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June 3, 2010

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Rock Arches For All

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The winds from Canyonlands continued through the night.  An especially large gust woke me up as I lay one my side watching the tent wall rattle around.  I felt part of the gust blow over my sleeping bag thinking how glad I was not to be outside.  With that a load of dust fell into my ear as the air settled in the tent.  Could have done without that.

The morning brought a cold bite to the wind as Joe and I drove to Arches National Park.  Though not a particularly large park it contains over 2,000  arches within it.  We decided they must be including the 1-2 foot arches we saw here and there, but probably not the cairn arch.

We drove to the far end of the park first, the Devil’s Garden area, where the parking lot was already half full.  The trail into the garden started off between rock outcrops forcing the wind right through our layers.  At least it was at our back, helping a little.  Soon Joe and I were forcing our way through a tour bus group which was at least as bothersome as the wind.

The path first arrives at Landscape Arch a 306 foot span.  The most impressive we’d see until the end of the day.  It quickly noticed that my energy level was way below the norm.  We’d ate a good dinner and I had breakfast so no real reason for it.

I contemplated going back a probably would have if I was  alone.  Joe said that he was a little off too and we continued on at a slower pace.  At Double O Arch a primitive trail continues and loops back to the trailhead.  Our original plan was to head that way.  That I knew I wasn’t up for and Joe decided to come back with me.

When I said the parking lot was half full earlier it was a rare pessimistic viewpoint for me.  Turns out it was very pessimistic as there were 4 times the number of vehicles parked there now lined up all the way around the large loop leading to the trail.

After an early lunch we headed down the road stopping frequently to see the arches that the park service points out.  At Delicate Arch we compromised and took the 3/4 mile walk to the upper viewpoint.  Much better than the 100 yard lower view, but the hike to the arch is supposed to be nice.

Once again I was riding in Joe’s truck which allowed me to point out the views as we drove and see what stops looked promising.  This worked out well for both of us.  Turning into the Windows Section is a must.  Several of the most impressive arches and views are down this road.

The North and South Windows are impressive individually and look like a pair of eyes when viewed from Turret Arch.  The views through the eyes are worthy as well staring at the Manti-LaSal Mountains.  This area also has the enormous Double Arch.  Sharing a common support the arches each freestand over 200 feet to the other end.

With those seen we drove through the rest of the park and headed back to camp.  We’d planned on two days in Arches knowing it was one of the more notorious parks in the area.  Even if we’d been up to all the hikes one day is enough.

It’s these popular parks that make me wonder if the parks should even be open to visitors at all.  People wandering off the well marked trails onto delicate soil, parents encouraging their kids to see how easy pieces of rock break off, and the ever present picture posers that become completely unaware of any one else around them once they get their shot.  None of these issues are limited to large parks and can be seen at all tourist stops, it just sucks to see.

Surely, some of my annoyance was exaggerated by how I felt.  However, a lot of what you see in inexcusable for any reason.  Enough of that, I still have Yellowstone and Galcier’s 100th birthday to see.

The following morning Joe and I said goodbye and went back to our own plans.  He headed back east in Utah while I stayed in Moab for two more days with family friends.  Turns out they run a motorcycle shop so I took advantage to change my oil in addition to their hospitality.  If you’re in Moab head to MadBro Sports on the south end of town to get your bike taken care of.

Most of those two days were spent writing blog updates, though I did take a nice ride through the Manti-LaSal range coming out at the Colorado River to complete the loop back to Moab.  With clean clothes, a full belly, two nights in a bed, and three showers it was time to get back on the road before I got soft and off to Colorado I went.

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1 Comment Post a comment
  1. Jun 7 2010

    I think if I go there, my camera card and laptop will full so quickly with the pictures! So gorgeous pictures you took here!!

    Reply

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