North Six-Shooter Peak

Thursday morning we packed up and left the beautiful little Hamburger Rock campsite. We stopped a few times on the way so that I could snap a last couple of photos of North and South Six-Shooter Peaks, on our way back to the highway. We headed back toward Moab to replenish supplies of dry ice and water.

South Six-Shooter Peak

We had enough gas for the return because we had stopped at the tiny gas station at Needles Outpost on our way in, the first day. There are two ancient gas pumps, and price is about $6.85/gal so I decided to get two gallons to make sure I could get back to Moab. Arno helped me get the thing going. (I had forgotten how to operate those old things. Remember back when we had to lift the nozzle in the side of the pump, then crank down the long handle on the side of the pump to open the flow, then watch the plastic numbers flip behind the glass?) As it clunked into gear, Arno proceeded to tell me a story about gas a long time ago…and I forgot all about my stupid expensive pump. Luckily we caught it at $27.50 for four gallons!

In the meantime, we met Lizard Lady. The kids had spotted some northern whiptail lizards sunning themselves on rocks outside. When I went to pay for my gas, the woman running the cash register noticed the kids and went ballistic! She opened a window and yelled at them, “Don’t kill my lizards!” We tried to assure her that our children would never kill the lizards, to which she responded, “oh, not intentionally!” Poor woman was very very upset and could not take her eyes off the three teenagers placidly watching lizards in the parking lot.

Three Gossips to the left of the road, The Organ and Towel of Babel to the right

After we had our supplies, we found parking spots in the shade at the downtown Information Center, then made sandwiches for lunch. It was hot and dry and the bread dried out before we were able to finish them. Sated, we decided to browse the shops a little. Miguel was still feeling sick and laid down in the truck again, and the rest of us took off. We had the most fun at a T-shirt shop. The entire place was filled with blank T-shirts and hoodies, of all colours and styles and sizes imaginable. The walls were blanketed in T-shirt decals. There must have been thousands of them. We chose the clothing we wanted, then chose the image we wanted, then the shop owners pressed it for us in just a couple minutes. We were able to have them remove parts of the designs too. For example, I had them scratch off “Moab, Utah” from my design, but I had them leave the artist’s name at the bottom corner.

A desert queen

Our next adventure was to head into Arches National Park. Miguel was still feeling sick, so he laid down in the truck – still in the shade at the Information Center. The rest of us left in the Dragon Wagon. At the entrance, a park ranger handed me a park paper (like they always do), and the cover story about how Arches National Park receives over a million visitors every single year would have made Edward Abbey aghast. We made our way in, and were treated with wonderful sights along the way, as was the case in Canyonlands. We stopped to look at a rock in the shape of Queen Nefartiti’s profile, and we saw rocks aptly named Three Gossips. Right from the road, we were able to spot the Windows Arches. With my zoom lens, it was like we actually drove out there!

North and South Windows Arches
View of “The Windows Section” with the La Sal mountains in the background
Balanced Rock

We stopped at one short path, and walked around balanced rock. With only half a day left, we had chosen our destination of Devil’s Garden, and did not take any side roads. We did stop for sights we could walk to from the main road. Though Arno assured me that Delicate Arch is beautiful up close, it is also the most famous and most visited. For that reason, we left it alone as well. We can see it on all the license plates anyhow.

We parked at the very busy trailhead at the far end of the park, and made our way in between sandstone fins on a wide, flat, beautiful path in Devil’s Garden. We listened to tourists twittering in Korean, German, Spanish. It was a wonderful trail with several arches and even when there wasn’t an arch we were treated to magnificent scenery.

For a millisecond, no tourists visible on the trail at the entrance to Devil’s Garden
View along the trail
I don’t know what I’m laughing about, here in front of Landscape Arch
{click to enlarge} Tara breaks rules

Landscape Arch is very impressive and – dare I say it – more delicate than Delicate Arch. From our viewpoint, it looks as though it could crash into a thousand shards tomorrow. Or in a hundred years. Due to a relatively recent (1991) peeling off of 180 tons of rock from the underside of the arch, we tourist sheep are not allowed anywhere near the arch. I imagine some moron would get beaned with a falling rock and then sue the park for a gazillion dollars, so the Park Service is forced to keep us all away. The trail is clearly fenced off, and a sign declares that we are not allowed to get any closer to the arch.



Hikers climbing down to the hole left by collapsed Wall Arch. You can see the wear of the trail. Yes, that is a trail.

We hiked past Partition Arch and Navajo Arch. Arno was looking, and pausing, and finally said that the trail looked different from his last visit. Then we spotted the sharp edges like broken pottery pieces. By this point in our trip, Tara and I had finally acquired mild slickrock skills, so we scrambled up past the crashed Wall Arch. Arno remembered correctly: there was a different trail that used to pass Wall Arch until 2008 when it collapsed in the night. I didn’t mind: the trail in use now is a bit challenging, which added excitement to our afternoon, and a distinctly worthy view from the top. After a look around at the high point of the trail, we turned around and went back down. Arno of course descended by his fingertips over the edge of a rock nearby, rather than use the trail like us sealubbers. (Well, if a landlubber is unfamiliar with the ways of the sea, then a sealubber would be….)

Arno descends over the edge of the rock

We were beginning to worry about Miguel at this point: still in the truck back in Moab. So we made our way to the car. Arno, driving, was getting better at anticipating what kind of views call to my camera, so he pulled over a couple of times for me to run across the highway, clamber up onto a ledge, switch my regular lens for the zoom lens, and pull in just one more awesome shot. I keep my spare lens in a purple felt Crown Royal bag, so any observant tourists might have suspected I was a crazy drunk running around in the orange sand of the desert.

Partition Arch

Miguel was fine, and the shade was still covering the truck. In no time, we were heading north on the highway again. We found a campsite in Green River with actual grass to pitch tents on. The bathrooms had showers! Tara and I scrubbed clean for the first time since we were at my Pa’s house.

A raven squawks at us in an enviable setting. He is saying, “Nyahh! Nyahh! I live here and you don’t!”

The long week was taking its toll on Arno, and I got my chance to be a partner and family member by dragging Diego’s attention from his dad to me. Diego wanted to build an apple cobbler dessert in the Dutch oven I brought. His dad was too busy to deal with it. It was obvious that D had been counting on making this recipe for a long time and was terribly disappointed on our very last night camping to be told “no” yet again. After multiple redirections of D’s attention from dad, and dad’s attention from D, they both let me step in and handle it. I was able to build a little trust with him, so he finally realized he could ask ME for help too, not just his dad. With Tara’s help cutting up apples, the cobbler turned out so yummy!

Sun sets on desert hoodoos

4 thoughts on “Arches!

  1. To be nearby when the rock fell…WOW! Wouldn’t that have been exciting and spine tingling at the same time? It’s hard to hear about Miguel being so sick during your vacation. Was it the heat or a bug? I really love your pictures and stories. You keep me on the edge of my seat, smelling the apples cooking, tired from hiking and giggling. Great stuff. Love you so much Cousin!

    1. It was SO SAD that he felt terrible the entire time. And Miguel had been talking to me about Canyonlands since we met. It was a heartbreak. He got a nasty bug and just stayed sick for a long time. He even missed some school when he got back home. But now he’s fine again. We are sadly talking about the Vacation Without Miguel.

    1. Thanks, Fish! I love sharing my adventures, so I’m glad that a few of you get a kick out of what I post. Even though I write a lot, the good thing is that I also put in pictures, so my friends can simply skim it if they don’t have time for the whole thing. ;o)

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