(Days: one, two, three, four, five)
22/viii/04: Moab, UT (Arches National Park)
44 miles/71 km or so exploring the park for another day
I knew the light had been poor when I photographed Double Arch the previous day, so I went back for a proper shot in the morning light.
As always happens when I'm traveling alone, I encountered a couple who asked me to take their photograph. I obliged, but I hate taking vacation shots for strangers. It stresses me out because I'm afraid they'll be disappointed when they get their prints, and everyone's point-and-shoot is different. There's no settings and no definitive click of a mirror returning to position to let me know the exposure's complete. For whatever reason, knowing I'll likely never see them again doesn't help.
Driving to the next trail, I was unnerved by all the motorcycle riders I saw without helmets. Where I grew up, helmets were mandatory, so it was really strange to see people without them.
Along my walk to Skyline arch, I passed a dead tree in the desert landscape.
The trail to Landscape Arch was full of hikers, but I didn't mind their company with all the warning signs for black widows, scorpions, and rattlesnakes. Even though it's a relatively flat mile to the arch, the midday heat and high altitude took their toll on me. Any time I came across a bit of shade, I stopped to drink water. Landscape arch is worth it though, spanning more than a football field in length. Again, it wasn't the best time of day to shoot it, but these shots will give you an idea.
On my way back, I hit a couple side trails. Pine Tree Arch had a great view with trees growing at its base and nearby Tunnel Arch had a little double arch.
Back at my car, I snacked, rested, and cooled off.
The trail to Sand Dune Arch was appropriately sandy. The arch itself was secluded within a series of tall rock fins. The shadowed rock in the lower center of this picture was about 3 times my height and walking through the narrow pass to its right made me feel a bit claustrophobic. It was significantly cooler though which was nice. Lots of lizards and geckos, some at least a foot long.
Walking back, I took some wider shots of the rock fins.
("Sandstone Fins" available for sale at my shop.)
At the Fiery Furnace viewpoint, I sat on a rock. It was nice to be sitting after several short hikes that seemed longer in the midday heat and to be alone if only for a few minutes with an amazing vista: distant mountains, foreground fins and spires, and my favorite blue sky with lots of puffy white clouds. Since it was too early for a spectacular shot of the Furnace rock formations, my cameras stayed in the car, empty. I could hear some French tourists approaching from further up the trail and all I could think was, "Il fait chaud aujourd'hui," but I passed them without saying anything.
On my way back towards the entrance, I pulled into La Sal Mountains Viewpoint, one of the coolest spots in the park. From there, you can see many of the popular formations at Arches: the 3 Gossips, Tower of Babel, Sheep Rock, Organ, Balancing rock, South Window, Colorado River canyon, Courthouse wash, and obviously, La Sal Mountains. I considered taking a shot, but anything smaller than their 1 ft. high x 2.5 ft. wide display would've been too small to discern the details.
I stopped in at the Visitor's Center again to see if they had any postcards I wanted and saw a family of big horn sheep. They looked similar to deer but grey and with curved horns, just like the petroglyphs I'd seen at Capitol Reef. I asked one of the rangers about them and learned that they live around their temporary buildings.
On my way back into town, I stopped at Lin Ottinger's Moab Rock Shop: Fossils, Dinosaur Bone, Minerals, Crystals, Gemstones to look for souvenirs for the fam. I saw some iron ore carts that would've been very cool in my parents' garden, but they were huge and very expensive. Instead I got them 3 spent Uranium cores. They're not Uranium, just rock cylinders extracted from drill sites while looking for Uranium. I shouldn't have joked about radiation with my dad like the proprietor had with me though, because it made him all paranoid about the core samples. I haven't actually seen them since...
One year ago at TTaT: Lost again, it seems, Nate Cushman (part 1 of 2)
tags: road+trip, travelogue, travel, photography, driving, Arches+National+Park, Utah