Once is Not Enough
~Tuesday, April 26, 2022~
Amazing that I have a little internet signal this morning, so thought I’d check the availability of getting an earlier return trip to Arches. Hah!! What do you know! They added 30 slots for a 12:00 entry which is much better than 4:00 since we still have so much to see of this amazing park.
The stars aligned for us in many ways today starting with our earlier ticket into Arches. Secondly, on the same trail, we ran into 2 fellow RV travelers we met a few months ago, (what are the chances?) and thirdly we helped a frightened woman achieve her goal of getting to the Delicate Arch. Now, I could leave it at that, without elaborating on the story. But if you’re like me, you want the details, right?
O.k., nabbing an earlier time slot in one of our favorite national parks may not be that momentous, but our chance meeting on the “Park Avenue '' trail was something crazy. I’m a firm believer in “everything happens for a reason”. What are the chances that 2 people who you barely know but have managed to keep in touch with via Instagram, are in the same state, the same national park, let alone the same trail? Enter Andrew and Kelli. Jeff and I were on our way back to the car after hiking “Park Avenue '' and from a distance, recognized Andrew and Kelli approaching us, right through the middle of the canyon. What a hoot! Last January, we had met for all of about 5 minutes in Tucson, Arizona while staying at Diamond J RV Resort. We barely had enough time to exchange our tag names and emails but managed to stay in touch these last few months. Surrounded by canyon beauty in Arches, we couldn’t have asked for a better location to eagerly catch up with each other. And thanks to too much disruption by barking dogs behind the resort, we would have never met. You can check out their journey on Instagram @OurLifeIsLucky.
Now for a little explanation of our awe inspiring hike through “Park Avenue”. With towering fin walls surrounding the canyon,
we hiked about a mile through a wash where we were able to see such formations as Sheep Rock, the third tallest tower in Arches and a striking resemblance to the namesake animal. Another was Argon Tower, a 270-foot tower at the end of the west wall, and the Three Gossips, a striking 350-foot tall tower with three summits sitting atop a sandstone pedestal. They look like figures with heads turned toward each other exchanging gossip. At the end, there are the ever recognizable Courthouse Towers next to the Scenic Drive.
Now for the challenging, yet most desirable hike in the park…..Delicate Arch. Delicate Arch, the largest free-standing arch in the park, stands as a symbol of the state of Utah and is one of the most recognized geologic forms in the world. It’s a great cardio workout from the start. First stop, is a side route where you can see a few Petroglyph Panels that historians believe were carved by Ute and Paiute Indians in the mid-1600’s. The art depicts human and animal hunting scenes which are very well preserved. Close to the petroglyphs is the dilapidated Wolfe Ranch. John Wesley Wolfe and his family were drawn to the area by a nearby freshwater spring, calling the area home from 1898 to around 1910. It’s hard to imagine, six people sleeping in the one-room cabin all those years. It would be Wolfe’s daughter Flora, who took the first known photograph of Delicate Arch in 1906. Eventually, the ranch was sold and eventually purchased by the US government as part of Arches National Park.
From the ranch, the trail to Delicate Arch climbs over rolling steep Slick Rock slopes with no shade. And where there’s Slick Rock trails, there are cairns to mark the trail. When you finally come around the corner and see Delicate Arch in full view,
you realize why it’s worth the trip. There’s only a 450-foot elevation change from Wolfe Ranch to the top of the rock trail, but it’s a short distance making it quite a challenge. Can’t imagine hiking it in the summer months. Very windy at the top, but still warm, we savored the views. Thankfully it wasn’t too crowded as we think we timed our hike perfectly between the earlier day crowd and the sunset people. Like a dangling carrot, the arch entices you to walk up to it (a challenge in itself). The Slick Rock slopes downward to a deep depression that without a good foot grip, would be quite a slide. But we made it. Nice to get a different perspective of the 52-foot icon. One day, Delicate Arch, formed by erosion of a sandstone fin, will sadly fall.
As we were coming down, a woman in her early 30’s I’d say, appeared to be struggling, huddled against the rock, opposite the ledge of the trail. She was nearly in tears. She asked us if the trail narrowed further up (mind you she was only 50 yards to the end). We would admit that it does appear the trail around the bend has a sheer drop off. Despite our efforts of encouragement, she was just too fearful. I don’t take people’s fear of heights lightly. So I was happy to oblige by getting her to the finish line. Holding her hand, having her walk the inside of the trail, we slowly walked to the end, talking about where we were from and what a beautiful day it was…..anything to distract her. When she made it, she gave me a most sincere thankyou. Now she could have her moment.
Last stop…..Balanced Rock. Here, it is so obvious to see the forces of erosion sculpting more than just arches. You can see the role each layer is responsible for with its amazing defiance of gravity. The caprock made
of strong Entrada Sandstone is perched upon a pedestal of the softer mudstone. This softer “Dewey Bridge” as it is called, weathers more quickly than the resistant rock above. Eventually the faster eroding “Dewey Bridge” will cause Balanced Rock’s collapse.
On the way home, we finally made a stop at the enticing spring close to our campsite, and there wasn’t a wait. Absolutely delicious and refreshing after our day’s accomplishments.
We originally had plans to meet up with Kelli and Andrew for a cocktail in Moab to help celebrate her birthday. But because of our longer than expected hike day , it pushed the arrival back to our campsite too late. Plus we had Sadie to still tend to and didn’t want to intrude on their evening plans. So we’re hoping to revisit them in Colorado sometime soon since we’ll both be spending the next month in the colorful state.
Too exhausted to cook, I offered to go into town to pick up a much deserved dinner of pizza and fill up the truck for our trip to Rabbit Valley tomorrow. What a great way to cap off our time here in Utah with a beautiful evening, eating pizza by the river while watching our canyon light show one last time. A slice of heaven both ways! 😉