Monday, May 17, 2010

May 17, 2010

We went back to Arches in the morning in hopes of doing some serious hiking this time. I remember last time the free drinking water tasted like chocolate. This time it just tasted like bad water. I think I prefer the chocolate.... it's a toss-up really.

We saw Landscape Arch on the Devil's Garden Trail. I took this trail last time I was here but I wanted to find some new things on it. There were so many people on the main trail; it's just a popular time to be in Utah, it seems.

There were lizards about everywhere we looked. They would scurry across the path or out of bushes everytime we took a step. They also happily climbed on the rocks we were scaling.

We got to Double O Arch, where I took some of my favorite shots last time I was here. The second "O" is the little thing on the bottom. This is still my favorite arch that I've seen here.

I found my way to the top of it again, but this time I also took a walk out to the far end of the rock and looked off the side. It was only a little frightening. Mostly when I looked down or took a picture I just felt like I was losing balance sometimes.

After reading a little from my new book about the way arches are formed (it has to do with cracks formed by water that seeps through rock and weaken it until it erodes; it's really interesting), we found the primitive trail and took it for a spin.

It seemed pretty mild, but I wanted to climb on things anyway so I found my way into this crevice and carefully climbed up into it.

This doesn't look nearly as high as that actually is. I had to walk all the way down the path in the crevice and then climb up quite a way on the other side of this rock before I could slowly make my way to that edge.

It was an amazing view from the top. I could see the Devil's Garden rocks, a few arches and, of course, the Rockies behind me covered with snow. I just stood up there for a while taking it all in. There's something transcendant about standing on what seems like the highest point and seeing these stunning, unreal natural creations all around you.

As in many places with hiking, the path was marked with cairns, which are small piles of rocks which allow you to follow a trail without the addition of something unnatural to the environment.

The primitive trail was fairly easy up until a point in the middle where it suddenly became quite difficult. There were precarious rock sides with not much in the way of footholds and steep climbs in desert sand. Oh, and this thing to go around. It was a lot of fun but it lived up to its rating.

After finishing the hike, we got food in downtown Moab and I got what they referred to as a smoothie; I would call it sugar ice. After that disappointing "refreshment," we headed out of town to Canyonlands National Park.

We checked out the Aztec Butte trail first. It was a short hike that took us to two plateaus in the middle of an otherwise flat desert area.

After some climbing we came upon several granaries which were once used by the Aztecs who inhabited this region to store food and keep it dry under natural overhangs on the plateaus. This area was really interesting in history and geography. I stood atop the one plateau, taking in the amazing beauty of the park while a relentless wind blew around me, overwhelming me with the sublimity of my surroundings. I closed my eyes and just listened to the wind blow. It just made me feel alive.

There were plenty of beautiful sights to be seen in this small region. The gnarled trees made for great characters in the foreground while the background speaks for itself.

We traveled next to Green River Overlook, not too far from our short hike. It was a breathtaking view and another great place to just sit, stare and zone out.

We drove pretty far at night, weaving around the National Parks on our way to the next one and stumbled upon a small RV park with about 4 tent sites and we took one.

I had fallen asleep in the car a few times before we got here so I wasn't going to have any trouble getting back to sleep.

Total distance today: 327.2 miles. A lot of these miles are racked up in the parks. There are many miles of roads in each of the parks we visit and we often drive all the way to the end of them to see things and then have to drive back the same way to get out.

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