Red rock, blue sky, and warm weather greeted us when we arrived in Moab, so we took advantage and hiked two days in Arches National Park. On the first day, we set off for Devil’s Garden. We looked over-prepared with our hiking boots and hydration packs on the wide, smooth section of the trail to Landscape Arch, but we were thankful for the good traction when we scrambled up ledges and walked along the slick rock fins on the “Primitive” trail to Double-O Arch. We were also glad that we could refer to our photos of the guidebook. It explained how to get to a better vantage point by scrambling through the lower O. Most people turned around at Landscape Arch, but many continued to Double-O.
We had a bit more solitude on the “Primitive” trail that looped back to the parking lot. It kept us entertained as we descended slick-rock ramps and ledges to the sandy canyon floor. After a short, hot climb out of the canyon we were back on the crowded main trail.
The next day, we headed for the “Fiery Furnace.” We obtained our trail passes after watching an informational video and promising we would be good, which means not stepping on the cryptobiotic soil and not leaving any trace of our presence, except footprints. As it turned out, footprints were all we had to follow, since there are no trails in the “Furnace,” no cairns or markers of any kind. It’s a sort of labrinyth of rock ribs. This is a photo of us with the “Fiery Furnace” behind us. (Taken a few days after the hike.)
When we got to the trailhead, we were happy to see that there was only one vehicle in the parking lot. From its logo we could tell that a guided group was ahead of us. One of the fresh boot prints in the sand was a distinctive print of a “Keen” hiking boot. We kept a keen eye out for that print especially when we were making a decision about which way to go, if there was sand.
As you know, there are no bootprints on slickrock, only “worn looking” spots. The route finding was tricky, and we did lots of backtracking.
It was cause for celebration when we found the route through the final tricky bit. It was this narrow slot, with a hidden start.