We woke up from our desert campsite ready to tackle the legendary slickrock trail. The trail started just a few meters from the tent so we slowly unthawed ourselves and made some coffee and porridge on the camp stove. The trailhead has pretty imposing signage just in case you still had any confidence left after thinking about this trail for the last month!
Above: You can see the “bread-crumb” paint trail showing the way back to the road. You also get a good look at the undulating slickrock.
Above: A good look at the slickrock as I cautiously approach the rim of a massive canyon. Below: The trail in places got a little too close to the lip this canyon for my taste. Gorgeous to look at while standing still but not to be flying headlong at on a bike.
This trail’s worldwide reputation seems well-earned. It seems all like something out of a dream. After scaring ourselves sufficiently, we spent the late afternoon hiking in “Devil’s Garden” on the north end of Arches National Park.
The Devil’s Garden is a place where the sandstone layers have been tilted vertical allowing thin weak layers to erode forming massive fins across the landscape. Mixed in are towers and blobs of rock all painted a wild orange. What makes it even more incredible is the junipers, pinyons and cacti scattered about as though placed by a master gardener. Every square inch your eye falls on is absolutely amazing. I took several hundred pictures while hiking in and around the fantastic rock forms. Every turn is a surprise. The other thing I liked about it was the scale was very human. Often around here you can find yourself looking at massive walls of uncomprehendable size, or gargantuan volumes of space. In the Devil’s Garden, you can climb up around and over things and really get to know the land a bit.
Below: Fighting a strong desert wind, Suz and I cross a fin on our way to finding a dozen or so famous landforms. From someone who traverses unknown terrain by map for a living and for recreation, I can tell you that getting lost here is easier than saying “Wow!”
Above: An exploratory scramble. Suz wanted to have lunch under one of these but for some reason, I found it hard to linger under these massive stone doorways. I took some ribbing for this but later found out that one of these massive arches collapsed just a few years ago in the night. My report did little to keep her from poking fun at my spidey-sense.
Above: “Navaho Arch” I loved this spot which was like the ruin of an ancient cathedral whose roof had partially collapsed. The eroding sandstone leaves a floor of perfect beach sand raked smooth by the wind.
Above: climbing over some fins on our way back to the road…Below: There are so many distinct places that seem completely separate and isolated from everything else. Like walking through an IKEA store with its showrooms of living rooms and bedrooms. This spot below was its own unique place complete with its own little garden, lighting, loft, patio and yard. Yet walk 50 yards and it is all hidden, replaced by some other totally different sights and forms. Click on the pictures for a better view.
Above: Hope the car is through here! Another incredible day! Above: We watched the sun set on “Landscape Arch” the longest arch span at 300 feet and impossibly slender. After two long days of hiking and biking, we opted to check into a motel for a much-needed shower. We had been through a bit of a sandstorm in the afternoon that the motel merchants must have colluded in delivering. So we ate a late supper and retired to the town of Moab.