STILL haven’t finished telling you about our US trip! It was the trip of probably three lifetimes is all I can say!
Still in Utah I’ve decided to spare you the wrinkle on the earth that is Capitol Reef because although it was a momentous place that marked Michaels’ initiation into amateur ice rallycross driving, upon reflection it pales into insignificance. So we find ourselves moving on to Arches National Park…
A red rock wonderland that has over 2,000 natural stone arches and where we were fortunate again for there to be a blanket of snow that provided a dramatic contrast to the surrounding red rock as well as some ridiculously numb toes.
From the Window arches which are huge openings in the same sandstone fin, Delicate Arch – the famed tall, freestanding arch – and Landscape Arch whose arch is 6 feet longer than a football field. All of it just boggles the mind. Standing next to these pillars it’s easy to forget that the arches are impermanent and the same forces of nature that created them will continue to widen and destroy them! Yet on a lighter note, this is likely to happen well beyond our lifetime.
Arches was THE place that Michael was very excited about shooting starscapes at, though understandably he was slightly apprehensive to do it alone given it requires getting out into the pitch black wilderness at silly o’clock in the night/morning and to boot, the temperatures were teeth chatteringly low. This little partner in crime couldn’t be persuaded at all!
To the rescue came a man we met whilst on a sunset shoot in the park and Michael had a big adventure on his own. Getting up at 2.30am to go out and photograph the meteor showers that were happening. It must be said that the results are spectacular as the night sky alone was out of this world.
Very conveniently we were able to use Moab – a wonderfully eclectic town – as a base to visit both Arches as well as the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands. Gotta love a two for one deal that saves us the packing and unpacking game that became a little wearing towards the end of our 11week trip.
This section of the ginormous park lies atop a 460m mesa, quite literally an island in the sky. My word it offers spectacular views in every direction as far as the eye can see. Every view point offers a different perspective on the landscape – it’s a combination of being the most weird and wonderful place.
To prove I’m not always a party pooper, I joined Michael for a sunrise experience at the famed Mesa Arch which ironically is at Canyonlands and not Arches park. Advice is to arrive extra early as it’s generally packed with photographers – not so at this time of year when the weather requires a considerable amount of dedication to wake early enough and get out into it. However once the brilliant red glow of the rising sun starts to reflect off the underside of the arch and a magnificent scene starts to form in front of your eyes, all is forgotten and seems very much worth it.
We did a most exciting secret hike in Canyonlands to the False Kiva. This is a human-made stone circle created by the Anasazi-ancient pueblos people located in a naturally occurring cave. The word false arising from the uncertainty around the stones’ origins and purpose, not whether it is an authentic Kiva.
Being a class 2 site and having semi-protected status, it does not appear on official maps however asked very nicely, the Ranger guided us to the start of the trail. There are no signs anywhere and the Rangers suggestion that the route is marked by cairns (small man-made stacks of stones) didn’t take into account that some hilarious people wanted to add an extra ‘false’ to our hike by adding false cairns to mislead us. Our job was already a little trickier due to the snow and no real footprints to follow!
The last steep section with lots of extremely loose rocks makes it far from an easy hike and had me at least, on all fours, scrambling with moments of minor panic. However once reached, the mystical ambience combined with the long, wide view outward is other worldly! Extra blessed that night the skies put on a magical show for us at sunset.
With that I shall be off to thaw out my bones with a sunny beach stroll.