Tuesday, August 16th
Waking up just a little past 9am, with both of us equally expired, it was high time for a shower. Ladies first, then me. Down into the city for some coffee, we were back out at it, heading into Arches for a hike that neither of us anticipated would kick our butts. We drove deep into the park, and just before the Devil’s Garden section, right after Fiery Furnace, we make a left onto a gnarly gravel road. This 7 mile drive through some treacherous patches was the only way to reach the Klondike Bluffs section, for the 3 mile hike to Tower Arch. Since we hit the park a little later in the day than we’d liked, it was already uncomfortably hot. After what seemed like far too long a drive, we arrived at the base of the hike that would take us up and over the edge of a rock face, and into the desert for 3 miles of unhappiness. The hike itself started out okay, and it wasn’t particularly challenging, it was the heat. I’m telling you now, if you can avoid it, do not hike at 11am in August in Utah! We had to make several stops along the way, because Devon wasn’t feeling very well. She was suffering from dizzy spells. We drank as much water as we could. I wouldn’t feel the effects of the hike until much later in the day, when I was struck down by a brutal headache which made it impossible for me to sleep. Once we finally made it into the arch itself, we took shelter in the shade and waited for our depleted energy to restore well enough to trek back out.
I looked around for an inscription on the arch by Alex Ringhoffer, who was one of the principal advocates for national park designation in the Arches region. He was especially impressed by the beauty of the Klondike Bluffs area of what is now Arches National Park when he first saw it in late 1922. He called the area Devil’s Garden and was so enthusiastic about it that he was able to convince D&RGW railroad officials to look the area over. He brought forth the idea of having the railroad run through the area as a tourist attraction. One railroad officer, Frank Wadleigh, was also impressed – so much so that he wrote to National Park Service (NPS) director Stephen Mather to suggest that it be made a national monument. Essentially, the park exists because of this man. But back to the story… Alas, to no avail. I could not find it, no matter how hard I looked. (Editor’s Note: The inscription says: “Discovered BY MR. AND MRS. ALEX RINGHOFFER AND SONS 1922-3”) After too short a rest, it was challenging to brave the hike back to the car. This second trip into the desert proved too much a struggle for us both and we were forced to make many stops in what little shade we could find. The hike out was physically easier than the one in, but by the time we were halfway through it, our energy was gone, zapped by the oppressive heat. The first leg took too much out of us both. I’m sure we both would have enjoyed Tower Arch a lot more had we enjoyed the hike. Finally back at the car, which felt like Hades itself, and with the torture behind us, we made the difficult drive back onto the only paved road inside Arches and back out into town to try and find refuge.
Since we had checked out of our motel, we were wondering what we could do to try and beat the heat, when I remembered that Devon still had her room key. We would stop at the Arches visitor’s centre and change into our swim gear and try the key at the gate to the pool. It couldn’t hurt to try, right? Back at Motel 6, I tried the key several times, without luck, when, buzzzzzz… it worked!! It turns out I was using it wrong the whole time. It only took me 4 years to figure that out. We lounged poolside and took dips in the pool for a few hours. This was the kind of break we needed. The pool started to get very crowded with visitors from all over the globe, so we decided to head into town to do some shopping. We had gifts to buy for people back home. Gifts in hand, we hit our favourite eatery, the Peace Tree Juice Cafe , for some much needed sustenance. Then it was back to the pool for more swimming, both of us armed with books to stave off boredom. We loitered poolside for a couple of hours before we headed back down the road to the camp site. The drive down Scenic Byway 128 is something you have to take in for yourself in order to fully appreciate its wonder. Red rock lines both sides of the canyon walls, with the Colorado River flowing fast beside the lower camp sites. The shapes the red rock takes on are impressive. If these walls could talk, lord knows what they would say, what secrets they would share. Along the way, we ran into a visitor the likes of which not often seen in these neck of the woods, a wild turkey. We took his picture and named him Ted. It just so happens he was hanging out in a BBQ pit. Once back at our camp site, we set up the car into our grungy mobile home and laid down for a couple of movies. We were asleep in no time. I woke up in the middle of the night with what I can only call the worst headache I’ve ever had. After downing half a bottle of cold water, I managed to doze back off to sleep for the rest of the night.