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Moab, Utah with Conor and Will, Day 2, March 23, 2010

June 4, 2010

Posted June 4, 2010

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We found this poster in Fort Collins and I just had Will and Conor stand in front of it.  Almost looks real.  Oh, wait.  No, that’s right, we went to Moab.  And, that’s them actually standing in front of a real arch : )

Ah, yes.  Day 2.  We went to Zax for breakfast.  Of course, I walked across the street for my americano and drank that while Conor and Will woke up.  But, Zax was very good.

While at breakfast, we had to make a decision.  Go back to southern Canyonlands (where we had gone the first day) and hike?  Or, go to Arches National Park and do the “primitive trail”?  Ah yes.  Many many many years ago Josie, Conor, Will, and I spent some time in Arches camping.  One of the things we did was take a little hike on what was called the “primitive” trail. It turned into quite the adventure.  So, we were all wondering, what would that hike be like years later?  Like, now?  Of course, it helped that the entrance to Arches was just outside of Moab.  So, no long drive just to get to the park.

So, yes, we decided to check out THE trail.

And, just so it doesn’t become buried in the following emails, here is a little photo of Arches to wet your appetite.  This area is more than just “arches”.  Its quite the place.

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Before I go any further in the trip’s description, here is my standard comment. Please check my photo galleries here for all the larger and higher quality photos for this trip. The photos in the gallery are a quantum leap in size and quality compared to the little teaser photos I put in this site’s trip narrative (and there are more of them). In addition, I have two other links that will help locate the area if you are interested in making the hike yourself. A Google Earth map can be found here. Use the scale bar on the left side of the Google map to help zoom in or out to help locate the area based on where you live. (If you want to see all my trips, this link will direct you to a Google map that shows ALL my trips.) In order to help you with the actual trail itself, you can use this link to view a topo map (care of the Google map set for “terrain”) note that all links open a new browser window.

In addition to the Google map link above, below is a Microsoft Live map. The red tack shows the general location of the trail from Fort Collins, CO. You can click on the map to bring it up in a “live” mode and zoom in or out (and move the map around) to get more detail.

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We started off in very nice weather.  Might have been just a little cool, but it was sunny and the day promised to warm up.  Somehow I managed to not get any other people in this photo, but suffice to say, this trail is fairly popular.  Particularly the first mile or two.

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Now, just to give you an idea of the, um, span of years involved between this hike and the hike which we did in 1999 (yes, quite some time ago), here are some photos of what Conor, Josie, and Will looked like that summer of ’99.  Not very good photos, but gives you some idea of the age difference between now and then.

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Have to say that I’ve very proud of them making that hike back then. I think Josie was in sandals which made it pretty difficult for her to climb on the rocks.
Anyway, we headed up the trail not knowing what to expect.  But, the sun was out, the scenery was great, and, um, there were absolutely no bugs : )

Little side canyon.

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Oh, sure.  A few clouds in the distance.  No big deal.

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Will and Conor take their normal position in our hikes.  Up front : )

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And we come up on our first “arch”

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Even the non-arch rock formations were neat to look at.

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Zoom.

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Really strange stuff.

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Getting closer.  Up and over to the right you can see another smaller arch. Actually, two if you look closely.  We hiked up to those also.

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You can see what looks like another arch beginning a formation up above this first one.  They used to let you walk up under the arch, but no more.  They recently, as in a year or two ago, had a major arch collapse close by here and they now realize how fragile they really are.

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Not sure where Conor went to.  Yes, the white stuff is snow.  They had a snow storm blow through 4-5 days ago and that is all that is left.  Well, at this altitude.  The high mountains were still covered.

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Will finding something to climb on.

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Slightly different view by either Conor or Will shooting my “old” camera (small Olympus zoom). I’ll be sprinkling photos that they shot throughout this trail description.  I think this is a particular famous arch due to the fact of having a plane fly through it at one time.

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Forgot to mention, that Conor took a lot of photos using his own camera during the first day.  They turned out quite nice.  He has a different eye for seeing stuff than I, or, Will.  It’s interesting to see how everyone passes through the same area, yet gets very different photos.  You can see all those here:
http://geoffw.smugmug.com/Photos-by-Conor/moab-10/11919246_YKCFh#843871016_W2XRT

After this point, it got fun (also, the crowds of people began to thin out : ).  You get to climb up some really neat “fins” and “stuff”.  So, keeps it interesting.  Nothing really dangerous, but you probably would want to keep an eye on small kids (and try and make sure you don’t trip : )
Photo by Will.

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Dad slowly bring up the rear.  I was a little grumpy at this point of the hike.  Felt like being in downtown Fort Collins with all the people around.  It got much after this point.  Another photo by Will (or Conor; they kept passing the camera back and forth between them).

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I mentioned that a arch collapsed not too long ago (2008).  Happened after we did the hike in ’99, so we got to see the arch (though I don’t remember it and don’t have any photos).  Here is what it looks like now.  Just rubble. (Photo by Will).

