Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Utah Saga: Moab, sunsets, and Edward Abbey

Upon arriving my first night into Arches (established in 1971), one of the many National Parks on my adventure bucket list, I spent an hour hiking the (easy, 2-mile round-trip) Park Avenue trail which takes you past towering red rock walls, in a big, washout of dried sandstone littered with curves and crazy shapes, appearing as if this once-lush area had simply melted away in the sun. The sunset on the western part of the park and I was able to catch some of Utah's finest natural dusk glows from the Windows Section of the park which has Turret Arch, both North and South Window Arches. Pretty sure that night I fell in love with the west, even more.
After camping out at a site just ten minutes away at Archview RV Resort and Campground), I headed towards Moab to spend a second day exploring Arches National Park. Something about this place had been just intriguing me for years, so it was very cool to actually get boots on the trail and hike around in this National Park. Before entering the park itself, I stopped in Moab at Gearheads Outdoors Store, a fun and helpful place to pick up a topographic map of Canyonlands National Park (where I'd be backpacking for three days later in the trip) and a can of cooking gas.

Past the gate and in the land of Edward Abbey, I headed right to the Devil's Garden trailhead, about twenty miles from the park entrance. Here, Tunnel Arch, Pine Tree Arch and the biggest arch in the world, the nearly 300-ft long, Landscape Arch, were all easily accessible by foot. Venture on to, but make positively sure you have water, the primitive trail which climbs up slickrock with drop-offs on either side to get to Navajo Arch and Partition Arch (which allowed for some cool views). 
A few miles away on the trail, you'll hike the top of the fins, which will raise some hairs if you're afraid of heights and it's windy, check out the Double O Arch and a random, darker red rock tower called Dark Angel, which has a mysterious aurora surrounding it as it towers towards the sky. 
The primitive trail is a bit difficult but takes you through adventurous terrain for a few hours back to the trailhead. If you're looking for a quiet, thrilling hike, this is the one to do in the park, but follow the cairns closely in some places. Halfway through this hike as you get deeper into the Fin Canyon area, you'll take a side trail to Private Arch, which was probably my favorite arch in the park due to its shape and absolute remote, trippy and desolate location.

Three hours later I was out of the Devils Garden trailhead, heading to see Sand Dune Arch (expectedly tons of sand!) and super-cool Broken Arch (there's a reason it's got that adjective in front of it!), my second favorite and another very impressive arch with cool views of the distant snow-capped La Sal mountain range to the east. The sun started to set and I hiked (3 miles round trip with about 480ft of elevation gain) up the Cache Valley to see yet again, another jaw-dropping Utah sunset at the infamous Delicate Arch, which sits at around 4,829ft. 
Quick tip- hike behind and below the arch for a different take of its 65ft prominence, but watch your step cause you're on super-steep slickrock and that'd be a nasty fall down below. 15 miles of hiking Arches was a perfect day and way to start off this tour. One Utah national park down, four to go.