“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller
How willing are you to embrace the unknown? I love to take adventures with someone, but I love to experience them solo, also. Some people might think a solo adventure is boring and lonely. This is not true; it is a lot of fun! Taking an adventure does not mean being reckless, and the reward is much greater than you might expect.
For my most recent adventure I picked Moab, Utah as a destination. Moab is a small town, home to Arches, Canyonlands National Parks and Dead Horse Point State Park, and it is an avid outdoor adventurers’ paradise, offering tons of activities like hiking, rafting, off-roading, climbing, and mountain biking with unique red rock landscapes. It was a whole new and epic adventure for me. I experienced so many new things during this trip, and so much wonder. This is how a true adventurer lives.
Hike in the dark
I wanted to witness the most stunning sunrise/sunset, and to do so I needed to hike in the dark. On October 19, I woke up at 4:00 a.m., then drove in the dark, alone, through Arches National Park. At the beginning, I felt uncomfortable and nervous because it was my first time driving up the curved mountain roads, in the dark, so I drove carefully, then adjusted to it. My eyes kept searching the road signs in the dark, but I missed the turn to take me where I originally planned to see the sunrise, so I kept driving to the delicate arch viewpoint parking lot. An adventurer must be able to improvise!
I started hiking in this dark adventure. The trail was three miles roundtrip with an elevation gain of 480 feet. It was definitely a challenge to hike in early morning, because it was a new and unfamiliar trail, a of it uphill, and across sandstone rock faces where the trail can be hard to find. With the cold weather in the morning, it required especially good physical fitness.
Hiking in the dark is totally different from hiking during the day. It takes time for your eyes to adjust to the dark, and my flashlight helped. I met an elderly couple hiking along the way, and we hiked to the delicate arch together. In the dark, we got lost a few times, as there were no trail markers. We stopped and observed our surroundings, then saw a few lights far away, realizing we should head in that direction, and followed the light hike back to the correct trail. Because it was early, and a lot of the path was uneven, steep and uphill, I had to breath heavily. We hiked approximately 45 minutes to reach the arch.
I was very impressed during this dark journey: when I looked up, stars studded the sky. Then I witnessed the sky change color, turning from black to orange with the dawn. The sunlight shone on the arch at different angles, creating a spectacular sunrise to welcome a beautiful new day and adventure in the park. Hiking in the dark and seeing this amazing sunrise was a wonderful way to connect myself to nature.
Hiking in the dark can be more challenging than during the day. It is important that you research and plan ahead, bring layers of clothing, appropriate gear, prepare for wildlife, and stay sensitive to your surroundings. Then get ready for a dark and wild adventure!
The adventure of a lifetime: completed the difficult trail solo
Devils Garden is a difficult trail in Arches National Park. The total distance is 7.2 miles, and the weather is hot, especially at noon. On this trail, you will see different arches, including Pine Tree Arch, Tunnel Arch, the longest landscape Arch, and Double O Arch. It proves that “it is a journey, not a destination”.
The trail to Double O Arch starts difficult, because you must use your hands and feet to scramble and climb.
Most people choose to go back after reaching Double O Arch after about three miles. But I decided to keep going, completing the primitive trail alone. Just like my life, I am someone who always goes forward, not back, and I enjoy every journey, no matter how easy or difficult. The Primitive Trail is the most difficult segment of the Devils Garden trail. It is a loop trail to the starting point. The obstacles include difficult route finding, steep slopes, narrow drop-offs, and rock scrambling.
I used hiking, scrambling, and climbing skills during this trail. This is a tricky route. I got lost, stopped, thought about my previous steps, observed and recognized the footprints, trusted my instincts, listened to sounds, asked other hikers for directions, and tried to find a GPS signal (I used Gaia GPS app). I finally navigated back to the right trail. Because it was noon, very hot, my body covered in sweat. I stopped and took a break, and drunk plenty of water.
After hiking approximately four hours, I retuned back to the starting point. I had a sense of accomplishment and was very happy. I never had before completed such a long and difficult trail solo. The reward is one of the most remarkable and awesome adventures in my life.
Witnessed one of the most epic sunrise/sunsets
Mesa Arch, Canyonland is one of the most famous sunrise spots in Moab. On October 20, I woke up at 4:00 a.m. again, then drove 40 minutes, entirely in the dark, without passing a single other car on the way to canyonland. I hiked in the dark again, but compared to the delicate arch, this was an easy trail, just an eight minute hike. I arrived around 6:30 a.m., the sky was still dark, but a few photographers were there waiting.
It is a small arch. I saw the rays of sun from the dawn out to the horizon beneath the arch. The sun illuminated the underside of the arch, giving a breathtaking view under the arch, showing nature’s craftsmanship again. I loved the orange color shine beneath the arch. This epic sunrise brightened my day again.
If you visit Moab, you should not miss the most stunning sunset at Dead Horse Point State Park. I drove to the end of park, reaching the dead horse point overlook. I saw different vast layers on the red rock canyon. It looks like a different planet from Earth. I looked down the gorgeous ever-changing landscape to the Colorado River.
A brush of color stands stark against the sky, like an artist forgot what paint to use. I stayed there through sundown, ending in all dark. If I could, I would wish to see this incredible sunset every day.
Taking a solo adventure is not easy: it requires courage, confidence, wisdom, plan and action. If you do it, you will experience unexpected things along the way, and you will learn how to trust your instincts, accomplish a lot of tasks and make decisions alone. It pushes you to personal growth. I am glad that I made this epic adventure happen! A true adventurer has ambition, able to accept challenge and adapt to any changes in a new environment, make dreams come to reality. I hope my adventurous spirit and experience will inspire you, especially women, to step out of your comfort zone, and be brave enough to pursue and live your desired life!