The wild west

If some of the pictures you see from southern and south-central Utah look familiar, they probably are, at least if you’re old enough to recall some of those John Wayne westerns and a few of Clint’s when he wasn’t mixing spaghetti with six shooters. Perhaps nothing says “old west” like Utah’s amazing landscape, and it seems that almost every time you turn a corner you’re on another set. I visited Bryce and Zion national parks this week. Bryce is known for its hoodoos, while Zion gets the nod for gorgeous glens and hikes, some requiring holding onto a chain hooked into a rock wall as you traverse a narrow ledge. Both are marvelous. I’ve become particularly enchanted with a tree found here and in other parts of America’s mountain West — the bristlecone pine. These trees grow in harsh environments withstanding wind and cold and thrive despite a lack of water. One I came upon today at Bryce was rooted into the edge of a rock wall and was reported to be “about” 1,600 years old. If the rock doesn’t give way, she could easily go another 1,600.

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