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Azure Window Collapses

Famous Azure Window in Malta collapsed during a storm on March 8, 2017. Not only did the lintel itself collapse, but the entire outer column fell into the sea.

The arch was considered at risk of collapse and walking across the arch was prohibited only last December. And in January, a slab of rock fell off a lateral face of the outer column during high seas.

The spectacular arch was featured in many movies, including Game of Thrones. Some history of partial collapse can be seen in these movies. In the scene below from the 1981 movie Clash of the Titans, the underside of the arch is flat.

In the scene below from the 2002 movie The Count of Monte Christo, it can be seen that the underside of the lintel has fallen to create a more arced shape.

Vultee Arch Update

David Kennedy reports that some NABS website information about Vultee Arch near Sedona in Yavapai County, AZ, was out of date [it was updated accordingly today]. The website had reported that the trail went only to a viewpoint (shown below) and that to access the arch itself required significant bushwhacking.

Vultee Arch viewpoint

A hike there Feb. 7, 2017, revealed that a trail now goes up to a point next to the lintel of the arch, where the photo below was taken, so there is no longer any bushwhacking involved. From that point one can get onto the lintel and/or go down behind the arch to get beneath it. It is a steep descent to the lintel which Dave declined to take because the rock was wet at the time.

Vultee Arch lintel

A GPS reading at the photo vantage point was 12S 429812.28 E 3866826.42 N, very close to that reported on the website.

Vultee Arch

Vultee Arch from below. All photos courtesy Dave Kennedy.

 

 

Valley of Fire Arch Rally

The October 2016 NABS Valley of Fire Arch Rally in Nevada was, as usual, filled with fun and camaraderie. Presented here is a slide show of photos taken by NABS President Larry Beck. Click on any image to start the slide show. The title of each image in the slide show provides the UTM WGS84 coordinates (the NABSQNO number) in zone 11S, and where present the name and catalog number of the arch. Catalog numbers refer to the Arch Hunter Books Valley of Fire series (available to NABS members).

Portland Head Lighthouse Arch, Maine

By Nick Terzakis

Maine is not known for natural arches but there were four small ones reported in the Journal of Natural Arch Discoveries.

This October, Pat and I  drove up the Maine coast stopping at some nice lighthouses. At the Portland Head Lighthouse in South Portland, ME you can see Portland Head Lighthouse Arch (ME-4), which is just south of the lighthouse.

me-portland-head-lighthouse

me-4-portland-head-lighthouse-arch

Directions: In Portland, drive State Street south across the bridge into South Portland and turn left onto Cottage Road. Turn left into Ft. Williams State park and head to the lighthouse parking lot. You can see the arch to the south. Walk the trail south along the fence then go uphill to the top of the cliffs. Go left on a faint trail which goes on a pebble beach, and go right around the rocks to see the arch (only if it is low tide). The arch has a span of three feet.

Unfortunately nearby Portland Head Arch (ME-2) has fallen. It had a span of four feet. A scan of my old Polaroid photo is below.

me-2-portland-head-arch-fallen

 

Arch collapse at Legzira Beach, Morocco

The photo below shows two large natural arches at Legzira Beach, Morocco, in the Province D’Agadir about 10 kilometers north of Sidi Infi.

Legzira Beach - Victor Kaposi

The arch in the foreground, NABSQNO 29R 391178 3257234 with an estimated span of 60 feet, collapsed on September 23, 2016. The remains are shown in the photo below.

Legzira collapse

The remaining arch, with an estimated span of 90 feet, still stands. Our own Guilain Debossens stands by the arch in the photo below.

Legzira 2 - Guilain

Stornetta Public Lands

By Nick Terzakis

SPAN Editor Dave Kennedy gave me a tip about an area up the Northern California Coast called Storenetta Public Lands that has some sea arches. This area was once a dairy farm owned by Clover Creames based in Petaluma, CA. So I drove up to the area near the Pt. Arena lighthouse, parked at the Stornetta Public Lands trailhead, and walked the trail along the bluffs. It was quite windy. Coordinates given are from Jay Wilbur’s GIS section of the NABS website; sizes are estimates.

