FreezeFest III: Rainy Day in Arches National Park, UT


To bed we went, with stars a blazin. Then a few hours before dawn, the sounds of light rain woke us in our tents and tarps. No problem, it was pretty light. With the first hint of light, came harder rain, mixed with snow. Then it rained harder still. I heard the sound of opening and closing car doors. Ummm, I know what this means. Suddenly, the skies let loose. And Tom comes to the tarp entry. "Ah Ram...I'm getting out of here while I still can. Meet you at the pavement." Seemed smart. I loaded everything into my sleeping bag and wearing only a rain jacket and bunny boots (Ahhh, the flasher days!), I sprint to the car. I hit the slickrock and it is a frozen slushy. Slide, but don't fall. Umm, interesting out here. 2 more trips to the tarp to take it down and stuff it soaking wet, into the bag, Ryan is scrambling in the background, and I say "see ya down the road" and the race is on to reach the safety of asphalt. At first and at high altitude, the roads are fine. In the middle a little soft in the middle. Lead foot Ryan flies by. The low roads of the San Rapphie Desert are soft. Real soft. Don't slow down, don't stop! Ahhh, Temple Junction pavement, in a downpour. With windows cracked down a bit and stupid smiles on our faces, the call goes out for Arches! We decide to meet downtown.

Uh oh. Time to leave!

Freezefest? I thought you said Grease-Fest!

As we reach the Arches area, the weather clears off a bit and I wait for Tom and Ryan at the entry to Arches, thinking, "Now is our window of weather." Tom agrees. Ryan is no where to be found. Thought he was behind, but ole lead foot must have passed us. And a good thing. This window of weather turned out to be pretty small and we would have gotten clobbered. He saved us and himself from a soaking. Off to a diner where we shared, maps, stories and beta, while the heavens let loose a deluge. The street drains and curbs ran mini floods down the street, while the very happy waitresses continually refilled Tom's coffee cup. Then around noon, it let up. We looked at each other, that stupid smile again and off we went to the park. The destination for the day was the Upper Courthouse, a 1/2 day mesa top hike, with awesome views and surprising little hidden corners and climbs.

Ram leading the way to Arches in the rain.

Yeah, let's hike around in the rain! Okay.

Yet another gloomy day in the desert. A view from high above Park Avenue.

To the fins!! Ram n Ryan hike up onto a fin.

Slickrock plain with a lot of chert or something

On approach to the class 4 entry gully, in the rain, a rockfall occurs 100 feet ahead of us, smashing into the boulders, right where we would have been 2 minutes later. A gentle spot, before any tech work, helmets in our packs. A bit of different timing and who knows...sobering. True it was raining. Spring is also a time where things fall more often, but one of those random events in life. You have to be a little lucky to get thru this world, and that goes for everyone, anywhere, anytime. Tom and I smile, the nervous smile. Ryan looks shocked. "Haven't you seen that happen before, we ask? No falling stuff stories?" "NO!!!" he says quite clearly. So we regale him with the tales of gravity, as seen from our longer and more seasoned stay on the planet.

Bit of lunch in a small alcove, as the skies start to clear.

Sunbeams, fins, really big canyons.

The view across Park Avenue, as the sun comes out!

Amazing views, the weather improves.

An interesting tower, off the side of Park Avenue

Hero Shot. C'mon Ryan, out a little further.

Up we go to the mesa top and the skies clear. The views are awesome, the knife edge fun, the, that wouldn't be right. Hee, hee. Feeling quite pleased with ourselves, for lucking into the right timing, we spend a delightful afternoon, swallowing a roll of film each. Out to a few new corners of the world, we go. The sky is getting grayer. We know if we squeeze these extra explorations in, we may get hit again, but we go anyway. On the sprint home and down the gully, the rain comes again. A light to moderate affair, it matches the rain on approach. A magic weather window sandwich on lite rain bread. Very happy are we.

The Three Gossips and the Tower of Babel

Out at the End of the World

Damn, I am getting soft. Those motel prices in the off season, when the weather is wet, a room for 2 for $32 with tax, just seems so attractive. In November, I could claim that everyone else was inside, so why stay out alone? This time Ryan plans to camp. My shelter is soaked. The forecast stinks, the ground is saturated and I am sure I could come up with more excuses if I had to, but what the hay, I am gettin lazy and soft. Tom and I would share a room and sling wet tarps and tents from every angle and nook and cranny. We would chat and read and dry gear and I must admit, I enjoyed it. Until the next AM, when Ryan informs us that it stayed dry overnight and that the winds blew everything dry. Regret....You have no idea how much flack my friends will send down the pike to "The New Indoor Ram." Ryan called his girlfriend who came up with the trips best line and I quote.."You stayed out, they stayed in..You won..can you come home now?" No, I say no! With canyons flooding around the state, we were ideally placed by the Arches playground. Arches had been our awful weather fall back position from the start, of each FreezeFest. Time to pull out those old dusty, off trail, fin scrambling, chimney stemmin, secret around the next corner, Arches classics from my youth. There is always a place to be. The best was yet to come....