After running in the Grand Canyon in the morning (you can read about it HERE if you missed it), my family and I loaded up our car and headed toward Arches National Park, seven hours away. Although it was an epic day of driving, I was still buzzing from running on Bright Angel Trail. Throw in the vastness of the West—especially the exquisite desert landscape of Monument Valley— this mamacita was feeling nothing but gratitude.
We arrived in Moab late in the evening, had a quick bite to eat and visited with friends who graciously hosted us in their bed & breakfast for the night. The 109 degree heat did little for our sleep, but we were still eager to spring out of bed the next morning to drive into Arches National Park, just five minutes away.
I had been to Arches before, but I was still wow’ed by the scale and beauty of this desert gem. Each of its spires, arches, pinnacles and fins looked as though a sculptor and painter had worked their magic, using chisels and the stunning palette only the desert can offer. In reality, these formations were created by millions of years of water and ice, extreme temperatures, and underground salt movement.
We drove through much of the park, stopping often to take pictures. At one scenic pullout, I decided to stretch my legs and do a micro warm-up run while Jeffrey and Olivia took pictures. After sitting in the car for so many hours yesterday, my body was happy to move.
My peeps then agreed to drop me off at the trailhead to Delicate Arch while they continued to scout around the park in the car. I told them I’d try to hurry since we hadn’t eaten breakfast and I knew they were starving.
The brochure describes the trail to Delicate Arch as “A difficult 3-mile trail with an elevation gain of 480 ft; no shade, open slickrock with some exposure to heights.” It also recommends you take at least one quart of water per person.
After seeing the parking lot swarming with tourists, I could see why they made this hike seem challenging. There were parents slathering up their young children (we’re talking 4 and 5 year olds), who had no idea what they were getting into; overweight German tourists wearing flip-flops and carrying no water; Japanese tourists covered from head to toe with protective sun gear—hats, long-sleeved jackets, leggings, face-masks, along with huge professional cameras; groups of Chinese tourists, elderly couples with walking sticks, young lovers on dates…
It was 90 degrees at 7:45, which made the run what you might imagine, a bit harder than normal, but still quite fun. I was completely amused by the sea of humanity making its way up the trail. I was in my own little Zen world, enjoying the challenge of scampering up the slickrock, zigzagging past everyone, chuckling at kids throwing tantrums like Veruca Salt, “There is no arch! You told me there was an arch just around the corner. There is no arch!” Parents trying to bribe their kids, “Ok, if you take 100 steps on your own, and count each one of them, I will carry you the rest of the way.”
I scampered up rocks and around scrub brush here and there, and enjoyed every moment.
When I got to the top, people were taking turns striking a pose under the arch. One woman couldn’t get enough of it and became an “Arch hog,” doing pose after pose while her boyfriend snapped pictures. You could feel the collective disdain after all these people had hoofed it up here in the heat. Me? I was just giddy and enjoying it all.
After one woman did her “downward dog” yoga pose under the arch, I asked her if she’d snap a picture of me striking a pose (what the hell, might as well join the absurdity).
That is after I squeezed past the big group of Chinese tourists completely blocking the path around the corner.
I may sound like I’m complaining, but I’m not. I LOVED this little run and was happy I could squeeze it in before we headed to Aspen. It was like a sweet little exclamation point to my morning.
Stay tuned for my next Rocky Mountain High running adventure…this runcation only gets better!