Who in their right mind thought that getting up at 5 a.m. (in the morning!) to go hiking would be a good idea? Oh yeah, I guess it was my idea…Sue should know better than to listen to me! Last night, we decided that we wanted to do the Devils Garden loop hike in Arches National Park. It is a 7-mile hike that the National Park Service (Public service announcement from Sue: Buy a park pass even if you’re not going to use it. The parks are a national treasure that our government does not see fit to fund.) describes the challenges of this trail as having: “difficult route finding, steep slopes, narrow drop-offs, and rock scrambling.” Since the daily high temperatures are running in the 95-110 degree range; we decided to go early and avoid the crowds and heat. Hence the 5 a.m. wake up call.
There were a few other cars in the parking lot at the trail head when we arrived at 6 a.m. Most, it seems, were on their way out as they came to watch the sunrise at Landscape Arch, the first arch on the trail. The temps were in the low 70s as we hit the trail. Once we passed Landscape Arch, the only people we saw for the next hour or so were a French couple when we both lost the trail trying to find the Double O Arch. After a few minutes of scrambling around we found a cairn and were on our way. They stayed to take some photos and we were once again all by ourselves.
The landscape is unnervingly beautiful, but the big challenge for me was to clamber up and down the long sandstone fins that form the bulk of the trail. Sue has no fear of heights, but the steep rises and falls, along with one somewhat narrow ledge with a drop-off pushed me. I am pretty proud to say that I managed it all with a reasonable amount of calm and where necessary, just put my head down and did it. Today’s mission for me was to not let my fears conquer me and they didn’t. (He is so brave!)
The temperatures steadily climbed as the morning wore on and in about 3.5 hours we had completed the loop back to Landscape Arch; by that time, it was overrun by tourists. We made a quick stop to Tunnel and Pine Tree arches and then back to the trail head. A great morning hike.
We headed back to our B&B, had a shower and headed out to lunch at the Moab Garage Co. It is a little sandwich shop that our river tour guides recommended. Their claim to fame is that they hand-make each serving of ice cream with liquid nitrogen. We had lunch, went for a quick walk through town (temps were now in the 100s) and swung back in for ice cream (Sue’s was dairy free, of course) sandwiches. They were yummy.
We relaxed for a couple of hours and then grew bored so we took a drive out to Castle Creek Winery which is just a bit outside of Moab. The drive there was gorgeous, it followed the Colorado River upstream and ran inside a wonderful canyon. We tasted some wine, took some photos of the river & canyon and headed back.
It was a long fun day.