Our First Arches Hike

Since we’d gotten in so late the night before, we had a late morning waking up. We set up camp a bit better, had some breakfast, and decided to do our morning hike at the trailhead located conveniently just a couple of campsites away from us. Morning hikes are essential at Arches in the summer since it gets blazing hot during the day. You basically want to be chilling somewhere in the shade from about noon to four, at least, if not longer.

So we started out at Tapestry Arch, which is only about half a mile from the trailhead. It’s a pretty easy hike, but it does require a bit of scrambling over so-called slickrocks, which I imagine really are pretty slick during a rainstorm, but which are pretty easy to climb on a hot, dry day.

We saw lots of cool cacti and yucca plants around the trails, eeking out an existence in defiance of the hot, hot sun.

We followed a trail of stone cairns that showed us the way. This is particularly useful when walking up on the slick rock. Without the cairns, it would have been pretty impossible to figure out the right way to go.

After a short bit, we arrived at Tapestry arch, and I had a good time looking up at the arch above me and taking pictures. Des, Aaron, and Auggie needed to go back to camp for a potty break, so it was just Gigi and I exploring Tapestry arch up close. Another family got there about the same time we did, so we took turns taking pictures of everyone for each other.

Next, after going back to camp for a water break and a rest, we went back to the trailhead and went after Broken Arch, which is a little less than a mile away. Des really liked the idea of rebuilding any cairns that we found scattered (he’s all about constructing stuff), and the two of us got behind the others while he spent time rebuilding a whole bunch of them.

Broken Arch is so named because the top looks a bit like it’s broken into two pieces. This is a bit of an optical illusion; it only looks broken from some angles, but it’s really not, as you can see from the picture below. It just has this weird twisted shape. Anyway, we had a good time climbing down through it (it’s a bit of a scramble); the trail to the next arch, Sand Dune arch, starts after climbing through Broken Arch.

The trail from Broken Arch to Sand Dune arch is only a very flat mile, but it’s a brutal mile in the sun; there’s no shade. At first, there are some cool rocks to wind around and look at as well as some neat lizards.

(Am I crazy? Who does the rock in the picture above look like to you?) After that, it’s just a brutal field filled with scrub. A trivial walk in 70 degree weather, but it’s a lot different when it’s 95 degrees and very little wind. This was also getting later in the day, so close to that noon time when you really need to slow down and take a break.

(I later discovered a big fingerprint on my camera lenses, so, unfortunately, all my photos from this hike seem a bit hazy in the middle. Curses!) Sand Dune arch is actually really easy to get to from a car. You can basically drive up and park next to its entrance. So there were a whole lot more people there than at Tapestry or Broken arch. It’s pretty cool, though. You walk up to the arch through these tall fins.

The arch itself is, aptly, in the middle of a bunch of sand. The whole area is just really cool to look at, especially if you had any talent or desire to do some climbing on slickrock.

Afterwards, we walked back to camp. The second time through the open plain area was just brutal. We didn’t have to talk all the way back to Broken Arch; instead, we took a second passage through some other rocks back to camp. It had just hit noon, and the sun was brutal.

The hike itself was fairly trivial, but adding on the sun made is very intense. I was really happy to make it back first to the trailhead and then to camp.

Afterwards, we had a bit of lunch. Our neighbors came by and borrowed a mallet to stake in their EZ-up. Later, they offered to buy some ice for our cooler for us since they were driving to Moab, but we had already decided we were going into the visitor’s center after lunch. Moab was a short drive from there. Just in case, we exchanged phone numbers; the reception at our campsite wasn’t good, but we could get a single bar of 3G if we were lucky… enough for texts, anyway.

We went to the visitor’s center, got Gigi’s (new) passport book stamped and then went onto Moab to buy some ice and a few other things at the store. We actually ran into our neighbors there, which was kinda cool, and then they knew they didn’t have to get ice for us. When we headed back to camp, we discovered our poor EZ-up had become a victim to Arches’ sometimes brutal winds.

The camp host came over, looked it over, and said: Yup. We generally lose about 10 of those things a week. The wind just does a number on them. Luckily, we had a second structure, and we didn’t really need two now that we were past the rainy section of our trip (probably!) but we had learned caution from our experience, and we didn’t leave it up when we left camp after that.

We were not the only victims to the storm. Some other neighbors came by as well as borrowed some Gorilla tape to repair their tent that had ripped during the wind gusts. We apparently are prepared for most anything at this point. And we really were, although we did have to borrow a tool from our first neighbor in order to get the mangled EZup apart so that it would fit into the dumpster. (No easy recycling of steel, unfortunately. Recycling in general is not great at the national parks.) Aaron made sure to pick up a similar tool on the next trip to Moab the next day. His tool box will not be defeated again.

2 thoughts on “Our First Arches Hike”

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