Intro Picture

Intro Picture
Hi! My name is Anne. Welcome to my traveling blog! Read the latest stories below or check out the list of previous stories in the blog archive on the right!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Arches National Park (picture heavy!)

So I have returned from several days of hiking in Arches National Park here in Utah, and I'd figure I'd share my experiences and a 'few' pictures that I took. I have made several video's as well but unfortunately the internet in the area is too slow to upload all of them. I tried, but it just doesn't work fast enough, so I will save those for a later date.
Anyway, I took around 300 pictures as well, and when selecting pictures to use here I came just short of 50 must-have's. It's quite substantial, but I can't trim the count down any further without missing any cool stuff. I don't think you guys will mind anyway, so here we go.

I ended up not going to the park the day after I wrote the last post. It took me too much time to get some new equipment, buy food and buy some new equipment. I replaced my pocket knife with a new one and I bought a liner for my sleeping bag as well, as it is quickly outrunning it's use.
When I was done it started to rain a little and it was somewhere late in the afternoon.
At this moment Brett was still with me, the guy with whom I have been traveling for a while.
That kind of posed a bit of a problem for me, because he wanted to join me on my hike, while I had always imagined myself exploring the Utah National Parks on my own.
I explained my case to him and thankfully he didn't take it hard. The next morning we said goodbye, and I set off on my own, leaving him with some bread and several packs of noodles that I had bought for the both of us.

When I reached the end of the town of Moab I stuck out my thumb hoping to catch a ride to Arches, which was about 3 or 4 miles away. Right before I reached the end of town I saw another hitchhiker just being picked up, so I figured I'd get lucky as well. Unfortunately the first car that pulled over was a police car who caught me with my thumb out. I got a warning and was let off easy, and was told I might get away with hitching across the Colorado River which was about 2 miles away, where I would be officially out of town. When I got there however I ran into some kind of accident with police cars sitting at the side of the road, so I ended up walking all the way to the Park.
When I got there I bought a walk-in ticket which was surprisingly cheap: for 5 dollars you get 7 days of access to the park. I got stopped by a Park Ranger just past the entrance, warning me that I wasn't allowed to hitchhike in the park, and that if I wanted to sleep inside the park I had to have a backpacking permit which I could get at the visitor centre. This permit turned out to be free, but I did have to give up locations I wished to sleep at in the park for each night.
After getting the permit I shouldered my pack and started my trudge uphill, which was quite a ways up. But I dislike the idea of walking around the parking lot asking for a ride up, because to me it feels like I'm badgering people into taking me along. When I stand by the side of the road with my thumb out at least I give them the choice to ignore me. Anyways, uphill I went.

The way up.

Before I made it all the way up though a car pulled over for me. That was quite awkward for a bit because right behind us came the park ranger, so I hoped really hard he did see I didn't stick my thumb out to catch a ride. At first I didn't make much of an effort to get to the car quickly for this reason, but then the park ranger passed out of sight and I broke out in a trot and ran up to the car.
Inside were Annie and Roy, both from China. I figure these were not really their own names, but ones they had adopted to make it easier for other people to pronounce. 
Anyway, they took me up to the top where the road became flat once more. I got them to pull over and let me out, and thanked them for the ride. It was quite a short one, but I wanted to do some exploring up there. Because shortly after reaching the top you are confronted with these views:

In the background you can see the La Sal Mountains, already covered in snow. Quite the contrast, but very beautiful.

Off to the left you can see the Three Gossips (I think that is what they are called anyway). To the right, the front mountain is the Courthouse. In the background of it you can see the Babel Tower.

After I had my fill of this area I started walking again. Along the way another car pulled over for me, wanting to take me to the end of the park where there is a campground. But I politely declined, because a little while further down the road we would end up at a bridge crossing a wash, which I would follow off-trail where I would spend the night. 

At the bridge I met a man who was taking pictures of the wash, and after talking for a little while I wanted to move on and follow the wash, and he was preparing to leave. Then I had an idea, and I asked him if he could take a few pictures of me walking down the wash, which he did.
So when I got back to Moab, I had several emails waiting for me containing his excellent pictures.
Thanks Gary!

I now walk into the wild.... for a few miles anyway!

The wash was dry for the most part, but I did find some stagnant pools of water here and there.
The area here was really interesting, because you can see where water used to flow and you can see and follow many tracks in the soft sand, human and animal prints alike.

Following the mostly dry wash.

