Thanks to the unexpected daylight savings time change (at least to us this year since we haven’t had cell service to remind us of these things), we were awake earlier than usual and had extra time to stop in Moab to purchase a couple needed items such as fresh veggies before heading to Arches later that afternoon.  Little did we know the daylight savings time would shape our visit so much!

Arches campground becomes first-come first-serve on November 1st each year so that’s why we waited until now to visit on our trip (as the campground was reserved solid prior).  We arrived fairly late in the afternoon so we weren’t sure we would find a site, yet being that it was Sunday, our odds were a little higher.  Luckily we were able to snag one of the last two sites still open.

The site had a great climbing rock that the girls enjoyed.  As soon as we arrived, our 5 year old decided she wanted to have afternoon snack on-top of the rocks!

Afternoon snack on the rocks

The site pretty much shared its picnic table / campfire space with the neighboring campers.  What we thought was a downside to share such close quarters with the neighbors actually ended up being lovely.  We ended up chatting over a fire all evening exchanging stories of the road.  The one young couple was from Germany and had been on the road for 4 months traveling the US.  They started in Alaska and had made it all the way down to Utah and were on their way south to Central America.

The next morning, our 5 year old decided she wanted to eat her breakfast up on the rocks as well!

Breakfast on the rocks

Justin scoped out another campsite that had its own private slot canyon which would be empty on our second day.  We plotted and snagged the site the next morning.  It was outstanding!!  The girls had SO much fun and the scenery was just phenomenal! 

Campsite with a private slot canyon

Broken Arch Loop

After changing campsites we were onto our first hike in Arches, which we could walk to from the campground.  The girls had a lot less sleep the night before due to the oh so handy daylight savings time, but the morning of play had gone well so we had some hope for the hike.  Honestly, I think daylight savings time is just another way to mess up kids sleeping schedules and make their parents want to rip all their hair out!  I think you might be getting a hint as to how our hike went.  Oy!

Before embarking on our journey we packed a lunch, fed the girls morning snack and had everyone use the bathroom.  Everyone except for our oldest that is.  She refused to let her pee out even after she was sitting on the toilet.  Oh how I love the stubborn gene.  The deal was we would still go on the hike but because she refused to go to the bathroom before we left, she was on her own if she needed to go on the trail.  To be continued soon, don’t worry.  Ten feet onto the trail one kiddo complained of being hungry (when aren’t they hungry I’d like to know) and one needed to sit to take a rest (the 100 yds to the trail head was apparently a lot of work).  We should have turned back right then but nope, we kept going.  As my girls would say, “that was a bad choice.”  

I won’t bore you with the details but our hike went something like this:  walk 10 feet with our 3 year old; she sits in the sand and plays for 5 minutes.  Walk another 15 feet; she is complaining her foot hurts, she has sand in her shoes, she has to go poop, her finger hurts, she needs a bandaid, not just a bandaid, a bandaid with Porters on it, she has to go pee, wahhh…!

Crawling the trail

 The trail from the campground to Tapestry Arch was extremely slow and full of complaints and many pits stops but wasn’t horrific.

Tapestry Arch

However, the trail from Tapestry Arch to Broken Arch was downright miserable.  Justin and I took turns “walking” (more like crawling) with the little one so that steam wouldn’t come out of our ears from frustration!

Broken Arch

As you might guess, by the time we came to the spur trail for Sand Dune Arch we passed right by it to get back to camp as soon as possible.  By this time our oldest had a potty emergency so she was hightailing it back to camp with Justin in tow.  I was left with a puddle of tears who didn’t want me to carry her because she wanted to earn her dime.  Who thought of that dime reward system anyway?! Ha!  Oh my goodness!  We were all ready for some down time back at camp that afternoon.

The girls played, I got some sewing down and Justin worked on uploading photos for the blog (a tedious job when internet is hard to come by).  We did a little rock climbing in our campsite as well.  Justin came to our rescue at just the perfect time after the girls and I climbed up a steep rock and then were flabbergasted when we looked down at our decent path.  Turns out going up is much easier that going down!  Thank goodness for long limbed Daddies!  

Devil’s Garden Trail

Luckily, the girls got a good night’s sleep so we decided to go on a longer hike the next day.  The entire Devil’s Garden Trail is a 5 mile loop, therefore we planned on going up until the point of Landscape Arch, which would bring us to about 1 mile, then turn back.  However, by the time we got to our turn around spot we were all having so much fun.  We told the girls from here on out the trail was marked “difficult” and would require lots of rock climbing on cliffs.  That was enough to get the girls super excited and rearing to go!  

On the beginning easy part of the trail, the first arch was Tunnel Arch.  The trail lets you view the tunnel from afar.  It had amazing thick walls surrounding the inner arch.  Our 3 year old took the opportunity to draw Tunnel Arch in her Jr. Ranger workbook.

A short spur trail away was Pine Tree Arch.

Pine Tree Arch

Onto Landscape Arch, which should be called Delicate Arch.  I have no idea how that arch is still standing!  The top of the very long arch extends it’s thin limb across a ginormous space.  In 1991 visitors ran for safety as they witnessed a very large chunk of the arch falling off.  Every time I looked back at the arch I thoroughly expected another chunk to crumble off, collapsing the entire arch.  Thank goodness this isn’t one that they let you walk under!

Landscape Arch

Our 5 year old decided that this was the arch that she was going to draw in her Jr. Ranger workbook.

Drawing Landscape Arch

Onward and upward we went up the “spine of a tiger” according to the girls.  It did indeed look like a giant animal we were crawling up.  This hike led to a total of 3 more arches, the Double O Arch being the only one we skipped (it would have added 2 miles or so).  We noticed right away that it was much windier on the upper rim.

