In Awe of Arches

Trip Start Mar 10, 2007
Trip End Mar 21, 2007

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Flag of United States  , Utah
Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I set off early the next morning, eager as a beaver to get to the famed Arches National Park, host to some of the most outstanding landmarks of Utah. The air was fresh and I was feeling good. Despite the long drive the day before, I had a good rest at the motel and a good breakfast to start the day. The weather was perfect and the clear skies pointed to good hiking conditions, and indeed the hiking was good.

There are more than 2000 recorded arches in the park, so if you have a year of time to kill, you could probably find them all. As I drove into the park with the morning chill still in the air, I passed the imposing Courthouse Towers and Balanced Rock, two sights easily seen from the road and landmarks of Arches National Park which are not arches. In all I did four hikes that day, quite a mean feat considering that from the moment I had arrived at LAX I had been (aside from the breakfasts) on a fast food diet of burgers, nuggets, fries and coke, and aside from the short hike in Bryce, my bum had been quite perpetually glued to the seat of the car.

The first hike that morning was a short hike to Double Arch followed by the windows loop. These are 2 relatively easy hikes with little changes in elevation. The windows loop was especially memorable for me as it took me some time and patience to find the best locations for capturing these arches. The North and South Windows are best taken as a set of eyes, depending on where the location of the sun is when you are there. But if you're fit, and don't mind taking a bit of a risk, you can climb up some rocks about a storey high behind the South Window that gives you a frame of Turret Arch. That picture ranks as one of my favourites and proudest captures of all time.

Around noon, after a quick meal, I did the more strenuous hike to Landscape arch, one that everyone should make a priority to see, particularly as its likely to cave in anytime now given its structural instability. The arch is approximately 290 feet long and the thinnest section is only 6 feet. It used to be that you could hike under the arch, but the danger of falling rock is very high so now you can only observe from a safe distance. The hike is in an area called the Devils Garden, and from Landscape I proceeded further on until I came to Double O Arch, another very significant and beautiful arch in the park. Certain sections of the hike are not for the faint hearted, as some of the paths require you to walk on ridges, outcrops and elevated rock structures, but Double O was really another sight to behold, bearing in mind that these are not structures made with any human tool but the soft touch of Mother Nature.

I ended the evening with a 3 km round trip hike to Utah's symbol, Delicate arch. Although it was only 3 km, it was an uphill climb to get to Delicate Arch, and with my heavy camera equipment and tripod I needed at least three pit stops before making it up to the arch. But it was another very worthwhile trip. If you've driven in the US you might have come across pictures of Delicate arch on the licence plates of Utah registered vehicles, and like Landscape Arch, one should make a priority to see it as it is another precarious arch that might collapse anytime. I spent about an hour capturing and admiring the arch, and enjoying the cool breeze and the fact that I was miles away from all my emails! It had been a long and physically demanding day, but fortunately as darkness fell I didn't have far to drive to Moab where I checked in again to a motel and had a well deserved rest.
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