After following the tracks for a while I saw some kind of caves up a cliff, one of which looked like it had paintings on the walls inside. I tried to climb up there but there was no way to do it. I did make a video of it, but as I mentioned before I haven't been able to upload it.

I saw some black and white stuff in the small 'cave' on the right. Not sure what it was exactly.

After a failed attempt of getting up there I continued on my way, eventually finding a cool camping spot. The wash turned into a canyon, where I could climb up on the side and camp on top.

The wash leading into a canyon. I set up my tent on top here.

The next morning I did some further exploring of the area. I found an arch that is not visible on the map, and then some kind of bowl-like area with some trees growing in a single part of sand in the middle of it. Quite the interesting area!

An unmarked arch.

A bowl of trees haha.

When I got back to my tent though I was feeling very tired, so I decided to just hang out for the rest of the day. I got out a book and spent much of the afternoon reading, feet dangling down the canyon. In the evening I watched Titanic on my netbook, and the next day I woke up feeling refreshed.
It was quite the interesting place, and what was more important: it was really, really quiet. I was far enough away from everything to never hear a car, only hearing birds and the wind and every now and again a plane flying high above me, so quietly that normally speaking you would never hear it (pesky buggers still!).
This quietness was soothing. When I first became aware of it I had a peeping noise in my ear, much as you could expect to hear after having a loud noise right next to your ear for a while.
All I had gotten away from was the noise of cars and society in general, and was now experiencing the quiet peace of nature.

Next day however I had run out of water. I contemplated boiling some water from one of the stagnant pools I found and treating them with cleansing pills, but decided not to considering the park entrance was not too far away and I could find better water there. So I packed up my stuff and found my way back to the road.
When I got there I stuck out my thumb hoping not to see a park ranger, and almost immediately a car pulled over and drove me down to the entrance. There I filled up my Kamelbak waterbag and my extra bottles, and charged my camera on my netbook, using it's last battery power to do so. 
The largest part of the day was now over, but again I decided against asking for a ride in the parking lot, figuring I'd walk back up and reach the wash again before dark, this time wanting to follow it to the right instead of the left.
This was not to be though, because I was again offered a ride halfway up! That's how I met Shannon and Bri, who were on their way to Delicate Arch and could take me all the way up there, so I decided to join them.

From the parking lot it was a hike of a few miles before reaching Delicate Arch, and somewhere halfway I think Bri wanted to know how heavy my backpack was, and wanted to feel for herself.
She seemed really intent on carrying it for a while, and so I let her. The hike was constantly going up and my pack weighs somewhere around 22 kilograms when filled up with water, so at first I said that it was OK, I could carry it myself no problem, but she seemed to really want to.
So I unshouldered the pack and she hoisted it onto her back.

Looks quite heavy, no?

Still going!

And guess what, she made it all the way to the top too! I didn't doubt her ability to do it, but I didn't think she would want to carry such a heavy load for that entire distance, but she did.

A few shots from Delicate Arch:

As you can see it's a popular place.

A nice comparison shot. You can clearly see how different lighting conditions can seem to change the colour of the rock.

Me and Bri.

When we started our walk back it was getting dark fast, and it was completely dark by the time we reached the parking lot. 

The way back.

I decided to sleep somewhere partially hidden behind some garbage bins there on the parking lot, but they didn't seem very comfortable with that idea and so I let them drive me back to the bridge over the wash, where we said goodbye.
But it being dark, I didn't want to follow the wash off-trail, and so simply decided to sleep under the bridge itself.

Nice and dry! It's getting quite chilly early in the morning though. I slept with all my clothes and a beanie on and it was still a bit chilly. For some reason my sleeping back doesn't seem to hold in body heat so well at these temperatures.

That next morning I decided to walk to Balanced Rock, which was halfway up to Delicate Arch and probably around 6 to 7 miles from the bridge I was at.

But first some breakfast!

After a while of walking I made it to Balanced Rock. It is quite the interesting sight. The rock up top is made of a different kind of rock. Eventually the bottom will erode so much that the boulder on top will fall. That is true for a lot of cool sights in the park. The sandstone isn't the most solid of rock, and so in time all the arches will fall down at some point. These places will not last forever.

Balanced Rock.

I hung out at Balanced Rock for a while, and decided to cook some noodles there. A lot of people looked at me funny as I sat there setting up my cooking stove and making myself a hot meal, but most of them seemed to think it was pretty cool too. Not that it would have bothered me much though haha.

