This was day 3 of our Utah trip. On our second day in Utah we mountain-biked outside Moab and did the touristy walks in Arches NP so for our third day we were ready for a longer hike again and Druid Arch certainly fit the bill.
We began with a welcome surprise when we found the 3-mile gravel road to the Elephant Canyon trail head was in perfect condition for a low clearance car like the Fit so that meant less time on foot. With a start like that we knew it would be a great day of hiking.
After our Confluence hike two days ago we were more than well-prepared for the first 3/4's of the trip out to Druid Arch because frankly, it was easier with less changes in elevation, at least until that point.
Just before 2 miles out we came to the first descent but again it wasn't a big deal. On the way down we looked across Elephant Canyon and saw a couple packing up after an overnight at EC1, Elephant Canyon campsite #1. We thought we'd go right by them but at the bottom of the canyon we had to turn the other direction to continue on to Druid.
Not long after that we were passed by a couple, and in similar form to our Confluence experience, the woman was definitely the one in charge
, with the man following dutifully the requisite 3-5 steps behind. She seemed to be on a mission as they were cruising at a pretty good clip. We will see them later... after we beat them to the arch. More about that later.
The middle half of the hike was a matter of following the bottom of Elephant Canyon. About 5 miles out we begin our first climb up the east wall of the canyon. It's a pretty short climb but a few spots required a long stretch, long legs (which neither of us possessed), a helpful boost or a hand to pull one or the other of us up.
Once up on the ledge we followed it for maybe half a mile when we heard voices down below us. We thought it was the couple who passed us earlier but it was another couple. The man yelled up to us and said You're the lucky ones who didn't miss the turn
. Apparently he thought luck rather than skill and observation was required. But no matter, we told him about how far back they needed to go before climbing up and set off for the last segment of the hike.
On the canyon floor approach only the north 'side' of the arch is visible so you need to look closely to realize it is, in fact, right there above you. Except for the steep couple hundred foot boulder-hopping climb over and between large boulders.
Then all of a sudden, almost like Flatiron, we are up at the level part and it's a flat walk across to the viewpoint. At this point Tracey had enough climbing but I wanted to climb a few hundred feet higher for some better photos. Of course it's always easier to climb slick rock than descend so I got myself up farther than I felt comfortable coming down, but then it had to be done and so it was.
While I was up the canyon wall, the couple who passed us earlier showed up. It turns out they continued straight on right past the well-cairned turn. She was pretty much yapping non-stop when they passed in earlier so maybe she was so wrapped up in her conversation she missed the turn? And even if he knew, as the meek one he probably wasn't about to speak up. Oh well, by that time a number of others had turned up and there was enough conversation they figured out where they had to get to. After Tracey saw their misguided attempts at a photo of themselves with Druid Arch (they were FACING it so obviously it wouldn't be in the photo) she walked up and offered to take their photo. They willingly accepted.
After our quick PB&J lunch we were about to start back when the unlucky
couple showed up. Check out #36 in the photoset and you will see where they went wrong. After a short chat, although I didn't ask, I believe he was German. He claimed to be very experienced but the woman with him was pretty new to hiking and was quite intimidated by some of the climbs/descents they had been doing. Being that experienced I was a bit surprised by his missing the blatant line of rocks across the path. On our return trip we looked close and theirs were the only footprints so they weren't led there by others misfortune.
So much for all the drama of others, the return trip would have been totally uneventful if it weren't for a raven we encountered.
Initially is was up in a tree cawing loudly, then as were passing by maybe a hundred feet away, it dropped down to the ground well ahead of us then began bounding toward us. Once I realized it was going to keep coming I switched to video and let it roll as the raven kept bounding closer and closer. As big as it was I had no intention of letting it get too close before getting ready to smack it with a hiking pole... oh wait... with all the smooth rock climbing poles just got in my way so I didn't have them. Oh well, if needed I have my K-Bar clipped to my pack. Thankfully it either realized we had no food or maybe it noticed my ready to fight
look and took off.
We/I added a few side-trips so we ended up with a few more miles than expected, but it was an easy enough trail it wasn't an issue. Again I didn't want to bore with too many photos so I posted a mere 1/3 of them here on HAZ.
Full set of 120 hike photos: http://changephoenix.com/jpserver/web/public/file.php?id=610
Elephant Canyon Trail video: http://changephoenix.com/jpserver/web/public/file.php?id=611
Slot canyon video: http://changephoenix.com/jpserver/web/public/file.php?id=612
Druid Arch video: http://changephoenix.com/jpserver/web/public/file.php?id=613
Raven video: http://changephoenix.com/jpserver/web/public/file.php?id=614