After my first taste of Utah exploring Natural Bridges I couldn’t wait to explore this desert state even more. I packed up my car home and headed north for Moab. A place that I began to consider a beacon for dirtbags such as myself. Along my journey I stopped off first at Canyonlands National Park. After stopping in the visitor center to get the coveted stamp in my NPS passport I headed off to do an many little hikes as I could. I started with one that lead me through an old cowboy camp, up two ladders to get to the top of a ledge, and eventually to a view that had you seeing for miles. It was a super easy stroll buy I was so excited to be able to explore more of this area of the world. After I had assumed I was done with Canyonlands and viewed it being time to head up to Arches I saw a sign for “Needles overlook 20 miles thataway.” Still basking in the roadtrip mentality I obviously took the sharp left turn and headed down a dirt road with little idea what lies at the end. The thing about Utah is, it is super easy to become incredibly distracted by the beauty. At one point I was driving only 5 miles per hour because I was so absorbed by the landscapes which at times can be unreal. After probably a 30 minute drive I made it to the final lookout, and it truly took my breath away. Below me were canyons that stretched on for miles. The orange dirt that dusted the road is a color I have only dreamed of experiencing. It seemed as though I couldn’t take in the views fast enough. After sitting there for probably 20 minutes attempting to process the grandeur that is Utah, I hit the road yet again to finish my journey to Moab.
After about a two hour drive I drove into the little desert town that is surrounded by mountains and upon initial judgement is a transient’s dream world. Without skipping a beat I drove right into Arches National Park to get some exploring in before I turned in for the night. The first day I started off with a simple hike. It was maybe a quarter of a mile that lead you to the Window Arches. Having been the biggest creep of Arches, it was a surreal experience to actually be in the space in person. My eyes were racing from each arch trying to soak it all in. Soon the sun began to slowly set below the horizon and I took that as my cue to head to a campsite. I found an awesome bit of BLM land a few miles away from downtown Moab that I would call home for the next two nights. Settled between another van lifer and a camper full of a family and dogs, I fell asleep super stoked for the next day of exploration.
Waking up to a bit of a drizzle I found a local coffee shop to feed my coffee addiction before I headed into Arches for day two of hiking and exploring. I started off with the Double O Arch hike which lead me five miles throughout the dirt viewing almost half a dozen different arches. Each one was incredibly different than the last. The hike at points had me panicking slightly as it had you walking on a piece of land that had cliff drop offs on either side. I just had to keep my eyes locked in front of me and avoided looking down. There were points where it seemed to be MIGHTY sketchy but in the end the views were so worth it! I ended the day with a 3.2 mile hike to the Delicate Arch, which is arguably one of the most iconic views in all of the park. As I hiked up the rocky hill, my anticipation for the end goal was through the roof. I could not wait to see this magical place. As I was walking around the bend and old man with a walking stick and a big ol’ grin looked me in the eye and said, “it’s not too far now, and the view is out of this world.” Hi excited demeanor made me want to hike even faster. Eventually I made it. I am pretty sure I made an audible gasp because I was nowhere near prepared for how incredible this place was. Standing on at the top of a natural bowl that would eventually lead to a cliff was a stand alone arch. In all of its glory it was something that seems put there by someone- there was no way this could be formed naturally. I just sat there for a minute in awe. In awe of the beauty of this park. In awe of the beauty of the desert. In awe of how incredible the desert is, and how quickly it made me feel at home. As I had my last day of exploration before I started my job training, I tried to think back to all of the incredible adventures I had over the last three weeks. I am incredibly blessed and cannot wait to explore more of the desert. I am writing this sitting in a coffee shop after seven days in the wilderness for training with an official job, but no set place to live I feel at peace. I feel at peace that I get to call this wonderful place home. I feel calm and content that this will be a good fit for me. I cannot wait to explore more of the desert in the coming weeks before my shifts truly start. As for now, I am a transient desert dweller. Fully forming into the dirtbag nomad that I am meant to be, and I cannot be more excited.