 2/3-way of the bottom, flat trail. This week we finish the bottom part and start the climb.

Next week I will conclude with the rest of the climb and a view or two from the top.

This is the entrance to a cave-like area. It is not really a cave, but it is quite enclosed. Kids love to play in this area. When both girls were smaller, Prince Charming carried them in a backpack for this hike. When that wasthe case, he had to crawl through a section of “the cave” on his hands and knees to avoid injuring the backpack occupant.

This is the exit from the small cave area. I love the lighting here and would love to have the opportunity to just stay in this spot all day to watch (and record) the lighting changes.

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This is the view looking up near the end of the flat part of the trail.

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

Another view up from the bottom. Every time I go to this place, the color of the sky takes my breath away.

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click photo to enlarge

This is looking up just as the climbing starts.

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click photo to enlarge

One of the views looking back as we are climbing.

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click photo to enlarge

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click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

My house is probably five miles from a row of extinct volcanoes. The three above are called “The Three Sisters.” I never understood this because five volcanoes are easily visible in the same area. I did not really even believe it, so I looked it up online, and yes, they are called that. (But there were lots more references to volcanoes in Oregon by the same name.) Go to the link. The picture is better than these–better sky.

hiking trail washed out after lots of rain--click to enlarge

hiking trail washed out after lots of rain--click to enlarge

This row of volcanoes resides in the Petroglyph National Monument. We like to hike there, but I have never made it to the largest volcano (the one on the left in the top photo which is farthest from the start of the trail) because I have never been there without my youngest daughter, who was probably three the last time we went. (She refused the backpack and could not walk that far.) One day I will go to it.

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

The scenery from here is spectacular. One gets a grew view of the valley with contains the city of Albuquerque.

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click photo to enlarge

In the winter, the elevation is just enough higher that the volcanoes sometimes have snow when the flatlands around them do not.

Do come back for  SkyWatch Friday to see these silhouetted against a brilliant sky! (This Thursday at 7:30 p.m. GMT.)

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click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

Hot air balloons are an almost daily part of My World; on most days we see several of them. They are not all as close as the one above, but I would guess they drift over our house five to ten times a year.

Not being a balloonist myself (and never even having been up in one), I really do not know the details, but apparently Albuquerque is a wonderful place for hot air ballooning. Albuquerque has something called “the box.” It means the winds work so that a balloon can take off, go out a certain direction, go higher and backtrack, then lower and land almost exactly in the same place from which it started. 

My guess is that some other reasons for ballooning being so popular here are the weather (sunny and relatively “good” most of the time) and with our open landscape, one can see miles in a balloon. (We can see quite a distance anyway; I am sure it is much greater in a balloon.)

We usually see the balloons on the way to school. It seems like the sky is empty if for some reason there are not several on any given morning.

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