Arches to Zion- Utah is a land of plenty. Tall spires, deep canyons, trails and climbs, this place is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Our travels finally bringing us south (after almost 12 hours in the car!) delivered us to Arches National Park, a place I have always wanted to visit. These spacious lands dotted with back bending arches and towering formations are almost beyond imagination. The soil is deep rusty red in color, thanks to the iron content in the earth, providing the landscape with a stunning spectacle of rich contrast against the vivid blue skies.
We struck gold finding one of the very few campgrounds along the Colorado River that allowed for shade (which is completely necessary when the heat competes with Hell). The trees also provided the perfect spot for us to hang our hammock. Shortly after setting up camp, we drove into the park, following the other summer park goers, along the scenic route where walls and crazy rock formations popped up one after the next. It’s not a huge park and were able to see most of what we wanted within a couple of days. Of course, you can take much longer to explore deeper- there are many hiking trail options available. We did a few smaller hikes while ooing and aahing at the grand beauty that sprawled out before us.
Next up was Zion National Park. It seemed eerily familiar having lived in Sedona, AZ previously. I have been told numerous times that Zion is like Sedona on crack. It’s true. The landscape is comparable in its similarities. It was ultimately decided to forego the tourist attractions of the park in place of a 2 night backpacking trip 5 miles into Kolob Canyon. Now, I am comfortable hiking being married to the outdoor man I am but typically they are hikes no more than a mile or 2 and don’t normally involve carrying 30-40lbs on my back. This felt a bit more intimidating to me. Fortunately we had staying in a comfortable hotel room the night before complete with a jacuzzi tub, so it had given me an opportunity to relax and rejuvenate my mind, body and emotional self. We had laid out the minimal amount of supplies needed for this adventure and packed our packs the morning of our trip. Well slept and well fed, it was time to venture into the great unknown.
The hike itself wasn’t actually as bad as I had anticipated with the exception of the heat and the fact that I had a searing pain shooting out of my shoulder blade, down into my arm and into my right hand but luckily I am married to a massage therapist (a great guy to have around when tired and sore!). A few stops and breaks for snacks along the way, finally counting the down the number of campsites till arriving at ours. Once again, our site was perfectly located just above a creek with a perfect little swimming hole.
Camping is one thing. Camping in the middle of monsoon season, quite another. The dark clouds took their time but nevertheless rolled in above our heads. We are always prepared for this kind of thing- we have a fly for our tent and a tarp to crouch under during stormy weather. The first evening was spent crouching under said tarp, trying to keep the tarp from catching fire as the wind blew and we cooked over husbands backpacking stove (which is different from our normal camping stove). We ate a slightly mushy meal of chinese noodles and shortly went to bed after.
The next day was sunny and hot. My body weary from our hike the day prior, I decided to spend my time lounging on a large flat rock by the creek while baking in the sun. Reading, sleeping, reading and eating. The husband always ready to explore took off for a couple of hours to check out the surrounding areas. Not a cloud in the sky, the day was beautiful and quickly came to an end. Retiring to the tent for the night once again (and not so comfortably- a super thin camping pad and lightweight sleeping bag does not equal a hotel bed by any means). It was quiet with only the sounds of crickets chirping in the background. Until it wasn’t. I don’t know where the storm came from but it came fast and hard. Thunder, lightening and the fear of flash flooding when your only form of shelter is a tent for two, does NOT make for an easy and restful night sleep! Every worst case scenario was floating through my mind. The headline of my death reading something to the likes of “Young married couple died while holding hands in their sleep, killed by bolt of lightening and found floating downstream”. Thankfully it never came to that and we woke up alive though exhausted and ready to pack it out and head back to civilization.
This was the last of the camping experiences on our trip. I have loved sleeping under the stars and exploring new landscapes of this beautiful America, but am planning to enjoy living in the lap of luxury as we enjoy our final destination of Las Vegas, Nevada. As much as I love camping, I am also in no hurry to pitch our tent again anytime soon.