I woke up obscenely early to exfiltrate my damn campsite in the dark and make my way into Arches by 6:17am sunrise. I felt like I was sneaking out of there, so that I wouldn’t disturb any other campers.
On the way there, I saw approximately nothing except dark blobs, until the sun finally rose.
The golden-swirled sunrise cast itself against the waving and distorted rock formations. With first light, I began an 8 mile hike through the Devil’s Garden Loop, taking every offshoot I could to see more named arches.
A deer presented itself and posed for me in the middle of an archway at dawn, then quietly walked away. A quiet moment in the middle of this vast and scenic setting. Another deer came tromping out of the bushes just to startle me, staring at me, and even seemed to glare as I snuck past him on the trail.
I ended up hiking the first half of this loop inadvertently with some French tourists, young people. The trail was not very well marked in the least, maybe due to the fact that most of the ground was sheer stone, hard to chisel signposts into. So together we found our way over the odd twists in the trail, and we eventually diverged at the Dark Angel formation. Thanks, y’all. You were helpful!
I found a gloriously quiet spot on top of a rock fin just up and off the trail from Private Arch (aptly named due to its distance off the main primitive trail). It was silent, utterly so, except for the birds in the great and sculpted expanse out there. I sat there for a long time and just listened. Until I heard a fucking yodel from some tourists way up on an earlier ridge. Then, it was time to leave. Peace completely shattered, unfortunately.
Somehow, I managed to hike another 3 miles out and back to Delicate Arch on a different trail (which is the touristy arch, it turns out). It was crowded, and a sloughing trek up the stubbornly inclined rock face, but it ended with a great view. It was difficult to get a shot of Delicate Arch without the tourists in the frame, but I’ll remember the sight of it, the window of the desert and the snowy mountains framed behind it.
I marched back down to my car, and had a well-deserved bacon cheeseburger and Golden Spike beer back at the Moab Grille. An amazing meal in an amazing town at the end of a long hike. Would really recommend.
As a side note, visit the Moab rock shop! You’ll know it when you see it. It’s almost like a museum, and I had to stop myself from buying everything in there. Pretty cool detour if you have a few minutes!