Day 1: RACE FOR THE SUNRISE
After having slept from a long day of touring yesterday (which included the celebrated sunset at Delicate Arch), we woke up to a very early morning alarm (around 5am) because I wanted to get to Mesa Arch in Canyonlands in time for sunrise. I wasn’t sure where I got this crazy idea to do it, but whatever the case, it turned out that I didn’t have that much time once we got going.
My aspirations for getting to Mesa Arch so early was met with protest from just about everyone when they first heard the alarm. It almost felt as if I might have a mutiny on my hands. But in the end, they got in the car and got caught up on some sleep while I was busy driving us to the destination in time.
So we raced in our Isuzu Trooper knowing that hardly any cars were out this early in the morning. The road to go into the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands wasn’t that far up the main road from the turnoff for Arches as the road we sought turned left instead of right.
Then, we raced on what seemed like quite a few straightaways with some turns. In hindsight, I might have been a bit overly aggressive with the speeding because I’m sure if I went any faster, the vehicle could’ve easily flipped on some of those turns.
In any case, we finally made it to the car park for Mesa Arch. The sun still hadn’t breached the horizon, and so we walked the short distance to the cliff-hugging arch and waited for the sun to start painting the underside of the arch its warm colors.
I recalled seeing a post card of a sunrise at this arch where the sun was breaching the horizon as seen directly through the span of Mesa Arch. However, when the sun finally started to show itself, it was clear that the sun came up far to the left of both the Washer Woman Arch and the Monster Butte way in the distance. That photographer must’ve taken that shot much earlier in the year when the earth was on a different tilt.
We were being careful not to get too close to the underside of the arch’s span because there was definitely cliff on the other side of it. Still, we pretty much had the arch to ourselves and once again, Mother Nature showed just how beautiful she could be given the right time of day and the right backdrop.
After the show was over, we got back in the car and we then made our way over to Dead Horse Point, which we had skipped on our way to Mesa Arch. When we made it to the car park, there were already some folks here, but it was still relatively quiet. The overlook area was pretty big, but the bulk of the attention was towards the end of the overlook where we could see a gooseneck on the Colorado River surrounded by some fairly deep gorges exposing some reddish brown layers of earth.
The day was already starting to heat up, but when we had our fill of the panoramas at Dead Horse Point, we headed back to our accommodation at Moab. We’d eventually get there at around 9am, and that was when the group decided to get a little more sleep and just chill for a bit.
When the early afternoon rolled around, we decided to do a little exploring by driving up a road alongside the Colorado River heading towards Utah’s border with Colorado. We did this because we were going to check out the Fisher Towers after having seen some postcards of it.
When we got to the Fisher Towers, it turned out that we were able to just drive there and check it out with minimal walking. And with the desert heat in full effect, there was no way we’d consider walking any of the trails to get higher or farther than the car park.
After the Fisher Towers, we then headed towards the Castleton Rock area. During the drive, we noticed quite a few folks tubing or rafting on the Colorado River itself. We also noticed some interesting butte and rock formations that I swore I might have seen in some Chevy commercials or something.
When we had our fill of Castleton Rock, we went back to Moab. Sightseeing-wise, today was a pretty light day. So we merely just had dinner in town, rested, and got a bit more sleep this night than last night for sure.