We awoke at the northern border to Arches National Park at 5am and packed up under the stars by headlamp. After a cup of coffee we were so ready to get started on our journey. In our excitement to walk we jammed on down the dirt road watching the sunrise and pushed right on past the point where we were supposed to leave the dirt road and bushwhack up the mesa that ran parallel to us on our left. About a mile or so further when we stopped to apply sunscreen we pulled out our maps and realized our error. We hopped off trail and began to slog at a diagonal through the bushes and sand of Salt Valley, we then picked our way up the boulders until we reached the top of the ridge at a spire called Dark Angel. From there we spent some time wandering amongst the fins and canyons trying to find the trail that we should be joining in the are. We pulled out our maps and GPS, got a bit frustrated at our slower pace due to route finding and back tracked to head in the direction our instinct had originally told us. As soon as we reached a rise we found a series of trails which ultimately led to day hikers, followed by many day hikers, followed by bus loads of people all crowding down the narrow paths to see the nearby arches. We zoomed by all of the photo ops crowded with people, quickly taking in the scenery and trying to get out of the madness as soon as possible. We covered the four trail miles quickly to reach a campground where we planned to fill up on water. It was around 11am and it was starting to get hot. I stuck my head under the cold faucet and then soaked my shirt, both felt amazing. After filling our bottles we headed back out in hopes of heading a little further down the trail to stop for a mid day lunch/avoid the heat siesta stop. The shortcut trail on our map that led back to our route could not be found however as we kept running into high pour offs and impassible cliffs. We saw where we needed to go, but we could not get there. Frustrated, hot and hungry we decided to stop for lunch at the impassable rock wall in a wonderfully shaded area. After food, a break, a short nap and a little fun together we were in much better spirits and ready to try and find our route through the wall.
We re-checked a pour off we had previously deemed too high and decided that if we removed our packs we could scramble/slide down the rock to an indent where we could then jump the final six feet. I went first, Goose lowered the packs and then Shilo (via a hook on her pack and a rope which helped her walk down the rock wall) to me and followed us down.We were happy to have made it past our obstacle, but in the full blaze of the 4pm sun we realized we had left our cool, shaded lunch spot too soon. I pulled out my Golite reflective umbrella, something I had initially thought I did not want to carry but quickly realized the portable shade was going to make a huge difference in my ability to handle the full desert sun, and we headed out to find the next dirt road which would lead to an under ground pipeline which we were to follow for a couple of miles.By the time we reached that pipeline around 5pm both Shilo and I were too hot to continue so we all hunkered down in the shade of some juniper trees where we now sit waiting out the heat just a little longer. We have about 10 more miles to an area called courthouse wash where we plan to jump into the stream and make camp for the night. I think we are all looking forward to reaching that desination.