One of the longest days on the road, mostly in areas with few or no caches at all. We got up at 4 am, and had time both to hike to Delicate Arch, detour to the Four Corners Monument and visit Canyon de Chelly on our way from Moab to Blanding. Maybe not the shortest route, but definitely the most scenic one!
Approximate time on road/out caching: 17 hours, 20 minutes
Total miles driven: 449.8 mi / 723,88 km
Total cahes found: 19
Total DNF: 1
States visited: Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona
Famous places visited: Delicate Arch, Four Corners Monument, Canyon de Chelly
Most memorable cache: GC7BA6X Score 4 @ Four Corners – Utah
Biggest surprise: The heavy rain and storm at Four Corners
Weather: Sunny, overcast, rain, dust storm, heavy rain, thunderstorm
Highest temperature: 30,5°C / 87°F
Lowest temperature: 21,1°C / 70°F
Early morning hike
We’ve hiked to Delicate Arch twice before, one time in 2014 and one time in 2015. So it was time to do it again now! The last time we hiked at sunrise, and enjoyed that a lot more than the first time when we hiked in the heat of the daylight.
So we got up before 4am, and left the hotel at 4:30. We were not alone on the parking lot this time, as we were last year, but it was only a handful of people that actually hiked up.
Somehow we (all of us) managed to hike the wrong way when we got closer to the top. Seeing the markings in the dark wasn’t that easy… But all of us made it back to the trail, and safely made it to the destination.
Rounding that last corner, seeing the arch for the first time in a long while, while the sun is gradually making it brighter and brighter, is pure magic.
The hike up is hard, but so worth it! We spent about an hour just sitting up there. When the sun was fully up, a lot more people started to arrive. So it was time to hit the trail back for us.
We made it safely down, and went back to the visitor center to get our passport (and all the other things) stamped. What a great way to start the day!
Just a few caches along the road
We’ve driven the road from Moab to Four Corners before, so we had already found some of the relatively few caches along the road.
The four virtual caches at the Four Corners Monument was published shortly before we left, and after we had planned the trip. So to make sure we had time enough to finish the plan, we decided to skip a small series of challenge caches we had on the plan.
Instead, we took the time to check-in at our hotel in Blanding along the way down. We didn’t know if we would be there before the front desk closed, so we figured it was safest to drop by early. It was too early for us to get the keys to the room, but we agreed that they would leave them at the room if we arrived after closing hours.
We did find most of the caches (that we hadn’t already found) in Bluff, but saved one for the return trip.
Alone at the Four Corners Monument
The road from Bluff to Four Corners is long and lonely. But we had great weather, and still plenty of daylight.
…that did not last long. When we got closer to the monument, we noticed some strange colors in the distant. A dust storm! It appeared to be moving fast, away from us. We felt kinda lucky. That didn’t last either. A few minutes later, we arrived at the intersection, and turned straight into the storm.
The rain was so bad, that they didn’t even want to take our money when we arrived at the monument. We found a safe place to park, and decided to just sit there and wait until it was over. It wasn’t very fun to drive in this weather anyway. The video below does not show the wind very well (look at the flags), but the car was shaking heavily.
After waiting long enough, we decided to just go for it. We put on rain ponchos, and ran towards the center of the monument. The weather wasn’t as bad now as when we arrived, and the best part was that everyone else was hiding – either in their cars, or under the roofs. So we had the monument to ourselves! 😀 So much better than the huge line we had to wait in the last time.
We had plenty of time to get the information we needed, and take some pictures, before the rest of the tourists decided that if we could – they could too. Arizona did look a bit wet today, but the rest of the states wasn’t that bad.
We made sure to take a loop around the entrance station on the way out, so we could pay the entrance fee. Then it was time to start on another long and lonely stretch of road.
After a lot of driving, we finally arrived at the Canyon de Chelly visitor center. We made it in time before it closed! Not bad given the detour (and the storm) to the Four Corners monument.
For some reason, the only cache here is GCG6NN Canyon de Chelly – Spider Rock Overlook. But we made sure to stop at some of the other overlooks as well. Canyon de Chelly is yet another big hole in the ground. But we still enjoy visiting them 😀
The long way back
After seeing enough of the canyon, we had to start on the long way back. We did a quick stop for supplies, and a couple caches when we got closer to Bluff. But this was mostly just a lot of driving. At least the scenery was nice most of the time!
Just a few more before we go to bed…
We still had some caches left on our plan when we finally arrived back in Blanding. And we also decided to stop at a couple bonus caches.
What happened at GC345ZZ Kiosk near R6N7 was one of the most bizarre happenings on this trip. Just as Heltinnen got ready to sign the log, a drunk muggle came walking by. He started talking about everything and nothing. And he wouldn’t leave. He said he was going to spend the night drinking in the park – right next to GZ. So we had no other choice, than to take the cache with us, and hope he would be gone in the morning (spoiler: he wasn’t).
We arrived at the hotel just before closing time. And since they had forgot all about our agreement, that was a really good thing. Otherwise, we would have had to sleep in the car… :O