Our Daily Sykes #144 – Counting the Arches

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The amazed child in me finds it difficult to give up the expectation that there are at most three or four natural arches anywhere and that the same goes for balancing rocks.  The Sykes landscape on the top has its arch but typically no caption on the slide holder leading us to it.  Still I thought I might have a chance of finding it and I went exploring. It is likely, I thought,  that this arch is somewhere in Utah’s Arches National Park.  Once I reached the park, again riding the Googlecopter, I determined that there may be three or four hundred arches there.  It also seemed that most of the rocks are balancing or at least on the edge of it.

There are hundreds of blue-dot volunteered photographs of this park on Google Earth.  I lucked out.  The fourth one I clicked showed this same landscape .   It’s position on the satellite recording was, however, on a wide plain and not near any elephantine rocks such as these.  It was misplaced.   So I started the long but exciting journey through the park’s blue buttons.   It was very distracting.  Arches NP is scattered with arches and monoliths that resemble some of their names: The Tower of Babel, Park Avenue, Mother and Child, The Organ, Ham Rock, Sheep Rock, Finger Rock, Lion King, and Stone Face.  And this last, Stone Face, is what we apparently have here, although the second snapshot of it I found with Google shows the profiled face of the rock on the right better than does Horace’s.  (Take a few steps this way or that and these IDs can dissolve.)

Stone Face is the name given it with the volunteer Google photo.  It is, if I have read this correctly and the photo is not totally misplace (which happens), part of Elephant Butte, which also includes the Parade of Elephants, Cave of Coves, North Window and South Window, Turret Arch and the Double Arch, which Horace also photographed.  His view is included below.  Like Stone Face, Double Arch is very near the road.  It is hard to judge the size without someone standing below it, but it is huge.  Unlike most of the arches in the park it was eroded from the top and not from the side.

The Elephant “ridge’ is about six “crow miles” north of  the Park Headquarters, which is on the road to Moab, a town one might want to live in for a year or two just to explore its surrounds.  The Elephant is at the southern end of a triangle I have drawn with sides that are about 4 miles long.  To the northeast is the very popular Delicate Arch – not big but rather fine and standing exposed like an innocent ingenue on a wide stage – and to the northwest is Fiery Furnace, a clump or farrago of twisting small canyons with yet sides that reach as high as the nave of Notre Dame.  Seen from every angle, including space, the Fiery Furnace is, to quote a chorus of adolescents at any junior high, “Awesome.”

Finally, to name a few more arches and other features just for the simile of it all.  The park includes Ribbon Arch, Ghost Arch, the Garden of Eden (to cool that Fiery Furnace), Skull Arch, Surprise Arch, Inner Sanctum Bridge, The Spectacles, Biceps Arch, Seagull Arch, Landscape Arch, Walk Through Bridge, The Court House, Petrified Sand Dunes, The Three Gossips (which resemble a grouping of statues by Rodin).  Twenty miles to the southeast – on one’s way to park headquarters –  the LaSal Mountains, especially when snow-capped, give a cool backdrop to the warmth of Arches National Park.

And now we learn after visiting Park Headquarters that the number of arches in Arches N.P. is not 200 but 2000 – more than – and all have names or suggest them.

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