My Window on the World

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Vast. 

That is one word to describe Arches National Park. 

It is more than arches, it is a landscape of fantastic rock formations, and immense open spaces that stretch far off into the horizon. Capturing light and shadow throughout the day, the colors vary from vibrant to muted. Towering pillars, slender fins, huge slabs, groups of spires that resemble sentinels standing guard, frozen in time, pancake or pastry appearing mounds and of course arches, singles, doubles, delicate, enormous, all are a part of this strange and intriguing place. Ever evolving, as time and the elements etch their effects upon the seemingly impenetrable hardened earthly sculptures, this land can hold a person captive with it’s wonder, amazement, rugged beauty and vibrant colors.

What I thought might be a partial day of exploring into this vastness of wonder, resulted in an entire day of exploration and visual stimulation. Driving into Arches National Park is a drive upward to the higher plain and being immediately confronted with mountainous formations that dwarf all else around them. My eyes were drawn from one fantastic sight to another. Mammoth and minor both of sizes that fill the view. Balanced rocks topping slender pillars, fragile looking sprigs of stone in shapes and forms that sit atop some of the huge masses all add to the mystery of these creations.


After viewing a few of the rock formations, my first arch to see was Delicate Arch. It was a 3 mile round trip hike, which did not deter me, nor a considerable number of others. Mostly uphill I plodded on. Upon rounding a bend from the ledge path leading to it, I was struck with it’s size and solitude, standing as if the entryway to a land of intrigue. Looking through Delicate Arch as through a window, vistas both near and far opened up before me of the diversity, dignity and magnitude of all that it revealed. 

After a considerable time I started on my return, this time much easier on the gentle descent. Driving further into the park I stopped at several view points along the way, all en route to the destination of The Devils Garden Trail. This location held several arches, though requiring hiking some distances to reach them. Initially I thought I might just go to one or two, as the complete hike was 8 miles roundtrip. However, like a tasty treat, one bite is not enough. Like following a pied piper I was tempted and ventured further and further into the remote areas that hid these awesome arches. Again, a considerable number of visitor were engaged on the same discoveries, though not like the masses of crowds and hustle at sites in Yellowstone.

Along the way, I met up with a young man from Texas, Matt, and after some conversation, we agreed to venture off exploring more of the arches together. At times we were walking along tops of long slender fins of stone, clambering down boulders, trudging through sand until we came upon the next natural arches.

The day grew warmer, near 90 degrees, which I found to be much nicer than the cold, wet days of the previous weeks. The increase in temperatures also will help re-aclimate me to my return to Phoenix later today, Saturday 8/30.

At Double O arch, a young woman, Amanda, asked to walk out with us, so together we set out to the trailhead. Along the way, Matt decided to venture off to see yet another arch as Amanda and I completed our long hikes. At the trailhead, a water fountain was the popular spot as hikers filled water bottles, drank and, in our cases, splashed water over our heads and faces for a refreshing reward to a long afternoon of being in the sun. It was then after 5 p.m. and I knew that I needed to make some distance yet before nightfall to help lessen the long drive back to Phoenix the next day. After filling up with gasoline, I drove 70 miles south to Blanding, Utah and took a room for the night. I should be back in Phoenix by late this afternoon, depending on what other places might draw me off a direct route home. There were several other points of interest that I had planned to visit, but on this trip I will bypass them. 

Arches, are very much like windows. Through them are picture perfect scenes, the arches framing moments in time that to our eyes are static and unchanged. Yet, over eons, even as the arches formed and expanded to include larger views of the world beyond, so have my travels expanded to include views, scenes, and vistas that continually amaze me and draw me though the windows to explore out into what lies in that vast land before me. And as gateways to places of wonder and discovery, I will continue to travel on through new passages to other places of adventure, excitement and new discoveries.