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Utah Travel Headlines

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Colorado Students Hike Moab

Northeastern Junior College, in Stirling, Colorado, sponsors an annual hiking trip to Moab every spring. The explore Arches and Canyonlands national parks, and other area attractions. The Journal Advocate published this article about their 2010 trip. Below are excerpts.

On Sunday, May 16, the group arrived at the Arches National Park in Utah, a location it would stay in for the next two days. Arches National Park contains the world’s largest concentration of natural stone arches. This national park is a red, arid desert, punctuated with oddly eroded sandstone forms such as fins, pinnacles, spires, balanced rocks, and arches. The 73,000-acre region has more than 2,000 of these “miracles of nature.” The NJC group spent time in the Windows Section, Devil’s Garden, Fiery Furnace and culminated the visit with a hike to the Delicate Arch at sunset.

The Fiery Furnace, which was a highlight of the trip for some of the students, consists of a maze of narrow passages created by sandstone fins. The area is not large, but it is difficult to navigate and so people are encouraged to sign up for ranger-led hikes and must make reservations ahead of time to take a self-led group in. People can hike it on their own by obtaining a permit at the Visitor Center, which NJC chose to do. Geology professor Dave Coles and math professor Mike Vair have led a number of NJC groups through the Fiery Furnace over the years; however, there are no marked trails and even these two experienced hikers found themselves puzzled as to which direction to take their group initially.

Three days on the trip were spent in the Canyonland National Park, specifically in The Island in the Sky and the Needles districts, spending time hiking at Grand View Point, Mesa Arch, Upheaval Dome, Elephant Hill, Chesler Park and Confluence Overlook. Some of the days involved as much as 10 or more miles of hiking in rugged terrain, packing a day’s worth of water and food, sunscreen, a rain poncho and tape for sore feet.

This hiking trip, which is done annually depending upon how much interest there is from students to go, was originally initiated by Clay Prall, long-time math professor at NJC. Vair and Coles began going on the Utah trips with Prall, eventually taking over running the hikes about eight years ago. The two also lead a caving trip each year. The destination for the hiking trips is always Utah, but the trails and destinations are altered each year.

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