Well I guess I spoiled the surprise in my last post. Last weekend Jason and I went to Moab to celebrate his birthday in the best way we could think of: camping, hiking, eating, and photo-taking. The weather was picture-perfect and somehow, despite the number of people filling the campsites and hotels surrounding Moab, we had most of the sights to ourselves.
We started off Friday after work, stopping briefly in Eagle for groceries and Wendys. On the way we briefly chatted about what campsites we wanted. By the time we made it to Moab, all the campsites we wanted (all 7 of them!) were full. So we continued about 10 miles down Kane Creek Road to the new Ledges campsite. Before driving around and temporary blinding all the campsite residents with the lights of my car, we asked the park ranger stationed at the entrance if there were any open campsites. He looked at us like we were stupid and “there’s tons”. He was right. We quickly set up camp and fell asleep under a clear night’s sky.
Like the last time we went camping, we were both freezing by about 1 am. Everything I’ve heard and read about camping says you should sleep in your underwear so the sleeping bag is doing the bulk of keeping you warm instead of your clothes. Well around the same time I became cold, the urge to pee also became unbearable. I quickly dressed and went outside to pee. Afterwards I was too tired to undress again so I just crawled into my sleeping bag fully clothed. And magically I was warm!
I woke up with the sunrise, which was actually just everything suddenly becoming light since it was so cloudy I couldn’t actually see the sun. I explored the campsite and read about running (big surprise) while waiting for Jason to wake up. After a quick breakfast of honey stinger waffles, we headed out for Arches National Park.
While doing our very limited research on Moab, I read that you can see almost everything in the park in about a day since most things are pretty close to the paved roads. With that in mind, we headed straight for delicate arch, the iconic arch that greets travelers when they enter Utah on the highways and graces most of the Utah license plates. The hike is about 3 miles round trip and involves a little bit of fun slickrock hiking. We made it to the arch before the crowds and were able to capture a couple “tourist-free” pictures before hiking back down and heading to Fiery Furnace. Unfortunately you need a guide to hike Fiery Furnace so we just went to the overlook, took some pictures and then headed back towards all the sights we had missed in our quest to get to delicate arch.
After Fiery Furnace we headed to the Garden of Eden and spent some time hoping from slickrock section to slickrock section to avoid stepping on the crypto, which is the living crust that thrives in the desert surrounding Moab. Then we headed towards the Windows, where we took the primitive trail that loops around the back of the double-arched windows and grants “tourist-free” views. Once we made it to the front of the windows, we moseyed on over to Turret Arch, which Jason proclaimed as his favorite (although he said that multiple times throughout the trip so I’m not really sure if it’s still a factual statement). Once again, we managed to get there between the waves of people and had the arch to ourselves! After taking copious pictures from multiple angles, we went over to check out Double Arch and then hopped back in the car to head to Balanced Rock. Which looks like a giant thumb!
Since that was our last stop in the park, we headed over to Corona Arch, which has become famous thanks to a Youtube video called “Worlds Largest Rope Swing“. We were lucky and there were people rappelling from the top. According to discovermoab.com, “few hikes culminate with such wow”. The hike was fun, and even involved a ladder and some handrails attached to the slickrock.
After a fun day of hiking, which ended up being somewhere around 14 miles, we headed back to camp for a delicious dinner of three cheese-stuffed chicken, asparagus, red bell peppers, and canned corn. It really was delicious! And we even got to watch the sun set while eating. How romantic! We stayed up a little longer huddled around the campfire gazing at the stars, but called it night sometime around 9:30, knowing we had a big day the following morning. Which you already know about since you’ve read my previous blog post.
So now I’ll skip to Monday since you know all about Sunday. Monday was our last day in Moab, so we packed up camp and headed to the Islands in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park for sunrise. We made it into the entrance of the park and hurried over to the overlook next to the Visitor’s Center in time for sunrise. We had a perfect view of the sun rising over the La Sal Mountains, with the endless maze of canyons in the foreground. After sunrise we headed to Mesa Arch, which had been our original sunrise destination. Jason warned me that tons of people congregate at Mesa Arch to capture the sunrise and then flee as soon as the sun is in the sky. Although there were still people at the arch, we saw a large majority of people hiking back to their cars while we were on our way out. Mesa Arch is certainly not the most spectacular arch I’ve ever seen, but it does have one of the best views.
After soaking in the warmth of the sun, we headed on to Grand View Point which offers, in my opinion and obviously other people’s, the best view of the park. On a clear day, the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers can be seen, as well as the Needles. We hiked around, and Jason took lots of pictures of me on the edge of the cliffs since I have less of a fear of heights than he does. To see my favorite one that he’s shown me so far, head on over to my Facebook page and to see all of them, check out his Flickr page. After taking more pictures, we headed to our final hike of the trip, Upheaval Dome. Upheaval Dome is crazy white salt formation surrounded by the quintessential red Moab sandstone. Scientists can’t agree on what caused it but they’ve pretty much divided into two camps: meteor or something similar struck the earth which caused the layer of salt to “bounce back” and form Upheaval Dome or the typical pressure that happens when rock is layered upon itself eventually forced the softer and more fluid salt layer to the surface to form Upheaval Dome. I didn’t feel like picking sides so I just took some pictures and enjoyed the view.
After a quick stop at the Visitor’s Center, we bid adieu to Moab and headed back to snowy Colorado. It was a whirlwind birthday weekend where we ended up hiking about 41 miles over about 13 hours with almost 7000 feet of elevation gain. I think Jason enjoyed himself so my mission was a success! Now that I’m back home, life has been devoted to getting ready for Zion on Friday. Get ready for the next post where I get to tell you all about it!