Moab: Starry Nights

For the past five days and four nights, my classmates, group leaders and I have been camping, biking, rock climbing and exploring the wilderness in Moab, Utah. With fifteen students and five leaders, our adventure travel writing and photography class has been able to experience a lot of what the area has to offer.

The weather has been beautiful—highs in the low 70s and lows in the 30s at night. Our camp site was just an easy five minute walk from the Colorado River.

Days were spent on excursions throughout the area, sometimes as one big group, and at others split into two smaller, more manageable groups. But no matter what, for dinner we all came together as a group. During these dinners we would talk, laugh and share our experiences from the past day, breathing in the crisp desert air and taking in the beauty of stars without the harsh light pollution of the city.

While the trip has been replete with new and gratifying experiences, Sunday’s hike to the Delicate Arch was one of my favorite ventures in the Moab area.

Arches National Park is located just outside of Moab.

Earlier in the day, our group explored the Windows Section of the park, practicing our photography skills at the North Window, the Double Arch and the other natural features of the area.

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The Window Section of Arches National Park. Photo by: Colleen S. Good.

In the evening, we hiked out to the Delicate Arch.

Map of Arches National Park . The Delicate Arch is located within the Wolfe Ranch section of the park.  Map courtesy: National Park Service, nps.gov.

Map of Arches National Park. The Delicate Arch is located within the Wolfe Ranch section of the park.
Map courtesy: National Park Service, nps.gov.

Our goal was to reach the Delicate Arch by the “golden hour,” the short period of time around sunrise and sunset when light is ideal for outdoor photography.

While the arch itself was breathtaking, the area began to show its true beauty once the sun went down.

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The night sky as seen from the Delicate Arch.                       Photo by: Colleen S. Good

As night fell and the stars came out, the group became quieter. As we got ready to depart, the group split into smaller parts heading back down the path.

While we were all equipped with headlamps to guide our way, it was refreshing to make the hike down without them, relying on our eyes and other senses to guide the way. The moon was almost at its smallest, just after the new moon, but still, it was bright enough to illuminate the rocks below our feet.

Looking up at the stars, it was easy to feel overwhelmed by the beauty of the land we were visiting, and thankful for the short amount of time we had to spend there together.

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