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Summit Up

Summit Daily/Eric Drummond

Good morning, and welcome to Summit Up, the world’s only daily column that ponders the passage of time and the whole earth-to-earth, dust-to-dust thing.

What got us thinking about this was the demise last week of Wall Arch, one of thousands of sandstone spans that give Utah’s Arches National Park its name and spectacular reputation.

Geologists tell us that the collapse is just as natural and even more likely than the development of the arch in the first place, but we can’t help but feel a bit saddened by the loss of such an exemplary piece of architecture.

The arch, the 12th-largest in the park and one of the most visible ” conveniently located just off the Devil’s Garden Trail ” formed when the elements of weather carved out softer portions of the entrada sandstone “fins” left exposed above ground by the rolling and heaving of the salt bed in the Paradox formation.

There is something awe-inspiring and even spiritual about encountering the arches in Arches; Edward Abbey captured this mystique in his classic “Desert Solitaire,” calling them “elephantine forms of melting sandstone.”

The park undoubtedly is the real-world setting for Roadrunner cartoons, with its weird pastel colors, improbable balanced rocks and periodic crashing arches, like so many Acme anvils falling out of the sky and onto the skull of our conniving canid foil. But soon enough, geologically speaking, it will all be gone. Landscape Arch collapsed in 1991.

Someday even the iconic Delicate Arch will fall, leaving us to ponder a pile of red rock and rubble resting heavily on the soil instead of the fanciful lighter-than-air flyover propped improbably on the rim of the desert basin. And we, too, will be reduced to our elements.

On that note, it’s Thursday, the sun will turn Moab into a cauldron, as usual, and today is a good day to avoid overhead rock structures.

Write to us at with the hardest thing that has ever fallen on you.

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