Monday, May 30, 2011

Anniversary at Arches: Devil's Garden

Twenty-five years ago today we walked down the aisle. To celebrate this very special anniversary, we decided to take another walk. At 7.2 miles, the Devil's Garden Trail is the longest developed trail at Arches. (It's considerably longer than the first walk we took as husband and wife!) We got to the trailhead bright and early in an effort to avoid holiday crowds and afternoon weather, which promised to be warm and include a thundershower or two. We had researched this trail thoroughly and had a good idea what we were in for. But, the warnings at the trailhead did give us pause.

With plenty of water, sunscreen and a snack, we made our way along the trail. With the promise of eight arch sightings, this was sure to be an especially scenic hike.

The first arch on our tour was Tunnel Arch.

Paul lines up a shot of Pine Tree Arch, our second stop along the way.

Nice shot, Paul! As a ground level arch, Pine Tree gave us a lovely view. These first two arches were lovely appetizers for the main course, which was about 3/4-mile up the trail.

Landscape Arch is the longest of the park's many arches. With a span of 290 feet, it is reported to be the longest national arch in the world. The second longest is in Zion National Park. (We'll definitely check it out while we're there!) Landscape Arch's slender center is just 6 feet thick.

It was tough to capture this lovely arch in one photo. So, we tried a few seconds of video.

Most of the visitors to Devil's Garden turnaround after seeing Landscape Arch. From here on out, we expected the trekking to get a bit tougher. But, we were definitely game. We had more arches to see!

Primitive? Yep. Difficult? Uh-huh. This particularly steep section had the hikers scrambling and the acrophobes turning around. We just kept climbing.

And the view from the top of that climb was so worth it!

On down (and up) the trail, we stopped at Partition Arch, which offered sweeping views of the valley below.

Paul got in for a closer look through Partition Arch.

At Navajo Arch, a German hiker posed for an "arch within the arch" shot. We were impressed with his creativity and flexibility and gave him high marks.

Along the way we looked for the perfect "dead tree shot" to share with our hiking friends Sandy and John. This one is for you two!

The trail to the next arch had us scampering across fins in the wind. The trail was particularly hard to follow here. We looked for cairns that marked the trail, but could find none. With hikers helping hikers, we all found our way.

But, the views were magnificent!

Before reaching Double O Arch, we stepped over to the Black Arch overlook to get a distant look at this interesting arch.

Double O Arch was definitely worth the walk.

Paul bravely stepped through this arch over the very slick rock to the windy side. I opted to stay on the "safer" side.

Paul's journey to the other side of Double O Arch provided some magnificent views, like this one.

Beyond Double O Arch sat Dark Angel. We wandered down the trail to see this big ol' rock, which never did look like an angel to us, or any of our fellow hikers. It was most definitely dark, however.

We followed the trail back to Double O Arch and continued on our loop. When we encountered this sign, we began to wonder. We'd been hiking on a primitive trail for some time. Were things about to get worse? We sat and had a snack while we checked our trail guide. It assured us that if we had made it this far we could make it down this primitive route just fine.

The primitive trail provides views of a few unmarked arches. This could have been Box, Canyon or Crystal. Or, it might have been the backside of Pine Tree. Heck, we couldn't tell. But, whatever its name, it offered us a nice view.

Here's the happy silver anniversary couple at our own private arch. That's Private Arch, and it provided a great opportunity for a shot of two soon-to-be-wornout hikers.

The rest of the hike took us through Fin Canyon. We walked on top of fins....

....between fins....

and next to fins. We definitely got up close and personal with these big boys. It made for some fun and challenging hiking.

But, we did manage to stop along the way and enjoy the flowers. Nice shot, Paul!

This is one of several spots where Paul had to wait for me to negotiate my way along the primitive trail. But, can you blame me? Do you actually see a trail there?

The best spot was a place where rain had filled a large "pothole" along the trail. So many hikers had scrambled along the sandy slickrock to get around the big puddle that it was really slick. One misstep and hikers would tumble into the water. Paul made his way to safety, but I stayed back. It was very slippery! A large group of hikers from several different countries stopped to survey the situation and plan their attack. Many climbed the slippery rock. Finally, someone took off their shoes and waded through the calf-deep water. Guess what I did? That's right. After all that waiting, I waded!

After the water crossing, we made our way back toward the main trail. We took with us lasting memories of some incredible views of Fin Canyon.

Back on the main trail, we were back in the holiday crowds. While we were wandering around the fins, this busy trail really filled up.

This is the reason we got here early. It was all about getting a parking space. By the time we headed back to the Jeep, the parking lot at the trailhead was jam packed and cars were lined up along the road in overflow parking. We're sure glad we got up early and got here when we did.

What a fantastic way to spend this special anniversary! This hike amongst the arches could be our best ever.

Now, we're wondering where we'll hike on our 50th!


John and Sandy said...

Great photos (especially that dead tree shot), and nice tour of the trail. We will have to make it out on this trail next time we are in Moab. What a great way to spend your 25th anniversary.

Hugs and Miss you guys!

Randy and Pam Warner said...

Fabulous photos! We were in the Arches a couple of days ago. The only hike we took was to the Delicate Arch. Your beautiful blog shots fill in what we missed at the Devils Garden. Great pictures! And congratulations!

Sue and Doug said...

great photos of your hike!!..just one quick question...all those miles? there a 'biffy' on route?

E Squared and Mui said...

Yes, the early bird gets the parking spot in popular places ... that and beats the heat and most of the crowds.

Sherry said...

Great pictures. Now we know what hike to take when we get there. Thanks for all the great shots.