Apr 25, 2017

Family Adventures in Moab

Although I have been quiet on the posting front for a few weeks, I have been busy! Between preparing for my upcoming classes (which I’m doing by reading through my old Chemistry textbook), working with the youth in my church, spending time with my family, battling my autoimmune disease, and just living life in general, I have finally made time to write a blog post! I feel pretty proud of myself right now. Actually, I want to write a picture travelogue about the fun we’ve had as a family exploring the great outdoors of Utah, specifically in Moab. Southern Utah is an outdoor-lover’s paradise! As the weather has gotten less snowy and warmed up, we have ventured out more and more to explore the arches, bridges, and canyons of Moab.

Moab falls at just the perfect place along our route to visit family for a nice rest stop. How could we resist a quick hike up to Double Arch to stretch our legs when we were already driving by Arches National Park? Answer, we couldn't. There was still snow on the ground, and the trails were muddy and slick.
The nice thing about this trip was that there was no one else seemingly here! We just about had the park to ourselves. We were the only people at Balanced Rock!
Over St Patrick's Day weekend (which explains all our green), we joined my husband on a geology field trip out to Moab. This time, our first stop was to Dead Horse Point State Park. We ended up on an accidental 3-mile hike along the canyon rim out to the actual Dead Horse Point, and the views were incredible! The canyon is gorgeous, with the Colorado River winding through it.
The view was amazing! Alex wore his "This is what a super hot geologist looks like" shirt, and I wore my "This girl is taken by a super hot geologist" shirt, so we could match. I needed green for St Patrick's day, since my daughter is a decent pincher, so I wore my Skirt Sports redemption capri in Emerald City print. #pinchproof
We set up camp at Lone Mesa campground, just outside of both Dead Horse Point State Park and Canyonlands National Park. Seen here is our tent pitched in front of the lone mesa.
The next morning, after an amazing campfire breakfast of creme brulee french toast (my husband is an awesome cook!), we set out for Arches National Park.
We did the difficult hike up to Delicate Arch, and it was well worth the effort! This is the must-do hike of Utah, I feel, since Delicate Arch is featured everywhere from the Utah quarters to the license plates. Which means it was also pretty crowded (as you can see), but still a great experience to see in person.
On the way to Delicate Arch, just before you get there, there is another arch. This one is more like a window through the wall of rock you hike alongside. We climbed up to this window-like arch, and were surprised to discover this view of Delicate Arch. If you ever do the hike, look for this arch. I highly recommend stopping here to enjoy the peace and quiet, and the beauty of the park.
 I want to take a second to brag on my 6-year old. She did the entire hike to Delicate Arch, no problem and no whining! This was the hardest part of the hike, a crazy steep incline on a huge sandstone rock, and she scaled it like a champ. She earned her Junior Ranger badge for sure!

Later in March, we had another road trip to embark on, and yet again, Moab was a great stopping point to stretch our legs. This time, we journeyed more south down the highway to this arch that's right off the road, Wilson Arch. There was a storm--a snow storm--moving in, but we decided to hike up to the arch anyway. My dad was with us, and he braved the hike as well..

  The hike is steep, but it is really short. And as usual with these arches, the views are worth it. Lucky for us, the sandstone is pretty grippy. From the arch, we could see almost clear into Monticello!

And it was super windy!
Grandpa found an easier way to hike down, and we were back on the road within 30 minutes.
Beginning of April, we went on a date to Moab to explore a trail we hadn't yet done, Devil's Garden. It was unseasonably cold and windy, but we decided to brave at least the established part of the trail to see some more famous arches.

The hike was a lot of fun as we walked over the sandstone stairs to get better vantage points of Landscape Arch.

The beautiful expanse of landscape arch! We had a number of great views of this arch as we hiked along the trail.
We continued along Devil's Garden Trail and started on the primitive portion of the trail when the wind picked up by A LOT and started blowing sand into our eyes continuously. It was starting to get dark anyway and we didn't bring flashlights, so we decided to turn around and check out a couple of the arches at the beginning of the trail that we missed.

 Pine Tree Arch was easily accessible along a sandy path. We were able to walk right up to it, under it, through it, around it. We're not quite sure why it's called Pine Tree Arch, but there were some trees right underneath it. I really love this type of arch--the arches you can actually explore up close.

The last arch we saw this trip was Tunnel Arch. You can even see a smaller arch just to left of Tunnel Arch, it just doesn't show up as clearly since it opens to sandstone from this angle. This was the last (or also the first) arch on the Devil's Garden Trail. Next time we do this hike, I hope to be able to do the full 7-mile loop, even through all the sand and cliff sides.
Late in April we took a weekend trip out to Capitol Reef National Park to go camping, hiking, and exploring. We decided to do the Hickman Bridge Hike, and my daughter decided she wanted to run part of the trail. She sure gave me a run for my money! This area has a similar looking geology to Moab. Capitol Reef is named such because the rock formation along the Waterpocket Fold, looked like a sea reef to the sailors who traveled through the area.

 The hike out to Hickman Bridge was covered in sandstone and littered with big black basalt boulders about, which had been thrown into the area from a nearby volcano a while ago. We even found other natural bridges in the wash along the trail, which were just the right height for a 6-year old.

There were two of these little bridges right next to each other.
We all took turns climbing under them and exploring the rock formations. Alex is a sedimentary geologist, and was explaining the geology to us.
I think she's going through a climbing phase. There were quite a few little cave-like formations in the sandstone along the trail and she climbed into every one of them. I had to be proactive in checking these out before she did so to be sure there were no rattlesnakes or other creatures hiding within them. That may be the Texan in me, but I wanted to be sure.
She called this one her nap-cave.
Hickman Bridge! We learned from a park ranger that the only difference between a natural bridge and an arch is that a natural bridge has water running underneath it--like a bridge we normally think of. It makes perfect sense.
We took a short break to eat snacks after we walked under the bridge. This also gave my daughter a chance to answer some of her Junior Ranger questions so that she could earn the badge for this park. The Junior Ranger program is a lot of fun for kids. It gives them things to look for as they explore the park, teaches them proper park etiquette, and they get to learn about the park they are visiting. They even have a chance to earn a badge after they finish the program, and it's free of charge.
After crossing under the bridge and continuing on our way around the loop, we found this incredible canyon view. We just had to take a minute to fully appreciate the beauty of the area. With all the rain we received this year, it was spectacularly green and covered in vegetation.
Moab is our favorite place to visit in Utah, and while we're here we want to take full advantage of how close we are to visit as often as we can. We have seen a lot, but there is still so much more to see and explore that it is almost overwhelming! We still need to visit Canyonlands NP, Grand-Escalante Staircase NM, Hovenweep NM, Natural Bridges NM, and so much more within the parks we've already visited. That's the beauty of these natural areas--there's always so much to see and so much more to learn. It's a good thing we like camping and hiking so much!

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