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Moab, Conor and Will, Spring 2011 Day 1

April 30, 2011

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In the late afternoon of Monday, April 4, 2011, my two sons, Will and Conor, and I rolled into Moab, Utah.  Probably close to 5 pm’ish.  The drive from Fort Collins had been relatively quick and uneventful aside from the normal occasional highway work closures (lost at least 30 minutes to that) and one wreck (lost another 30 minutes there).  But, the weather was pleasant and I saw that the Spring season was a “little” more advanced from when we had been to Moab last year.

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. You will need to 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 road and trail map (care of the official Arches Nat Park website) of the Windows Arches trail.Please note that all links open a new browser window.

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In addition to the Google map link above, please see a Microsoft Live map below. The red tack shows the general location of the trail from my home in 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. Just make sure you don’t close the Microsoft “My Places” editor that pops up with map. If you close the editor (it is small and you can use/scroll/zoom the map without the editor getting too much in the way) without first saving the new location, the location button will disappear. If that happens, just close the map and click on it again on my web page.

Map picture

We made sure that the motel room was ready, unloaded our gear into the room, and then headed to Arches NP.  The entrance to Arches is just across the Colorado River about a mile north outside of town.  We pulled into the visitors center, talked to a nice ranger about available hikes, and I purchased my normal annual parks pass.  I did learn one good thing.  Next year I would be able to purchase a non-expiring (well, not until I die : ) pass for $12 (good for all National Parks).  Quite the deal.

The sun hadn’t set so we drove to the Windows section of arches.  This is a set of arches that has a bit of a looping trail and some great views.  Our plan was to “bag” these arches and then head back to Moab and get something to eat.  I think all of us wanted to get out and do something after being cooped up in the car for 7 hours.

We found that the arches, and the area itself, were very nice.  I encourage anyone to visit this set (5 or so) of arches.  Particularly if you have children.  Short easy trails take you from one arch to another.  I’d recommend doing it in the early morning or late afternoon when the light is at it’s best.

Even without the arches, the views were quite nice.

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Some of the arches only make themselves known as you walk the trails.  From the parking lot, you could not see this arch.  But, once you walked up the trail a ways, the new angle exposed the window.

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Zoom.

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Other arches were pretty much in your face from the get go. Conor and Will standing in one of the most accessible.

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Several zooms.

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This is a superb place to come, find a seat, and just sit and look around.  And continue to look for a long time.

Many of the arches had smaller arches (or, holes?) next to them.  Some of which could not be seen until the angle was just right.  In the photo below, there is a smaller “window” just to the left of the main window (easier to see on my smugmug website).

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Vantage points (for photos or just for looking around) were numerous and easy to get to.  That said, some of them become quite exposed so care with small children would be wise.

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I didn’t need to worry about Will and Conor.  They are quite at home on the rocks.

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The sun was setting.  Making the lighting both excellent and challenging.

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In the distance, the snow covered La Sal mountains were always visible.  A major storm had recently dropped a lot of snow on them.  This was similar to last year except that, unlike last year, we encountered no patches of snow on the trails.

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As the sunlight continued to wane, the air temperature began to cool off.  I was getting just slightly chilly, but did not want to leave.  It was just too nice.  And, I couldn’t catch up to Conor and Will.

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Due to the time, we did NOT take the local primitive trail, which I do not think compared in either severity nor length to some other primitive trails in Arches.

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Kind of a strange sunset.  For most of the time (when I had my camera ready and was not driving, of course) it had little “color” to it.  But, it still made for some nice scenery.

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Looking away from the sun you could still see the rocks glowing orangey-red.

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Taking it all in.

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Looking back at the parking area and beyond.

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Zoom.  I’ve lightened it up a little so the detail can be seen. We didn’t have time to walk over to some of those other smaller arches that can be seen.

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I think these may be a view of some of the petrified sand dunes.

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Zoom.

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Came upon a “pro” photographer (up above and behind Conor) who was all bundled up (smart) with his camera on a tripod (as per normal, I left my tripod at home) waiting for the perfect color.  He told us he had been there for hours.  He may have been coming for days just to capture the special “look”.

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I don’t normally see Will and Conor just sit/stand around looking.  But on this trip there were a few times that we were all quite stunned by the views.  Or, maybe they are just waiting for me to finish up so we could go eat : )

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Couple of smaller “windows”.  One is fairly evident.  The other is visible, but hard to make out.

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We took our time gazing for a while, and then headed back to the car.  I grabbed a couple of more photos in passing.

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Note that all these photos will be much better looking (well, such as they are) on my web site.  Due to the small size of the photos above, I encourage you to visit this trip’s photos on my smugmug website here.

Anyway, we headed back down to Moab as the sun set (I witnessed several photo opportunities on the way down that were stunning sunset views, but decided it had already been a long day : )  We parked the car back at the motel and walked a couple of blocks to our feed hole for the night.  Zax.  Great place for dinner.

– Geoff Weatherford

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