This was the reason I extended my stay one more day! We were at the visitor center by 5:55am and were the first in line. The next person to get there arrived about 15 minutes after us. I think most people went to see the sunrise first, then came over to stand in line. There were 2 hikes - one on a less strenuous trail than the other. We picked the Queen's Garden loop hike. We actually hiked the trail during the day so we familiarized ourselves with what to expect. That evening we met Ranger Don at the trail, and after a few formalities and discussions we set off. There was some lightning in the distance, but it didn't seem to be coming our way. Needless to say, with the clouds in the sky, the moon was hidden so it was pretty dark. The thunder and lightning seemed to be getting closer, but we kept going. About 3/4 of the way down, it started pouring rain! And I mean POURING! Thunder, lightning and rain in pitch black darkness on a steep trail makes for a scary adventure! Thank you to those who didn't listen to directions and brought flashlights!! Special thank you to the woman who stayed with us to help lead us out with her flashlight! It was difficult climbing uphill - fast - as the lightning kept getting closer and closer. I don't think I climbed a trail faster than I did that night! Of course, after what seemed to be an eternity of praying that you stay on the trail as you grope your way up and don't fall off the sides of the cliffs, we made it to the top. I did see the couple from Holland the next morning at sunrise at Bryce Point so I know they got out ok. But Katherine from L.A. - hope you got out ok too! The park should have an emergency plan for situations such as this to make sure that all 30 hikers got to safety. There was no one at the top to meet us, and everyone just got in their cars and eventually left. No one was there to account for all of the hikers, so I just hope everyone got out of there ok.
Once to safety, it then became a great adventure instead of a scramble to get out alive!!! Maybe one day I'll be able to experience it for the amazing experience that it truly is meant to be. But I can also say I experienced the dangerous side of it!
If anyone decides to take this hike, pack a small flashilight in your backpack!!
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