We returned to Arches today for the Ranger-led hike into one of the park’s most captivating features: “The Fiery Furnace”, a dense collection of “fin” and “spire” rock formations off-limits to the general public. (An elderly couple at Mesa Verde highly recommended the hike to us, but due to a waiting-list we were unable to take it until today.)
The Furnace is located near the center of the park, just across “Salt Valley”: a stunning display of colorful soil and rock.
Our Ranger was quite the character: an aged, hunched, gnomish fellow you’d expect to see doing tax accounting rather than guiding hikers through rocky terrain. He led us slowly over many boulders and fissures with a sure-footed goat-like stagger, occasionally stopping to rest his folded-arms on a respectable pot-belly before bestowing wisdom of the surrounds in a manner more comedic and questioning than informational. He would then beckon us onward to “continue our quest to find the parking lot”…
The hike itself was moderately strenuous, with 3 miles of climbing over rocks, scooting down slopes, and squeezing through crevices, the sum of which was quite a rewarding adventure! After several minutes of exertion we would find ourselves rewarded with a unique chamber or surprising viewpoint, which must be experienced first-hand to truly appreciate. The experience was definitely worth the extra day it cost us. 🙂