Rainy Arches Weekend

An enjoyable aspect of my new home are the options available in all seasons.

I can go up to over 12k feet within thirty minutes of my home and enjoy Fall color. And, much to my delighted surprise, ski touring is up on tap very shortly.

And if the weather is cold and drizzly? No reason to brave suspect mountain roads and freezing conditions. We can go lower into the canyon country thirty minutes or so the other direction.

And that’s what we did this weekend. Our original trip planned in the Abajo Mountains did not look too fun. Cold and wet weather (the hardest hiking in my opinionwith up to 4″ of snow on the roads predicted.

So we looked over our map collection, plotted out a route on Gaia, and decided to go to Arches National Park and backpack a lollipop route making use of nearby BLM land.

Arches? you might ask.  “Isn’t that a day hiking type park?”

Most of the time, yes.

But you can backpack in the park with the appropriate planning now that the moratorium ended.

Joan pointing out our route.

We saw obscure backcountry arches, went along the canyon rim, spotted the remnants of the flowering desert vegetation, and saw well-known landmarks from different angles. And, other than some boondockers spotted on the BLM side, we had all but the immediate trailhead area to ourselves.

And with the steady drizzle, the backcountry arches became water fountains for a brief period.

We even explored a side canyon that had temporary waterfalls that fell off the sandstone.

The canyon drew us along with the increasingly sheer walls.

An unexpected sight greeted us at the end of the canyon.

PCO Joan West.

We walked back along our route and continued to enjoy the desert in rainy weather.

The mud formed unique textures. And the flowers popped with color.

And we saw a mini-flood form along our path.

We found a site sheltered in the trees for suitable camp. We enjoyed the sound of the rain on our shelter and the warming effect of hot chocolate.

The following morning we woke up to the sound of constant rain. We decided that perhaps our original route and scrambling up some buttes may not be the wisest idea today. Some other time. Instead, we brewed up some mocha, lounged a bit in our warm down quilts, and waited for a break in the rain.  We only had a hike out of 4.5 miles from our camp due to the change of plans.

Soon the time came. We quickly packed up and hiked out to the BLM and Arches NP park boundary.

Seeing an iconic arch from the back ended up being a trip highlight.

And even a front country arch near the car, despite the number of people even on a rainy day, took on a unique aspect.

There is more to explore on the route we originally planned. Perhaps as part of a winter car camping trip when we can leisurely explore the immediate area.

Until then, the Moab area continues to offer a plethora of places to explore in all seasons and weather conditions.

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