Hiking to Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

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(Did you know it’s the Centennial Celebration of the National Parks? It is! The National Parks Service is officially celebrating their 100th birthday on August 25th. I absolutely love and respect the National Park Service and plan on doing a whole bunch of National Park posts this month. Check out my last post about Rocky Mountain and next up is this one, Arches National Park….)

A couple of weekends ago, my boyfriend and I got the chance to make a quick visit to Moab, Utah. I had never been before, and Ben had a guiding opportunity for the area so when a friend cancelled plans with me back in town, I jumped at the opportunity to go with!

Sunrise near Fischer's Towers

Sunrise near Fischer’s Towers

We drove out on a Friday night, camped in my new Jeep Renegade and were up before the sun the next morning. While Ben met with his client, I got my running clothes on, loaded up with water (it is after all the desert) and laced up my trail shoes.

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Shot with my Go Pro Hero 4

We were all super lucky that it was an unusual day in the desert and even thought is was 90 degrees at 8am, it didn’t feel like that with the overcast skies. I got a great run/hike in around Fisher’s towers in Castle Vally outside of Moab.

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Once Ben was done working, we had a lot of time to spare before we had to head back to Golden, so we decided to check out Arches National Park, another place I had never been. I have always seen pictures of the Delicate Arch and always have wanted to see it in person.

Ben was tired

Ben was tired

We entered the park via the main entrance. There’s only one other way to get into the park, which is the way we exited, but it’s through the north most part of the park via a dirt county road and it not well-marked. At all.

After passing the other amazing vistas and landmarks of Arches (Tower of Babel, Courthouse Towers) and taking the best picture of Balance Rock, we made our way to the trailhead for Delicate Arch.

Help preserve the national parks by holding up Balanced Rack.

Help preserve the national parks by holding up Balanced Rack.

Thinking we were still having great luck with the weather, we left our car with only two 16.9 oz bottles of water even when the signs recommended two liters per person. Sure enough, the sun finally came out in full blaze and we were hiking in 110 degree heat.

We didn’t turn back because in our heads, we thought we were pretty fit people and didn’t need more water than we had. We kept going, after all it is only a three mile hike, round trip! Little did we  know (ok maybe Ben did, but I didn’t) that we would be hiking 50% of the time on rock, feeling like we were in a  microwave.

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We went through our water before we even reached the arch. Ben even gave me 90% of his water. Needless to say, we probably we suffering from heat exhaustion.

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Worth it? Totally. The arch was incredible! (Please note, I don’t recommend heat exhaustion at all. Learn from me and trust the signs; bring 2 liters of water during the hot summer months.) With polite people waiting in a line, I got my desired picture under that arch.

If you look closely, I'm under the arch! Bucket list: check!

If you look closely, I’m under the arch! Bucket list item: check!

We started our way down, making friends with a family from Texas and back to our air-conditioned car.

We really wanted to do the seven hour mile to see Private Arch, Landscape arch and more, but we just didn’t have enough time. All that means is we get to go back – maybe during a less-hot time.

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As I mentioned before, we decided to leave through the other entrance, a long, un marked dirt road. There is one more view this way, Tower Arch, that not many make it to. You can either park and hike three miles round trip or take a 4WD road. Having just bought my new jeep, I really wanted to try the 4WD trail….

4WD Fail

4WD Fail

Let’s just say, I need more 4WD practice… Ben and I had a good laugh as I stalled my car many times and got stuck in the deep sand. Maybe next time!

Getting there:

  • You can to Arches National Park via Highway 191 or 128 through Utah off I-70.
  • Highly suggest entering from the main entrance on the south side of the park.
  • Park Website

Tips:

  • Seriously, bring LOTS of water. It is after all a desert.
  • Although not a big National Park, the trails are pretty strenuous and take a lot of time. Plan for at least one FULL day or a couple of days in the park to get the best of Arches.
  • We camped (in the Jeep) out side of the park, in BLM land for $15 a night.
  • Enjoy Moab! There’s a lot of things to do in and out of the park! We noticed signs for zip lines, rafting, 4WD trips, and more!

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Run Like the Wind – Pre-Race Prep

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This weekend, I’m tackling race number two for 2016. I’m also checking off state number 13 and half marathon number 13! That’s pretty awesome, but I’m not sure how the race itself will go.

On Sunday, I am taking on the trails of Ellensburg, Washington. As many times as I’ve been to Washington I have yet to run a race there.   There’s a ton of great ones, yet the timing has never worked out.

