Moab is a city of about 4,000 people in eastern Utah and is the closest city to Arches National Park which is why we were there. The park boasts the greatest density of natural arches in the world while spires, pinnacles and impossibly balanced rocks vie with the arches as scenic spectacles.
The Devil’s Garden Trail was a leisurely stroll revealing to us many arches and columns scattered along a ridge but the five kilometre hike to Delicate Arch following was the show piece of the day for sure. A more harrowing or dangerous hike I do not expect to ever undertake. It wasn’t so much the hike itself as the circumstances and terrain we were faced with once we reached the Arch that would haunt me for all of eternity.
Delicate Arch is an isolated remnant of a bygone rock fin that stands on the brink of a canyon overlooking the dramatic backdrop of the La Sal Mountains and is beauty personified. It rests on smooth, rounded, barren rock with one side exposed to a sheer thousand foot drop and no guard rails or restraints of any type and no warning of difficulty or danger. I could not believe that people were allowed to roam freely up here amidst such impending disaster. We did venture out to climb around the arch (probably the most foolish thing we have ever done) and it instilled terror in our hearts as we gingerly made our way along an almost non-existent footpath with nothing but empty space and rock below. There was one point when Karen and I had to pass Adam between us, as his legs were too short to reach the next foothold, and all we thought about was “what if we fall?” Not for the faint of heart and, as I alluded to earlier, not for anyone with any common sense or good judgment. I hope if we return in years to come, there will be some regulation on how close one can get to Delicate Arch.
Nevertheless, it was one of those moments in life we could look back on and proclaim, “We survived despite our reckless abandon and outright stupidity,” a moment that would be a cornerstone as we built our lives’ amazing moments.
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