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Anyway, we hiked up and around to see some other small arches.

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Sans people.

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Zoom.

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Full zoom through the hole.  That’s looking vaguely east.  I think.  Those far mountains (with white stuff on them) are in Colorado just on the other side of Grand Junction.

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Over to one side of the “big” hole was a “small” hole (I imagine they will connect at some point in the, uh, distant future).

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Ok, dad.  That was enough photos : )

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Course Will and Conor shot some using the other camera.  They are much better at taking “people” photos than I am.  The next 4 photos are all taken by Will or Conor.

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Fairly cool section of rock wall on the way to a small arch.

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This was a very small arch.  Kinda strange actually.  Looked like a cave until you noticed the inside had no roof : )

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Stepping away from it a little.  Need to give it another 20,000 or 30,000 years.  Or more.

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Oh look, rocks to climb.  Therefore, we will climb.

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Will made it to the top.

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Now, put your fingers right there…….  Conor decided to pass.  I didn’t even consider trying.

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Then, we approached the high point (altitude wise) of the hike.  I actually remember this from 1999.  Seemed a lot scarier then.  But, still pretty darn neat spot.  Great views.  Basically, you are climbing on top of, and then walking along the ridge of, a giant rock fin.

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Zoom.

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Will and Conor in the distance.  Gee, where did that cloud come from?

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Zoom.  The person just to the left and behind them is actually one of several people that passed us “running” the trail.  No, it didn’t bother me at all.  Ok, maybe a little : )

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Sans people.

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The next seven photos are by Will (or Conor) using the “other” camera.  There is a difference in the white balance between the two cameras.  Not sure which one is more correct.  Probably somewhere in the middle between them.

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The storm approaches.

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Looking in the other direction.

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Hey, my turn.

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Nice view.

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Uh, where’s dad?  Oh, there he is.

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I was busy taking photos.  That’s why I fell behind.  Sure.

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Back to some of my photos.

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So, this is looking down into the deep canyon on one side.  We, eventually, cut across the bottom of that canyon on the way back.  I think.  Maybe.  Or, maybe we went through a time/space warp somewhere.  Cause, it really doesn’t look like anything I remember crossing.  Strange.

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Photo by Conor or Will.  I believe this is the remnants of an arch.

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Got to be some neat hiking.  You could never see very far ahead; on the trail that is.  But, you did keep seeing awesome views.

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Unique view by Will in his photo below.  Again, you can see the difference in white balance between the two cameras by looking at the photo above and then the photo below.  Hate to say it, but I can’t remember what it was like.  So, probably somewhere between the two.  I did go back and look at the original photo as it came out of my camera.  Just to make sure I didn’t do something strange while I was “developing” my film (so to speak).  Nope, pretty much just like it came out of the camera. Looks cleaner and sharper, but same color.

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Another photo by Will/Conor.  That spire in the distance is visible from a lot of areas.  We decided to NOT hike out to it.  Maybe next time.

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We got around the corner of this big slab of rock we were walking down and saw this over to our left.

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Zoom

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Tail end of the big slab.  More than likely, thousands of years ago, there were a bunch of arches that stretched across from where we are standing now, to those other fins across the way.

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Zoom

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Hmm, where’s dad?  Oh, finally.

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Heh, I was busy taking photos.  Sorry about that.

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I thought the clouds looked cool, so here they are.  Yeah, we came down that piece to the left.

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Will trying to get artistic.  His photos turned out very good (saying that means I’d wished I’d taken a shot from this same spot), but due to the cheaper lens, some had a pretty bad flair.

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Here is another one.  Still pretty nice.  Definitely catches the feeling of the area.

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Here is one I took of him trying to capture the light.

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Another sans people.  If I was going to print it, I’d chop off that little section at the bottom.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But, it does show the difference between the glass in the cameras.  Really good (as in, expensive) glass can shoot right at the sun and not get any flairs.  My lens is only mediocre, so I end up with a little bit of flare.  Will’s using my old Olympus camera.  Not only does it have cheaper glass hanging on the front of it, but I’ve got a protective UV filter threaded on the end of it also.  I didn’t think he and Conor would take so many photos or I might have taken the filter off and made sure the glass was clean.

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View looking back as we lose more altitude and head towards a canyon crawl.

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So, after being up high for a long time, we dropped down to walk a canyon for a while.  Quite a pleasant change.  Photo by Will.

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Without people.

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Turnabout is fair : )

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The storm that passed through a few days ago (not the current one in the background) ended up creating a lot of water filled pools along this section of the trail.  Enough that the ranger had warned me about them.  As it turned out, we did have to do a little scrambling to get around some of them.  Photo by Will or Conor.

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The canyon was very nice and scenic.  Sometimes with views out to the distant plains.

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We eventually climbed out of this canyon and over/between some fins to another canyon.  Basically, slowly working our ways back along the loop towards the parking lot (still miles away at this point).

