Friday, 12 August 2011

Hot Rocks

Thursday 28th July

Up early for breakfast in the hotel and then a short drive north of Moab to Arches National Park.  Despite the name, it isn’t all arches here.   Many fin shapes, towers and balancing rocks were formed when salt remaining from ancient evaporated seas pushed up overlying sediment which became Entrada sandstone.  The salt was eventually dissolved by groundwater and subsequent erosion, freezing and thawing created the interesting rock formations seen here.

We drove north through the park heading for our first planned hike at Devil’s Garden on what is known as the Primitive Trail.  It was 7.5 miles through some pretty tricky terrain.  In some places, a wrong footing would have meant a slide several metres down a rock face.  It certainly made for a much more exhilarating hike. 

The temperature was around 92 degrees and we were carrying around 5 litres of water which we got through pretty quickly.  We saw several arches on the route and some impressive geological structures.   

After some further driving, our next hike was to Delicate arch, the most famous arch in the park.  The temperature was now 95% degrees and we could feel our hearts beating in our ears.    The reward was an amazing free standing 52ft arch on the edge of a large bowl formation.

A long and tiring day for us ended back in Moab with a great meal and a bottle of wine.  Interestingly, the state of Utah alcohol laws means that you are not allowed to be offered alcohol in a restaurant, you have to ask for it.  Also, you can only have one drink in front of you at a time. 

Later, when I tried to remove my contact lenses, they hung onto my eyeball and I feared they had melted on. There was an audible sucking and popping noise like flipping the inside of an inflated cheek with one’s wet finger.

Friday 29th July

We planned another early start but got chatting to a guy from New Hampshire at breakfast.  He was just as interested in our culture as we were in his and we exchanged candid views.

Today was our day in Canyonlands National Park.    We would spend it mostly on the road systems as it is an enormous place, with the drive from the main road to the park gate taking over an hour each way.   Our first stop was in the north of the park in an area called the Islands in the Sky district, where we were looking down into the canyons.   

Later in the south of the park, we were driving through the canyons and rock formations which we had seen from the north.    Due to its size and expanse, this was definitely a park for driving around.  There is a 100mile long road called the White Rim Trail which takes several days to complete in a 4WD vehicle.  For the time we had, we did see everything we could on the normal park roads, and managed to get down a couple of dirt roads.

From Canyonlands, we headed south to Mexican Hat, name due to a rock formation which looks guessed it.    We had timed this part of the trip so that we would arrive an hour before sunset.  This was so we could check in and then straight away drive the 20 miles further west to  Monument Valley.  

Despite all the amazing geological structures we had seen so far, and our familiarity with the vistas of Monument Valley, it was still quite breathtaking to see this huge monoliths in the desert.   

Whilst our timing was perfect for the setting sun, unfortunately some low clouds meant the sunset light was short lived.  We had dinner at the View hotel.  We had originally tried to stay here for the amazing view, but found it fully booked. Judging by the quality of the food and service in the restaurant, I think we dodged a bullet. 

It was dark when we finished dinner and a storm has started across the valley.  We sat outside with bats flying around us and watched as sheet and forked lightning lit up the sky behind the monuments. 
A great end to another long day and we headed back to our motel.  The next day was another long drive and our sixth national park which would almost turn to catastophe when I was given a latte made with UHT milk.


  1. UHT milk ? That would be enough to get me on the next return flight to Blighty, but given the current state of our fair isle, I'd take cheese water over marauding hoodies any day.
    Loving your posts guys, really getting a sense of how spectacular and beautiful our fragile planet is. Very inspiring, might be catching the bug myself.
    Looking forward to seeing you uponst your return to regale us with tales of adventure and coffee related faux pas.
    Love to you both !

  2. Just to add:-
    1) UHT is the devils own juice. FACT.
    2)Is that a Jo I spot, crammed in against the shade of a rock. In shorts? I spy ample pins of loveliness!

  3. Thanks Phil

    Charly, yes it is the lovely Jo, and despite the rock standing for millions of years I was still anxious taking the photo and did it quickly so she could get out of there.

  4. I've been meaning to ask: What is UHT milk?

  5. Celeste. It's sterilsed so can last for a long time. It's also called long life milk!
    Don't try it for fun



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