Off shore on a island is CA-85, Pt. Arena Arch, at 10S-43670-4310290, 30×35 feet, Photo 1:

Stornetta 01

 

Just east of CA-85 are two other sea arches, 10×8 and 20×15 feet, Photos 2 and 3:

Stornetta 02

Stornetta 03

 

South on the trail can be seen an island called “Sea Lion Rock” which contains two arches, 10S-436670-4310055, 30×20 feet, and 10S-436730-4309980, 20×5 feet, Photos 4 and 5:

Stornetta 04

Stornetta 05

 

Further south along the trail near some trees is a sinkhole that has a sea arch with a pillar inside it, 10S-437040-4309680, 15×8 feet, Photo 6:

Stornetta 06

 

The trail soon crosses a creek, then goes up hill, and then goes around an agricultural conservation easement which is private property. The trail turns left onto a road and then goes right through a gated fence and follows the fence to the bluffs. On the bluffs on the private property side you can see an arch, 10S-436795-4309005, 10×8 feet, Photo 7:

Stornetta 07

 

Go south along the bluffs to the first  rock outcropping to find a nice arch, 10S-436805-4308560, 30×15 feet, Photo 8:

Stornetta 08

 

To the left is another sea arch, 10×5 feet, Photo 9:

Stornetta 09

 

The second rock outcropping has 3 sea arches, one of which is a double, 30×15, 15×25, 25×40/30×20 feet, Photos 10-12:

Stornetta 10

Stornetta 11

Stornetta 12

 

The next rock outcropping is The Hitch’n Post, 10S-436855-4308455, 20×40 feet, Photo 13:

Stornetta 13

 

Below the view point of The Hitch’n Post is another sea arch, 10×40 feet, Photo 14:

Stornetta 14

 

South along the bluffs is a sea arch with seaweed growing inside it, 10×30 feet, Photo 15:

Stornetta 15

 

Further south in a cove is sea arch which was the last one I saw, 10×8 feet, Photo 16:

Stornetta 16

Yellowstone Natural Bridge

By Robert Robinson

I just got back from a trip to the Tetons and Yellowstone, and, of course, I made a point of hiking to Yellowstone Natural Bridge (NABSQNO 12T-543257-4930475).

A loop trail completely encircles the area where the bridge is, including going to the back side of the bridge from how I first saw it. At one point the trail goes near the top of the bridge and it was while I was standing there looking at the top of the bridge that I made an interesting discovery for myself.

The Natural Bridge of Yellowstone is actually a double bridge. The informational bulletin board down below the bridge mentions its height and span at about 51 feet and 29 feet respectively, but doesn’t say anything about it’s being double.

What I discovered is that behind the span that I first saw when hiking to the bridge there’s a good-sized crack that goes all the way through separating this front span from a second span that has a tree growing on it.  As you can see from the first photo below, the front span has a rather narrow width and is almost pointed on top, while the second span is wider and more squared off.  To get the photo of the top of the double bridge, I was standing up against the “Keep Off the Bridge” sign that the Park Service placed to one side of the bridge to keep visitors from walking on top or across the spans.

In Vreeland’s Nature’s Bridges and Arches Volume 19 he mentions the double nature of this waterfall-type natural bridge and gives the widths of the two lintels as 2 feet and 5 feet.

Yellowstone Natural Bridge double spanThe photo above shows the double nature of the span. The photo below shows the view from the standard approach.

Yellowstone Natural Bridge

 

Shipton’s Arch Now Has Easier Access

A special thanks to Josh Summers of Far West China for providing this update and photos.

Shipton’s Arch in China is one of the world’s giant arches and is already described in some detail on the NABS website. What’s new is that a wooden walkway has been built to provide easy access to view the arch. The 3-minute video below shows the new access (note that when the video states the height of the arch is 1500 feet, that does not refer to the opening itself, which is 1200 feet high).

