Exploring Bryce Canyon and Zion Park

It’s taken me a little longer to catch up on blog posts about our vacation.  Between assimilating back into real life NJ, being sick, and preparation for the Philadelphia marathon weekend, it’s been busy.

Anyway, one of the best days my husband and I had was at Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park.

We knew we wanted to go to both but timing wise, it wasn’t going to work out to spend a lot of time at both. We decided to drive through Bryce Canyon and look out and then spend a little more time in Zion National Park.   They aren’t too far apart, so you are able to do both.

Personally, we could both spend a lot of time in either.  They are two gorgeous parks!  Hopefully, sometime in the future, we will be able to go back and explore.

Bryce Canyon: 

While visiting Bryce Canyon, we went out to Rainbow point and walked around.  There is a 10-mile hike you can do and look over the Hoodoo Ampethetiar.  If we had more time, we would have done it!

The park itself is easily driveable.  It’s about an 18-mile drive to the tip of Rainbow Point, and there are several spots and opportunities for photos.

Made it to Bryce Canyon for incredible views of the Hoodoos and Rainbow point.

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Zion National Park:

Like Bryce Canyon, we could spend days in Zion National Park.  Before arriving, we planned to do a longer hike but quickly realized timing would not allow us too.

We still wanted to get back to Colorado and spend a few days there too!  When we arrived at the park, it was crowded and it was hard to even find parking.  By the time we were able to park and get out of the car, it was nearly 1 pm.

We could have begun the hike but it was a lengthy one and I didn’t want to be hiking at dark.  You had to take a bus to a certain location, then start, then take the bus back.  It was just a lot and if you’ve ever seen me hiking hangry…well…my husband would have left me there. Hiking in Zion National Park

So we just decided to explore and climb up to our own rock.  We didn’t have an exact trail or route but it was more fun that way.  We pulled over at a random spot and just hiked.  Even with hundreds of people inside the park, we didn’t run into anyone.

Hiking in Zion National Park
Sitting in a rock seat

Hiking away from everyone was much better for us anyway.  If you ever go to Zion National Park, don’t be afraid to just stop and explore. Hiking in Zion National Park

You don’t need a trail or destination.  And yes, we actually made it up an entire rock.  You can see the main road in the background.

To be honest, both Bryce and Zion were two of my favorite spots.  Eventually, my husband and I plan to go back.  You could spend days, weeks, and even months just exploring.

road trip through colorado

Posts from Vacation:
Hiking: 
Hiking Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder

Running: 
Haunted Half Marathon 5k (19:40)
Two Weeks of Training: Easy Miles Out West

Diners: 
Sams 3 Diner (Denver)
New Castle Diner (Colorado)

Questions for you:

Where is your favorite place to hike?

Have you ever been to Zion or Bryce Canyon? 

 

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Hiking Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder

I have so much to recap with my trip to Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico.  I believe it will take close to 10 blog posts because we did something every day.  We went to Colorado with no plan but two plane tickets and a rental car.  We thought it would be cool to make it to other states, but if we didn’t…we didn’t…

I decided it would be easiest to recap through days (so I didn’t forget too)

road trip through colorado

Hiking Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder

As most people know, my husband and I like to hike.  We try and hit a mountain wherever we are.  I won’t say I’m a fantastic hiker, but it’s something we both enjoy doing.  We found a shorter hike in Boulder which seemed like it would be fun.  The mountain, called Flagstaff Mountain, kept confusing us because of Flagstaff, Arizona…

We parked and headed up.  A hiker informed us it was rocky, and I thought: “well I’ve seen some rocks hiking before, ” but the Rocky mountains are so different.  I had recently purchased a pair of Brooks Caldera (trail shoes) and I’m glad I did.  Eventually, I’ll have a review of those shoes later.

hiking flagstaff mountain boulder

We started on the Gregory Canyon trail and intersected with the Ute trail at Realization point.  Together, the hike itself was 2 miles up and 2 miles back.  My husband and I have done easier 10-mile hikes out east than this one.  It was climbing the entire time.  He believes we climbed about 2000 feet of elevation.  In two miles, that is a lot.

hiking flagstaff mountain boulder

Throughout the hike, there were plenty of views of the Colorado State University (which I tried to just absorb some running speed).

We first made it to “realization point”.  Where I realized what a mistake I made hiking in Colorado (just kidding).  It is accessible by car as well if you wanted to drive and park up there.

Then we continued our hike up to the peak of Flagstaff Mountain which was gorgeous.  You could see more of the rocky mountains.

hiking flagstaff mountain boulder

While coming down, we saw a family hiking up.  Their 3-4-year-old daughter was hiking up what I considered one of the hardest mountains I’ve done.  I kept thinking: if this mountain baby can do it, so can I.

hiking flagstaff mountain boulder

The hike itself was moderate, and I don’t think without trail shoes I would have made it to the top.  I’ve hiked plenty of old running shoes but based on the rocks, I think trail shoes are necessary.

So far one of my favorite hikes I’ve done.

Other Hikes We’ve Done:

California:
Hiking the Hollywood Sign (LA)

New York:
Getting Lost at Bear Mountain (Part 2)

New Jersey:
Sunfish Pond
Seeing a Bear at Sunfish Pond
Hiking the Stairway to Heaven
Hiking Hemlock Falls

North Carolina:
Hiking Greybeard Trail (Asheville)

Questions for you:
What is your favorite hike?  Is there anywhere near you? 
Are you a planner or a go with a flow?

