Friday, 10 August 2012

Sunday / Zion National Park

Our journey to Zion took us through the wonderful Utah landscape, characterised by red, red rock. It was simply stunning. Sadly I took my camera to Zion without a memory card so I only managed to capture a few photos on our way out.
 We looked at the trails and decided on the one that looked most likely to provide us with an opportunity for some more swimming in the wild – Emerald Falls. Sadly, the National Park official advice stated we weren’t allowed to swim. The Lower, Middle and Upper Emerald falls proved to be rather underwhelming anyway, rather lacking in water due to the summer heat. We had a wonderful time spotting lots of interesting wildlife – tiny toads, little lizards and a very bold deer that took us by surprise.
 {photo by Tim}
We left Zion, ready to head to our next destination, but didn’t get very far along the mountain roads before being stopped by a small queue of cars. It soon became apparent that the car at the front of the queue had stopped to look at something on the mountain side, and everyone else had followed suit. So we did just that. Tim and I hopped out of the car, cameras at the ready to see what was capturing so much interest, all the while marvelling at the combination of audacity and acceptance of those stopping in the middle of the road, and those unsuspecting drivers being stopped abruptly on the mountain road. 

These two big horned mountain sheep were the cause of all the interest. Apparently it’s very unusual to see them in action. No-one seemed to be an expert on interpreting the behaviour of mountain sheep, but the assumption was that these were two males engaged in a mating ritual, vying for the female mountain sheep. For the most part, they nuzzled each other, rubbed horns, and stopped to stare at their growing audience. 
Then they simultaneously stepped back, reared up and charged at each other, the clashing of their horns reverberating around the mountain pass. What great entertainment! Shortly after leaving the small crowd of onlookers, we came across the female mountain sheep who had captured the attention of the two males – she didn’t seem at all phased by the antics taking place just around the corner in honour of her. 
Our next destination was Bryce Canyon and we hoped to arrive in time for sunset. We got there just in time to be greeted with seriously spectacular views and our first sightings of the Hoodoos that characterise Bryce Canyon at Sunset Point. Breathtaking beauty.

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