We woke up at 5:45am for a 6:45am buffet breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, hash browns, yogurt, breads and pastries. Tom picked us up at 7:45am and brought us on our first adventure of the day.

We picked up our local guide, Dave, at 8:20am. He works for Adrift Adventures and gave us the history of the area (the history of Uranium mining in the area and the geography of the formations), as well as pointed out a variety of interesting rock formations.

Here’s Dave

“The Three Sisters”

Several rock formations

Our first stop in Arches National Park was Balanced Rock, which is a hoodoo formation (a large rock protects the smaller rock under it from the elements, which decreases the rate of erosion).

Balanced Rock

Our next stop was a hike up to Delicate Arch. It was a long, difficult 1.5 mile uphill hike up but the arch was truly a beautiful site. The round-trip hike took about 2 hours.

We hiked…

…and hiked…

…and followed the trail

Almost there!

We made it!

We all made it!

This thing is freakin’ HUGE!

We bumped into these people when we were on the way down, and they were going in the opposite direction, right before Delicate Arch. How they made it up with a baby stroller is beyond me

On the way down, we made some quick stops to see petroglyphs from circa 1650 to 1850 and then the ruins of the John Wesley Wolfe family cabin.

Petroglyphs

The cabin

After dropping Dave off, we were dropped off in the town of Moab which, happily, had cell phone service. We ate lunch on our own at Peace Tree Juice Bar, a juice and wrap cafe. I had a Peanut Butter Wrap (peanut butter, granola, banana, apple and blueberries in a whole wheat tortilla) while Joe got a Club Wrap (turkey, ham, bacon, avocado, tomato and lettuce in a whole wheat tortilla). We also got some unusual smoothies that were really yummy.

After about 45 minutes of power shopping, we all went our separate ways…some went horseback riding, some went ATV riding, etc. As for Joe and I, we went canyoneering! Now, we had gone rappelling one other time: going up and down a huge pile of rubble rock at a 45 degree angle in Natural Bridge Cavern in Texas, last year. This trip was even MORE adventuresome…hike 3/4 of a mile, rappel 30 meters (about 120 feet) straight down into a gorge (into 8″ of water), hike some more, rappel another 80 feet (off an arch), then hike another 2 miles or so, back to the bus. It took some work, but Joe finally convinced me to go. BOY, am I glad I did!

Our adventuresome group included me, Joe, Mark & Jessie from Boston and one of our Adventure Guides, Chris (he was going “off the clock”…both he and Mike are very “outdoorsy” guys and when Chris heard some other guests rave about the trip earlier in the year, he decided to try it out for himself the first time any of his future guests expressed interest in going). We went to the Cliffs & Canyons office and met our guide, Scott, at 2pm and after signing waivers that cleared them of our injury or death (wouldn’t THAT make some people happy? [grin]), we got into the van, which was driven by a sweet lady named Pippa (for those of you who knows “our” Pippa, YES, I KNOW, CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!?!) and her cutiepie, well-behaved 2y/o daughter, Clarae (Cla-RAY). We drove for a few minutes and traded our backpacks for their backpacks (with hiking gear) before Pippa and Clarae drove off.

A shot of Scott

Now, from this point on, I couldn’t tell you how long we hiked or where we went (although Joe, Mr. Google Earth-GPS-Man, is working on that latter one [wink]), because we were in the wilderness of the desert and I was too busy watching the scenery, watching where I was walking, watching for poison ivy, and watching the viewfinder of my camera. These pictures give a pretty accurate (but not-so-brief) account of what we did for those 4.5 hours:

Hiking the first .75 mi towards the first rappel

And hiking some more

We had a choice of jumping or climbing this V-shaped, 8′-deep deep crevasse. I climbed. Joe jumped. Neither of us were particularly graceful at how we did it

Sharon getting ready for the 1st rappel

While Joe watched

The view of the top, from what we just rappelled. There was an 80′ drop into about 8″ of (COLD!) water, followed by another 40′ rappel into the bottom of the cavern

Joe on the 1st rappel

After our first rappel

The crack in the earth between the guy taking the picture (Mark) and the guy in the picture (Adventure Guide Chris) was our 2nd rappel

Sharon on the 2nd rappel

We just climbed down THAT?!?!?!

Gathering pure mineral drinking water from a nearby spring after the 2nd rappel

Hiking the 2.25 mi back. We crossed this stream back and forth no less than 10 times

And hiking some more

We did it! The whole thing!

Pippa and Clarae were nice enough to drive us back to our Hotel, instead of back into town, which saved Tom the bus driver an extra trip since everyone else was scheduled to be back from town by then.

After a quick shower that felt REALLY good, we met the rest of the group in the main dining room at 8pm for a served dinner. Joe got the chicken breast, which he said was really good, while I had the salmon. It was yummy!

Bedtime was about 10:30pm, with happy thoughts of our next (and last) day.

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