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Best Day winner: Just by chance… leads to hike into the Fiery Furnace

By on December 22, 2019 in Uncategorized with 3 Comments
Among the tall spires, Linda gazes up towards one of the more unique formations in the Fiery Furnace, the Skull Arch. The area is called the Fiery Furnace because the red sandstone glows in the setting sun.

Linda Hightower

I found myself in the Fiery Furnace on my best day in 2019. 

My husband Keith and I planned our trip to camp for five nights at Arches National Park months before when we made reservations, but hiking through a labyrinth of spires, arches, narrow cliffs and valleys wasn’t on our agenda. 

We were just excited to have more time to explore this beautiful national park in Utah after being there for just a few hours years before. 

As Keith and I entered the visitor’s center and approached the information desk, something caught my eye: a notice about ranger-led hikes through the Fiery Furnace. 

We inquired about the Fiery Furnace hikes and were told the first hike of the season was to start in a couple of days on March 9 and they were still taking reservations as permits were required to venture into this area. I looked at Keith, asked if he was interested, and he said, “Yes!” So we signed up and were told we filled the tour as there were only two spaces left.

On the morning of our hike, 15 of us gathered in the parking lot and our ranger proceeded to go over all the hazards we were about to take on this physically demanding adventure. 

He went through a laundry list of ailments that could prevent us from completing the route: bad back, bad knees, fear of heights, bad balance, weakness, etc. He emphasized several times how he could not touch us or assist us in any way. 

We hiked down our first stretch, then stopped and talked about our favorite national parks and then he warned us again to consider our limitations before we got to the point where it would be difficult to find our way back by ourselves. The ranger didn’t discourage anyone from continuing despite some of them looking pretty old and weak.

Our ranger led us down an amazing path through a maze of red rock, sticking to walking just on the slick rock or ravine bottoms so not to disturb the fragile desert soil. 

The group grew silent as we traveled through the narrow ravines and took in the spectacular landscape. 

As someone who by nature has never been too physically adventurous, the steep trail that paralleled crevasses and clung to narrow canyon walls truly challenged me. 

At times, our hands were on one side of the canyon and our feet on the other. Sometimes we scooted down on our rears and had to land just right, jumping over a deep crack in the earth just as we landed. 

My heart pounded and hands sweat, but I was doing it and was amazed how much fun I was having. Viewing the scenery around me, I felt like I was on another planet.

Our group completed our ranger-led tour unscathed, tired but very exhilarated. I felt wonderful, it had been a great experience and I was so happy I got to visit the Fiery Furnace. 

Looking back on 2019, that day shines out as the best. 

Linda Hightower is a retired Cashmere High School teacher-librarian, grandmother of nine and still a very happy traveler in her little Casita travel trailer.

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There Are 3 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Brenda Benoit says:

    Linda, while reading of your adventure, I was stepping anxiously with you navigating through the rocks and canyon. Thanks for telling us your story of the Fiery Furnace!

  2. Linda Congdon says:

    Enjoyed reading about your adventure, Linda! Glad you both got to enjoy this challenging hike together!

  3. Lois Sonerholm says:

    How exciting! As I was reading this I was thinking “would I be able, and/ or brave enough to try it? You and Kieth are awesome and you’re staying young because of your willingness to get out of a comfort zone, but maybe your sense of adventure is your comfort zone! 😁.

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