12. National Park Road Trip…April/May/June 2016

day 34…5.24
This morning the four of us drove into Arches National Park & headed towards one of my favorite hikesDevils Garden.  Sara is a super tough hiker, but this trail is really adventurousfun, but requires some scrambling up rocks & sliding down some (which makes it an interesting return tripno such thing a sliding up).  The trail had a bunch of people on it this morning, so we went straight through to see if we were going to be able to hike on the tough part.  Sara gave it a shotshe got a lot higher up on the rock than I would have attempted with a baby on my back, but turned around & decided to give it a go another time.  

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We hiked the lower part of Devils Garden checking out all the arches along the way.  Claire is such a good baby & great little hiker & I was so happy to follow them!

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Oh… & here are some arches too!

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We drove over to another trail…one of my fav arches…Sand Dune Arch.  I like it because it’s like you hike back into the giant room to find the arch.

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We kept hiking until we got to broken arch & the climb up the rock was too steep.  We backtracked a little & then jumped on another trail to another arch.

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Snack time for Claire!

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Happy Happy little hiker girl!

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They were all headed back to their hotel to chill out a little & wait for their friends from Orlando to arrive in Moab.  I said my good nights, gave Claire a giant hug & headed back into the park.  I made my way to the Delicate Arch trailhead & hiked into winds that were ferocious!  This is probably the 4th or 5th time I’ve climbed up to this arch, but this was definitely the windiest!  The ledge was fairly well protected from the wind, but once you got to the end & rounded the corner, the gusts were awful.

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The arch was as beautiful as ever, but I’ll admit I didn’t stay long.  Once at the top of the trail, you have to climb over a short rock wall…just doing that felt unstable in the wind.  Hats were flying off of people & everyone was struggling to stand upright.

On my way down I passed Sara, Kevin, Claire & their friends hiking up to the arch having a really good time inspite of the wind.  I caught this photo of them (the four in a row…two people with baby carriers on) as they were getting ready to climb up the giant rock slab.

Once back at the car & out of the wind, I headed back to town.  I stopped at a Thai restaurant, placed a to-go order then headed back to camp.  What a super nice day it had been & now I was enjoying my wonderful quiet little campsite, good food & a delicious beer.  I watched the sun go down, a few tiny bats come out, listened to the birds & river.  Missing Danny again as I know he would love to be here joining us in this adventure.  After dark I tucked into the tent & read until I couldn’t hold my eyes open anymore.

day 35…5.25
Today I am going to babysit Claire & Miles..the cute little 9 month old son of Saras friends, Marcy & Nguyen while the four of them hike Devils Garden.  I think they all had a great time & I know I did.  While Miles napped, Claire & I playedI LOVE PLAYING WITH HER!  The four hikers returned a few hours later hungry, so the babies were loaded in strollers & we all walked downtown & enjoyed a nice Italian lunch.  With a lot of daylight left & everyone full of energy, they decided to tackle Corona Arch.  My hair is already gray, so the thought of Sara climbing up the cabled slick rock with Claire & then up the fixed ladder didnt make it any worse, but I was thinking to myself…ummm..how is this going to work?  She’s way tougher than I’ve ever been, but for this hike she’d need to be way taller (of which she is only slightly taller than me).  We drove out to the trailhead & started the hike.  They all made it past for the first chain…I didn’t think that would be a problem…Sara’s been going up & down slick rock with no problems, but when we got to the second fixed chain with it steepness, she started up it…very carefully.  She knows coming down is harder than going up, so she had that on her mind.  Kevin was behind her & I was still at the bottom, trying not to freak out.  Nguyen had made it up with Miles, but hes taller than Sara.

There are some indentions cut into the stone for the first part, but not so deep & way farther apart on the steeper second section.  Whoever carved them must have been 6’ tall.  When I come down that part, I slide on my butt until I can get to the foot hold.  But, you can’t really do that with a baby on your back.  Sara realized that as she got up near the second section & decided to come back down. Claire’s pack is so awesome & she’s very secure in the pack, so I wasn’t worried about her, but I was a little concerned about Sara.  Of course, I had been offering (just a few times) to sit with Claire while Sara & Kevin hiked up to the arch. In the end, that’s what we did.  They all thought the arch was beautiful (so do I!) I was soooo happy to sit & play with rocks with Claire & not have to watch Sara try to come down that part of the trail!  

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day 36…5.26
This would be our last day hiking together & Sara & Kevin's last day in Moab.  We drove up to Dead Horse Point State Park, about 20 miles north of Moab to start our hiking for the day.

Claire loved climbing on the rocks & refused to put down her cheerio cup, so she climbed up everything one handed…fearless little girl!

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We hiked a short trail on top to the Colorado River viewpoint….babies in their backpacks.

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We drove several miles farther up the road back into Canyonlands National Park to hike the Grandview Point trail…which I’d hiked before, I just sort of forgot about the end of the trail…so the adventure continues!

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I love this view of the Green River.

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The end of the trail goes up a rock…a pretty big rock.  Of course they were all going to climb it..babies too.  I took a pic from the bottom & just watched!

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I scrambled up the rock just before they climbed the last tall steep section & I got to watch Claire for just a few minutes.  I love these moments!  She’s such a happy girl…streaked with sunscreen, a boo boo on her nose & a little chapped lip, she’s going to be the tough hiker someday like her Mama!

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It was time for them to leave to drive back to Denver to catch a flight tomorrow back to Orlando.  I have loved every minute of being with all of them…especially Claire.  Sara is one tough hiker-Mama & Claire is such a happy girl…just perfect!  I was trying so hard to not break out with eye leakage, but a few wet ones dribbled down my cheeks as I kissed & hugged them all good bye.  Danny & I will be seeing them in early July…I can’t wait!  It was so wonderful of them to include me in their trip…so very very grateful for these moments!

I drove back to Arches & found a secluded little hideaway picnic area…no one else there & heated up my leftover Thai food for lunch & just enjoyed the view.  I’m always melancholy after I leave my kids however after I was done eating, I was playing with my phone (I actually had service this high up in the park) & got a message from Sprint —my new phone service from hell—that I would now be cut off from using anymore data until the 9th of June.  Meloncholy left…Anger arrived.  I won’t go in to all the boring long details, but I ended up sitting in the park for another hour talking to customer service….they said they would try to fix it & a ‘special team’ would call me tomorrow…yeah, right.  I had wanted to watch the sun set, but there looked like there was a storm brewing in the distance.  Trying hard to get back to the yummy feelings of gratitude I had earlier in the day, I drove out of the park & back to camp.  

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When I had arrived at my campsite on the first night, someone had left a couple of pieces of new firewood & few pieces of partially burnt wood in the grate.  I don’t love smelling like a campfire & it seems to do weird things to my hair…but since I wasn’t going to be around anyone I knew for at least a couple of weeks…I felt like a campfire….my first this season!

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Sitting by this peaceful river, the fire, the beauty that surrounds me & the wonderful memories made this week, I was back to grateful & enjoyed everything about this evening in camp.


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