Sunday, October 21, 2018

Delicate Arch trail, Arches National Park, UT, Sunday, October 7, 2018

Spent several days in eastern Utah around the Columbus Day holiday. Sunday, October 7 was my first day there, after having spent the previous night in Cedar City. It's really too far to get to Arches in one day, so I did a stop over.
My initial plan had me staying in Capitol Reef National Park on this night, but the forecast looked very poor: Rain all day, so I'd be driving a narrow mountain road in clouds and rain, then have to either pitch my tent in the rain or sleep in my car, which sounded pretty crummy.
So, instead, I burned 15,000 Wyndham Rewards points for a free night in the Days Inn in Moab. Rooms are expensive in Moab, and the cash price would have been over $150, so this seemed like a good time to use points, instead. And, in fact, it was raining when I got there. But the rain eventually stopped, and I managed to get a hike up to Delicate Arch.
It's a relatively straightforward 3-mile roundtrip with a decent altitude climb to get there. NPS says 470 feet.

Starts out level, and walking over sand. An old ranch house is near the start. You cross over an area undergoing rehabilitation (removal of tamarask trees and regrading of the wash), then begin to climb. After a short climb and descent over dirt, you soon begin the main part of the climb, over exposed sandstone.
It's the exposure that makes this a strenuous climb in the heat of summer. There's no shade, it's pretty steep, and there's no shade. But it's not particularly dangerous, otherwise.
The trail levels off again at the top of the sandstone. You're in a wash, again. Some gnarled juniper trees grow here. Then, up along some more sandstone, pass two smallish arches in that sandstone, and you're at the opening of the amphitheater. Delicate Arch, likely larger than you expected, is before you.
Unfortunately, there's likely a continuous line of people, posing under the arch, because God-forbid you can't all just appreciate this from a distance from a distance. Only way around this is to shoot the arch from the opposite side, or wait until really late, and hope not many other people get the same idea.
On my return to the car, a partial-rainbow spread, from the passing showers. It was a pretty cool end to my little hike, though not the end of my photography for the day.

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