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Zoom.

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Very interesting hiking.

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It seemed kinda of strange to be walking along and see a patch of snow.  Photo by Will/Conor.

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Although it got cloudy, and a little cool, the snow seemed to be out of place.  Must have been quite the storm.  Photo by Conor/Will.

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Will and Conor decided to pass on trying to climb this rock wall.

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But, there were plenty of other climbing opportunities.  Photo by Will/Conor.

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Well, ok.  Some would have been a little extreme to try.  Photo by Conor/Will.

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Then we started to hit a few places that were examples of why the rangers had designated this as a “primitive” trail.  Also brought back memories of the hike when Conor, Josie, and Will were much younger.

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Pretty fun stuff : )  Photo by Will.

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Pretty sure, but not positive, that this is where I had to carry Josie on my back.  She only had sandals on her feet (awesome that she did the whole hike that way : ), so it was a little tricky.  Not to mention that this was before I’d introduced them to real climbing.  (I soon rectified that in Fort Collins later that summer.)  Photo by Will.

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Here is what it looked like from the top as Conor made his way down.

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Now, this was not some sort of highly technical extreme climbing section.  That said, you really didn’t want to slip.  Cause, you probably wouldn’t die, but more than likely you would get hurt.  And, you just might die.  Also, you can’t see it, but the rock was fairly slick from everyone following the same path.  And it had just a “slight” coating of sand/dirt.  Juuuuuusssssssssst enough to make it feel a little tense.

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And, there was absolutely NO other way down.  We had a group of people following us, with children.  One or two looked to be about the same age as Josie and Will in 1999.  The man in the lead, the dad I guess, took one look at the trail and just kept on going down the rock fin with the rest of his family.  He really didn’t want to go down that way.  I saw him and his family coming back later to come down the ONLY way down.  Here is someone coming down as we walked on.

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And, a photo by Will looking back.

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The sun kept trying to break through the clouds.  Photo by Will/Conor.

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And then we were back in another canyon.  Now, just a little bit of “heads up”.  This trail(s) are really pretty easy to follow.  That said, you “could” make a mistake.  Particularly going down one of these canyons.  The issue is, it’s very easy to just be cruising down the nice canyon bottom, checking the scenery, and daydreaming.  However, if you happen to miss the spot where the trail heads up out of the canyon (there were no signs), then it might be a while before you’d think “gee, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a rock pile……….”

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Here is one of those “be careful for the pools” issues the ranger was talking about.  It was about 4-6 feet deep (pretty hard to say), and not quite the type of day that you felt like going swimming.  So, the question was, which way to go around it?  Hmmm.  Well, to the right hand side was a no go.  It looked “sorta” doable just above the water on the left.  But, sorta iffy.  The best way looked to go straight up the rock to the left and then over.  Yeah.  Except it was kinda high looking.  Hmmmm.

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Will decided to give it a whirl.  So, straight up he went.

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So, ok.  I can do this.  (Hey, I taught these guys how to climb.  I can climb anything they can.  Uh, right?)  Well, I did hesitate a little, but went ahead.  Turned out to be not bad (again, not a really technical issue, but, who wants to fall?).  Here is Conor following me up.

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Yeah, no problemo.

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So, again, the family group came up behind us.  And, again, they didn’t really like what they saw.  Really, the kids went up like monkeys, it’s the adults that are heavy : )
Photo by Will.

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Will waiting on dad.  Again.

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Eventually, we leave the canyon behind and start the last section of hike back to the main trail and the parking lot.

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The main trail exits this area through that line of rocky spires up ahead.

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Pretty neat formations.

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Will taking in the spires.  Photo by Conor.

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Shot of the rocks and the mountains behind.

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Better perspective by Conor (using the good zoom on the Olympus).  The trail heads through that slot in the wall of rock.

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Conor going up to take a look at a formation to the right of the trail, ahead.

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What he saw.  Photo by Conor.

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Final look east towards Colorado before we head through the rocks and the end of the trail.  Storm pretty much missed us.  Photo by Conor.

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We got back to the car and decided that was enough hiking for the day.  Figured by the time we’d get back to the motel, clean up, and rest a bit, it’d be time for eating.  But, we did stop a few times on the way out of the park to take some photos.  Place is just too cool.

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Little further on Conor took a photo of some fossilized sand dunes.

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Hmmm.  Gee.  Lets go back and hike to that arch.

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Somewhere down there is Moab.

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Zoom.

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More good stuff.

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The camera does not do it justice.

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Wanted to stay for sunset, but that would be a while.

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So, it was time to say, goodbye.

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We got back to Moab and had a great feast.  Got up early the next day and drove back to Fort Collins.  I think we all agreed that the trip had been a major success (and, yes, as per normal, we did hit a snowstorm going back over Vail pass : )

That’s all.  Check out all these photos (and Conor’s) on my web site at www.geoffw.smugmug.com.  Much bigger and better.

– Geoff Weatherford

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