Growing up, my Mom and I went out to Washington to visit my Grandparents, Aunts, and Uncles about once a year. At the time, my Grandparents lived in Snohomish, a small town outside of Seattle. As I got older, the trips weren’t as often, but I’ve still been out there a quite a few times, visiting Ellensburg instead, when my Grandparents moved to the other side of the mountains.

Visiting my grandparents as a kid. That's at Mount Saint Helens

Visiting my grandparents as a kid. That’s at Mount Saint Helen’s

Last year, if you remember I went out there sometime at the end of the summer to see my family. This time, my visit comes in conjunction with my Grandpa’s  memorial service. My Grandpa passed away at the end of last year.  We decided to hold the memorial service until his birthday so that it would not coincide with the holidays and give people time to plan the trip.

Knowing when I’d be traveling, I looked for a race in Washington. Bingo, I found one the weekend before, in the same town my Grandparents live in! The Run Like the Wind Running Festival is actually in Ellensburg, WA. It was a sign; I just had to do it! My Grandpa wasn’t a runner (that I know of) but running is my way to cope with life so I’m running this race in his honor. It might not mean much to any one else, but that’s how I can process him being gone and remember him.

My Grandpa and I were buds! I'm a lot like him now as I've gotten older!

My Grandpa and I were buds! I’m a lot like him now as I’ve gotten older.

My boyfriend is joining me, along with one of his friends. We have taken this week off from work to make it all around trip. I will fly out while Ben and his friend drive out. This whole trip will consist of me running a race, Ben and his friend climbing Mt. Rainier, family time, Grandpa’s memorial service and a road trip back to Colorado.  Knocking off a lot of things with one stone!

The Race Prep:

They call this a trail running festival. We’ll see how their trail race compares to those out here in Colorado. 😉 The course description says there’s still about 10% on the road so I’m not sure if my Roost MUT Team (the Mountain and Ultra race team I am on) will be impressed our not. Either way, trail race or not, it looks like a fun event..and hard!

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The race is hosted on the Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility, hence the name Run Like the Wind. The trail description says you wind through the facility and get to run right next to the turbines! Cool, huh!? They also “promise” gorgeous views! Don’t worry, I’ll be running with my camera (mainly so I have a phone for when I die on the course).

I’m really excited about the course, even if it is hard, because it looks really cool judging from the description and the pictures on Facebook. I’m also really excited about the finish line for a few reasons:

1. I’ll be done with another state checked off.

2. There’s beer, a band and a wide array of finisher’s food!

3. The finisher’s medal looks SWEET!

4. My Grandma and Uncle will be waiting for me! That’s a new experience for me!

Now, just have to get through the actual 13.1 miles…

5d29f3393a55ec10c8982120a306e32f_1aj5The Actual Race Prep:

So… my training hasn’t been that great. Actually it’s been pretty awful. In fact, it’s pretty nonexistent. Don’t judge me. I’ve been lucky to get in three days a week of running and my longest run was about 8 or 9 miles, about a month ago. This is has been a lot to do with my schedule (working four jobs) and a couple of teams I have joined (my running team has obligations and I joined a volleyball league).

The lack of training is largely due to me being exhausted from doing all that. To be completely fair, if I was slightly more motivated, I’m sure I could have squeezed a full-fledged training program in there, but  that would have meant me being  even more exhausted (if that’s even possible) and less time to spend with my boyfriend.

I’m not here to play the “I’m busier than you game.” It is what it is.

The good thing: I did get in a 2 hour run (only 7.5 miles but on an intense trail) about two weeks ago. Take that however you want.

My plan:

Since I’ll be lucky if I have any sort of long distance endurance built up, I plan on taking it easy. My goal is to JUST FINISH. Oh, it’s going to hard to not go out strong in the beginning. There’s alway that little competitive me in the back of my head urging me to burn myself out, but I’m going to have to duck tape that little competitive me’s mouth shut.

I’m not going to like time. It’s going be painfully slow. I’m going to cringe when I see it. It’ll most likely be the slowest I have ever been.

But I’m going to have to just accept it.

I plan on going out at a nice steady pace; maybe even taking a one to two-minute walking break every mile. That way I don’t completely exhausted myself, or injure myself, before I’m walking the whole second half of the race!

There’s no sense in hurting myself just to get a good time. I can still get a new state, sweet medal by taking it easy and just finishing. I’m not going to drop down to a shorter distance because, frankly, I want a medal from the state of Washington!

At least I’ll come away with good pictures!

So if you would like to follow my clumsy journey in Washington, follow me on Instagram or Twitter. I’ll be sure to bring you up to date info of my race! 🙂

Your turn: Would you do this race, given a lack of training, to reach a goal (racing all the states)? Or are you super competitive and if you can’t do well, drop out?

