Our trekking holiday in Utah combined new areas for me to explore and a return to some old favorites. Imagining any place more special than Arches National Park is challenging in the latter category. While Monument Valley elicited many memories from my youth, Arches marks a milestone in my adult life due to a friend’s book recommendation in 1992, before my first visit: Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey. Abbey’s autobiographical description of two seasons as a park ranger in Arches sits prominently amongst the books that have changed my life. Anyone visiting the American Southwest or interested in humanity’s role in preserving the natural environment would be well served by reading this.
The excellent Back of Beyond Books in Moab, Utah, is home to Abbey’s writing desk, on which sits a typewritten manuscript of Desert Solitaire. I stopped for a moment of silence in its presence before taking Joanie out for her first visit to the park.
Arches National Park: Devil’s Garden
To avoid the hordes of visitors that Abbey correctly predicted in 1968 would overwhelm Arches (partly due to his book, ironically), we opted for a long early morning hike in a remote corner of the park. From every angle, the natural bridges, arches, ridges, and fins continually stopped us in our tracks with their unworldly sizes, shapes, and colors. It was a truly marvelous day!
I think she found out where Australia came from…
The Primitive Loop Trail