I stayed at the Lazy Lizard Hostel in Moab the night before (9/26/15), and I got an early start out to Arches National Park (I recommend getting to the park early because the line stacks up). The day before I had mountain biked Slickrock Trail (wiki) so I was looking to take it easy.
I picked up an overnight backcountry permit at the visitor center in Arches NP before heading off to check out some neat rocks.
In accordance with my plans for a low energy day, I hiked to North Window, Turret Arch, and Double Arch, which combined are only about a mile of hiking. I bought The Martian at Powell’s Bookstore in Portland, and I was just getting to the good parts while I was in Arches. I stopped at each arch to read for 30 minutes in the shade of juniper trees. Arches is particularly popular with tour bus tourists, and it was fun to sit and people watch. They treat the pictures they collect like trophy fish. In my assessment, two out of five busses contain white people, 2/5 – Chinese, 1/5 – Indian.
From Double Arch I leisurely made my way north to the Devils Garden trailhead, killing time along the way by hiking, reading, and observing.
It was funny to be reading about a Man on a solo trip through a barren red landscape, while I myself was a man on a solo trip through a mostly barren red landscape.
I started my hike into Devils Garden around 4 pm to avoid the mid-day heat. I made my way clockwise around the loop before leaving the trail to head northeast down Fin Canyon. I set up camp in one of the many bowls carved out by rain and sand blasting. There was a bit of daylight left so I grabbed my stove and noodles and scrambled up and out on one of the fins.
This is what I wrote up there:
“I’m camping in Arches. Dinner was a Cup of Noodles with a tin of chicken added. There is a consistent ring from some insect that sounds like a high pitched house alarm. A couple bats are swirling overhead, and I’m watching the final quarter crescent of the moon wane into full eclipse. The stars have taken the opportunity to begin poking through dusk. I don’t know what to write except for I don’t think I could have planned this better if I tried.”
The rest gets a little corny, but I swear it felt profound at the time.
“All this time I’ve been trying to convince myself that this trip, and my writing are a gift (to you all reading). Tonight I came to terms with the fact that not only am I the primary beneficiary, but I am the majority beneficiary.” Or this gem, “Sometimes I can see around myself better if I turn my headlamp off and let my eyes adjust. It’s a full moon after all.” And lastly and most happily sappy, “Can something be perfect if you’re alone? Can something only be perfect when you’re alone?”
I cant wait to look back on this in a few years.
All I can say is if you haven’t ever solo hiked out seven miles to drink and camp under a blood eclipse, then you just haven’t ever done that.