Friday, 3 April 2015

Day 19: Arches National Park, Moab, Utah

Today we woke the boys at 5 am in order to see the sun rise at the Delicate Arch in Arches National Park.  There is a very small parking lot at the trailhead so in order to ensure a parking spot this was  the suggested strategy at the Moab tourist information centre.   

Due to our remote location the stars shone bright as we drove up and up the switchbacks into the park.  We pulled on jackets and grabbed our flashlights to hike the 1.5 miles up to the arch.  There were others there but certainly no crowd.  We could see a few lights bobbing up the trail in the distance.  We saw the dark form of a small vole or shrew running along a wooden bridge early in our trek - nice!  After a while the dirt path disappears and it is slickrock marked with a few inuksuks to guide the way.  Stay away from the dark gullies boys. 

Alex kept looking in the shadows of the rocks wondering if Big Foot was there.  

We made it to the top in plenty of time for the sunrise despite the longer than expected distance to the arch.  It was rather cool and windy so after sitting still for half an hour things were chilly.  The boys did well though. 

Apparently getting pictures of the Delicate Arch with no people in your picture is a rare thing reserved for early birds. 

It was interesting to people watch on our hike back down.  Oh, those families with toddlers. .. . really?  How do you think this is going to end if they are fussing 200 m from the parking lot?  Love the eager parents but some things just are not worth it. 

We warmed up in the truck and continued on deeper into the park on the out and back road. We stopped at almost every pull out and were pleasantly surprised to have the Sand Dunes and Broken Arch all to ourselves. 

At the end of the road is an area called Devil's Garden.  There are about 8 kilometres of trails; however, we were content to hike in about 2 kms to see the Landscape Arch - as tall as a 9 story building and 309 feet (100m) wide. In the 90's a large chunk fell out of this arch so you may no longer walk right up to it.  Sounds good to me!  Needless to say, these pictures are nothing compared to actually being there. 

By lunch time we have lived a full day.  We drive out of the park feeling rather smug that we are all done and the hordes of vehicles of every size and shape crawling up the hill to the arches will be hard pressed to park at any of the look-outs. 

At the entrance to the park we stop at the Interpretive Centre - gotta see the movie, you know.  And, get a fridge magnet.  With this trailer I have opted to collect magnets instead of bumper stickers. 

Back at the trailer there is an afternoon dust storm. We all impersonate sloths inside the trailer and I get around to some marking.  

Later the boys play some pitch and putt. 

The Big Dipper on its side. It is a magical time.

Hmm, so where is that trail?

Too dark to take good pictures yet but we have reached the goal. 

Here comes the sun!

Something beautiful in an unlikely place. 

Sand Dune arch.  Walk through these upright fins to see the
arch in the picture below. 

Sand Dune arch. 

Once out of the Sand Dune fins we head down the path ten minutes to Broken Arch.

Broken Arch from the back.
Not a soul in site.
Broken Arch from the front. 

This was a bonus arch that was not on the map.
We pulled over in a jiffy and hopped out.
  This arch is massive which is hard to
tell because we are actually about 300m in front of it yet.
We figured the view was good from where we were ....
This arch is at least 60 feet tall in the centre of the opening.

Pine Tree Arch. 
Landscape Arch.  9 stories high and 100 m wide.
So hard to tell that from this picture.
There is a bonus arch near the top right.

Balanced Rock.  By this time, we were arched-out.
So a drive-by picture would just have to do. 

The Windows. Apparently the back drop to one of
the Indiana Jones Movies.  You can walk up to these multiple, large arches;
however, by this time of the day they were crawling
with people and we were DONE :). 

Look what we missed on the drive up in the dark!

A perfect way to end off a day at Arches National Park, with another arch. 

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