The Case of the Missing Cairn feat. Arches National Park, UT

Since we are only a 4 hour drive from Arches National Park, a group of us decided to head there for the weekend. We took off early and were able to secure a camping spot on the river before heading into the park to start the Primitive Trail hike at Devil’s Garden. As we left the trailhead, a park ranger joked about us leaving for the longest, hardest hike in the park at high noon. We laughed – didn’t he know we were super outdoorsy and this hike would be nothing?

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Though long, the Primitive Trail is not actually a very difficult hike. It is much quieter than the main trail, and brings you through some beautiful areas of Devil’s Garden. Hikers follow either a distinct path, or a trail of cairns. At some point, we completely missed a cairn and became hopelessly lost in the canyon. It took us about an hour to retrace our steps to the lost cairn – turns out, we had missed a very obvious marked path, and instead had chosen to step over a log that was placed to stop hikers from going in the wrong direction.

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Exhausted and covered in dust, we made our way to Moab to have dinner at Eddie McStiff’s – a fine establishment at which I enjoyed a large bacon cheeseburger and a root beer. We went back into the park and watched sunset from a viewpoint overlooking Balanced Rock.

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In the morning, we woke up at the butt crack of dawn to make it to the Windows by sunrise. This was a good decision. We sat in North Window as the sun rose and if it weren’t for the obnoxious tourists it would have been very peaceful. Right after sunrise we hiked up to Delicate Arch. Going early meant that we missed almost all of the other people and didn’t have to wait to take a picture in the arch. Highly recommend this option.

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