In the year before I met Will, I had started planning a trip to Moab with visions of hiking to all the arches, visiting all the National Parks, and going on a solo, epic road trip. However, my plans never came to fruition, and until we hiked this amazing trail, it was something I had always felt a pang of regret about. While a solo trip would have been amazing, I cannot even begin to put into words how special it was hiking with my family.
We have rarely done evening hikes, mostly because it completely throws off our evening routine, but also we are usually exhausted by then and just want to coast to bedtime. And even though we had just moved that morning and had already had a pretty long day, we knew this would be our only time to get out on a hike with Daisy in tow (since she is not allowed on the trails in the National Parks). Also, we were all still adjusting from Pacific to Mountain time, so why not just throw another wrinkle in our schedule. So, we set off on the Corona Arch trail on nearby BLM land at 6:00 PM.
Knowing the sun was setting around 7:10 PM, we could not afford to waste much time. Although we figured it would stay a little light past the sunset, we did not want to be navigating a new and rocky trail after dark with a dog and toddler in tow.
We generally made good time with a few necessary stops to get Daisy water (it was over 80°F), but we did benefit from the setting sun and the shade it provided along the trail. All the reviews we had read mentioned a lack of shade, so at least we had that in our favor.
There is a place about halfway to the Corona Arch where the trail forks, the right trail leading to the Corona Arch, the left trail leading to the Pinto Arch. We had strongly considered taking the Pinto Arch trail as it had an easier rating, but the pictures of the Corona Arch made us push on.
The more moderate to difficult rating for this trail comes from a few places where footing is very important going along a slight ridge (there are cables to hold onto here, but they were very slack and generally useless), a steep incline where the cable is actually helpful and there are nice foot and hand holds to aid in the ascent, and a ladder to get up a very steep section. Knowing these obstacles were ahead of us made me want to take the easier route, but I eventually admitted that I really did want the challenge.
While Will bounded up the incline and ladder with a toddler on his back and Daisy in his arms, I made my way a little slower and less gracefully. However, once we reached the top of the ladder, we had the most spectacular view of both the Bow Tie and Corona Arches. It was such a wonderful view that we sat for a minute to take it in (and catch our breath, drink lots of water, and let our legs regain their composure).
This seems to be a fairly popular trail for sunset, so there were more people than we really had hoped to see around the Corona Arch. Therefore, we found a good spot to take a few pictures from a little ways back and we called it good. Stopping a little way back also allowed us to get Bird out of the backpack and let her explore for a few minutes. Will did go up to get a good look at the arch, and he said it was absolutely spectacular.
Bird marveled at the rocks around us, the large holes in the rocks, and also the cat we saw hiking with its family (a first for all of us), and I am so happy we took the time to get her out and let her explore. It is one thing to see the rocks but something completely different to feel them beneath your feet and touch them with your hands. She talked endlessly about the rocks and cat for the rest of the night.
We knew we were cutting it close with the time we spent marveling at the arch as we saw the sun slipping further and further toward the horizon, so we packed everyone up and started back before any of us really were ready. With the ladder and steep descent we knew were ahead of us, we simply could not risk staying much longer (though many people were still in and around the arch).
The ladder almost broke me. I am not a fan of heights and I often struggle to trust my footing and strength, so I was shaking like a leaf as I slowly made my way to the top of the ladder. Thankfully, Will is the absolute best partner and reminded me multiple times to take a deep breath and then patiently guided my feet, hands, and courage.
As Bird inquired concerningly for me as I waivered on my descent, I at first felt so guilty for showing her anything but strength and bravery. However, halfway down the ladder, I realized that seeing me struggle, seeing me be scared, and then seeing me successfully complete something that made me struggle and scared was far more important than seeing me crush an easy hike or pretend that I was fine when clearly I was not. No, she needs to know that it is possible to do things that are scary and intimidating, and she needs to see that it is okay to not be 100% okay the entire time you are doing things. It is so important to push past our fears, but we have to face them first.
Once we got past the tricky obstacles, I could not stop thinking about the lessons we are teaching Bird and how grateful I am to be experiencing all of this with her, Will, and Daisy. We are seeing the most beautiful parts of God’s creation while building the absolute strongest possible foundation for our family and for the rest of Bird’s life.
I know I would have had an amazing experience traveling this part of the country by myself in what seems like several lifetimes ago. But I know there is absolutely no way I would have done this hike by myself. Would I have seen and experienced many other amazing things? Absolutely. But I would not have faced my fear. I would not have made myself that vulnerable. And I would not have had the most amazing introduction to the beautiful scenery we are undoubtedly going to see during our time in Moab. To top it all off, I no longer have a sliver of regret about missing out on what might have been. Because the here and now is truly the best I could have ever imagined.