Monday, March 19, 2007

Moab Trip: The Arches

I'm back in Salt Lake City, getting ready for BrainShare after a great two-day trip down to South Eastern Utah. This area of the state has some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever seen, including sandstone arches, canyons, and ancient Indian petroglyphs.

The town of Moab lies roughly 300 miles South of Salt Lake City, and is very handy for the two national parks we planned to visit on this trip: Arches and Canyonlands. I'll cover Canyonlands in the next posting. I went with Novell colleagues Bernd and BP.

On the way down to Arches we nearly ran out of petrol, thanks to BP suggesting we take a slightly longer scenic route to Moab, following the Colorado river. I guess he wasn't to know that there were no services, in fact nothing but raw nature for around sixty miles. I was driving this section, and first noticed the fuel warning light come on about fifty miles out of Moab. There was nothing for it but to carry on, driving as economically as possible and hoping that we wouldn't break down in the middle of nowhere. I kept the lightest possible pressure on the accelerator, silently blessing each downhill and cursing each climb, but we made it in the end with just vapour to spare.

Arches National Park is a large area of natural sandstone arches, created over millions of years by a combination of underground salt bed shifting, remnants of ancient seabeds and surface erosion. I'll let the pictures take up the story...

The road into Arches.

This one's called Balanced Rock. I wonder why?

Landscape Arch. A 60ft-long chunk fell off the underside of the arch in 1991, making it even thinner.

From Landscape Arch we drove on to our next stop: the world famous Delicate Arch. This amazing structure sits atop a mountain, so it's a bit of a hike to get there. You leave the car park and walk/climb one and a half miles, climbing 500 ft in the process. The way is a mixture of gravel, sand, large stones, and solid rock, and there are some ledges to walk along with sheer drops beside them. It's pretty challenging but there were lots of people doing it, young and old alike. Bernd, being a card-carrying Goth, was dressed in his usual garb of black leather motorcycle trousers and heavy black leather boots. He has blisters now.

Biker Bernd regretting his decision to wear black leather trousers and heavy boots. If you click for larger image you may just be able to make out the car park along the line of the path into the distance. This shot was taken about half way up.

The hike was worth it though. The famous Delicate Arch.

It's actually pretty dangerous up here. In the UK I'm sure there would be safety fences everywhere to prevent people falling.

From there we went to catch the sunset at The Windows. Bernd's feet were hurting (everybody say Aaah) so he stayed by the car while BP and I hiked up with our cameras.
The sunset was one of the most spectacular I've ever seen, and the colour of the rocks changed several times in just a few minutes. A photographer's heaven!

North Window

...and again. Amazing things happen here at sunset. The rock went this fiery orange colour for only about five minutes.

Turret Arch

Dead tree "on fire"

We got to our motel at around 10.30, and collapsed exhausted into bed. They had only two rooms so I shared with BP, leaving Bernd to share with his feet.

Day Two to follow soon.


lindsey said...

Nice pics!

Anonymous said...

What, no mention of road-runner and Wyl e kyote? Looks like this park was the inspiration for the scene artists.
Brother beyond...

Martin said...

I was in Arches NP two years ago and took the 8-mile hike at the top of the park. A very strange, alien landscape not disimiliar to Bryce Canyon which isn't a million miles away. Did you get there?

Found a bat flapping about on a rock on the middle of the day and a German couple, both enormous, poking it with a stick. True story.

Martin (from A174!)

Chris said...

Thanks for the comments Lindsey, Anon (he comments A LOT), and Martin.

We didn't see any "critters" like Roadrunner, apart from the occasional small lizard, and Bernd saw a little snake.

Didn't make it to Bryce Martin, didn't have time on this trip. We just did Arches and Canyonlands, which I'll talk about in the next post.