Arches National Park

Arches.

Lots of Arches.

And us? Lots of time.

We greatly enjoyed hiking the long trail to the Dark Angel Tower and returning along the primitive trail back to the campground, exploring each of the side trails that lead from one arch to another. We enjoyed ourselves so much along this trail we did it again the very next day. Same loop. Same direction. Just because.

It wasn’t just about the arches though. Each one is magnificent in its shape and size but the trail led us through the surreal and stark red rock desert of southern Utah. If a person gives themselves without distraction to a wild landscape, they will inevitably fall upon its spell.

Southern Utah, at first glance feels barren, just an expanse of red rock but listen and look. Peer into the cracks and among the cactus. There will be the whiptail lizard. The red-spotted toad. A delicate primrose flower. Looking out of one arch down onto an expansive view of fins that looked like red ripples of an ocean I felt possessed. The landscape, its colours, textures, curves, they are lascivious, hypnotic.

Graffiti tarnished the soul of the park.

The names of people who have passed beneath an arch mark their passing senselessly. A place such as this is not about the humans who pass here, who snap pointless selfies or etch their name into the sandstone.

This is a place grander than any human soul, if only we could let our ego fall away to accept our insignificance. This is a place that should speak to our soul, remind us of a world we’ve turned away from. This is the place we are supposed to come back to, to rekindle a connection to what wilderness is left. Instead it seems like it’s all about marking our names and taking selfies.

We were glad to be in Arches in the off-season, early February. The campground and trails were quiet except for the scurrying of whiptail lizards and herds of dainty deer. The unusually dry and warm winter meant we did not have to contend with snow or ice, adding to our enchantment with Arches.

And the sunrise was definitely worth waking up early for.

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