B’s BDay at Arches National Park – Devils Garden

On Sunday we celebrated B’s 39th birthday and we spent our first day at Arches. We were SO fortunate that there was a cool spell and the high was only in the 80s! 😊 We decided it was the best day to try for a long hike since the rest of our 2 weeks here it will be high 90s. The sun feels SO hot out here! The humidity is low so the shade feels great (much cooler than NC’s swamp feel even when in the shade) … but the sun feels so much stronger here than NC! It was the same in Colorado. Higher elevation = thinner air, closer to the sun I guess.

So we chose the Devils Garden area for Sunday which is at the far end of the park. Driving through the park is beautiful. This is definitely one of our fave parks!

They call these formations “fins” – which could eventually turn into arches…. many probably were part of a bigger arch at one time which has since collapsed.

Like everything else we’ve seen, this park shows evidence of a massive (worldwide) sea (flood) that drastically and catastrophically changed the world. This park’s unique formations are the result of that sea (flood) depositing salt all across the Colorado plateau. They call this area Salt Valley…. after the salt was deposited, large amounts of sediment (rock) then got laid on top. The salt bed is an unstable foundation for this rock so the salt layers shifted buckled and repositioned causing cavities and just chaos haha. On top of all that mess, fault lines caused vertical cracks which then led to fins. Some fins, if they didn’t just crumble, would then eventually form arches as the young rock layers were eroded away.

We also learned about pothole arches which are a different type of arch (more on this on the next post).

Back to Sunday…..

As soon as we parked at the Trailhead, this guy was there to welcome us. Devil’s Garden is right! Is he a spy for Maleficent or what?

We started off feeling great! Walking right next to big fins:

And around the corner was our first arch, Tunnel Arch:

And on this mini one next to it, we all see an angel fish on the right hand part of the arch there, facing left. It’s funny how some humans more than others always look for familiar scenes anywhere. Especially in places that are totally new and stimulating. It’s like we are trying to connect or find some sort of order or familiar haha…. We are those types of humans

We love finding characters in nature. In this park there’s lots of Star Wars scenes and characters 😊.

Next it was Pine Tree Arch:

And landscape arch, one of the longest in the world:

There used to be an arch called Wall Arch right near this one but it fell in 2008. That’s so recent! Research says these formations can only last a few thousand years at most.

After this viewpoint many visitors turn around but we challenged the kiddos to take the 4 mile trail to Double O. There was only a very mild revolt. And when they heard it would be lots of climbing and scrambling they were more interested! They love hikes like that so we were off:

We took a “spur trail” to see Partition Arch and that was a great choice! It was a beautiful viewpoint, quiet, and had lots of shade so Daddy B could get his birthday request of REST.

I think he will start getting more specific in his requests haha because he did get rest but it was in the middle of a hard (what turned into) 7 mile hike!

Back on the main trail. What a view:

At the Double O area we saw grands biscuit rocks perfectly balanced on what looked like tiny little pebbles. We tried to push them over (and some hungry people tried to eat them) but they didn’t budge.

And there was the double O. Very cool:

Somehow we convinced the Lil Rookies that the primitive trail would be easier for the way back. It certainly was less climbing but it was not easy. I guess we could have read the map which states “Most difficult route. Steep exposed slopes. Few trail markers”. That would have helped with right expectations.

The kiddos started off happy with the sudden rush of joy and energy that comes when they know they’re on the way back to the truck. This beautiful deer made us happy too:

We were feeling strong….

…. and we were loving all the colors and crazy formations

This part was so beautiful. All kinds of textures and swirls:

And then we passed some friendly young men that warned us about a “sketchy” part ahead of us. They told us that we would soon be clinging to a side of a rock very exposed with a big drop but “no worries. Just keep your hands clinging and keep walking sideways and you’ll be fine”. Hm! Well I had just talked to a couple that had to be in their late 70s early 80s that passed us on the trail and they were alive so that reassured me.

Soon enough we were at the cliffhanger! To the right is where the drop off is and the area we had to “scale”.

I wish I’d taken a picture after we were done. B is convinced it wasn’t that dangerous. I am convinced that was one of the scariest parts of my life this adventure. Looking back I guess I should have just done what RR did. He basically ran down and across with normal footing. But wait – he is definitely part insect or lizard or something so nevermind. I did what the young men suggested which was “face the wall with both hands desperately clawing at it looking for anything to hold on to on it and walk sideways.” Terrible choice! The toe part of my shoes have no tread anymore. I kept sliding and was genuinely scared and would have been panicky if I wasn’t trying to help and comfort E who was right after me. If I had slipped a little more I wouldn’t have gone into an abyss or anything – but I definitely would have broken things. Thank you Lord for getting us through that one safely. I genuinely think there must have been an easier path that the older couple took… we looked everywhere but couldn’t find one.

After that I only took one picture. This is at the very end of our hike – about mile 6 I think:

The 2nd part of the primitive trail after the rocks was hot and it was just walking through sand which annoys me and makes me want an ocean, a beach chair, and a cold drink. The Lil Rookies were too tired and hot to even complain. I can’t imagine this hike in the heat of the day when it’s not a “cold” spell. The kiddos trudged along, muttering under their breaths and shaking their heads, while I tried unsuccessfully to cheer everybody up with fight songs. 😊

I wish I had a picture at the end of the trail with all 3 rookies laid out on the middle of the sidewalk like seals. Or even a victory picture of all 5 of us but we were pictured-out haha! I have the memory of high fives all around and a feeling of accomplishment as we celebrated a new record for the longest hike we’ve been on!

It was a great birthday for B and we hope he felt loved and special. He’s truly the best!

He chose bbq for dinner which we won’t do anymore until we get back to NC! It’s been a disappointment every time. It was still a fun and yummy dinner but it just doesn’t measure up to NC bbq. We filled our bellies and then the 5 little piggies rolled home and went straight to bed!

7 thoughts on “B’s BDay at Arches National Park – Devils Garden

  1. Aunt Penni

    I am so jealous….and you and your kiddos get to do this….the pictures were awesome felt like I was joking with you…wow the beauty of it all….AMAZING

  2. Wendy L. Hemphill

    WOW. I get tired and scared just reading that.
    I was thinking more like a hammock in the trees for a Bday. You guys worked for that Bday supper. Happy belated Bday, Brandon.

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  4. Aara

    You had my adrenaline pumping reading about the narrow cliffhanger part! Glad you all made it through in one piece!

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