Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Return of Captain Holly's Hiking Blog, 2008 Edition

After a long hiatus, the sleepy Warren is slowly stirring: Captain Holly's Hiking Blog is back for another summer of adventures in the Great Outdoors.

This year it starts at Arches National Park. That's me, standing under Delicate Arch, the unofficial symbol of the State of Utah.

I attended a conference in nearby Moab last week, and instead of paying about $75 a night for a hotel room, I opted to camp in Devil's Garden campground in the park for only $15 a night. Not bad, but you have to make reservations well in advance, as the campground fills up quickly during the spring season.

While the park is a desert area, it is a cold desert, meaning it gets snow. And it gets cold enough to freeze in April, as this picture clearly shows. The weather was cold and rainy during the first couple of days, but by the time the weekend came around it had cleared out and the temps were in the 70's.

There are several hiking trails in the park, none of which are very difficult other than some scrambling over slick sandstone. But usually as long as it's dry there isn't a problem. And the red Entrada sandstone formations are spectacular.

This is Landscape Arch on the Devil's Garden trail. It's in the terminal stages of arch-hood, as in 1991 a huge chunk fell from it and as you can tell, it's getting quite thin on one end. Another such loss and it might be gone for good.

The area has long been inhabited by humans; some Utes left these pictographs a couple of hundred years ago.
Overall, it was a great trip. I was able to hike almost all the trails. I hadn't done much hiking in red rock country before this, but I think I'll spend more time here.
If you go, the best times are in the spring and the fall before Memorial Day and after Labor Day. Winters are very cold -- trust me on this -- and summers are just too hot to enjoy. But there will be much smaller crowds.



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