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November 13, 2008 / Bo Mackison

Wilderness Exposure

Devil’s Garden Trail explores some of the Utah back country in Arches National Park. Your reward for scrambling over rocky surfaces, navigating the narrow tops of exposed sandstone fins, and then climbing up and down short, steep crevices is a view not many people see – eight spectacular arches, and back-country worthy of many oohs and aahs, and a few comments, such as “I can’t walk on that #%*& ledge!”

Creative Cairn

Creative Cairn

Though most cairns (markers that let you know – really – you are still on the trail) are rocks stacked up in a pile, a previous hiker took the time to re-arrange this cairn into replicas of two hikers. So by looking at this photo, you can see we are precisely where we are supposed to be, even though we are vaguely lost.

This is the Trail? Are you Sure?

This is the Trail? Are you Sure?

At this spot, our choices were to scramble over the dome in front of us, or deal with the tangle of dead wood around the side. We scrambled up the rock, which thankfully was not slippery, and then slid down the other side. No sweat! (Yeah, right!)

The Worn Part iS the Trail

The WORN Part is the Trail

As was most evident to us, the trail was the worn path on the rocks. I kept my sights on the spectacular stand of fins ahead, and kept taking deep breaths. The trail marker at the beginning said the hike was not appropriate for people who suffer from extreme agoraphobia (fear of heights) – what about those of us who only have a minor case?

But I exaggerate! I loved this hike. We started at dawn and returned to the trailhead about 2 in the afternoon. I’ve seldom seen such magnificence. Worth all the bits of anxiety and lack of oxygen. (We were at a high elevation for Wisconsin folk!)

Then we went out for beer and pizza. It seemed the only reasonable thing to do.

10 Comments

  1. suehenryphotography / Nov 13 2008 9:53 am

    I’ve only recently learned of carins…..and find them fascinating.

    Loved hearing of your adventure and how you dealt with your “feats.” The images you’ve captured on this adventure are stunning.

    And, of course, beer and pizza sounds just perfect for the end of the day!

  2. montucky / Nov 13 2008 10:00 am

    Very enjoyable narrative and great photos. You certainly got your money’s worth on your trip. Seeing that arid back country really brings back some fond memories!

  3. Pat Denino / Nov 13 2008 10:01 am

    I am SO loving your photojourney. It brings back memories of my own tramping through the west. I suppose it’s too late, now, to warn you to watch out for rattlers…

  4. Richard Lovison / Nov 13 2008 11:37 am

    It sounds like an exciting adventure… I hope someday we can plan a trip to that part of the country.

    The second shot was my favorite. Did you use a polarizing filter to get the dramatic sky?

  5. Bo / Nov 13 2008 11:45 am

    I used a polarizer on all of them, but it was earlier in the day with the second shot, and I was at a better angle for the polarizer to do its thing. I really like the sky in the second shot, too.

  6. Gandalf / Nov 13 2008 2:25 pm

    You definitely hit my sweet spot with the beer & pizza. BTW the hike sounded very nice also. 🙂 Great pictures.

  7. Amelia / Nov 13 2008 4:10 pm

    That would be an awesome place to visit. Take me next time!!!

  8. amuirin / Nov 13 2008 8:49 pm

    What amazing colors. In that first one, it’s right in the rock. I found myself squinting up real close to it.

    In the others, the stark relief of red rock against those blue-blue and almost tropical turqoise sky was really eye catching.

    Woot! Beer and Pizza. 🙂

  9. uphilldowndale / Nov 14 2008 1:40 am

    What a blast of light! I’d love to mooch around there.

  10. ybonesy / Nov 15 2008 10:51 am

    Beautiful. I would have definitely had problems, but moreso if my daughters would have been with me, scrambling like mountain goats up the sides. I’ve done a lot of mountain biking in those lands, and I guess I used to be a brave soul, although I remember watching guys ride over arches that, if they rode off would have plunged to their deaths.

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