Shipton’s Arch is located in the mountains northwest of the city of Kashgar, part of China’s far west province of Xinjiang. For the first decade following the 2000 National Geographic expedition that re-discovered the arch, foreign travelers began to request a visit to the arch with local travel agencies. Special arrangements had to be made and at first many of the agencies had no idea what the foreigners were talking about—a proper name in Chinese wasn’t given to the arch until the late 2000s (the name is variously transliterated as “Toshuk Tagh“ or “Tushuk Tash“ in the Uyghur language or Ātúshi tiānmén in Chinese).

These pioneering travelers, including Ray Millar of NABS, talk about an arduous climb that included a 4-wheel drive vehicle, a local guide and a number of rickety ladders.

All of that—for better or worse—has changed.

A new road leads from the highway to a new visitor’s center right next to the trail head. Guides are no longer necessary and the ladders have been replaced by strong staircases. The 1.8-mile trail to the arch is still a tiring climb that requires a certain level of fitness from those that visit. However, it’s no longer the dangerous expedition it once was.

The new paved entrance to Shipton’s Arch
The new paved entrance to Shipton’s Arch

Shiptons Arch approachClimbing the stairs up the valley to Shipton’s Arch

Shiptons Arch approach

Shiptons ArchThe first glimpse of the arch during the hike.

To make your own visit to Shipton’s Arch, all you need to do is arrange transportation from Kashgar for the day. This can be done either through a travel agency or by hiring a taxi off the street. For the latter, you can use the local Uyghur or Chinese (Mandarin) name, or bring a photo so you can point to it.

Hired transportation, depending on the type of car and season, can cost anywhere from 500-800 Yuan per day ($75-$120), so it’s best to get a group together if possible.

Once you reach the visitors center, which can take 1-2 hours of driving, you will be required to purchase an entrance ticket. They point you on your way and off you go!

Josh recommends bringing water and snacks since there is no place to stop and buy this during your trip. He also suggests that many tour companies offer the option to either arrive super early or stay late to see the sunrise/sunset and says it’s gorgeous. The only problem is hiking in the dark, so bring good flashlights.

NABS member Josh Summers is a writer, musician and entrepreneur who currently resides in Urumqi, capital of China’s western province of Xinjiang. He has been traveling and writing about this region since 2006 and has no plans to stop in the near future. You can find his original blog on this subject here.

Noyo Headlands Park, CA

By Nick Terzakis

This past Memorial Day, Pat and I drove up to Fort Bragg, CA and stopped at Noyo Headlands Park which is a newly opened park. The city bought the land that used to be the the old Georgia Pacific Lumber Company and made some walking trails along the bluffs with some beautiful overlooks. The first area we visited was the southern entrance to the park which can be reached from State Hwy 1.

We turned west onto Cypress St. in Fort Bragg and parked at the end of the road. We walked the trail west then north to Johnson Rock. On the way is CA-209, Skip’s Punchbowl (10S-429814-4364940, span 15′ x height 20′):
CA-209 Skip's Punchbowl
The last area we visited was the northern entrance to the park which can be reached from State Hwy 1. We turned west onto Elm St. in Fort Bragg and parked at Glass Beach. We walked the trail west then south to Otsuchi Point. Just before reaching Otsuchi Point there are some steps made from logs that go down to a beach.

At the left side of the beach is CA-208, Glass Beach Arch (span 3′ x height 3′):

CA-208 Glass Beach Arch

Back on the trail to Otsuchi Point are 4 more sea arches as follows.

Skeleton Key Arch (span 3′ x height 6′):
Skeleton Key Arch

Island Arch (span 2′ x height 4′):Island Arch
Cavity Arch (left opening span 10′ x height 14″ and right opening span 2′ x height 14′):
Cavity Arch

Otsuchi Point Arch (span 3′ x height 3′):
Otsuchi Point Arch