Today’s intention was for the first longish hike in the U.S. during this trip, a loop around Devils Garden inside the Arches National Park in Utah. Some 12km, which is not that long but longer than Good Mrs and I have walked in one setting during our week here.
However, that was not to be. The hike end up a little more than 7km as follows:
So, what happened? Wind happened. Strong winds. Strong winds which brought back memories of my first day on Camino de Santiago across the Pyrenees. One difference. While you are walking on roads across the Pyrenees, here you are walking on ridges. With steep drops on either side.
The day started off well enough. The rain forecasted for overnight seemed to be gone. Not even the ground was wet as we woke up although it was overcast.
At 7.30am, Good Mrs and I had arrived at Arches National Park. You see the park entrance down there in the photo.
Good Mrs and I continued through the park to the Devils Garden Trailhead and began our hike there before 8am.
Looking back almost immediately after commencing the hike and we saw this. Sand blown into this crevice. Lots of it. Hmm… I wonder what that meant. Well, it became obvious soon enough.
The major visual attraction in Devil’s Garden is Landscape Arch where it looks like the below. The background, people.
Landscape Arch is amazing to look at as your imagination runs wild trying to figure it all out.
This board told the history including the latest drop of rocks and gravel back in 1991. If I would hear “cracking and popping noises” now, I would run as fast as I would ever have done.
One more photo of Landscape Arch. What a constellation.
More interesting rock formations.
Up to just after Landscape Arch at around 1.5km, the trail had been flat and well formed. That now changed to ascending rock and ridge walking. It was all too much for Good Mrs who decided to return to the trailhead at this time. I decided to continue as the wind continued to pick up.
And this is how the previous stretch looked from above looking down. A little breezy now.
Alpine country, ascension, a windy day. It can only mean one thing. More and more wind.
Here my initial destination of Double O Arch on the loop was deserted. I walked as far as up to that ridge that you can see before calling it quits.
It would not come across in the photo but there were gail force winds up there. And as I mentioned earlier, the trail was not a wide old road across the Pyrenees but quite a narrow rock ridge. With some distance down on either side. The wind physically moved me up there.
To continue would have been madness and I decided to abort my hiking mission here. I was disappointed of course, but as always it is better to be safe than sorry.
I was not the only hiker to stop there. Returning back, I bumped into another hiker and told him about the conditions. He listened and decided to continue with a “I better be careful then”. I saw him again some 15 minutes later as he gave up as well. As did a bunch of 10 or so craggy tough looking older hiking blokes. Oh well, it was one of those days…
I decided to check out a couple of other arches on the way back. First, Navajo Arch. You can walk underneath this arch and even have a break there. Which you can see in the picture that I did. Although not totally wind free, it was a lot less of it here. That cup of hot tea went down well.
It may be difficult to see in this picture but there was graffiti to the left of the entrance to Navajo Arch. “Yuan love Xin”.
Yes, Chinese have got themselves a reputation of bad behaviour while touristing overseas. Who can forget the “ancient temple graffiti vandal”? The Chinese school boy who defaced a 3,500-year-old Egyptian temple.
Of course, I don’t know what the story is here, but those names are clearly Chinese.
Next arch for the day, number 3 out of 5, was Partition Arch.
I then took myself down to the flats, passing Landscape Arch along the way, for 2 more arches. Here is Pine Tree Arch and here it was sandstorm conditions. The camera was not happy and I think that it was here it got more sand that it bargained for. It misbehaved for the rest of the day.
Final arch for the day was Tunnel Arch. At this point, I felt “arched” out. A man can only view so many arches and there are reportedly some 300 arches in Arches National Park. That will do for some time.
I returned to Devils Garden Trailhead way early for the time when Good Mrs would pick me up in the car. I had my second of tea and an early lunch there while waiting. Good Mrs though, as always, was early and soon we were on our way.
We decided to do another hike in a State Park some distance away. A hike described as “easy” and where there would be little or no sand.
You can read about that hike in the next post.