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Mountain goat in the desert

Bob WardAspen, CO Colorado

MOAB, Utah Trips to the southern Utah desert are a spring ritual for me, as are camping/outdoor trips with my kids. One recent weekend, I took my 6-year-old daughter to Arches National Park – just the two of us.Arches isn’t a place for wild, remote adventure, but it’s a perfect place for day hikes with young kids. The terrain is manageable for little ones, and the arches themselves are strange and beautiful to even the youngest minds.Our family has stayed before at the Devil’s Garden Campground, so this was a return trip for Annabelle. She was determined to do all the things that she’d watched her older brother do last year. We’d agreed to hike to Delicate Arch together, since cold and windy weather had discouraged her before. Her other goal, unspoken until we’d arrived at the park, was to scramble up on top of Sand Dune Arch and, of course, proclaim “Look at me, daddy! I’m on top of the arch!”She did both of those things, to my delight and hers, but more impressive was the way those excursions became part of a busy, ambitious schedule. One hike wasn’t enough; there would be a morning hike and an afternoon hike, not to mention a sunset excursion to the arch near the campground where she and her scrambling siblings had scared the life out of their mother once before.All of these things had to occur between or after our meals, which were ample. On Friday night the 40-pound sprite gobbled a half-pound burger with lettuce and tomato; the next night she threw down a hefty plate of pasta with meat sauce before inhaling a s’more for dessert.Then, there was the 8:30 p.m. ranger’s talk. She insisted on attending but crashed hard somewhere between the slide of the mountain lion (“Are there really mountain lions around here?”) and the geology stuff (“No, Daddy, I don’t remember the ancient lake. What does ‘ancient’ mean?”).Before heading home Sunday, we hiked the Devil’s Garden and saw some people we’d seen the day before at Delicate Arch. One woman told Annabelle, “You must be a mountain goat.” Annabelle smiled big and puffed out her chest.


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