Arches National Park, Part 3: Fiery Furnace!
The Fiery Furnace is described by the Park Service as a “mazelike labyrinth,” a description that I find very apt. Both Rachel and I were very eager to see this but as luck would have it, the guided ranger tours were sold out when we checked a few weeks in advance. Luck I say because this meant that after paying an $8 fee, watching a precautionary video, promising the permit-granting ranger we wouldn’t die, and downloading a trail map that allowed GPS tracking, we could explore this area on our own. Why the hoopla? Because this area has no trails, and “mazelike labyrinth” is, as I mentioned, highly accurate. As (more) luck would have it, it hadn’t rained in a few weeks according to the ranger who checked our permit at the trailhead that morning, which meant there were footsteps we’d be able to see at times that led to some of the more interesting features. But she even admitted she doesn’t know her way around in there. Heading the comments and with a sound plan on how to not get stranded, we set off.
We were prepared to only see the edges of the Furnace so as to not get lost, but Rachel’s GPS-enabled map worked perfectly and there were footsteps whenever the trail dipped into the sandy wash. We thus spent about 4 hours climbing, hiking, crawling, and sliding through the greatest natural maze known to man. It was awesome. If you recall my enthusiasm from the previous post about hiking on fins, magnify that by 10. It was even better because it truly was an adventure, a survey of each side canyon, an attempt to negotiate each rock we came upon. It combined the challenge of climbing, the joy of exploration, and the wonder of beautiful scenery. It made me giddy.