As Kim and I made our way across the country to Bend, Oregon for our first Get Out More Tour presentation, we made sure we had a stop in Moab, Utah. We stopped in Moab on our road trip two years ago and we loved it there so much that we made sure that it was our first stop on our 7 month journey of wandering the countryside to inspire people to get our more.
When we were there last, it was late-July, which meant that the days were normally around 110 degrees, so we had to have all of our hiking done by about 11 am. This time around, the days were in the oh-so-pleasant low 70s with clear blue skies. We only had time for one stop, so we headed out early to Arches National Park to spend a day doing nothing but hiking.
We started out with the Delicate Arch trail. This is undoubtedly the most popular trail in the park (which is why we avoided it last time). But, I couldn’t go back to Arches and not see the most famous arch in the park known for, well, arches.
So, we set out on the crowded trail, sharing it with families and groups of teenagers on spring break along the way. About 90 minutes later, we arrived at the famous arch, and had to stand in line to get our picture taken under the famous landmark.
It was thoroughly enjoyable, but it wasn’t relaxing or peaceful. The trail was packed with people doing exactly what we were doing: enjoying a beautiful day in a beautiful setting. Normally, the less people on the trail, the better I like it – it lets me fool myself into thinking that I am having an experience that few people have had before. But on the Delicate Arch trail – during what we discovered was spring break week – solitude was going to be harder to come by than a dancing Sasquatch.
On the way back to the trailhead, we decided to look for a trail that provided a little more solitude. We pulled out the map and found a trail that was only accessed by driving along a 7.2 miles unpaved road. The trail was described as “difficult” and was in a “remote section of Klondike Bluffs.” It sounded perfect.
A beautifully dusty road took us near the parks border, where we found the trailhead. There was no parking lot at this trailhead, only a turnaround that had maybe 8 cars parked there – and even two of those cleared out by the time we hit the trail.
It wasn’t the most difficult trail, nor the longest, but it was 3.4 miles of desert silence. The only noises came from our shoes in the red sand of the trail or from our voices. When we reached the viewpoint of Tower Arch, Kim and I sat on the warm rocks under the arch and enjoyed our lunch. I don’t have any pictures of this arch because we just sat there, enjoying the stunning scenery and the quietness of nature. I self-banned our phone, camera, or any other electronic gadget. This lunch was to be enjoyed then and there, without worrying about sharing it on facebook.
The reason I love hiking so much is because so much of life gets stripped away and you are left only with what is directly in front of you: the trail, a stream, or mountain-top view. Hiking forces me to live in the moment and to be aware of my surroundings – if I don’t, I run the risk of getting lost, rolling an ankle, or missing a stunning view.
And that’s the lesson I always take with me from hiking: to always try to live in the moment. It’s not always easy to do, because the distractions of “life” tend to get in the way of “now.” But it’s nice to know that no matter how hectic life can get, there’s always a warm rock somewhere to keep me grounded.