I took Thursday off to celebrate my birthday, which wasn’t really on Thursday. David was between jobs so he didn’t have any commitments to worry about. We jumped in my Ford Explorer and headed for Moab Utah for an enjoyable day in the sun before winter sets in.

Once in Moab, we hiked up the North Fork of Mill Creek just east of town. We were looking for a way to Otho Bridge which is several miles up the canyon.

I thought that simply walking up the canyon would be fairly flat and easy. Wrong. It wasn’t too bad crossing back and forth over Mill Creek but that got us wetter and muddier than I would have liked. The problem was encountering dropoffs and blockages that required climbing. The first one was fairly easy at the swimming hole with a small waterfall. (I’ll bet this is a favorite destination for the teenagers in the area during the hot summer months.)

I didn’t think we were going to get past the second pool which completely blocked our path. We did find a possible way up some cliffs but it was more dangerous than I cared to try. We were about to give up when we decided to try climbing up to the small shelve high on the cliffs on the left side of the canyon. There we found a skinny walkway that allowed us to by-pass the pool and cliff. Then the hiking got rougher. It looked like most hikers got stopped at the pool.

Along the way, we found several sites for petroglyphs and pictographs.

One of the natural arches that we had marked on our map turned out to be just a deep alcove but there were handprints of ancient inhabitants on one wall that made the spot interesting anyway.

Then the next two arches turned out to also be alcoves in the cliffs. We did find one cliffside arch that wasn’t even on our maps. Outline Arch looked to be a large class ‘C’ arch.

Outline Arch

By this time, it was getting late and the sun goes down much earlier at this time of year. We ended up spring-hiking the last mile up the canyon just so we could visit Cliff Handle Arch, a class ‘B’ sized arch.

Cliff Handle Arch

We quickly took a few pictures before fleeing for the vehicle some three miles away. Otho Natural Bridge was going to have to wait for another day. It was then a long ride home to Utah valley.

Along the way