Run the Vineyards 5k (20:30)

The day after running the Panther Prowl I decided to run an XC course. Last month I raced the Run the Vineyards Grapes and Peaches 10k.  The race was well put together and one of my favorite races so far this year.  I knew that eventually I would want to do another Run the Vineyards Race.  I haven’t been fond of doing long runs on Sundays lately, so I decided to do the Run the Vineyards 5k instead.

I arrived at the race around 8:20. It was further than anticipated, but I was able to sign up, warm up and then make it to the race start. At the starting line, I noticed a younger kid with a GoPro attached to his head. He looked pretty serious, and I assumed he would win (Spoiler: he did).

The race went off with no issue.  I immediately found myself as the second person overall. After .1, I stayed at that position the entire time. I could always see the GoPro kid in front of me, but I didn’t have the energy or speed to catch him. Immediately into the race, we made a hard turn into the Vineyard. It was grassy, muddy and wet. It was the typical cross country terrain. The first mile weaved in and out of Vineyards and through a wide open field. I found the open field to be the muddiest. We crossed over some soft sand, and my watch beeped a 6:20 first mile.  That was actually faster than I anticipated.

The second mile went through more of the field and passed over a road into another Vineyard. During the crossing I noticed there were wild turkeys ahead. Thankfully one of the volunteers began chasing them away because I was terrified. During the second mile, my legs started to feel the effect of the course. I haven’t run on trails or grass in a while, let alone mud or flooded terrain. I felt myself drastically slowing, but I wasn’t surprised. I ran the second mile in 6:36.

The third mile went back towards the start. It was an out and back course, so we ran by people running the opposite direction. I was slowly becoming more tired, and my legs were fatigued. I felt like I was running through quicksand! The third mile of any 5k is frequently boring and uneventful. I focused on finishing. We did a giant loop through 2 Vineyard trails and all of a sudden I could see the finish line. I ran the last mile in 6:56 and finished in 20:30.

Awkward photo of the day goes to me...
Awkward photo of the day goes to me…

Thoughts:

It’s impossible to compare cross country times to road race times. I had a great race, and I have missed running on open fields. I plan to look for several more cross country style races before Winter.  This time is closer to my previous road 5k times from earlier in the summer.  That shows a huge improvement because this course was much more difficult.

I had a great time and had no regrets.  I even won a bottle of wine. I enjoy the Run the Vineyards races, so I am hoping to do the last couple before next season. I recommend them to anyone in the NJ/PA area.

Questions for you:

What is your favorite type of wine?

Do you like cross country races?

Flag Day Trail 10k (45:40)

The Flag Day Trail Race was put on by the base.  While anyone could race (and it was promoted to all of South Jersey), the majority of people who ran were in the military.  It was a really cool event and one I had been looking forward to all month.

The race itself was located in central NJ at the Brendan T. Byrne State Park.  It was about an hour north east of me.  This summer I’ve gotten lucky that most races are only 20 minutes away (including Philadelphia races).  I hadn’t driven an hour for a race in quite some time!

I got to the race pretty early.  After helping out with a few things, I warmed up.  It was extremely muggy and also buggy.  I’ve never attracted that many bugs before.  They were swarming around me.

brendan t byrne state park

The 10k went off at 8:30.  Immediately I positioned myself as second person.  I stayed there and by the end of the first mile, I found myself alone.  I couldn’t see anyone ahead or behind me.

The only thing that kept me knowing I was going the right direction was the course arrows every half mile.  We were running through sand and it was hot.  I already knew this would not be a fast race. I hit the first mile in 7:10.

During the second mile, we came across a few logs that had fallen across the course.  I didn’t know if that meant I went the wrong way but I still kept going.  I hurdled the logs (just so I could blog about it).

The second and third mile were the hardest due to the hilly terrain, logs and the never ending sand.  I ran mile 2 in 7:40 and mike 3 in 7:30.

trails 5k

The halfway point took deeper into the trails. I was happier because the terrain was less sandy but more cross country and woodsy.  It gave me a flashback to good ole cross-country days (7:14).

At mile 5, I began catching up with some of the 5kers that had started the race later.  (The 5k did half of the 10k course). It was a narrow course but not a big deal.  They kept telling me I was first overall.  I knew there was man in front of me but I hadn’t seen him after mile 1.

The final mile was back on the sand and there was no tree cover.  This was by far the hardest mile. By that point I was tired, hot and my calves were extremely sore (from the sand).  I powered to the end and finished with a time of 45:40.

I was told I had finished the 10k first.  Shortly after I finished the man who I had thought won came in.  He had gotten lost and taken a wrong turn.  I congratulated him and told him he was truly the winner.  Realistically, he was running faster and he would have won if he hadn’t gotten lost.

me trails 5k

I had a great time at the trail race.  While it wasn’t my usual weekend 5k, it was nice to race something different.  My only regret is not wearing my cross-country spikes.  It was one of the few races I could have gotten away with it!  It was also nice to familiarize myself back with the 10k distance as well.

I won a giant gift basket full of Earth Balance Peanut Butter and snacks.  It was one of the coolest and most unique prizes I’ve won!

earth balance peanut butter

I don’t have any races until the end of the month.  I’m tentatively doing another 10k.  I remember last year that the Pineland Striders 10k was extremely hot and humid.  Oh well, that is what summer is racing is!

Questions for you: 

Have you run a trail race or sandy race? 

Do you like the 10k distance?