Racing & Wandering: The Improved Racing the States

You may have noticed a few changes, and not just visually.

Right away you may have noticed a new layout and photo! Those are all photos I’ve taken on adventures around home and other places I’ve been to.

You may have also noticed I changed my blog’s name. It is now Racing & Wandering by Racing the States. Don’t worry, my website is still found via http://www.RacingTheStates.wordpress.com (some day I’ll buy my domain name).

Besides the name change, Racing the States is becoming more of a lifestyle blog, but not in the sense that you’re thinking. I’m not going to write about what color to paint your nails this spring or the cutest fall outfits to hit the town in… it’s more about my specific lifestyle. It’s about trying to balance my love for adventure, travel and the outdoors with the need to fund it all. It’s about how to do be active, adventurous, and explore the world and be able to pay for it all.

This means you’ll see more of my adventures including climbing, hiking, backpacking, camping and traveling in addition to my running. You’ll also see tips on how to balance all of that and do it cheaply, efficiently and still have fun…all the while maintaining a healthy life. I’d love to share more about things to do and what to see.

Never fret, I’ll still be writing about running…expect to see more post about places to run, running-related reviews, training and race recaps.

So, welcome back! Navigate around! You’ll find a menu about with info on who I am, my original project, Racing the States, a quick link to places to run, and a list of blogs I follow and love reading.

Stay awhile, read a bit and follow along as I take on the world while Racing and Wandering!

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  1. Hanging Lakes, Colorado (2015)
  2. Oahu, Hawaii (2005)
  3. Costa Rica (2011)
  4. Breckenridge, Colorado (2014)
  5. Death Valley, California (2016)
  6. Oregon (2015)
  7. Joshua Tree National Park, California (2016)
  8. London (2015)
  9. Kuai, Hawaii (2005)

A. Runner’s Roost Mountain and Ultra Team Ambassador

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D. Bobo’s Oat Bars Ambassador

 

First adventure of 2016: COMPLETE.

Back to life, back to reality. I always repeat that song (in my head) when I get back from a vacation. Although, I have been back for two weeks and only now am finding time to finish this post.

We got back home last week, two weeks ago. It was 1am Monday morning, bed at 2am (a shower was a must after 10 days of camping), and back to the grind at 6am.

But what a wonderful adventure we had! Here’s a quick-ish view of our vacation! I would love to go in more detail on a few of our stops in some future posts.

New Years

We weren’t planning on starting our vacation until the first of the year but we decided to take an extra day and go up to Buena Vista, CO to the Mt. Princeton Resort. My friend is in a big swing band, William and the Romantics, and they were playing that night, New Year’s Eve! It was a blast! We rang in the new year by attempting to swing dance, soaking in the hot springs and hanging out with friends. It was lovely.

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Death Valley

Quickly after 2016 arrived, we headed straight to bed to get up the next morning and start the long drive to California. The plan: drive as long as we can before we needed to sleep.

We made it to Death Valley! We decided to camp there since neither of us had been before. Plus, it was free! We arrived way after sun had set and couldn’t see a thing out our car window in the dark park. We found our intended camp ground, set up the tent and went to bed. We woke up the next morning to some fantastic views!

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View from the campground

View from the campground

Since we were already there, we decided to venture around the park and check it out. We visited the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Artist’s Palate, and went for a short, shake out run to Darwin Falls. We even saw some coyotes!

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Mesquite flat sand dunes

 

Artist's Palate

Artist’s Palate

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Coyotes

Darwin Falls

Darwin Falls

Lone Pine/Mt. Whitney

With daylight still around, we decided to set up camp at our next destination in Lone Pine. The plan: to hike the mountaineer’s route of Mt. Whitney the next day.

After eating a fulfilling dinner (spaghetti before a big day, duh!), we went to bed to wake up at 2am to start the long hike.

We didn’t summit the 14er (the tallest one in the lower 58 states), but we got in a great hike and my first attempt at mountaineering. The route/hike was a little harder than I had anticipated (I’m sure Ben could have blazed up and down the thing, twice) and I was already feeling worn out with 2/3 of the hike left. Plus this my first time doing anything like this, wearing mountaineer’s boots and crampons. We turned around at the three-mile mark, Boy Scout Lake, which already had an elevation gain of 2,000 feet! I learned a lot and want to go back and try again…maybe during the summer months!

