“A world without open country would be universal jail.”-Edward Abbey
Andrew and I had four days off to spend in the desert—the location was undecided. Zion was our first choice, but the long drive and questionable weather convinced us to hold off. We turned our attention to Goblin Valley State Park, Capitol Reef National Park, and Moab.
We arrived to Goblin Valley and found free camping nearby, which was much more enticing than spending over $20.00 to camp next to people in the park. We set-up our tent and then scrambled up rocks to catch the last glimpse of the sun, sinking behind the canyon walls, bottle of wine in hand.
The stars came out fierce. We laid, bundled-up, with our tent door open, watching the full moon rise over the sandstone walls around us. The light from the moon bounced off the walls, producing beautiful shadows of the canyon around us. Head lamps were no longer necessary and we struggled to capture the bright moon in our photos.
As I always do after a chilly night of camping I found a sunny spot near our campsite and soaked in the sun. After warming up from coffee and vitamin D we packed up the truck and drove to Goblin Valley. The strange Dr. Seuss meets Mars rock formations made me feel like a kid. I thought about how much fun it would be to play hide-and-seek and found myself jumping and hopping over the small canals running through the floor of the valley.
We moved on from Goblin Valley and drove to Capitol Reef National Park. Walls of sandstone surrounded us as we drove into the park. Unexpectedly, an adorable little area of the park called Fruita appeared. Orchard trees sit next to the side of the road, and I seriously wished there were fruit on the trees to pick. We decided on a four-mile hike called Grand Wash.
After the hike we sat-up camp in the park’s campsite. With a bottle of wine—paired with cheese and crackers—we laid in the grass in the sun. I day dreamed about making campsites my home.
Andrew woke up at Sunrise and went back to our sunset spot at Panorama. I felt lazy about my decision to sleep in, until Andrew came back shivering and frustrated with what he thought to be not an ideal sunrise. I did my typical basking in the morning sun before we hit the road for our next place.
I decided that Andrew had to see Arches National Park. We’d seen towering desert walls and spent the previous night’s sunset staring into a deep canyon, but we hadn’t seen any arch formations yet. We drove to Devils Garden in the park, and got out for a hike. I had done the hike before, and remembered it being only a few miles. We turned a few mile hike into a seven mile hike by taking the Primitive trail back to the truck. The hike turned into a tiny adventure when we found ourselves doing slabby scrambling and using a human chain to get past one deep waterhole that was blocking the trail. The primitive trail is definitely worth the extra miles on a cooler day, but even in mid-60 degree temperatures we were starting to bake.
From Arches we drove south of Moab to Looking Glass Rock. My coworker had described the rappel while we were working on our Guidebook to Membership and I knew I had to try it. We arrived a few hours before sunset, but the climb sat in the shade, so we decided to set-up camp next to the formation and hit the climb in the morning before our long drive home.
Once the sun came up, we packed up our gear and made our way to the start of the climb. The climb is three easy pitches, which we linked into two. Near the top of the last pitch I playfully tried to run, as Andrew quickly pulled in slack. The rappel is an airy one. Backing away from the anchors into a free-hanging, 35 meter rappel was certainly a fun way to start a Monday, and end a four-day adventure.