After my hike through Bell and Little Wildhorse Canyons I was feeling pretty good. The day had started badly but had turned out well. It turned out that I made the right decision by not panicing and heading for home when I didn't feel well. I got over it quickly and had a great hike. But I have to admit that I wasn't too excited about my (very limited) choices for dinner in Green River. It was probably a fluke but my stomach was protesting the thought of eating at any of the places there. No reason to repeat a mistake. Since I had nothing better to do with the rest of the afternoon and evening, I decided to drive to Moab where I had lots of good choices for dinner. I figured that it would only take forty five minutes (turned out that it took an hour). I was also starting to have the crazy idea that maybe after dinner I could do another hike - to see Delicate Arch at sunset. And oh yeah, one more thing. They have good tshirt shops in Moab while there isn't a thing in Green River. You probably didn't know that I like to get souvenir tshirts when I go on trips.
For dinner I decided on Pasta Jay's, right on the main street in downtown Moab. They have a nice patio and it was a beautiful late afternoon/early evening. It was very pleasant sitting there after a good day's hike. I have to admit that my dinner was just ok. Sandy and I had dinner there two years ago on our last trip to Moab and had a similar experience, so I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who was planning a visit. But I also have to admit that ok was a big improvement over dinner the night before.
After dinner I made a quick trip to the tshirt shirt shop and bought a tshirt and a cap with "Arches National Park" on it and a picture of Delicate Arch. That settled it - I had to go do the hike. The Park entrance is only a few miles from town so it was a quick drive. I was surprised that a few minutes after six the entrance gates were still open. I thought that I would get in for free that late in the day. As long as I had to pay I bought an annual park pass. Now I have to do lots of national park trips over the next twelve months to get my money's worth.
It's only a mile and a half and 750 feet of elevation gain from the trailhead to the arch. I made it in about forty minutes. I hustled a little because I wasn't sure exactly what time the sun went down, but I made it with plenty of light left. I didn't know exactly what to expect since you can't see the arch until the very end of the hike. The standard view of the arch is looking toward the east. I had been there twice before but always early in the morning. Then the arch is backlit so even on nice days the pictures aren't ideal. But I wasn't sure if the rock formation that hides the arch as you approach on the trail would block the light from the sun when it was low in the west. But when I turned the last corner and saw the arch it was spectacular, beautifully lit with it's natural red color enhanced by the soft golden light of the sun as it was about to set. Although I had thought it was kind of crazy to drive all this way and then hike up after dinner, now I felt like a genius. The view was incredible.
I stayed about half an hour. I took lots of pictures. Mostly I just stared at the arch. I had lots of company. There must have been at least a hundred people who had all had the same idea that I had, to hike up to see Delicate Arch at sunset. There were rows of photographers with their cameras set up on tripods waiting for the last rays of the sun so that they could get the perfect shot.
I started back down the trail just a little before the sun actually set. That way I beat the crowd and wouldn't have to worry about hiking down in the dark. The evening was the perfect temperature. The wind was calm. The sunset turned the scattered clouds in the sky beautiful shades of orange and red to go with the natural colors of the rocks of Arches National Park. The walk down was beautiful and peaceful.
What an awesome day!