Climbing the “Spine of a Tiger”

Partition Arch was spectacular with its double arch separated by a small partition.  As is common with many of the arches, through the arch window there was as incredible view with a steep drop-off on the other side.  The arches kept beaconing the girls to climb in their dangerous window.  Luckily, the girls were listening to directions and stayed safe.  

Partition Arch

Navajo Arch was my favorite.  It was truly spectacular hidden within a slot canyon making the entire structure look like the most amazing stone fort I have ever seen.  Just amazing.  When approaching the arch the trail leads along side a fin rock structure then taking you under the impressive arch which looks like a beautiful entrance to a cave.  After you enter under the arch the viewer finds that it is not a cave but instead an incredible slot canyon.

Navajo Arch

And of course, just to put the top crust on the pie (I don’t really care for cakes :P) as you look up into the neck of the slot canyon, there is a beautiful sturdy little Pinyon Pine Tree standing tall and proud.  Beautiful!

Climbing out of the Navajo Arch slot canyon

Up and through the slot canyon is how we chose to exit the magical world giving us an incredible view of the surrounding area.

View from outside Navajo Arch slot canyon

On our way back down the “Tiger Spine” scramble a woman confessed to us, “I saw your girls doing this hike so I thought I could certainly make it.  I quickly realized I didn’t have it in me and turned back.  Your girls are good hikers!”  I was thoroughly impressed by their cheery demeanor and climbing ability.

We all needed a successful day after the hike the previous day.  We all hiked 4.5 miles, the girls’ all time record!  The farthest they hiked previously was a little over 2 miles.  That 4.5 miles took us about 6 hours.  Honestly, toward the end of the hike I was worried we were going to get stuck in the dark without flashlights!  Heading out on our morning journey we had never dreamed of going that far or it taking so long.  We made it with an hour to spare before sunset but boy were we cold on the way down!!  We layered the girls pretty well, thank goodness, but Justin and I were frozen to the bone by the time we reached camp.  The wind plus the shade equaled cold hiking!

In hind sight, I think the hike went so well because of a couple different factors.  1) The girls got a good nights sleep, 2) Justin and I had more patience and 3) we had packed lot of tasty food!  

Sand Dune Arch and the Windows Loop

The days and nights have been getting colder and colder throughout our stay here, therefore the morning of our last hiking day was very chilly to say the least.  Our plan was to hike the short 0.2 mile trail there and back to Sand Dune Arch and then drive to the Windows trail for a 1 mile hike with views of 3 different arches.

There was a bit of kiddo drama so we ended up exploring Sand Dune Arch in periodic spirts with different parent/kiddo match ups.  Sounds complicated, it kind of was but…we all got to see and explore Sand Dune Arch as we froze our booties off!  It was such a beautiful arch in the morning.  The way the light was coming into the space between rock fins where the arch lay, it made the arch glow a brilliant orange color.

Sand Dune Arch

We found some rocks to climb, and a cave to explore complete with a sliding rock, on which our oldest nearly tore the back off of yet another pair of pants!  Ha!  How could I stop her?  It was a cave rock slide hidden behind an orange glowing arch!  You don’t get that opportunity every day.  I can always sew new pants.

The red glow of Sand Dune Arch from inside her cave nook

Besides the great cave and arch, the ground below, as you may have guessed, was sand!  Not just any sand but fine, soft, red sand that made your feet sink 3 inches with every step.  The girls rolled and crawled in it until the cold made us leave.

Rolling in the sand

We weren’t sure how the girls moods would take it but we went for the Window loop trail regardless.  It was shocking that even as we drove into the parking lot we could spot at least 4 arches.  You really don’t need to go far in this park to see a lot of beauty.  We saw North and South Window Arch and Turret Arch.  They were all beautiful in their own ways.  However, as you can imagine, this trail was a bit busier than the primitive trail we went on previously due to it’s accessibility.  The girls had fun climbing around and up to the arches.  So many looked as if they were going to drop boulders on the onlookers at any moment.  It’s really amazing that these structures stand for so long in nature this way.  We spotted some half made or tiny arches that weren’t named yet.  Maybe when our girls are grandparents they will go back to this park and find that some of the arches we visited on this trip are no longer standing yet there are new ones who have been named. 🙂

P.S.  I think our girls are officially back on a regular sleeping schedule after the adjustment to daylight savings time! Woo!

Jr. Rangers

The girls continue to do the Jr Ranger program at each of the parks.  As some of you might know, after completing the workbook and some leg work around the park the rangers ask that the incoming Jr. Rangers take an oath to seal the deal.  This involves raising your right hand and repeating after the ranger.  The girls were deathly afraid of doing this and at their first parks refused to utter a peep.  In those cases the ranger had graciously adapted the oath so that the girls could nod their head ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as a response.  

Taking the Jr. Ranger oath at Arches

We felt like the girls were getting off too easy so we made a deal back in Canyonlands National Park that the girls could earn an automatic movie night if they fully participated in the Jr. Ranger oath.  I know, a deal that isn’t winning us Best Parent of the Year awards but, it could be worse.  Our 5 year old squeaked out the oath both times.  However, our 3 year old has stood mute for the first round of the oath both times.  It hasn’t been until we remind her about the movie night multiple times that she musters up the courage to try again.  It is a lengthy process (in Canyonlands it took an extra 40 minutes!) but she full heartedly wanted to try again so I felt like we owed it to her to give her a second chance.  And, she did it!  The first step to public speaking. 🙂