Arches National Park (NP #41), Utah

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.


Slickrock Trail above Moab, Utah.


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.


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Line ’em up, roll ’em out. Double Arch is in the background.


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.


Double Arch up close. It’s hard to get a sense of scale from pictures, but there’s a person standing directly under the arch in front of the its shadow.


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.


Backcountry campsite in Fin Canyon, Arches National Park.


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.


Blood eclipse from Arches National Park on September 27, 2015.

6 Comments on “Arches National Park (NP #41), Utah

  1. Jay- I’ve been reading about Everet Reuss-an adventurer and artist who roamed the area where you’ve just been. He’s written some profound letters and poetry about the areas he’s traveled through. He was only 20, but disappeared in 1934 near Escalante UT. Never been found. Probably not great reading when your out & camping in the wild! Miss you…aunt terry

    1. Thanks for letting me know! I’m reading up on adventure writers these days so I’ll have to check out some of his work when I get back.

      I’m excited for the pot luck!

  2. Hi Jay! I’m finally caught up with your travels, and it looks like you’ve had a good time! I like reading about the people you meet, and your pictures are great! Stay safe and can’t wait to see you when you get home!
    Love, a.p.

    1. Thanks Aunt Patty! Yeah writing about the scenery is cool and it usually comes easier, but I have the most fun writing about the people I meet.
      See you soon!

  3. Jay Sorry that it takes me so long to respond to your fantastic observations . You have & are having a lifetime esperience that very few experience even forone day , let alone a month. The real joy that you have experienced is that you own this time, the experiences and reflections lock stock and barrel. You will not experience the real joy of them (rhe exoer=iences) until you try to reconcile them to a noromal life pattern in which the 0r8mary concern is reconciliation to other beliefs, desires and DEMANDS.

    Sunday Sermon
    Phyl and I too, watched the eclipse and the Red Moon. We saw the eclipse beautifully but the red Moon did not come thru so well, clouds and lights. As you have undoubtedly done on your many lonely nights , that sky is such a fantastic work of art and you deveop so many friends there, that always greet you from the same place and have the same neighbvors with them.
    Just think you are down to less than two weeks on your Oddessy (sp) Fantastic
    Take care and looking forward to lots of conversation.
    Love & Hugs
    gma & gp
    Phyl & Chucka

    1. I agree, this trip is a gift to myself, and I will only value it more as time goes on.

      Its true, I have become more familiar with the constellations, and luckily these days I’m usually somewhere with minimal light pollution! You’re totally right about them having a familiar calming effect on me, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget the value of taking the time to look up.

      Your voyager of the Odyssey Fantastic,

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