August 31, 2007

The much-awaited Fiery Furnace hike

It was described as a "moderately strenuous" three-hour hike in their website.

Of course I wanted to go on that hike. I wanted to be up close and personal with the park, instead of seeing the park from our rented car. Doing that hike would make my birthday more special, I thought.

Now my husband and I go hiking every now and then. But this hike was different from the usual. For starters, there are no marked trails. Had I been set loose there, I would probably get hopelessly lost and end up miles from where we started. That's how confusing it seemed. Of course, if I had a wand and knew the Four-Point spell, I'd probably be ok somehow.

Scrambling between sandstone fins and squeezing through tight spots was a very character-building experience. You either think you can or you think you can't. It's up to you. Once I got over the initial "uh-oh, what the heck was I thinking?" part, it was smooth-sailing. Even if it meant shimmying my way out.

What else occurred to me while hiking?

How small I am in the scheme of things. (Really small)

Crawl-through Arch rocks!

Looking at the arches, rocks, spires, fins and monoliths, they seem formidable. Indestructible. But it doesn't really take much for us humans to destroy them. Maybe formidable-looking people are the same way too.

Now I've got a profound respect for juniper trees. Here's why (from their website):
The Utah juniper is the classic desert tree. Its twisting, often-dead branches seem to epitomize the struggle of life with little water. When moisture is scarce, a juniper will actually stop the flow of fluids to some outer branches so that the tree has a better chance for survival. Scale-covered leaves and bluish, waxy-coated seeds help the tree conserve moisture.

By the way, there was a point of no return. We had kids and older people in the group, yet no one backed out. Everyone was helping everyone else. At the end of the hike, not only did I see the beauty in nature, I also saw people's good nature. A good reminder every now and then.

After the hike, we headed to Sand Dune Arch. It turned out to be the coolest spot, once again, with sandy washes.

Then we went back to the hotel, quickly showered and headed to Buck's Grill House in Moab, UT.

p.s. I might post separately on the places we stayed in and restaurants we ate at.

More pictures!

Skull Arch (I trust you'll find it easily!)

Sand Dune Arch