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Sleep was nice that night but it was another cold night in Lone Pine. They next day we checked out the Alabama Hills, where a ton of movies and commercials were filmed. We learned all about it with a stop at the Film History Museum of Lone Pine. A ton of Westerns, Ganga Din, parts of Django Unchained, a scene from Iron Man, Tremors, parts of Star Wars, and a TON more were all film here!

the Alabama hills..interesting rocks!

The Alabama hills..interesting rocks!

San Diego and the Zoo

After the museum…we got right back in the car and navigated our way to San Diego! Oh the traffic – oh the horrors! Both my boyfriend and I can’t stand traffic and boy was there a lot in that part of the world! But we made it to our campground, the San Diego Metro KOA, took advantage of the shower situation (there was one!), cooked dinner and decided to try a local brewery, Iron First Brewing!

That’s when the rain started….for the next three days.

The following morning, we packed up our tent and straight to the zoo!!! I have always wanted to visit the San Diego Zoo! I heard it’s one of the best, plus they have PANDAS! We spent most of the day wandering the huge zoo, in the rain, and tried to see every animal they had. The rain was sorta BEAR-able (pun intended) for most of the morning into the afternoon, but later it started pouring on us. We stuck it out, determined to make the most of the situation and see the zoo since we’re only there once!

Baby Bonobo!

Baby Bonobo!

 

It's a PANDA!

It’s a PANDA!

 

Bucket list item checked off!

Bucket list item checked off!

Joshua Tree

After drying off in the car, we made the trek to Joshua Tree National Park. We had a nail-biting drive over some mountain pass where the intense, once-a-year, rain washed microwave sized rocks into the road. On the end of our nerves, we set up camp in the short break between rain storms, cooked some quick dinner and fast to sleep.

The plan was to climb in Joshua Tree…while we did eventually accomplish this, there were a few struggles, both personal and environmental.

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Obstacle #1 while climbing Joshua Tree: Cold Weather. What I learned from our vacation is that I don’t like climbing in the cold. It hurts! With the morning free of rain, we attempted to find some climbing, but rain free does not equal cold free. I am now on a mission to make the best climbing glove.

Cholla cactus

Cholla cactus

Obstacle #2: Cracks: Oh geez. To my non-climber friends, it isn’t what it sounds like. If you are a climber you’ll understand: Crack climbing is HARD! At least I think so. I have not really done any of this, so this was a first attempt. It feels like you’re going to break your feet, hands and arms. If you are not a climber, picture this: You wedge your toes and hands in a crack between two rocks and pull, repeatedly, to get to the top. It was very uncomfortable. I was told I would learn to like it. We’ll see…

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Obstacle #3: (Me) Being a scaredy cat! As told to me by the Boyfriend: “Joshua Tree is a very old school type of climbing.” That being said, a lot of the routes felt way harder than they were rated and even getting down from a climb was an obstacle. One down climb in particular left me in tears.

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Triumph #1: On our last day in Joshua Tree, the sun finally came out. We got a few routes in. My ever so wonderful boyfriend sacrificed climbing a lot harder routes to put up a top rope for me so I could (painstakingly) practice. I also discovered that I kinda like slab climbing (where you use less upper body and more leg/feet placement and core). I practiced a little bit more of this crack climbing stuff and still am undecided on if I “like” it.

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The Hoover Dam and Lake Mead

Sadly, we packed up camp at Joshua Tree. I actually did really liked it there. I would love to go back (with more crack climbing practice under my belt) and give it another go, but it was time to make the journey back toward Colorado. The plan to was to see the Hoover Dam on Saturday and wake up Sunday morning and make the 12 mile drive back.

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However, as shown before, the only sure thing about a plan is it will change. We arrived at the Hoover Dam in the afternoon, thinking we could just get right in and take a tour. No, that is not the case. The full tour does, indeed, sell out (much to my dismay after searching the website intensively). Having our hearts set on the full tour, we decided to walk around the top of the dam, take pictures and come back the next morning to be the FIRST people in line to get on the FIRST tour.

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We camped nearby at Lake Mead National Recreation Center which was definitely beautiful despite being noisy (the National Recreation center campground was full of RV’s that liked to run their generators at night).

Lake Mead

Lake Mead

The next morning, with a belly full of pancakes, we packed up the tent, one last time, and arrived at the Hoover Dam, again. We did get on the very FIRST tour and we VERY impressed and glad we decided to come back. After getting our fill of the Hoover Dam, we hopped back in the car and proceeded to spend the next 21 hours driving.

Picture from INSIDE the Dam!

Picture from INSIDE the Dam!

Home

That brings us full circle, arriving back home Monday, 2am.