Ranger Kathryn's Arches

February 26, 2010

Ranger Victoria’s welcome invitation

Filed under: 1 — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 11:03 am
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After two bear hugs in the Vis Center, Ranger Victoria asked me if I had brought my skis. My ‘no’ did not deter her, as she had snowshoes in her trunk that I could borrow. “As soon as I’m off work, let’s go up to Salt Valley road and work our muscles a bit in that time between sunset and total darkness!” Ooooooh! I’m never one to turn down an adventure, and I was itching to get into the park and see my precious formations again. (“My” formations. Of course.)

As Vic drove the 18 miles, she commented that it has been overcast here for a very long time and that the sun came out upon my arrival. I grabbed my camera out of my waist pack and began shooting out the window at 45 mph. The alpenglow lit the sandstone afire… and my heart afire.

Sandstone at sunset

Can rock get any more beautiful?

Balanced Rock, one of my favorite subjects

Such detail at 45 mph!

That is one happy ranger.

I dare you to click on this one!!

Ranger Vic

Who'd have thought I'd be snowshoeing on my first day back?

Arrival via the back way

Filed under: 1 — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 2:17 am
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formations near Castle Valley, UT

The drive down the winding, dangerous, twisty, no-shoulders Hwy 128 along the Colorado River (what we affectionately call “the back way”) had me leaning forward as I navigated, trying to take everything in while staying on the pavement. I shared the road with few other drivers on this February afternoon. For the previous four hours I had no radio on, no CD, nothing but my thoughts as I addressed my own anticipation and drank in the extreme whiteness. Utah has, along with the rest of the country, experienced “the winter that won’t end” and has broken nearly five decades of records for cold and snow.

Colorado River along Hwy 128 nearing Moab

As I paralleled the Colorado River, the red rocks began to rise more and more sharply alongside it. Powdered-sugar snow remained heavily on north-facing slopes, while south-facing hillsides steamed as the sun’s heat penetrated the exposed ground. These cliffs were ones I had rafted past twice last summer; memories flooded in.

“Arches National Park, 2 miles” became “Arches National Park, 1 mile,” which became the familiar right turn at the uranium tailings pile. The requisite photo at the park sign always affords opportunity to meet someone while handing them your camera.

I'VE ARRIVED!!!

The hugs from visitor center staff who hadn’t seen me in half a year were delectable, but the best gift was yet to come…

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