Arches National Park: New Friend


I spent four days in the Utah dessert. Up until this point it was the most challenging part of my trip. Hot days, fighting off dehydration and heatstroke; cold nights fighting to sleep. The first night I spent camping somewhere people weren’t supposed to camp, but I wasn’t the only one. I pulled off the road where I saw a tent sent up and right behind me a National Park Ranger pulled in. He was moving from one park to another. Like me a frugal traveler, he had decided to go with the free accommodations. We scouted the land and found a no camping sign. Both tired and frustrated from driving from campsite to campsite unsuccessfully looking for a vacancy, to no avail. We agreed to share a campsite should we find one, and not wanting to be fined we decided to set off and continue driving from place to place. After an hour of driving around we gave up and decided we would just camp where it was prohibited, hoping not to be caught. Waking up at the crack of dawn to avoid getting caught and a possible fine, we broke camp. He then headed to Arches National Park and I went to find a cheap three dollar breakfast, with some hot coffee. A few hours later I drive into Arches N.P. halfway to the park’s main trailhead I see him driving out, I honk and wave, and that was the last I saw of him.

Arches-0169Entering the main trailhead I strike up a conversation with Bone, a ski-bum from Colorado enjoying a break before white water raft guiding in the summer. We end up hiking together taking the primitive trail through the arches. It was a hot dry day, one that just seemed to suck the moisture out of my body with every breath and every step. We spent the day hiking along narrow ledges, vertical drops, and sliding down the spines of arches. As we near the parking lot bone invites me to his car for a cold beer and a wrap. I always enjoy when a stranger offers their kindness, company, and some sustenance. We sat on his tailgate enjoying our afternoon reward and swapping stories of our lives and travels. This is where our friendship ended, I set out to Canyonlands National Park and he went off to go mountain biking. We planned on meeting at Canyonlands but I had no phone service, like the majority of my time traveling. I didn’t end up hearing from him till days later when I was in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Arches-0265A couple months later working at a climbing hostel in Tennessee I made two new friends. We spent the three nights they stayed there drinking and trading stories, and this was one of the stories I told. As it turns out one of them knows Bone. In disbelief that we were talking about the same person I went into more detail about him, at every detail he confirmed it was the same person. Over half the country away, I realize just how small it is.

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