Day 1: Starting with Surprises

Friday April 21, 11.1mi/17.9km

Eastern Terminus/Hwy 191 (0.0/4520ft) to Devil’s Garden Backcountry campsite (11.1/5320ft) (UT)

I woke up at my campsite just north of Moab, and drove my van to the storage place south of town. They’ll be storing my vehicle for two months while I hike this trail! The owner, Don, was very nice and gave me a ride into downtown. I was planning on hitching to the start of the trail, but I got a nice surprise. A friend from the PCT, whom I hadn’t seen since 2015, was in town! Julia saw my Instagram post tagged in Moab, and messaged me, and we ended up having coffee, and later grabbed lunch.
The coffee was DIY, but I had help, haha.

She very generously gave me a ride to the trail, and we even had some 80s music to sing along to, I’m sure all the nearby pedestrians were jealous. After a couple photos at the start, we parted ways and I was off.

I’m calling the 2nd one the terminus monument, ha! I think it was just an old piece of railroad equipment.

I hiked cross-country for a couple miles, leaving the highway behind.

After following a dirt road briefly, I crossed into Arches NP.

The rock formations began to appear.

This one was called Parallel Arch.

And the main attraction in this part was Tower Arch.

Looking back thru tower arch.

I had a snack break and met another hiker sitting there. Jake was from the Pittsburgh area, and had most recently lived in the climbing town of Fayetteville WV. Turns out that we had been to the same climbing event last May, and had probably already met before…. amazingly small world. Two surprise meetups today!

I departed the Tower Arch and marveled at the random rock formations. The trail went thru a wide crack!

This formation was called Marching Men.

Looking north at the sandstone cliff bands.

The trail ended at a gravel parking area, and I had a short 1 mile roadwalk.

And then a mile-long cross-country section thru short bushes, followed by scrambling up a short cliff. The view from the top was great, the setting sun was even shining thru the thick clouds.

I heard a noise, and saw a herd of…deer?

The last rock formation of the day was Dark Angel.

I watched the sunset, and then hiked another 30 minutes to my assigned campsite, and setup my tent in the deepening darkness. A great first day!

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