Wednesday: Maroon Bells sits at about 9,580 ft. I knew it was going to be a cold night, especially since it hailed the other day, but when I woke up, I found my tent and sleeping pad drenched, which made it a miserable morning. Oh, did I also mention that a layer of ice had formed on my car? So, now annoyed, I had my car running to warm it up.
After finally warming up the car, I made it ou to the lake. It was still cold out....so cold that I had a hard time talking to people...I would try to talk, but because my face was so cold, the facial muscles just didn't move as fast as I wanted to speak, so I was slurring all my words. Embarrassing. Anyways after taking some photos, I just hiked up to Crater Lake and decided that I had seen all that I could of Maroon Bells.
By noon, I started driving towards Moab. I knew there, the humidity was pretty low and that the moon formation was pretty small, (I forgot the official term for that formation...) which meant ideal conditions for trying to photograph the stars.
I entered Arches National Park around 7PM, and got to the trailhead for Delicate Arch. If you haven't been to Delicate Arch, I wouldn't recommend coming here during the night...most of the trail is unmarked and people have to retrace their steps all the time. I was pretty confident in hiking it because it was my 3rd time there. I did have about 2 moments when I really had to survey the terrain, but I safely made it to Delicate Arch.
At Delicate Arch, I found that I wasn't alone, which was a relief because it's kind of reassuring to know that you're not the only one there. I ended up befriended one of the photographers there, who introduced himself as Samuel. Samuel was vacationing from Spain, and he had already been shooting the stars, before I got there. He had noticed that I was trying to shoot without a tripod, so he reluctantly lent me his sturdy tripod. I really felt bad for borrowing it, but he explained that he was letting his sensor cool off, so we were all good. I really owe it to him for letting me use his tripod because I was able to get some awesome shots of the milky way, even with Delicate Arch in it.
When we weren't busy taking photos, we discussed traveling and our own travels. He talked about how in Spain/Europe, it's typical to get about 2 months off from work, to vacation. And he shared how he didn't understand how Americans were okay with just getting about 2 weeks off from work. What really got my attention, from our conversation, came when he talked about how much he loved the National Parks in America. He loved how you could go from the oceans, to the desert, then to the mountains. He didn't like that you had to get a permit for a lot of the cool stuff, but, still, he adored the parks. To elaborate on how much he adored the parks, this was already his 4th time traveling through America. And for this trip, his plan was to go from LA - Vegas - Utah - Grand Teton/Yellowstone - Yosemite - then make his way back to LA.
He, also, shared his love for fast food, especially In-n-out. He also thought that it was great how "wee-fee"(WIFI) was usually free in these fast food places, because they're not that available in Spain or Europe.
Samuel was one of the many Europeans that I met that week in the National Parks. And when I look back on it, there were a lot more Europeans, or just non-Americans, that were coming out of their way to explore these parks. I could be, and am probably wrong, but I do think Americans have gotten spoiled with the nature that we have. Most of us are only a couple hours away from a National Park, but we rarely visit. Whereas, there are these Europeans, who plan huge trips to come to America, just to see these national parks. And it's just awesome to see how amazed they are when they enter these parks.
If you've read all of this, thanks so much! I hope this, somewhat, encourages you to make your next trip destination to be a National Park!