Ranger Kathryn's Arches

April 27, 2010

Hidden Valley, above Moab

Exploring is a favorite pastime. When I was young, I read in National Geographic about people who found ancient structures smothered under the Peruvian jungle; I fantasized about being there assisting scores of machete-wielding workers hacking the centuries of vines off of the pyramids, terraces or dwellings. How exquisite would that be?!?

OK, so my ‘reality’ version of that is going small-scale exploring. I’m privileged to have a local friend who knows all manner of obscure places to go verbing — (hiking, canyoneering, climbing, swimming, eating, etc) — and who is more than willing to share his inside knowledge. Ed asked what I wanted to do: high or low? dry or wet? sun or shade? and when I answered “high and rocky” he knew right where to take me after work.

Hidden Valley does not appear until you’ve climbed for 45 minutes or so up one of the enormous walls that hugs Moab. En route, however, there is some dynamite rock scrambling that gets you onto the top of a sketchy tower overlooking the entire Moab valley. There is no way I could/would have topped it without an experienced guide handy to explain how to scale it, and to spot me as I did it.

The handholds (nice clefts in the rock) were stout, but I kept thinking that they looked like a nice place for a Black Widow to hang out. (FYI: I’d take ten scorpion stings before a BW bite. Nasty neurotoxin.) Ed asked at several junctures how I was doing with this undertaking as I found myself challenged at a few points on the short steep ascent; some folks are fearful around heights, or when finding themselves on steep rock walls being held up only by their own body. Me? I was energized. This was really fun. Pushing myself to see if I can do it — yeah, my knees got scraped up, but we’re not deducting style points.

The reward was worth it. That’s the triumphant photo from yesterday’s 200th blog entry. Here are a few more to fill in the gaps.

Destination: highest tower in the distance directly above me. Ed's name for it is "The Nursemaid."

Ed sizes up our ascent. What route would YOU choose?!? (I couldn't see a likely one.)

Yes, it's very vertical, with a roof. Handholds and footholds are key.

Sweet view of La Sal Mountains and entire Moab valley from top. Exhilaration!

The first Scarlet Gilia is (are?) blooming!

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