|Hiking the desert of Arches National Park
Maturity showed in our five children as we drove westward. They had changed their cry from “Are we there yet?” to “How many miles on this road?”
“Too many, guys, too many,” my husband said.
Journal writing gave the children a place to record some amusing things found along the highways; a change of landscape, funny things being transported on the highway [like a huge purple polka-dotted pig, part of an amusement park ride], and how many truckers they could make honk their horns by pumping their arms up and down. Remember that?
Hiking in deserts. This was something new for the children. Mom was a tree-hugger and enjoyed the coolness of the forests and mountains. Dad knew the beauty of the rock structures in all its majesty. And he was right.
The sun-bleached plains of Utah in Arches National Park lay before us in a desert of pink, orange, golden, and tan sandstone. Beautiful, spectacular. Pinnacles precariously perched, just begging to be climbed in the wilting desert sun. And climb we did, until I became too fearful of edges even though the children were older.
As we trekked along marked paths, careful not to disturb the fragile desert pavement, a crustal ecosystem, we read about the culture of the landscape on posted signs. Then I started giggling. There, standing in the blazing sun, hat of little help in keeping my sweaty body cool, the sun bleaching out the remains of some claylike brick dwellings before me. It seemed funny to me to be hiking in these extreme conditions. I continued to giggle when the children asked me what was so funny and didn’t stop giggling when I husband asked me the same question.
My husband put my giggle fest down to heat exhaustion, an easy thing to happen while hiking in the desert. It is important to remain hydrated and to wear sunscreen and lightweight clothing, long sleeve and pants if possible, and not to hike too long under desert-like conditions. All of which we did, except for the long-sleeved shirts.
I stopped giggling once we returned to the air-conditioned van and headed back to camp. I guess I’m more of a forest hiker.
Another thing the family discovered on our trip across the country: the trailer seemed to get smaller by the day, especially in the heat of the desert.