Wednesday, July 25: Arches
I can’t get down
Today we decided to do things a bit differently. We got up early. Michael wanted to sleep in, so Amy and I had breakfast next door at the Chinese place. Then Mike got a breakfast burrito at McD’s on the way into the park.
We started hiking for Delicate Arch around 9am. The tail starts at Wolfe Ranch, crossed a bridge, goes past some petroglyphs and eventually runs onto a huge slab of slickrock. The hottest slog was up this ramp. At that point, Mike was very reluctant and was not having a good time. But he persevered and continued.
At the top of the slab, the trail levels out and then eventually reaches a ledge cut into the side of a fin. The wall and the drop are not vertical, but they are pretty steep. Fortunately, the ledge slopes in towards the wall. This goes around a corner, and then the arch comes into view.
It is on the other side of a giant bathtub-like depression. You can go around this depression and reach the arch itself. There were a large number of people already there, so it was hard to get a photo of it without people in the picture. People would line up to get their pictures taken at the arch, so if you were lucky you could get a shot while one group left and another approached.
As we read in the newsletter, it would be better to visit the arch in the evening with the western light. We got there around 11 to 12, so the near side of the arch was in the shade.
We spent some time there, got in line and had our pictures taken at the arch. Eventually we left.
At the end of the ledge, there is a window up a ways, which offers a view of the arch. I decided that the climb to the window was not worth it for a picture.
A bit further, I decided that I wanted a picture of the ledge, so I told Amy and Mike to go on ahead, and I went back to take some pictures of the ledge. After that, I saw that lots of people were climbing to the window, so I decided to give it a try.
The hardest part of the climb is about 3 vertical feet at the very bottom of the wall. I was trying to figure how to get up it, when a German guy already up offered me his hand. My first impulse was to turn him down, but then I thought, “why not?” So I took his hand, and then it was easy.
I climbed the rest of the way and then took some pictures of Delicate Arch through the window. Then I tried climbing down. As expected, going down was harder than going up. Eventually I got within about 5-6 feet from the path, but I couldn’t figure out how to safely go lower.
At this point, I started getting stressed. I was on a steep slope, which felt somewhat precarious, but I couldn’t get down. That is what I’m always afraid of.
So I waited and watched this other guy go down. He went down about 6-10 feet to the side of me. After he went, I went over to where he went down, and I found it much easier there.
Then I proceeded down the trail, which was a heck of a lot easier than going up.
We took a small detour on the way back to look at some petroglyphs, then we got in the car and drove out. At the uphill across the valley, we stopped in a pull-out and looked back. Through binoculars or a big lens we could see the arch quite clearly. But if you didn’t know where to look, it would be hard to find.
Then we left the park and make Mike happy we stopped for lunch at McD’s.
The “different” part of today is that after lunch we went back to the hotel rather than back into the park. I think that Mike’s been stressed by our trying to squeeze lots into a single day, so today we’re trying to do something major, and then to take a quiet afternoon.
I just took Mike out to the pool, which wasn’t bad in the heat. After a little time in the pool, however, I lay down on a chaise lounge in the shade, and I was just about to fall asleep when Mike decided that it was time to come back in.
Actually, today was only semi-different. Amy and I wanted to see things and Michael did not. So we left Michael in the hotel room and Amy and I went back to the park to look at the arches that were best viewed in the evening. We stopped at a number of them, then parked by the Windows and walked around those, and then walked to Double Arch, which is probably my second favorite after Delicate Arch.
We drove to the end of the road, took a look at the camp ground, then high-tailed it back to the hotel, getting back around 8:00. We then had dinner again at Zax. By the time we finished and got to bed, it was around 10pm.