Friday, October 15, 2010 Sunny and 77 degrees!!!!
"Arches National Park contains a lot or rocks. The area is a virtual layer cake of rock miles thick, a celebration of sandstones, mudstones, shales, salts, and limestones all stacked one upon another." If you've been following our blog, you know that it means there are lots of different sizes, shapes, and colors of rocks here as there have been through out our entire trip. But the arch is the formation found mostly in this park, and we spent the entire day hiking to some of them.
We drove to the furthest end of the park to hike to Landscape Arch. At 306 feet, it is the longest and thinnest of all the arches, just a ribbon of rock stretching across the side of the canyon. We started up the steep, rocky part of the same trail, but decided against it. Instead we turned back to see Pine Arch, which has a tree growing under it, and Tunnel Arches. Not too hard to figure that one out. As we were returning to the trailhead, we saw five mule deer, grazing nonchalantly while many hikers snapped their pictures.
At this point I should mention that Utah schools had this week off for Fall Break. The park was teeming with families and children of all ages---tiny babies to teenagers. We had to avoid being run down by kids that were racing up the trails. Thankfully, this is the first time on this trip that we've had to deal with hordes of kids running amok.
At Skyline Arch we met a young couple from England. They quit their jobs, flew to the US in July, and rented a van in New Jersey. They have been touring the country from east to west ever since. After today they are headed south, then east, planning to return home in time for Christmas. From then on we saw them at every stop we made. We enjoyed hearing how they were making use of their time and their van, were doing their meals, and their experiences in the US. That has been a bonus on this trip, all of the interesting people we've met from here and aboard.
As we continued to make our way back toward the park entrance, we stopped at Fiery Furnace and Salt Valley Overlooks, and Delicate Arch which is featured on the Utah license plates. Because of its unusual shape, it is also called Old Ladies Bloomers or Cowboy Chaps. At that same trailhead we walked to Wolfe Ranch, home to a Civil War veteran who moved here from Ohio in 1898. He and his son lived in a cabin that was no more than a small lean-to. When his daughter and her family moved in in 1907, they built a 14'x18' cabin. I can't imagine how they all lived in such tight, rustic quarters for three years.
When we started up the trail to North and South Window Arches, I turned my ankle again. So....the swelling is back, but I still have only mild discomfort. We gave up that hike and walked---gingerly on my part---to Double Arch. The description is lacking because the shape is more complex than that, more like two adjacent arches with a third arch overhead. This is our favorite of all we have seen.
By now the afternoon was slipping away, so we drove to the Visitor Center, passing by Balanced Rock, the Three Gossips, Courthouse Towers, The Organ, and Tower of Babel. We watched a fifteen minute film about Arches and neighboring Canyonlands National Parks before heading to Colorado. While it was a pleasant day, I now wish that we had gone back to Mesa Verde NP instead since part of that park was closed when we were there three years ago.
TODAY'S ROUTE: from Moab, UT 191N to Arches NP, then UT 191N to I 70E to Fruita, CO