March 30-April 4
We moved on to Bryce Canyon National Park and spent the afternoon driving the scenic drive to stop at various overlooks. I had been to Bryce about 20 years ago and had fond memories of it and have always said that it is one of my favorite National Parks. It did not disappoint! Bryce is fairytale like with its hoodoos that look like minarets. I have always said that it is what God created while on drugs. The rock formations are absolutely magical.
On our first full day at Bryce we woke up to cold temps since we are at 8000 feet, but the day soon warmed up. We decided to hike the main loop which is the Queens trail to the Navajo loop. It was spectacular (but crowded) with the path winding through the hoodoos, down to the valley and then back up.
Each hoodoo has a different feel and some have personalities. It was fun to name some of them as we passed by….there was the fist for freedom, the eagle, salt and pepper, the camel etc. The hiking path is extremely well made with archways carved out so that you could walk through a few of the hoodoos, and switchbacks to get back up the trail to the top.
The following day we decided to explore Red Rock Canyon State Park which is about 10 miles away and allows dogs on their trails. We had heard that it was equally beautiful and a lot less crowded. All of that led to a beautiful hike through more amazing hoodoos and red rocks. It was so nice to be able to take Buddy and not be surrounded by the mobs.
After a leisurely afternoon and barbeque back at the airstream (where I finished another commission dog portrait) we walked up to the rim trail for the sunset. The lighting on the rocks was breathtaking and we felt fortunate to experience it and be in walking distance to our campsite.
Our last full day in Bryce was spent doing the long 8 mile hike called Fairyland Loop. We got up early to beat the heat and to watch the sunrise on the hoodoos. It was a magical way to start the day. Both Ross and I were so blown away by the beauty, that we ranked it up there with one of the best hikes in the world. I can’t tell you how many hundreds of photos we stopped to take.
The trail winds steeply down through the hoodoos and then winds along the valley floor through moon like rolling hills, trees that felt like sculptures.
At the bottom of the trail was a rock formation called Tower Bridge that was fantastic.
The last two miles were a climb back out of the valley through arid areas and then ultimately back up through the trees to the rim trail. If you are able to do this trail we would highly recommend it!
Our last morning in Bryce I decided to get up early and head out to the Fairyland trailhead for the sunrise so that I could paint it. It was a bit chilly and windy but so worth being out there. I watched the sunrise on the hoodoos and tried to capture it in the painting below.
This painting was a bit of a challenge because the light was changing rapidly and I really had a hard time getting the hoodoos to capture the light effects. The background mountain I originally painted as too strong so I went back in and softened the edges so that the front hoodoos could be the focal point. I tried to re-work the hoodoos by switching from using my paint brushes to a palette knife so that I could get a more textural affect to the hoodoos. I’m not entirely satisfied with the painting but there is always something to learn. First of all, people always ask me if every painting I do is good. And the answer is NO! I have heard the statistic from a professional artist that she is happy if 1 out of every 6 plein air painting is good. So this painting mostly likely will get covered over with gesso and made into another painting. Reflecting on how I would do it again, I would work a bit on the composition so that there is more movement in the piece. Right now the line of the back cliff top and the line of the hoodoos is too parallel. Additionally, there needs to be more depth in the painting so that the focus is on the hoodoos and the cliff fades more into the background. I also think I would alter the hoodoos to have a bit more variety of shapes and sizes. Perhaps I will take it home and start fresh and paint it in the studio with a bit more time and see what comes of it.
Here is the painting that needs some work.
Next stop is Kodachrome Basin State Park.