After that I decided to walk further down a secondary road to Double Arches and the Windows.
That was about 4 miles away from Balanced Rock. It took me a little while to get there, because all in all I had not eaten much that day. (My food was starting to run out quickly)
But the walk was quite worth it. The Double Arches and the Windows are really close by and they have quite the good views.

The Double Arches.

Inside the Double Arches.

Again, I made a video but I was not able to upload it just yet.
Next was a walk up to the Windows. First the North Window.

The North Window.

The view from inside the North Window.

And the South Window:

And right across from these Windows was Turret Arch, which was a really cool sight too.

If you go to the other side of the arch and climb around a little bit, you can get a view of both Turret Arch and the South Window.

Also, some people were doing yoga inside the arch.

After walking around here for a while I decided to try and get a ride up to the campground at the end of the park, and either staying there if time ran out, or following another route off-trail and camping out further in the park again.
I ended up getting a ride from the people who talked to me in front of the South Window and who took my picture there. They weren't going to the campground specifically but decided the distance wasn't too huge and they would drive me there anyway, which was really nice of them.

When I got there I made some more noodles and filled up my water reserves again, which had run out a second time. 
By the time I was done it was getting dark again, and the campground custodian came up to me wanting to know where I would stay. I decided to stay at the campground. The problem with walking in the park in the dark is that it's not allowed. There is some kind of biotic growth all over the place which takes years to form, and is destroyed really easily by stepping on it. This biotic growth is required to sustain plantlife in the area.
And so I decided to stay where I was. I was able to sleep in a group area. When I found Juniper Basin (the group site) I put down my stuff, and was approached by a guy of around my own age who introduced himself as Roman. He was there alone for a little bit would be joined by a group of his friends, with whom he had been making trails for two months, and this was to be some kind of goodbye party. He invited me to join them for the evening, and I accepted his offer gladly.
I can be on my own for a while but at some point even I will start to feel lonely, and it was great to have a group of people of around my own age to hang out with for a while.
The sun was setting fast now and it painted the sky in pink and purple, fading slowly into dark blue.

Somebody who came out to enjoy the same view.

An amazing sunset.

That night we stayed up for quite a bit, sitting at a campfire drinking beer and talking about all kinds of things.
The next morning they planned on going on a hike, and I was invited along for that as well, which was really cool of them. I never felt like I was intruding upon their group, as they were all really inviting and friendly. They decided on doing the Devil's Garden Trail, which happened to be the hike I had to do myself too to see the last of the major sights of the park, and so I joined them for the hike as well.
This time I was able to leave my backpack in Roman's car too, which saved me quite the weight to carry around for which I was glad, because the hike turned out to be quite a long one, but well worth the effort of doing.

The first stop: Landscape Arch.

Another balancing rock we found along the way.

After a while we ended up climbing up a cliff, from which we had an awe-inspiring view.

Shortly after that point, we found the Double O Arch, which was a fantastic place where we spent some time sitting and climbing around.

A view from the back of the Double O Arch.

We also managed to climb up into the upper arch seen in the last picture here, but unfortunately I don't have a picture of us standing inside of it yet. Maybe I will get it later, and if so I will post it in a next blogpost.

After hanging out here for a while we followed a primitive trail back to the parking lot, which took us into the canyons below, and which was marked largely by cairns to guide us along.
The more regular trail would simply take you back along the way you came.

Into the canyons!

We zigzagged down these tiers. I didn't realise how beautiful they were untill I saw them from the other side.

After walking and climbing through the canyons for an hour or so we made it back to the parking area, where the group said their goodbyes and they all made their own way home.
Roman drove me back down to Moab and helped me find the hostel in town, where I was able to wash my clothes (I didn't have any clean stuff left at this point) and take my first shower in over a week. After he dropped me off I said goodbye to Roman. Thanks for everything dude! And thanks to the rest of the group as well, it was awesome! :)

So now I have been in the hostel for two nights. I will try to fix my boots again tomorrow as the sole is coming off the right boot again. The glue I used in Kelowna was good, but not good enough for the rugged landscape of Southern Utah.

Next plan: spending a few days in Canyonlands.


  1. hey there, i have forgotten your name but remembered your website. My name is allan and i was with you and roman for part of the hike in devils garden. i found some pictures of you in case you havent seen them:
    and there are more on facebook as well.
    glad to meet you, friend! hope to see more of your travels on this blog.

    1. Thank you man! I enjoyed seeing those pictures. My name is Anne Luchtenveld, you can find me on facebook if you want :) I tried looking for you but for some reason nothing came up.
      Hope to hear from you.