Vacationing with our baby in southeast Utah, page 2

Page 1: Arches National Park
Page 2: Arches, Moab and Canyonlands
Page 3: La Sal Mountains and Glenwood Canyon

Monday, September 5

We did a slightly better job of getting ready this morning and left camp at 10 a.m., an hour earlier than yesterday. We hiked the Devil's Garden trail, which seems more appropriately named than a cluster of rocks in another section of the park named the "Garden of Eden." We hiked about 7 miles, including several side paths to arches and overlooks. The trail went through deep crevices and over tall rocks, including a tall narrow fin that at least 1 hiker from Europe was afraid to cross. Daniel was either sleeping or happy for most of the hike, and there were shady spots along the trail for Kathy to stop and feed him.


Tall fins near the Devil's Garden trailhead.


Landscape Arch is the widest arch in the park, stretching 306 feet from base to base.


Hidden Arch


Eating lunch in the shade of Hidden Arch.




Partition Arch is high on a cliff and has a great view of the park.


Hiking over a rock fin.


Views of both sides of Double O Arch.


Daniel smiling after a diaper change.

We took a break at camp after the Devil's Garden trail and then drove to the Delicate Arch trail. Delicate Arch is probably the most photographed arch in the park, and the park's brochure says that the best time to view it is at sunset. We walked to an overlook but the view wasn't satisfying so we rushed up the trail to the arch itself, trying to beat sunset. Daniel slept most of the way but began crying a couple minutes from the top. At the top we turned a corner to see a spectacular view of Delicate Arch, the Le Sal Mountains and a crowd gathered to watch the sunset, and then Daniel began to scream. He was hungry but refused to calm down and eat. After several minutes of trying to calm him while getting dirty looks from the crowd, we gave up and walked down the hill to a more private spot. I returned to the arch for a few minutes while Kathy struggled to feed Daniel, and when I came back to Kathy I found Daniel happy and smiling. He stayed happy all the way back to camp. He's adorable but unpredictable, and I think we will avoid group settings for the rest of this trip.


Delicate Arch at sunset.


This is a wide panoramic view of Delicate Arch, and you may need to scroll your browser to see the whole picture.


Hiking down from Delicate Arch after sunset.

Tuesday, September 6

Distance: 41.7 miles
Riding time: 2 hours, 58 minutes
Average speed: 14.0 mph
Maximum speed: 33.5 mph

It's time for us to explore the other areas around Moab, so this morning we packed up camp, left Arches National Park and moved into the private Slickrock Campground in Moab. Moves like this take much longer now that we have Daniel - we can't work in parallel, and we have more stuff to handle. After lunch at camp we got on the tandem just before 2 p.m. and rode up scenic highway 128, which follows the Colorado River up through a canyon that rises northeast from Moab.

Sandstone cliffs hundreds of feet high surround the canyon, and occasionally one of the cliffs cast a shadow across the road, cooling us off on a very warm day with intensely hot sunshine. The river is slow and winding in this area and the gradual slope of the road was easy to climb - a welcome relief after biking steep hills in Arches. Around 17 miles out of Moab the canyon broadened out into ranches and farms, so we turned around and went down to a spot called Sandy Beach. The river is brown with all the sand that it picks up while cutting through the sandstone canyon, and some of that sand is redeposited in beaches along the riverbanks. We walked barefoot into the river and the cold water felt good on my sore feet. Kathy picked up Daniel, who was happy, and handed him to me for his first contact with river water. He grinned at me while I held him and then suddenly screamed when his feet touched the cold water. I probably should have let him look down first and then put just 1 toe in the water. Kathy calmed him down quickly and we ate a snack while relaxing on the beach. When we got back to camp we kept dinner simple by riding downtown for fast food. Tonight we have the main benefit of a private campground: a nearby, lit bathroom with hot showers.


The Colorado River along highway 128.


Kathy checking on Daniel - he slept for most of the ride.


Daniel relaxing on the beach.


Cooling off in the Colorado River.

There are 2 great reasons to camp near Moab this time of year, especially with a baby: warm nights and no bugs. When we were planning this trip we worried that Daniel would get cold at night and wake up, since nights are cold in our part of Colorado. Instead, it's so warm that none of us need sleeping bags, and we can eat dinner in the dark dressed in T-shirts and shorts. There doesn't seem to be biting bugs around here, which is good for Daniel who rests on the picnic table while we eat. Tonight I'm sitting outside writing in my journal at nearly midnight, and the only bugs to bother me are an occasional flying bug attracted to my headlamp.

Wednesday, September 7

Distance: 24.6 miles
Riding time: 1 hour, 41 minutes
Average speed: 14.5 mph
Maximum speed: 39.0 mph

We biked and hiked in Canyonlands National Park today and drove to an overlook in Dead Horse Point State Park. Canyonlands is split into 3 sections by the Colorado and Green Rivers since there are no bridges across them inside the park, and the 3 entrances are separated from each other by drives of several hours. We visited the section closest to Moab, called Island in the Sky because it is a high mesa above the surrounding plains and canyons. On the way there we stopped at Dead Horse Point, a narrow finger of a mesa with a good view of the Colorado River. Many years ago cowboys used this narrow strip of land surrounded by cliffs to corral wild horses, and at least once the horses were left on the point too long and died of thirst. The view from the point was wonderful, but Kathy and I don't usually drive to a scenic spot and step out of our car to see it - we usually bicycle or hike, and often uphill. It felt like we were cheating to drive all the way to the overlook.


A turn in the Colorado River, as seen from Dead Horse Point.


Michael and Daniel at Dead Horse Point.


A panoramic view from Dead Horse Point.

At Canyonlands we parked at the visitor center and biked up to Grand View Point, the farthest, highest overlook. While we were getting ready a group of 35 mountain bikers set out to ride a section of the White Rim Trail, a 100-mile dirt path around Island in the Sky. They were all in town for a friend's wedding, and had allowed enough time to go mountain biking with the groom. From Grand View we could see the Colorado and Green River canyons and the White Rim, which is a mesa several hundred feet below that surrounds Island in the Sky and is capped with a layer of strong white sandstone. To the east and south we could see rain, and a breeze from the southeast helped us stay cool. We took a short hike to another viewpoint and then rode downhill back to the visitors' center.


Biking in Canyonlands National Park. Rain is falling behind us in the east.


Looking down on the White Rim from Island in the Sky. The White Rim trail is visible, roughly following the edge of the rim.


Kathy and Daniel at Grand View overlook.


Making dinner after dark in Moab.

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