Utah: Days 11-16

Oh, Utah.  The wonders I did not know you possessed, you desert state you.  Wow.  All I can say is wow.  Just the drive alone would have been enough for me but then you overturned rocks and blew wind through mountains to create some breathtaking scenery.  Our first night in your presence was at Arches National Park where stars lit the sky much prettier than any street lamp I’ve ever seen – and boy, have I seen street lamps.  It was so magical we had to go back to the park the next day.  And so began our Utah adventure with its ubiquitous beauty.

Day 12

DSCN0748

Me climbing an insanely high rock on the way to Double-O Arch, Arches National Park, Moab, UT.

We started off this day by heading back to Arches National Park to try our hand at the Double-O Arch trail.  This trail seemed easy enough: 1.2 miles, people of all ages trekking up and down without breaking a sweat.  So tell me why it took us 3 hours to reach the Double-O Arch?  No, I’ll tell you why.  This trail was very flat and easy to navigate for the first three-quarters of a mile.  We were taking it all in, enjoying our brand new Camelbaks and posing for cute pictures.  Then, the trail went UP.  Just straight up.  No warning, no side trail for beginners/people who don’t do up, no other option.  This being the first trail of the trip, I could NOT stop here and chicken out.  So what did I do?  I went up!  We climbed a strip of rocks on our hands and knees (just like the pros of course) and made it to the top of the rock pictured above.  100% worth it.  Scary.  But worth it.

View from the trail to Double-O Arch, Arches National Park, Moab, UT.

View from the trail to Double-O Arch, Arches National Park, Moab, UT.

Our harrowing climb to top continued as we walked the plank (a narrow strip of rocks) to the rest of the trail.  Most of the time, I was looking down, concentrating on not stepping too far to the right or the left and falling to my graceful demise.  When I felt confident enough to stop and look up, I was blessed with views like the one above.  This is why Utah is great.

The Double-O Arch at Arches National Park in Moab, Utah.

The Double-O Arch at Arches National Park in Moab, Utah.

Finally, we made it to the Double-O Arch, the big kahuna.  Once you walk through the lower arch and see the other side, you will understand life and all its glory.  It was a very lovely place to sit and think (or hop on FaceTime if you are like me and need to show someone the magical scenery).  After making it here, part of the group headed down to a different trail that spurs off of Double-O Arch.  It had devil in the name and I wasn’t too keen on walking with the devil during my first hike.  It took us about 2 hours to make it back down the trail with a slight detour since we were going rogue without a map.

We grabbed a delicious lunch at Moab Brewery, complete with tasty gelato.  We got on the road and took the four-hour drive to Duck Creek Village Lodge where we stayed for the remainder of our time in Utah.  The road was riddled with deer.  At least four tried to make our acquaintance; thankfully, we had a skillful driver in the group who got us to the lodge safely.

Day 13

On this day we found the only cave with a waterfall in Utah and went spelunking!  Just kidding. Half of us were so wiped out from the day before that we stayed in and worked all day/watched Game of Thrones. We ran to grocery store – closest one was 45 minutes away in Cedar City.  The other half of the group caught a sweet deal in Escalante Park and went sand boarding for the day.  We reunited over a spaghetti dinner.

Day 14

See that orange dot? That's me. Upper Emerald Pool, Zion National Park, UT.

See that orange dot? That’s me. Upper Emerald Pool, Zion National Park, UT.

Ahh today.  Today started with the world’s most complicated breakfast.  Let two single men loose in a kitchen and see the chaos that ensues.  We entrusted these two men with cooking the most important meal of the day for seven people.  25 eggs, 14 pancakes, and 16 pieces of sausage later and we had the breakfast of…well… we had breakfast.  We took the hour and a half drive to Zion National Park where half the group did Angels Landing (no thank you) and the other half of us took the safe route of Emerald Pools.

View from the pool, Upper Emerald Pool, Zion National Park, UT.

View from the pool, Upper Emerald Pool, Zion National Park, UT.

There is a river before getting to the Emerald Pool trails and there are Lower and Upper Pools.  The Lower Pools are a very short hike and feature some beautiful waterfalls and greenery.  We took the hour hike to the Upper Emerald Pool where we climbed rocks and took pictures.  It was beautiful.  You can’t swim in this pool; however, the river at the entrance had plenty of bathers.  We hiked back down the trail to grab food at the Brew Pub located in the park.  Delicious pretzel sticks!  The other half of the group finished Angel’s Landing in about five hours, just in time to meet us and grab dinner for themselves.

Day 15

We ended up really finding that cave for spelunking!  Ok, clearly I like this joke for days where we did nothing.  We were supposed to check out The Narrows at Zion but flash flood warnings prevented us from being great.  We ended up watching more Game of Thrones (had to catch up before the season finale!) and cooked most of what was in the refrigerator, which included every last egg in Utah, burgers, and tacos.  Some of us worked, one of us ran off to see Jurassic World.  All in all a great day.  We even got to meet our AirBnB host Mike – great guy!

Day 16

Sigh, our last day in Utah.  We woke up early for a taco and eggs breakfast but still had to throw out food, unfortunately.  We ended up leaving Duck Creek Village at 8 am to make the two-hour drive to Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona.  I have more on it in my next post!

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