Chase and I decide we want to free climb high up.
Krista and I climbing up Jacob's Ladder (or maybe we're climbing down?)
Krista and me and the Delicate Arch, one of the most beautiful arches in the Park
Upon entering Utah - where apparently the state motto is "life, elevated" - so we're trying to get into it.
No, that subject is not a typo- shist is a type of smooth black rock that lines the canyons of westwater- a section of the colorado where we went white water rafting on Monday. It's also 1.8 BILLION years old, making it one of the oldest rocks in the US (or maybe world?). It's surrounded by sandstone that is only 270 million years old, begging the question of what happened to all those layers in between? The sandstone is a rich red-brown color and is coated in parts by "desert varnish", a darker brown clay that has blown up and stuck to the sandstone, painting pictures that often look like wild horses running along the canyons. The clay contains mangenese whose source is completely unknown - a desert mystery!
So we woke up yesterday morning at 5:45 am after about three hours of sleep (thanks to the Utah wind in our beautiful campsite) and immediately grabbed coffee and headed over to Tag-along Tours for our white water rafting day. Even with the coffee, we both managed to completely pass out on the 1.5 hour bus ride to the river, but not before talking with our super cool guides, who made 2 separate Dune references during this conversation (which was AMAZING because being out here in the desert makes is making me think so much about Dune!)
The rafting trip was STELLAR. I had never been before and had no idea what to expect. What I should have expected: a spectacular sunny day of hitting high rapids with seven new friends, a boat flipping (not ours), a rescue mission for that boat (yes, ours), delicious “mexi-cones” for lunch, geography of Utah lessons, and some serious floating time in the Colorado River. Like I said: stellar trip.
We got back and immediately drove to Arches National Park, still a bit damp from the river and toting the popsicles they gave us when we got back. We hiked out to Delicate Arch as storm clouds started to roll in all around us – but somehow not ON us, so we just watched as the blue-green storm surrounded us on our red-brown rocks - it was absolutely breathtaking. Apparently this sitting in the middle of a storm and watching it go wild all around you is “SO UTAH”, according to our resident Utah man, Krista’s friend, Chase. We met up with Chase later that night at Woody’s, THE bar in town according to our rafting guides. Chase was super AGFA (our new phrase, meaning “always game for anything”), proven by the fact that he had just taken a greyhound back from Berkeley, jumped in his car (packed with burritos and gatorade) and drove down from Salt Lake to hang with us!
Before crashing at our new campsite (called Moonflowers and highly recommended), Chase took us climbing up “Jacob’s Ladder” – a wild climbing route inside nearby cliffs that involved lots of wedging ourselves between several rocks then doing a split behind you and using that leg to boost you up to the next level. It was AWESOME. Chase got some great photos of us scrambling up and Krista got some great ones of us on top of the cliff overlooking the most beautiful view of a fully moonlit canyon. We ended up staying up there until almost three before finally resigning ourselves to bed so that we could get up for our next day’s adventure!
This morning we are off to swim at Powerhouse (and bring our Dr. Bonner’s so we can finally wash our hair – or at least mine, since Krista’s is still mostly in dreds) and some bouldering on rocks in The Fiery Furnace, a distant part of Arches National Park. Since Krista and I are officially members of the National Park Association for the year, we can just go back in for free any time we want! It’s hard to believe we leave tomorrow for Santa Fe, New Mexico and begin the Southern (and final??!?) leg of our trip.
Song of the Moment: January Wedding by the Avett Brothers (thank you, Melissa!)
“don’t try to do what the world needs, do what makes you come alive, because what the world needs is people who have come alive”
-the quote we left with our tip to our rafting guides