Good grief, it’s been almost three weeks since I posted. Sorry about that, but life has been surprisingly hectic. We’ve enjoyed houseguests, a couple of road trips, some holiday celebrations and, thankfully, some rain. Some sadness and medical issues have been mixed in, but everything is on track now.
So it’s back to the amazing American West.
I’ve already shared a glimpse of Arches National Park in Utah with a stroll down the stylish, sandstone Park Avenue. But now it’s on to the Windows Section of the park.
Some people consider this area to be the beating heart of Arches. The area contains a large concentration of arches and is one of the most scenic locations in the park. North Window, Turret Arch and Double Arch are just a few of the awe-inspiring expanses situated in just over two square miles. Other named features in this area include Garden of Eden, Elephant Butte and Parade of Elephants. Balanced Rock is near the entrance to the Windows Section.
I can’t confidently identify everything we saw on this stretch, but the captions include as much as I know, or as much as I can guess.
Our major visits were to the Balanced Rock and Double Arch. We walked around all of Balanced Rock and I got quite a few shots from different angles, including a pic of a fellow who scaled the nearby, more bulbous rock. There were a couple folks up there, but only one was visible by the time I got the camera out.
We also did the hike to Double Arch and back. It is the tallest (112 feet/34 metres) and second-longest (144 feet/44 metres) arch in the park. In the past, it has also been called Double Windows, Twinbow Bridges and the Jug Handles (remind me to tell you a funny story about jugs).
One aspect of the walk really annoyed me. It was another one of those times when people think the rules or advice don’t apply to them.
Plenty of signs make it clear that the knobbly, black biological soil crust is a living groundcover and should not be walked on. It’s the foundation of high desert plant life in Arches and the surrounding area. It’s composed of cyanobacteria, and also includes lichens, mosses, green algae, microfungi and bacteria.
The soil crust binds together sand and rock particles, which allows plants to establish their roots. They also provide desert plants with moisture and nutrients in an otherwise inhospitable environment. As one sign says, ‘The crust is so fragile that one footstep can wipe out years of growth’. It goes on to ask people to stay on the path to protect ‘the living soil’.
Which is why I was furious to see a family with a dog and a fellow with a camera as long as his arm trudging across the soil crust. I wanted to scream at them, but it’s not a challenge you’d risk in the USA these days.
As an aside, back then my hip was still bothering me (all good now). But it kept me from joining the rest of the group on the trek to the most famous arch of all—the Delicate Arch. Maybe next time.