Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Part 3 - Arches National Park: From the Viewpoint of a Chubby Girl Whose Biggest Fear is Heights
Day 3: Delicate Arch
Sunday Morning I woke up feeling like I had been run over by a truck, the truck then backed up over me, and instead of finishing the job, dragged me for a few blocks before leaving me for dead. I’ve said many times in my life, “Every inch of my body hurts”, but this is the first time it was really true. The parts of my body that didn’t hurt from 11 hours of hiking hurt from stressing. And on top of it all, I had that creepy feeling in my head like I was coming down with a cold. But it was our last day in Arches so we got out of bed and headed straight for Delicate Arch.
The hike up to Delicate Arch is 1.5 miles of nothing but uphill rock. After 2days of hiking and many challenges along the way, Delicate Arch is probably the most strenuous as far as the uphill part goes. A good part of it is spent on one gigantic steep rock. We started the hike and I could see the rock up ahead and all of the tiny people moving up it. It’s quite a sight from afar and I really questioned whether or not I was going to make it. But I wasn’t going to wimp out of the last hike of our trip. The weather had been nice to us all weekend, it was pretty cool and I wore a hoodie through all of the hiking. But on Sunday the sun was out and it had warmed up a bit. And with the steep climb, it had warmed up a lot!
Our guide from the Furnace, Casey, had told us that she finds the hike to Delicate Arch to be the most boring hike ever, but once you get to the top it’s well worth it. It was indeed quite uneventful. We made a lot of stops so I could catch my breath and guzzle water. Then about 5 minutes before we came around the corner to view the arch, quite suddenly we were on the highest ledge of all. The remainder of the trail was on a narrow ledge curving around the side of the mountainous rock. Before we continued on the trail, Bruce climbed up to a small arch in the rock to our right, through which he could see Delicate Arch. So he assured me that we were almost there. (Double YIKES!) I got as close to the wall as I possibly could, walked very slowly holding onto the rock wall with my right hand. My left hand I had up by my face, using it as a blinder so I couldn’t see the edge. I’m sure I looked crazy but it was either that or faint and fall to my death.
I crept my way around the corner of the towering rock and there it was in all its glory! It really is quite a sight to behold. I’ve seen Delicate Arch in pictures and of course on license plates, but never realized how huge it is. It stands about 60 feet high. People (crazy people) were standing, running, and even dancing around underneath the arch to get pictures. I was perfectly happy standing and looking from afar. From the point where I was standing we could see the arch from across a sort of deep bowl shape in the rock. The bowl is maybe 50 yards across and on a steep slope all the way around. In order to get over to stand underneath the arch you have to walk around the C-shaped rim of this bowl. But on the other side of the arch is the drop-off that I didn’t want to catch a glimpse of. So when Bruce asked me to go with him I said, “No chance, you go ahead, I’ll take your picture from right here!” So he went without me and I stayed back with all of the other scaredy cats. But Bruce soon returned to tell me it was perfectly safe with plenty of room to walk and he really wanted me to go with him. Yikes again! So I went for it. He held my hand and showed me where to walk where it wasn’t such a steep slant. But going all the way under the arch looked a little too scary. The walkway really narrows the closer you get. But some guys offered to take our picture if I dared. So I took a few deep breaths and did it. My advice to anyone who has the height issues or newly found vertigo issues that I have: Don’t look up at the arch while you’re standing! Bad idea! Sit down first and then look up.
After we took a few pictures I got outta there. The thought occurred to me, what if this thing falls? It IS, after all, called Delicate Arch! But Bruce discovered that you could actually climb down the other side of the arch and he wanted to go take some pictures so I planted my rear end safely on the rim of the rock bowl and waited for him. Now that I was sitting there gazing at Delicate Arch for the first time, it really is sad, I thought, that one day it will fall, as will all of the arches. But I suppose new ones will form, just as these ones did.
On the downhill hike to the back to the car, Bruce told me how proud he was of me for doing all that I had done that weekend. And I was feeling really proud of myself! We had done everything we said we would do. And everything that I said, “Heck NO! I’m not doing that!” – I did anyway.
I suppose I wrote this blog for a couple of reasons. Bruce wanted me to do it, I think because he thinks that if I write about my good experiences I won’t get down on myself as much as I do, and I’ll be less likely to give up on this whole journey of liking myself better. I also did it to encourage anyone who maybe has some of the same fears that I have, some of the same issues that I have. If there’s something you’ve been wanting to do but think that you can’t, just think of that scared chubby girl, who made it through 13 hours of hiking in 3 days, over ridiculous heights, slippery, steep rock, and lived to tell about it. Sure, she cried a few times, wanted to turn back a few times, but in the end, drove out of Arches National Park looking forward to her next adventure and feeling like she could really do anything.
I couldn’t be happier to be married to someone who lives to encourage me and see me happy. He is really the only reason I did any of this, and the reason I look forward to more adventures. But if he thinks that bungee jumping or sky diving is ever gonna happen, he’s got another think coming. The end.