We nurse the camp fire back to flames and warm up in the middle of packing up camp. We pull out at 8:20 having had apples & rye crisps with peanut butter for breakfast.
We pull over at a Rest Area where there is hot water so Everette shaves. We meet a lady from Kelowna, BC whose just come from the Arches Nat’l Park which is where we are headed today. She talks of its beauty and we get more excited to go.
We pull over at some Salt Wash where the kids want to climb the cool looking rocks.
In the 1870’s this was the last place that the Mormon colonizer, Brigham Young, called his people to settle. Seeking new grazing lands for their livestock this wasn’t the lush pastureland they had been accustomed too, and water was scarce here. The Indians warned them not to come because they said the water was bad and had killed their women.
The toughest of the desert cowboys & outlaws survived here, knowing where every water hole or spring was hidden in the rocks and canyons.
We park beside Google Maps Street View vehicle, and we all take in the marvellous sites.
Kids find tight spots to squeeze thru. Ridges to climb out to.
The wind is cruel but they explore, while I converse with a couple moving sight unseen from Nevada to Colorado. She is native to Hawaii and says she’s never seen anything as beautiful as this. There is beauty everywhere.
Not too far down the Hwy we pull off to view Devil’s Canyon. It was windier than Salt Wash so only Everette and I adventure out to see if its worth unloading the kids. We decide against it, as the wind pushes us along. Pictures we take are blurry as the gusts blow our arms around. There aren’t any cool rock formations to explore here.
The mountain to the SE is the San Rafael Knob at 7,921′. This is the highest point in the San Rafael Swell. Devil’s Canyon cuts through the Carmel, made of limestone. “The dramatically long and steep slopes below the Carmel are formed of Navajo sandstone, a formation prevalent throughout the Colorado Plateau, forming spectacular views throughout Utah and Colorado.” (from park sign post)
I jump out to view Spotted Wolf, part of a 30-mile long stone barrier, a sawtooth ridge at the eastern edge of nowhere.
For centuries travellers detoured 20 miles north so as to avoid this forbidding wall. It was only for the most intrepid travellers who found their way through the narrow slot canyons and go on to the Green River crossing.
In 1957 a decision was made to increase the US’s interstate hwy system, and thus the I-70 was engineered to bisect the San Rafael Swell. Before construction started in Oct 1967, the both canyon walls could be touched at the same time. Using body harnesses and ropes the engineers and surveyors worked up to 400 ft above the canyon floor. Over 3 million cubic yards of rock were excavated from the area at a cost of $4.5 million……for 8 miles of roadway.
The red colours throughout this area is due to the presence of iron oxide. The depth of colour, therefore, depends on the amount of iron oxide in the sandstone and the extent of oxidation. Water softens and sculpts stunning narrow canyons.
We stop in Green River, and I decide I would never want to live here. The sand blows across the Hwy. It looks like it might be rain ahead, but when we get there we just experience the occasional white-out. Sand grinds in our teeth. Eyes are sore. The landscape desolate and uninviting.
Green River is a centuries-old river cross ing where early explorers, train passengers and other travellers stopped for meals and a night’s rest before moving past. Nowadays, each September people converge on Green River for Melon Days, getting their fill of cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydews. ‘Tis not the season for us.
We hit rain on our way to Arches National Park. Doesn’t amount to much in these high red hills.
We arrive at the park early afternoon and right away I notice that all the sidewalks and curbs are red.
We’ve bought an Interagency Annual Pass ($80) so we can enter National Parks free of charge from now until Nov 30th, 2013. Utah is a state of Nat’l Parks and we’re planning to hit a few of them.
Right away I am awed at the beauty here. I click away.
We get out to walk Park Ave., almost a 2 mile return intermediate level hike through what looks like a dried river bed. Can’t describe it better than what the pictures say, but that’s nothing like the beauty in real life. I walk around almost dazed by the scenery, every few minutes saying, “This is incredible! I’m so glad we came.”
I’m in love with this park.
We camp in the designated campground.
Unfortunately they are still somewhat exposed and we have 40mph gusty winds in the forecast for tonight. 60% chance of precipitation (either rain or snow). We find what we think is the best for parking level with the van and leaving enough space for the ladders, and where we might get the best protection from the wind. Now would be a better time to huddle away in the scrubby trees in a ground tent, but not if it needs pegs as the ground is sandy & they would just pull up.
I climbed in the van and read to the kids from Free the Children trying to use up some of the darkness without laying in the tent.
Below: Pictures from our nights camping spot