Bryce Canyon National Park

A Bryce History

Dispatch by S. Bedford
Photo by Jimmy Martinello

Morning came early on our second day in the canyon. Actually, that’s a lie.

Morning, with its glowing peaches, cushioning lavenders and (most importantly) embracing sunshine, lolly-gagged. Five a.m., however, was right on time. Beneath a canopy of stars and amid a chorus of yawns, we breakfasted on peanut butter oatmeal and black tea, Delano’s camp-side breakfast coaxing us into wakefulness.

Clif Bar Bryce Canyon
Stopping for a quick snack
 

We captured sunrise with a photo shoot at the aptly named Inspiration Point. As nibbling mule deer looked on with mild curiosity, we tiptoed to the crumbling precipice beneath skeletal trees and gazed at the hoodoos that seemed to awaken with the dawn light.

We were then treated to a surprise second breakfast (hey, we intrepid adventurers must maintain our energy somehow) by Bryce Canyon National Park physical scientist Jim McNitt. Over cheese infused scrambled eggs and Canadian syrup-laden pancakes, Jim explained how the rim of the canyon is receding one and a half feet every 60 years as the amphitheater experiences head-ward erosion.

“It’s believed that, in a million years, this whole plateau will be gone and I’ll be out of a job,” joked the scientist. “Hopefully I’ll be retired by then.”

He added that Bryce Canyon’s exposed rocks are “only” 100 million years old—mere spring chickens when compared to the 1.5 billion-year-old Grand Canyon.

With the fervour of a child showing off his most prized G.I. Joe action figure, Jim presented us with a fossilized wasp cocoon. He explicated that the region was once an enormous lake that dried up 35 million years ago. During this time, the wasps laid their eggs in the viscous mud. We immediately began speculating the Jurassic Park-esque potential of the fossil, to which Jim patiently inquired after the appeal of resurrecting a prehistoric wasp.

Bryce Canyon Bryce Canyon National Park physical scientist Jim McNitt
The Ancient Nautilus Shell
 

The scientist also revealed two vertebrae of a hadrosaur that were discovered in the area as well as an ammonite shell, which is the ancestor of today’s nautilus shell—although Delano had me convinced it was the horn of an ancient ram. We left Jim’s bungalow, our bellies filled with scrumptious eats and our minds filled with fresh information...like why I shouldn’t believe everything Delano says.


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