Thursday, November 12, 2015

Day 70: A Love Affair with Rocks (Arches NP, Day 2)

Breakfast in Arches.

Sunset at Delicate Arch (unedited)

Around 3am I woke up, my left hand out of my bag and completely numb; so numb that I freed my left hand from the warm bag to find a light and make sure that my right hand had no fallen off. I'm not exaggerating. Once I confirmed that it was still attached, I grabbed my glasses and gave it a closer examination to make sure it wasn't frost bitten. Nothing yet black, but parts where certainly red and pissed. I immediately began to shake my hand violently, trying to move blood back into it; it tripled in size and the tingling sensation (multiplied by about 20) that happens when your leg falls asleep lasted for about 20 minutes while my limb came back to life - and warmth. With that, pain subsiding, I tucked all of my limbs back in my bag, put my 'sleeping gloves' (actually, I couldn't find my 'sleeping gloves' so I had to substitute my glittens (I googled it; that's a thing) back on, pulled my hat tighter, and pulled the bag over my head to went back to sleep.

When I awoke in the morning, my tent was covered in frost. I have experienced sub-freezing temps in a tent on this trip, but this is my first time flirting with a frost covered tent. Ironically, my tent was nice and warm - in part thanks to the protective layer of ice, perhaps? I eventually left my igloo and ambled into the brisk morning air for a great view, some coffee, oatmeal and a book.

Hey! I made it!

After breakfast, I packed up my house and bed, then went on a hike that began in the campsite. The destination: Broken Arch and Sand Dune arch - approximately a 4 mile hike (roundtrip). By now it was about 11:30 and the weather was hovering around 60, sunny and perfect.

Trail through Broken Arch, mountains in the backdrop

Broken Arch and the Uber Tourist.

Bit of a narrow path to enter the section to Sand Dune
Sand Dune Arch and a nerd

I wanted to try cartwheels again after the Tetons. 
Better, no?

Trailing heading back to the campground.

This trail (trails are marked by cairns - or human-made rock stacks) involved some rock climbing,
but I don't care for backtracking and the views were well worth the awkward climbing.

The hike back took longer than I thought and by now it was late afternoon; around 2 and I had to get my bum over to Delicate Arch. Delicate Arch is a 3.2 mile roundtrip "fairly strenuous" hike; the start of the hike is crafted trail, which leads to an open rock slab that is deceptively steep. I wasn't the only out of shape person huffing it up the hill and stopping to catch her breath. The trail wrapped around a steep wall by the way of a path carved into the rock with an incredible drop (and no rail).

Looking up at the slab. Doesn't look too difficult.

Looking down from halfway up the slab. As with most things in life, it's harder than it looks.

The rock path just before arriving to the arch opening.

I was a bit uneasy at this part, especially with people passing on the narrow trail, but crossing over the top of the rock that opened up to the Delicate Arch posing in front of a the snow capped mountain range was simply spectacular.

After about an hour of hiking, I'm instantly rewarded with the turning the corner to this.

oh hai.

I stayed for a few hours, planting myself on a rock against a rock face; people watching and taking in the beauty of nature. As the sunset, I took a few more photos before heading back down. On my way back, I wanted to pop off rock trail to have a quick look at Frame Arch just off the trail. In doing so, I inadvertently stumbled upon and engagement in process. Whoops.

Just moments earlier, a couple got engaged under this arch.

View from Frame Arch

hiking back down; looking for cairns.
I shifted from the awkward apology into be a useful nuisance by offering to take their photo, so that they could have an image of the moment of betroth-ment. And then they offered to take my photo. And then I congratulated them again, hurrying back down the hill to give their moment back to them.

I headed back down the slab, arriving in the parking lot in the dark. I drove out of my newly beloved park after 30 some hours and back into the Motel 6 for the evening. Tomorrow, Canyonlands.

Silhouette of the park from the slab, on the hike back down. 

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