Well, today was the day to take Karen & Jay on their longest hike. We tried to ease them in to prepare for this one. :)
The Devil's Garden Trail is the longest and best hike in Arches National Park. The main trail from end-to-end is 5 miles roundtrip. If you take the two side trails to four additional arches, it is 6.3 miles. And if you take the difficult Primitive Loop on the way back, the trail is 7.2 miles.
We chose to do the 6.3 mile option as we didn't think our guests were quite ready for the Primitive Loop. Of course, walking from the cabin to the trailhead and back probably made our entire walk at least 7 miles today.
Our Calgary friends Steve & Esther joined us for today's hike. Here we are on our way to the trailhead.
Entering the trail through the fins.
Not very far into the trail is the first side spur to Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch.
This is Tunnel Arch along with a smaller arch to the left.
Then it was on to Pine Tree Arch.
There are far more junipers in the park than pine trees. But there is a concentration of pines in the cove by this arch.
Back on the main trail.
About eight tenths of a mile into the trail is Landscape Arch, one of the longest (THE longest according to some) natural arch in the world at 306 feet.
The above photo also includes a distant view of Partition Arch on the far right.
Esther took a shot of the four of us at one of the Landscape Arch viewpoints.
A sixty foot section at the arch's thinnest point fell in 1991. It is one of the most visited arches and it may not be around much longer.
One more shot before we moved on. :)
Moving on, we had to climb up through the fins.
See the little people in the middle? :)
We didn't remember that from last year. Soon, it was apparent why.
This is where Wall Arch fell last year. See where it broke off?
The arch fell and the rubble blocked the lower trail from last year. So now they have re-routed the trail on the opposite side of the arch.
Here is our photo of Wall Arch from last year.
The trail passed below the arch on the other side.
This year, the trail climbs over the fins you can see through the arch in the above photo.
Here is the view as we climbed past the fallen arch.
It was quite an accomplishment for our guests to make that climb.
Soon after reaching the top of the fins, we took the second side spur to Navajo Arch and Partition Arch.
This is Navajo Arch.
After that, we moved on to Partition Arch, one of our favorites.
The views are incredible and it's a great place to sit. The six of us had lunch and, surprisingly, we had it to ourselves for several minutes.
Well, we weren't quite alone. This chipmunk was hanging around in case we dropped anything. :)
As others moved in, we didn't want to be "Arch Hogs", so we headed on back to the main trail. Soon, we approached the fin ridge overlooking Fin Canyon.
Going over the fin with steep drop-offs on both sides was scary for me last year. But this year, I was a lot more comfortable. :)
Admiring the views. :)
Karen & Jay were troopers while crossing over the narrow ridge. :)
Once over the fins, we made a brief stop at the Black Arch overlook.
I finally got a photo of everyone ....
with Black Arch in the background on the left.
Continuing on the main trail with another great view in front of us.
Another small arch in the distance.
Then we turned to Double O Arch.
Here's a view of Dark Angel through the smaller "O".
But the real beauty of Double O isn't seen unless you scramble up through the smaller "O" and get behind the arch. Then, you really have some views. :)
After Double O, we headed out toward Dark Angel. But we took a detour that only a few people know about.
In our secret place are some very nice petroglyph panels.
We only disclose the location to a few people that ask us about rock art. We have to be pretty confident that they will not harm the area.
After admiring the petroglyphs for awhile, we headed back toward the main trail.
That was as far as we would go, so we started our return trip and I put the camera away.
It was a great hike with lots of variety in terrain and scenery. It included a dozen or so arches, but you have to know where to look for some of them. :)
Everyone enjoyed the hike, but we were all tired and ready to get out of our hiking boots by the time we reached the cabin. :)
Linda whipped up some dinner and I grilled some chicken breasts. Once re-nourished, we played cards for little while.
Robbie & Alice came by after 8:00 to do a quick switchover. It was their last day on duty as the park has hired a full-time employee to be a campground host from the RV site for the summer. We're not sure exactly how that is going to work. :)
We'll certainly miss Robbie & Alice, especially since they really have gotten the system down now. :)
Now we have to train the new guy, Tim, starting tomorrow. Tim dropped by and introduced himself during our switchover meeting. He is a full-timer with a large Prairie Schooner fifth wheel. He has been taking seasonal national park positions for a few years now.
Well, I'll be on my own tomorrow for awhile. Linda is joining Jay & Karen for their guided Fiery Furnace walk in the morning.
So back on duty with the additional challenges of starting out by myself and doing some training. But I think I can handle it. :)