The Arches National Park

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So here’s a travel tip if you are ever planning on visiting the Arches National Park in Utah.  Don’t read Edward Abbey’s book Desert Solitaire before going there:

β€œThe love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth, the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only paradise we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need, if only we had the eyes to see.” 

If you do read his book like I did, then instead of seeing this:

Double ‘O’ Arch

You’ll only see this:

Random shot of the crowds taken over my head.

People, people everywhere. 

Edward Abbey rails against the loss of the wilderness adventure in our hearts and the dependence we have on asphalt roads and vehicles to take us as close as possible to see a place, rather than enjoying a place because it is hard to reach.  

The Arches National Park is one of the most stunning landscapes I have ever visited … but at the same time I couldn’t help feeling like I was complelled to visit the next “must see” location as I fought for parking spaces with all of the other tourists in the overcrowded car parks.

No matter how much I tried to lose myself in today’s experience, there were just too many other people nearby for me to ever truly get lost in the soul of the place, especially after the last few weeks of solitude on equally beautiful trails that so few seem to be visiting.

I went for a 6km walk out to one of the Arches today, and on returning to the trailhead car park noticed there was a queue of walkers refilling their water bottles at a purified water station..  It made me think of one of my favourite quotes from Edward Abbey’s book:  β€œWhen a man must be afraid to drink freely from his country’s river and streams that country is no longer fit to live in. ”

Today also reminded me of the time that Christie and I cycled into Paris a few years ago after having cycled through the small towns and villages of France.  We basically pulled up next to the Eiffel Tower, looked at the crowds, looked at each other and just said “Nah”.and cycled off.  That’s what I wanted to do today, just cycle off and get in touch with the wilderness lost.

But, don’t let my melancholy ruin the lie of the beauty of this beautiful  park for you.  Here’s some carefully crafted photos with the crowds edited out as much as I could …

 It truly is a beautiful place.

… but I think it’s time for me to leave Utah for a while and see if I can find somewhere cooler to lay my head.  Colorado calls.

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