We took a break where the trail headed downward once again, and the couple hiking behind us passed by while we took in the vista. They seemed to be setting a pretty good pace and were soon out of sight down the trail. The trail meandered down through more fantastic hoodoos.
We were alone again with the canyon and the moon that still lingered in the western sky and the puffy waves of clouds that we were beginning to suspect could become afternoon thunderstorms.
As we knew it would, the trail finally took a turn and started to wind at a gentle but unrelenting grade upward toward the rim. We’d been hiking for a little over three hours. It was starting to get pretty warm and we made sure to drink lots of water from the generous supply in our backpacks. We began to encounter hikers coming in from Fairyland Point. I didn’t envy them the hike they faced in the heat of the day. We were glad to be headed out.
In the shade at the end of a set of switchbacks, we caught up with the couple that had passed us earlier. We paused for a water break and a chat. They seemed pretty winded and the wife looked whipped. They were looking forward to the shuttle at Fairyland Overlook. We felt bad but had to tell them that there was no NPS shuttle that stopped there. It was going to be a long last couple of miles for the couple from Ohio. Hope they got home safe and sound.
As we trudged on upward, we started to encounter folks who were just hiking out from the overlook with no intentions of doing the whole loop. When we came upon a couple of stylish young ladies in designer sandals, we figured we were close to the parking lot at Fairyland Overlook.
The trail was pretty easy as we left the overlook area. We had views along the way into the canyon and the beginning of Fairyland Loop where we’d hiked a few hours before.
We headed up along the rim over one final hill before getting to the campground. The sand covered trail only added to the strain on our tired legs. We stopped a couple of times to drink more water watch the grasshoppers buzzing loudly among the grasses. The purple and yellow flowers lining the trail were a nice compliment to the dark trees and deep blue sky.
At last we make the final descent along the Rim Trail to the campground. It was about 12:30 PM. The hike had taken us about 5 ½ hours. After a brief stop at the campsite, we drove over to the camp store to shower. We’d already checked out the store and knew there weren’t many food options there for us so we headed out refreshed and relaxed to see what the out-of-park late lunch/early dinner options were on Hwy 12.
We were both quite hungry since we hadn’t eaten since our morning lunch on the trail hours before. We stopped at the restaurant at the Bryce Canyon Pines and succumbed to a couple of local beef patty melts and fries. It was a heavy late lunch but we knew we’d be skipping dinner at the lodge tonight and hitting the hay early as is our habit when camping. We did get a couple slices of their famous pie to go though. No reason to miss that just because you’re full
Since our legs were worn out, we fiddled away the rest of the afternoon visiting Sunset Point and a couple of others we’d missed the day before. This involved a great deal of people watching as well since it was Labor Day Saturday after all. The highlight was a father trying to get his stubborn young son to come to the overlook. The father told him it was the best one yet but the son said it was just “more rocks sticking up out of the ground”. He ended up in the car after taking a kick at his father’s ankles. We relaxed on benches and listened to the many different languages of people from around the world who were sharing this breezy afternoon with us at Bryce Canyon.
As the sun set, we headed back to the campground for a couple of beers and our homemade pie (not necessarily with the beer) as we watched the mule deer browsing nearby. We crawled into the tent as darkness fell but not before Sharon saw a very bright shooting star. It was a little cooler tonight so a restful sleep soon embraced us both.