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Our first day in Arches wowed us with nature’s splendor and the phenomenal discovery of these gravity-defying works of natural art.

Our second day revealed to us the remarkable playground of the Fiery Furnace and saw us delve deeper into the park.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

But the third day?  The adage says “third time’s the charm,” but that assumes prior failure.  While that might have been somewhat true in our quest for sunrise, the remainder of our days were anything but disappointing.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

Nevertheless, our last day in Arches was absolutely the most incredible, by far.  Who knew each day could just get progressively better?  But somehow, it did.

And as much as I love the English language, I struggle to confine this truly remarkable experience to inadequate, paltry words.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

We were full of anticipation as we drove to the far end of the park well before sunrise.  After all, this was to be our third attempt at sunrise, and it was looking like it would finally pan out.

We hiked the entire mile and a half by moonlight alone, and there was no one else on the trail.  There’s a genuine peace to hiking in the dark.  Without the overstimulation of sunlight, your vision falls in line with your other senses.  As we learned in Vancouver, it’s a liberating sensation.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

As you know, we finally got our sunrise, and I was simply giddy with excitement.  It was magnificent and awe-inspiring and cathartic and stunning.  The photographer in me was having an utter field day (and you can see what I wound up doing with my resulting 600 photos here).

But this was just the beginning.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

Once the sun was up, the explorer in me awakened.  I am reminded frequently that I am my father’s daughter, for as soon as I was peeking around the corner to discover what lay beyond, Dad was already scrambling up the rocks.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

Landscape Arch proved to be a gateway to a remarkable wonderland.  Continuing under and through the arch, Dad and I found ourselves climbing out of a bowl and on top of a rocky ridge.  The view was spectacular… but it kept going!

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

Farther, we ascended.  “I wonder if I can get on top of that rock over there!”

We had long since lost track of Aaron, but we were beyond help at this point.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

Before we knew it, we were as high as we could go, standing on top of the world.  The park stretched out into the cloudy abyss to the west and leveled to the plain in the east.  It was beautiful.  It was exhilarating.

I felt invincible up there, and the morning energy was invigorating beyond belief.  I had never felt so alive.  I seldom feel a natural high so strongly; I would have leapt off the rock face believing I could fly if you told me I could.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

There’s nothing quite like that feeling, and it’s why I’m addicted to outdoor exploration.  There truly is a spiritual energy to the natural world with which we frequently lose touch, and I crave it with a passion.  It’s the only drug I do.

I’m not always struck by the overwhelming joy of being outside; most times, it catches me by the most wonderful of surprises.  But when it does happen, it sticks with me – a memorable experience that fuels me through the down days.  There’s no substitute, and there are no words, try as I might.  I nearly wept with the sheer weight of it.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

At the very top, we found a rock carved by previous visitors (in kanji!).  I hope they, too, felt that unfettered energy at that spot – the lifeblood of the very earth.  It’s so difficult to describe, but if you’ve experienced it yourself, you know what I’m talking about; it’s the best feeling in the world.  It’s almost unbearable.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

We eventually came back down, though I could have stayed the day there.  We wound up at Partition Arch before continuing down the way we came to find Aaron.  Our day was filled with yet more arches, but I’ll save that for my next post, as this one ran a bit long (but it deserved every word).

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

Stay tuned for the unique Double O Arch, Devil’s Playground, and the famed Delicate Arch!  Be sure to follow my blog so you don’t miss out.  And if you’ve experienced what I describe here, I’d love to hear about it!  Perhaps you can put it into words where I can’t!

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016


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