Hopkins 4K for Cancer

The mission of Hopkins 4K for Cancer is to unite communities across the country in the fight against cancer by spreading awareness, raising funds, and fostering hope.


July 8, 2007

by Thomas Hintze
Moab was quiet in the early morning. We woke up to hot, still air and surrounded by powder red canyons on either side of the main street, our little church hugging the mound of earth at the base of one canyon, the pigments permeating the odor and taste of the air. Jerome, Eric, Allie, and I fell into coercion and under the spell of the promise of a monument, an omniscience of nature.

Our plan for the day was decided the previous night; Arches National Park was the destination and my first encounter with the elements of the desert. The day was tough. We were to ride almost 40 miles at midday in the jungle of heat, our backdrop mysterious mountains of entrada sandstone, hulking flabby figures extending rock tendrils, gripping the caverns of sky beneath and all too precariously falling on their neighbor, hiking primitive terrain which often traversed the gradual hump of fins from the sandy floor, our way paved by balancing piles of rock shards, like the gates on a snow covered mountain. It was equally difficult to navigate the terrain in my mind, mostly because each rock I saw, each spike tower of rock and rust colored earth was already named, the metaphor completed, the story told. Nevertheless, the story was too compelling to deny, and I began to see the park unfold before me as the chapters of ancient mystery, a miracle of geology in the most unlikely of places.

We began our adventure ascending the step-like switchbacks of the park entrance in safari fashion, admiring the wild stone countenance on either side of the road. We passed by the three sisters monument, reminding me of the brooding witch sisters of Macbeth fame. “Double, double, toil and trouble,” rocks do fall and sands do bubble. This was in the courthouse towers region of the park, which was marked by great spires, the desert reminding me of the floor of a cave and the hanging sky the roof of the world.

The day progressed and we came to Double arch in the windows section of the park, an enormous splayed hand with two fingers of definition and a fist cut in the rock face. We produced our packed lunches and hunkered down in the nook of the overhang, climbing to the top of a smooth amphitheater in the side and admiring the looking glass view. We would have seen mountains in the distance, but the heat was manifest in the air.

Devil’s Garden was at the far end of the park 15 miles from the front gate, 11miles from the windows section which we biked in the paramount warmth. The garden was stark; it was composed of fins which ran parallel and perpendicular and frequently embedded arches between the narrow channels. The hikes in this section were long, removing us from the safety of the wiser road and leading us to hidden views. Partition arch was a dual arch carved out of a rock face, the larger of the two arches leading to a balcony of rock over a vast valley below and the smaller arch nest-like in the same fin, offering a perch for rest. After some time snapping photos and basking in the calm of this place, we migrated to a more frequented spot, the famed Landscape arch, seemingly made to fit in the widescreen format of film. This was just a stop on our way to the more clandestine Double-O arch, our most difficult hike of the day, bringing us over three- foot wide catwalks, falling off in veins below. The most daring climb came too when we decided we were going to sit on top of the lower sandwiched arch, resting in the doorway of the upper shelf. We scrambled up a smooth façade and crawled on our chests through a tunnel formed by one rock leaning on another, and we watched our shadows grow in the gate light as the sun slide down on the horizon.

The last sight of the day was the free- standing Delicate arch, which brought us back under the care of the team (they met us there) who we were relying on for the ride home (by this time it was dark, our day left in the park, our bodies tired and remembering the comfort of our carpeted floors). We posed, exhausted, in the failing light, and as we hiked over the final ridge to the parking lot and our vans, we only faintly remembered the heat of the day; the desert cooled, the stars icy pricks in the skin.