Day 2: BLOODY NOSES
We allowed ourselves to sleep in a little bit on this day though in hindsight, it was probably a regrettable decision. The agenda for today was to explore the Devil’s Garden trail, which was said to be around 5 miles or so, but it passed by a multitude of large natural arches that the park was known for. Then we made it a point to hike to Delicate Arch in the late afternoon to catch the sunset, which we had read was a very must-do activity in the park.
So we re-entered the park at around 8am when we were still getting some of the benefits of the warm morning glow. First up, we noticed some interesting rock formations in the Park Avenue vicinity. Particularly striking were the three gossips basking in the warm orange glow of the morning light.
Next up, we headed to the Windows section again. Double Arch was in some shadow and wasn’t very photogenic. However, we did a double-take on Turret Arch, which seemed to get some nice glow in the morning sun.
Next, we went directly to the Devil’s Garden trailhead. We knew there was a pretty long hike ahead of us and we loaded our packs with lots of water. I knew my pack was pretty heavy because I was also carrying most of Julie’s water. I think Andy did the same to help alleviate the load for Stacey.
Sure enough, it was arches we wanted to see and right away, we saw the Skyline Arch near the car park. But soon enough, we embarked on the hike. There were quite a few people already hiking here, but it still didn’t feel overwhelmingly crowded at this time of day.
We knew the arch highlights would be Landscape Arch (one of the longest arches in the USA) as well as Double-O Arch, which would probably be the furthest arch on this hike.
When we did make it to Landscape Arch, we were struck by how thin and fragile it looked. We started to wonder whether they might have switched up the names of the arches where this one was really the Delicate Arch while the Landscape Arch should’ve been what was now known as Delicate Arch (based on the photos in the literature we had seen so far).
After Landscape Arch, the hiking got real hot and we were now following more slickrock terrain where the trail was easy to lose in some places. Fortunately, there were rock cairns strategically placed to keep us on the trail, but we really had to concentrate. Making matters worse was that both Stacey and Julie were complaining about the heat and the dropoffs on the hike as we went further.
I was also starting to feel some light nose bleeds though I was able to hike with a cotton swab in my nostrils.
As the day was getting hotter (now getting up well into the 90s), I even wasted some of my water by pouring it over my head to keep cool. I was the only one doing this in the party, and the relief was only momentary.
Finally at around 11am, we finally made it to the Double-O Arch. The front side of the arch didn’t seem terribly impressive. It seemed like it wasn’t worth the trouble to make it all the way here. But then we climbed through the lower O of the arch and saw that there was more informal walking paths leading higher to a spot to look back at the Double O Arch.
Only once we did this (which was thankfully in the shade at the time), we were delighted at the view of Double O Arch that we attained. Now it was worth the trouble of getting here!
Fully satisfied, we then made our way back to the car park in the now pretty intense desert heat.
At one point on the slickrock terrain, we somehow lost the trail. We knew we were probably ruining cryobiotic dust as we were trying to figure out where the real trail was. And it wasn’t until we noticed some people walking confidently in one direction in the distance did we know exactly where we should be heading.
Whew, that was close!
Finally at around 2pm, we made it back to the car park. At this point, everyone was a little tired and wanted to return to Moab to clean up and perhaps take a little siesta. But before we did that, we made one quick detour back to the Windows section to see Double Arch in better lighting.
With everyone not in the mood to do much more hiking, we were content to take photos from the parking lot there. However, we didn’t bother going any closer. We also didn’t entertain going into the Fiery Furnace as well. So it wasn’t much longer when we headed back to Moab and returned to our accommodation.
While we were trying to cool off and wait out the intense heat of the day, I was busy taking a shower to clean off all the DEET (for deerflies) and sunscreen off my body. However, I was having some pretty non-stop nosebleeds in the shower, and I was starting to get a little worried about this.
It wasn’t until I got out of the shower with my nose plugged up with cotton did the nosebleeds mercifully stop. Perhaps I was a little dehydrated so I made sure to drink up plenty of water during our down time.
At around 5pm, we headed back to Arches National Park. It was now time for the main highlight of the day which was the opportunity to see Delicate Arch at sunset.
The hike was around 1.75 miles each way, and it was uphill. But at least it wasn’t as crazy hot as it was earlier in the day.
After some pretty uneventful hiking (which included a very distant view of Delicate Arch early on in the hike), the trail got a little rougher as we were pretty much climbing on non-stop slickrock terrain. But it was also at this point that we noticed a small natural arch as we were sensing that we were getting real close to the end.
Just past the small arch, we rounded a corner, and there it was! Delicate Arch!
We were viewing the arch from across a steep bowl. Lots of people were here to take in the spectacle, and I don’t blame them. We did our best to try to capture this memory in photos as the view was indeed colorful and divine.
Some poor soul saw his filter roll down into the bowl and he had to go on a rather roundabout hike down there to retrieve it.
Anyways, when the sunset was over, we quickly made our way back to the parked car in the near darkness. Then, we headed back into Moab where we decided to try out this Chinese place, which was actually surprisingly decent (at least their fried rice was pretty decent) even though it wasn’t terribly authentic.
And with that, we settled into our room pretty tired from the day. It was an adventurous day, where for sure we were seeing arches in our sleep!