“And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.”-
Gilbert K. Chesterton
Deluges and rambunctiousness. That’s what Arches National Park is. But we’ll get to that in a second.
It hit 30 degrees in my tent last night . I turned in early but didn’t get much sleep. It wasn’t from the cold, I was warm as could be. It was more the headache from the elevation and the fact that a I was wrapped like a sardine in that sleeping bag, I really couldn’t find a good position to get comfortable. I woke up at about 5am and when I poked my head out of my bag, the blast of cold Rocky Mountain air hit me square in the face. There was no way I was going back to sleep now. I was the only tent camper in the campground so I gladly made my way to the main building in the dark and took the longest steaming hot shower off my life. To go from 30 degrees to a 120 degree shower was almost a vacation in itself. I packed up and left before they even opened the office.
Taking I-70 west out of Denver is the most beautiful drive I’ve ever seen. You climb the Rockies and end up in a narrow pass (can’t remember the name) which is like another planet. There’s an elevated road that twists and turns like a Disney World ride, so much that it’s very surreal. In fact, they drop the speed limit to about 40mph there and you drive the entire pass that way. But the crazy thing is that the opposite direction is below you, almost directly at times. I wish I could have gotten a better picture, but again, there was nowhere to stop.
Entering Arches National Park is beautiful. After flashing my annual pass, the road takes you up a very steep set of switchbacks until you climb up and over the plateau. I’d swear I was on Mars, looking at the landscape. I stop at a few pull offs to snap some photos. As I do it starts to drizzle. There are hundreds of photos I want to take, but with the hint of rain, I want to set up camp first then venture out.
Now, on to the ridiculousness.
There is a family camped out across from me with two SCREAMING kids. And I mean SCREEEEEAAAAMING. At the top of their lungs. About everything. I could hear them half way across the canyon and it’s awesome that they’re right across the road from me. They are trying to set up this Grand Central Station of a tent and it’s blowing around in the wind. I’m mildly amused at their hardship. That’s karma for letting their kids run wild. Wait, shouldn’t they be in school? That’s why I take my trips this time of year. I’m reporting them. I have loaded my tranquilizer gun, but I’m waiting until nightfall to put them down.
There is a German couple next to me and the husband is barking things at his wife in German like it’s WWII. He damned near backed over the picnic table with their rent-a-RV. She started screaming at him in German to stop. (NEIN! NEIN! NEIN!) They’ve had their generator running since they got here. It adds to the ambiance of the pristine canyon.
There is a group of teenagers whose voices are just going through puberty that think it’s cool to scream into the rock formations and hear their falsettos echo back at them. I think I can ninja kill them in their sleep though so that’s ok. That is, if the towering rocks they’re climbing to the very top of don’t do it for me. Their parents don’t even care that their kids can easily fall to their death at any moment. I wouldn’t go up where they are without a harness of some kind.
I decide to get away from all of this by setting out on a hike.
There’s a loop close to the campsite so I’ll take that. Halfway into the loop, at my furthest point out, the sky opens up and pours down rain. My camera gear immediately goes in to the dry bag (I use for kayaking) and I start huffing it back toward camp. With the rain comes thunder, and with the thunder comes wind. Lots and lots of wind. I had staked my tent down before I left but I know better than to think that will hold, so I tied it off to a tree too. I’m drenched from head to toe, my boots are covered in wet sand and I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that I got the camera gear in the bag fast enough. There’s nowhere to hide. I can’t just dive in my tent because I’ll be sleeping in there later and I’d rather not sleep on dirt/sand/water/wet socks. What a mess. Rain is blowing sideways so hard it hurts my face. I grab my rain gear from the Jeep, bundle a clean/dry set of clothes inside it and head to the tent where I systematically remove one article of clothing and put that body part in the dry tent. It was a something I’ve now patented as the “Chad Maneuver™”. Once in the tent and in dry clothes, I weather the storm clear through until morning.
I have half a day planned here tomorrow. This park is absolutely beautiful, but this campground is too crowded. I’d recommend staying outside the park or in the back country. I guess nothing can be 100% perfect. Rain or shine, tomorrow I’m exploring some of the 4×4 trails!