Doing Hiking Studies in Arches National Park

Greeting from Moab, Utah, gateway to Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park.

The town is like Taos, NM on steroids or Gatlinburg, TN with more pretense and more parking spaces.

For 5,100 people, Moab is jumping. So is Arches NP. This is the first place on our trip that felt crowded. Though Arches get just over a million visitors, they’re concentrated in a few months out of the year. In contrast, the Smokies gets almost ten million visitors, but they come almost all year round.

We walked up Delicate Arch this morning. Nature sculpted the red sandstone into arches, windows, turrets, giants and monsters. I didn’t know where to look first and how much to photograph. It was overwhelming. Over 2,000 arches have been documented. I don’t know if they all have names.

This three-mile round trip hike might be the most popular in Arches. Delicate Arch is on the Utah license place.Though we got to the trailhead at 8:15 am, we were hardly the first people there. The signs warned visitors that the climb was steep and rocky and to take at least a quart of water.

I don’t know if there’s such a thing as hiking studies but I’ve noted a phenomenon which I could graph. On short, popular hikes such as on Delicate Arch, I’ve noticed how adults prepare for a hike, based on their ages.

20 year old – no water, no pack, no hat much of the time. “Go light, go fast,” one fellow told me. But they all have good walking shoes

30 year old – a bottle of water in one hand, a camera in the other

40 year old – The man carries a small pack. The woman carries just a camera in her hand.

50 year old – Everyone carries their own packs.

60 ++ – pack, hiking poles, good boots. We’re prepared.

Of course, there are exceptions. In statistics, they’re called outliers.

I also noticed shoes. Most visitors wear sneakers. Some attempted the hike to Delicate Arch in sandals or flip-flops. That’s their prerogative. But when I see families where the parents and son have sneakers and daughter has sandals, I see red. That’s hiking child abuse.

We also climbed to Double Arch and several other formations. You could spend days here finding different arches and photographing them.

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