Ok, folks, here it is… our very last arch! You didn’t think I’d run out of arches to talk about, did you?
We were having so much fun playing around Devil’s Garden that we had to actually rush a bit to get down to Delicate Arch before the started to rain again. The morning had been so beautiful.. why did the rain come back?
But Delicate Arch was an absolute must for us, so we weren’t going to miss it!
The skies were threatening, but we didn’t lose hope. Instead, we hiked our way up the trail as swiftly as we could… and I quickly remembered we were at high altitude when the limited oxygen failed my overexerted lungs.
But still we pressed on.
600 feet of elevation in a mile and a half. I’ve certainly done worse, but when you’re used to lower altitudes with plentiful air (I used to tease others coming to our home in Colorado – lowlanders!), it’s considerably more challenging.
We followed the cairns (and more so the people) up the trail as the sky grew darker.
As we entered the final leg of the trail – behind the ridge that would lead us to the arch we sought – we couldn’t help but laugh at those hugging the rock to avoid the terrifying cliff. Now, while a healthy fear of heights is not all that humorous, someone plastered against the wall, inching their way up the trail, with a solid six feet of path between them and the edge sort of is. I wish I had taken a picture of that part of the trail, but we were anxious to reach the top.
When the rock finally gave way on our right, we were surprised to see it open up into a quasi-amphitheater. That’s certainly something you don’t usually see in the photos and not at all what I expected to find! Most were content to simply sit on the rocks along the far edge, closest to the trail, but we had come to see the arch, so we were getting up to see the arch!
We waited our turn, and then we did all the goofy poses we could think of under the Delicate Arch. I also had my trigger finger at the ready, capturing the many angles of this beautiful structure. Dad had to climb a few things while I took more pictures.
And then we felt it.
A drop. Then another.
It was time to leave.
We reluctantly departed, our time there far too brief. If there’s one thing you learn living in the desert – you do not want to be caught on top of anything relatively high when a summer storm rolls in.
We hopped the geological “nose-bleed” section back to the trail, and began our quick descent. Past the silly girls scooting down the six-foot-wide trail on their butts. Past the cairns. Past the poor schmucks who were only just ascending the trail.
We continued downward as the drops became more frequent. From a sprinkle, to a drizzle, to full-on rain. Before we knew it, we were flat-out running down this trail, with no jacket to shield my head, tucking my camera under my sweater in a pitiful attempt to keep it dry. You don’t quite remember the length of that first leg until you’re wishing it’d only be shorter.
I think it took us about 40 minutes to reach Delicate Arch and about 10 minutes for us to get back down.
At the edge of the parking lot, we huddled under the tiny shelter with half a dozen other cold, wet, and shivering individuals while Dad unlocked the car. I braced myself and raced to the dry comfort of the car, finally able to catch my breath. Well, that was an adventure!
Not everything worked out while we were in Arches, and while I got my sunrise, I didn’t really get a good sunset or stars. Another reason to go back.
The sky dried out somewhat when we returned back to our rental, and all our hard work was rewarded with a late afternoon rainbow.
And during a break in our evening movie, Aaron happened to look outside to discover.. STARS! After all this time, we finally got to see some stars. Like a dorky photographer, I grabbed my camera and tripod. Fortunately, much like Hawaii, lights in Moab are designed to limit light pollution, so we could see the Milky Way right from our patio.
It wasn’t quite the artistic starry arch shot, but I was happy nonetheless. And it was a solid way to end our exciting time in Moab.
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