Trail Ride at Bryce National Park

The event of this new day was a trail ride in Bryce National Park, but let’s start at the beginning.

The Iron Gate Bed and Breakfast looked like this at night, when we got home from a pizza place in Cedar City.

And like this with the morning sun behind it.

It is a large home in a residential area of Cedar City, converted into a Bed and Breakfast that can accommodate seven couples.  All seven private suites were occupied.  This one was ours.  That door in back leads to a large bathroom.

Another door leads to this sitting room that had an antique piano, out of tune, not fixable, but attractive.

The Adobe Abode was furnished and decorated in the southwest motif (stucco walls, cowboy stuff, desert paintings, timber logs, ceramic tile, rustic colors, cattle horns).  As you can see, the Iron Gate was furnished in Victorian style.

This home had antique dressers, crown moldings, couches, chairs, and loveseats with ornate wood trim, and scrolled rug designs and colors not rustic.

This is where we had our breakfasts, each one more delicious than the one before it, all of them gourmet.  Donna and husband Brian are the owners.  For our first breakfast, Donna made moist, rich, caramel rolls topped with slices of baked apple, plus slices of ham and fruit.  She made a large gluten free serving of the caramel rolls for Allan and he ate the whole thing.

Then we made a quick trip to Walmart (in Cedar City) to buy me a cheap pair of tennis shoes for the trail ride Allan had scheduled for noon in Bryce Canyon.  One of the criteria was “no open toed shoes” and I only had flip flops along.

Then it was a 90-minute drive to Bryce National Park and, for the first time, we saw a forest of evergreen trees, growing like in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

And flat expanses of land where cattle and sheep were grazing.

It was refreshing to see a real lake up in the mountains and it explains why people would settle here.

Mountain resorts dotted some of the hillsides like lake homes in northern Minnesota.

Even Aunt Sue went into business here.

I was surprised to see fall colors in the forests of evergreen trees.  Maybe they’re maple.

I love my little baby camera.

Bryce National Park was green compared to Arches Park and Canyonlands Park.

Sage and evergreen trees were along roadsides.

Then we found the coral and arrived in plenty of time so we took a couple pictures.

A cowboy named Henry looked each of us over and assigned us our horses or mules, as the case may be.  At least half of the stock were mules.  Allan got Vance.  I got Johnny.  Both were mules.

Allan reminded me that a mule is a cross between a horse and a donkey and it cannot reproduce itself.  All I can say about that is, “Good!”

Our trail guide was Joe.  He was a good egg but he should have recognized that I shouldn’t have been riding in a children’s saddle.

This is the last picture I took on the trail ride.  I will never go on another trail ride.  And I don’t care if I never see another horse or a mule again.

Except for the first ten minutes, the three-hour ride was not only torturous and painful because of the saddle but also because when we came to steep cliffs — which was most of the trail — the animal rode as close to the edge as possible.

People were commenting on the beautiful scenery.  Allan kept taking pictures of me.

The mule goes to the very edge of the cliff before he makes a 90-degree angle with his head over the edge and my stomach too.

I was told to sit straight in the saddle and I tried but the edge was right there.  This is a little cliff compared to most of them when even Allan must have let go of his camera to hang on.

Nothing brought comfort.  My knees and hips were being twisted in directions they were not meant to go.

There was no alternative outside of putting up with all of it. 

It was dreadful.  The mule had four feet to clop in a four-foot wide trail and he stayed within four inches of every cliff edge.

I may have been the smallest person on the ride, but the children’s saddle was not for me.  Allan and I didn’t know it until after the ride when we picked up pictures a guy had taken of us.

I kept asking Allan, “How many more minutes?”

Because I was laughing a lot — it was either that or cry — Allan had no idea that my knees and hips hurt.

And to think we had to pay for this torture.

I figured my knees and hips would never mend and that I’d never walk normal again.

The last five minutes seemed like 50 minutes.  The end couldn’t come fast enough.  I was relieved to see light at the end of the tunnel.