2019 Running Trip – Day 4 – Arches National Park

Our alarm clock went off at 6:00am at the Fruita Campground in Capitol Reef National Park, and in 15 minutes, we had camp packed up. We’re getting better at this! Arches National Park near Moab, Utah was our destination for the day. Leaving at 6:15am would get us to one of our stops around sunrise – Goblin Valley State Park.

On the way, we were welcomed with gentle skies and unique structures.

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The drive was so immaculate that I had to capture a Runner’s Choice. We pulled over to the side of the road, and I thanked Adam & Lindsey Good. Adam and I are just a few weeks apart in age, and have a great time whenever we are together. Our kids went to daycare with their two adorable sons (Will & Tommy), so it was great to see so many Goods in one place. I definitely already miss seeing those two nearly every day. You too Lindsey!

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Goblin Valley State Park is one of those places that you have to wonder if it’s even real. The best comparison to this place would be Mars? As you can see, we arrived at an awesome time with the sun rising. Check out all of those little goblins! I thanked my colleague Debbie Smith for her ongoing and incredible support of my trips. She’s generally one of the first 5 people to donate to my effort each year. You’re the best Debbie!

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Zim visiting the goblins.

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An up-close view of the structures.

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Zim drove us to Moab as I typed furiously getting yesterday’s blog post out. In the past few years, I’ve started to have dreams about being on these trips and not being able to get my blog posts out. It’s starting to become a problem. With limited WiFi at Capitol Reef, I had to take advantage of the van time. Just over an hour later, we were at the welcome sign for Arches National Park. Here, I thanked the late Adria Brown. I never had a chance to meet Adria, but her husband Ron is my sister-in-law Lauren’s good friend. With his donation, Ron mentioned that Adria adored National Parks, and I was honored to thank her on this trip. Thanks Ron.

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Arches National Park is adjacent to the Colorado River and 4 miles north of Moab, Utah. More than 2,000 natural sandstone arches are located in the park, and the park received more than 1.6 million visitors in 2018. It’s a busy place, even in late October. Through Arches is one road that takes you on a route past many of the major landmarks. The first major landmark is Park Ave., and you can see why they call it that.

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I thanked Debbie Smith once again for her donation. Debbie is from New York, so the link made some sense.

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After a mile jog to get the blood flowing, we jumped back into the car until we reached Three Sisters. I get a big kick out of the names associated with rocks. They nailed this one. It definitely looks like three sisters. I thanked my mom and dad again for their donation. This structure was one of my mom’s favorites when they traveled this region.

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Our next stop was Balanced Rock, also accurately named. I visited Arches National Park years back during a Phi Delt board retreat. I vividly remember this rock, and I remember taking a picture of my friend Jeff Davis pretending to hold it up. The stop brought back great memories. I thanked Roger & Paula Griffith for their donation. Parents of my great friend Travis, Roger & Paula have played a special role in my life. I need to travel with Roger at some point, because I think he’d enjoy my pace. Frankly, I’d probably have a tough time keeping up with him!

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Our next stop was Eden’s Garden, a collection of structures with paths running in and out of them. We had a few long hikes in our near future, so we stopped for a quick picture to thank Ron Brown.

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Next we stopped at the Windows, after struggling to find a parking spot among construction. We were warned about the traffic in Arches, and we definitely felt it. Another big thanks to my mom and dad for their amazing support to me. I live a mile from my folks, and I’ll tell you, I’m one of the lucky ones.

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The Fiery Furnace overlook was our next stop. You can take back country hikes from Fiery Furnace and camp among the rocks. I tried to FaceTime my pal Brad Carlson from his donation spot for a live thank you, but I just missed him. Brad and I go way back to our days at Iowa State. We studied abroad together, were in each others’ weddings, and know each other like the back of our own hands. Brad joined me on a previous running trip. Appreciate you Bradley!

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It was time for our first big hike of the day to see the famous Delicate Arch. The arch is so popular it made the Utah state license plate. I almost guarantee that you’ve seen this arch at some point in your lifetime. The hike is a strenuous 3 miles but completely worth the effort.

A look at Zim admiring the view just before we reached Delicate Arch.

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Here it is folks, one of the United State’s most treasured natural landmarks. We sat down and fueled up while we admired the arch. As I thanked Mike “Scar” Scarlatelli again for his donation, some friendly folks from Kansas who were sitting behind us asked, “Excuse me, what is Scar?” I then had to explain this guy named Scar without using any words that would offend them.

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Zim doing his candid thing. You may think I was looking at the arch, but in all reality, I was mean glaring at the couple in front of us doing some heavy petting. I guess the arch sparks romance too.

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Zim adding to his collection of senior photos on this trip.

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As we were admiring the arch, we noticed two people alone on a cliff at the opposite side of the arch. “We gotta get over there,” said Zim. I was initially hesitant of adding on some mileage, but I’m glad I went with his idea. We were the only ones there! Not many people get this angle on Delicate Arch!

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We paced down to the car quickly and hit one more spot before checking into our campsite. The Skyline Arch is just south of Devil’s Garden Campsite and once again has a name that fits the view. I thanked my hometown friends Brad & Lindsay Klein. I grew up with these two, and to this day, they are two of my favorite people with whom to hang. Instant fun.

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There is one campground in Arches National Park, and it has approximately 30 campsites. We were lucky enough to get one of them when we booked months ago. It pays to be a planner friends! If you think about it, we were one of 30 car loads in the National Park overnight. Pretty awesome for a place so heavily trafficked. As we prepared for our big hike of the day, I thanked Kerrie Herren. Kerrie, a former colleague and now principle in the Kansas City area, was my running buddy back in the day. I continue to see him a few times a year at Phi Delt conferences. Thanks Kerrie!

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Our late afternoon/early evening would consist of a 7.5 mile hike on the Devil’s Garden primitive loop. Going into the hike, I’m not sure we realized how wiped out we would be at the finish. The hike features two main arches – Double O and Landscape. You can take the easier main route to see these two, or you can take the primitive loop if you’re a sucker for punishment that comes with great views. Along the way, we found a fun cave that was clear of snakes, so we stopped to thank my nephew Graham. I pictured Graham’s rambunctious self running around these rocks, jumping in and out of the cave, flossing, and then punching me in the groin. Love that kid.

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It was onward to the beautiful Double O Arch. The trail that we were on was not the most well-marked trail we’ve been on, so you had to really pay attention to where you were going. Luckily, there were others on the trail. Check out this beauty of an arch!

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I thanked Mike & Deb Seladcek again for their donation. This might be one of my favorite thank you sign pics of the trip. We were there at the absolutely perfect time of day.

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We definitely took 20+ wrong turns during this hike, but we had plenty of time, food, and water to make such mistakes. If you hike, please do me a favor and download the AllTrails app. It came to our rescue a number of times during this hike.

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Our final landmark for the day was Landscape Arch. Once again, hiking at sundown is amazing! Thanks again April & David for your donation, and I’m still waiting for your 5 cities list. 🙂

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We headed back to camp. In total, we hiked/ran 16 miles during the day. We were in shambles physically and both needed a shower. That wasn’t going to happen unfortunately. I used the trusty van as my locker room to change into my comfy sweatpants and LUCKIEST LiveLikeLou shirt. Thanks again Scott Lynch!

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Another look at our campsite. It doesn’t get any better than this. We started a fire, boiled some water, ate some ramen, and struggled big time through two beers before we were zonked out at 8:30pm. What a day!

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Onward to Canyonlands National Park.

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