Monday, July 16, 2012

Reaching the Boiling Point at Arches

This morning’s blog entry is coming to you from North Campground at Bryce Canyon National Park. We landed here last night after a frustrating night and amazing morning.

Saturday night at Arches, we all settled into our sleeping bags and drifted off. All was well. But at about 11 pm, a new group of campers arrived at the site next door. They proceeded to start their campfire and open their beers…and talk. Loudly. With much swearing. Until around 4 am. Armin talked to them early on, using his best high-school-teacher firm-but-affable voice. He explained that quiet hours start at 10 and that we had 2 kids who were trying to sleep. They promised they would “try” to be quiet. They didn’t try very hard. Armin went out and shushed them several more times, getting more and more frustrated each time. They finally quieted down at around 4:00, and when we got up in the morning we contacted the campground host and the ranger and wrote up the incident. When we left, they miscreants had been awakened by the ranger and she was preparing to dish out justice (we don’t know what kind…as much as we were hoping that they’d receive 40 lashes, they probably just got a ticket.

Anyway, we were in pretty sour moods when we rolled out of camp, but we had reservations for the Fiery Furnace tour and were determined to turn the day around. The Fiery Furnace is an area of Arches that’s comprised of blind canyons with no marked trails. You need to go in with a ranger or get a special permit to hike there. We met up with our group of 25 people (from around the US, France, and Italy) and Ranger Jess and headed out. What a great experience! The hike is labeled
“moderately strenuous,” and was mostly pretty easy, though there was some excellent scrambling, jumping, and crawling through narrow places. Ranger Jess was the perfect guide—knowledgeable and enthusiastic, with a passion for the desert and wild places. Our final stop on the walk was in a natural rock amphitheater under an arch, and Ranger Jess gave a stirring talk on protecting our natural sanctuaries. We emerged from the Fiery Furnace with our good spirits restored.

We hopped in the car and drove the 5 hours to Bryce Canyon. We made a grocery stop along the way and didn’t arrive here until nearly 7 pm. We were the Grouchy Family, since we were all starving, Armin & I were exhausted, and the boys were antsy after the hours in the car. We got the tent up and dinner made (with a fair amount of grumbling and sniping all around) and got some sleep. I made a bathroom run in the middle of the night and spent a few minutes goggling at the amazing stars. I hope tonight is clear so I can have a better look!

This morning I went on my first run in about a week and a half. I’ve hiked nearly 20 miles in that time, but hadn’t strapped on the running shoes. I had a nice hilly run on strong legs, maybe 2.5 miles or so. I don’t know that I’ll be ready for the 5&10 in September, but I’m enjoying the hiking and hope I can get in more runs in the next 4 weeks. The weather here at Bryce is certainly conducive to running. It was in the 40s last night, and looks to dip into the 30s in the next couple days, with highs in the upper 70s.

Now we’re off to the Visitor Center and a hike and SHOWERS! YES!! The little park store has pay showers! 

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