Driving though the mountains and a Fiery Furnace

Trip Start Jun 01, 2011
Trip End Jul 31, 2011

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Where I stayed
Canyondlands RV Park
What I did
LaSal Mountains & Fiery Furnace

Flag of United States  , Utah
Thursday, July 14, 2011

Since we thought we really had a tough hike this afternoon in the Fiery Furnace, we decided to take an easy tour during the morning. We drove up Utah 128 which is the road that parallels the Colorado River to the north of Moab. What a great drive that no one really talks about. The sides of the canyon are very narrow against the Colorado which makes for a twisty road. The Colorado was very high and running pretty fast. But it was too muddy for Pooh to go rafting down. She likes her water clean. We did stop at a rafting takeout beach for a few min. so Pooh could jump on some rocks in the Colorado. No swimming in this river as it would take you down for miles before you could get out on the other side. We drove a total of 30 miles from the Moab highway to our turn-around spot at the Dewey Bridge across the Colorado. It was originally built way back in 1915 but burned in 2008. The bridge towers and suspension cables are still up but just not the road.

We drove back down toward Moab for 15 miles before turning off on the LaSal Mountain Loop Road. The LaSal Mountains are 12,000 and 13,000 foot peaks on Moab's eastern side. The road went around the 8,000 foot base of the mountains for about 30 miles. The road was small with tons of twists and turns – this would not be good with the RV. Going up the road the vegetation changed from red rock country to green fields and trees. If you want trees in the Southwest, all you have to do is go up into some mountains. After 45 min. on this road we were back in the Moab Valley and heading toward town and our RV.

We ate some lunch and then headed out again, this time around the corner to a thrift store. It said it specialized n used gear so I thought it would be like a pre-owned REI store. That part was disappointing as it just had a few old hiking boots and other small things. But they did have a great used book section with everything 1, 2 or 3 dollars. So Pooh and I got a few cheap books. Also, used CD’s were only $2 – so I took a chance on a few that I thought would be good. Back at the RV we only had an hour to chill on this very hot afternoon. Before our hike in Arches.

Our hike was at 4 but we left at 3 to give us plenty of time. Arches is just a few miles north of Moab so it only takes about 10 min. to get there. After that the ranger said it would be a 30 min. drive. That would give us a 20 min. cushion against any slow drivers on the road. I don’t mind when you’re going the speed limit on the park roads, just when you go 10 mph under and you’re riding your breaks going downhill – LEARN HOW TO DRIVE!!!  Lucky for us we did not run into too many of these on this drive – but you never know. We met our ranger, Amy Atwater, at the Fiery Furnace trailhead. This is one of those unique national park areas that has no set trail – they keep it wilderness. In order to go into the furnace you have to have a permit or go with a ranger. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into but it looked like we would be doing some rock scaling.

Unfortunately, the group was pretty large at 25 people. And about 10 of these were adolescent boys. Now a few adolescent boys are no problem, but when you put them in a group they sometimes tend to get on the stupid side. Like one time on the trip one kid had to use the restroom – so finally when we got to an area, the ranger showed him where and then 6 or 7 of the boys followed. They were worse than girls walking each other to the restroom.

With this large of a group it is important to stay close to the ranger because they don’t shout when they are talking. So Pooh and I made sure we were at the front, especially since we had to travel single file since many of the paths through the furnace were very narrow. Amy was one of the best rangers we have had in our month and a half in the national parks. She had a very quick wit about her and knew how to discipline the boys in a unique sarcastic way without them even knowing it. One of those where she put them down with a small phrase that they’ll understand in the middle of the night sometime.

Besides good discipline, she was a very good teacher and really explained and demonstrated the unique geology of the area. In one place there was a tiny little arch to crawl through. Of course the boys really wanted to do it but they were quite slow for their age. Then as soon as most of them went through, Pooh decided she wanted to try it out. So she shimmied up the slick rock and went through the arch with no problem – must faster than the boys.

At times we had to go up and down 45 degree slick rock and other times leap over deep ravines. Some of the rocks were steeper than that but there were little steps cut into the rock – very small steps, not my size. The fun part about this trail is it was unmarked and the ranger knew all the cool places to see in this maze of tall rock fins. You could easily get lost back in this area. The last rest stop, ranger Amy took us to this hidden arch that was behind and at the end of this ravine that you had to squeeze through two massive boulders to get through. She also ready some Edward Abby to us – very nice.

The walk back was kind of slow since this slow woman complained about going too fast. No, this was a great pace – she was just too slow and wearing BOWLING type shoes. You are suppose to wear hiking shoes here. So of course she was slipping on all the slick rock areas. So on the way back we had to let her in front and we were stuck around the adolescent boys and their stupid talk about having to go to the bathroom, AGAIN!! Even though it was a very hot day, most of the trail was shaded by the massive rock fins in the area.

After the hike, we thanked our great ranger – who is just a part time summer ranger and goes to school at Oregon. We drove back to Moab and had dinner at Singha Thai Restaurant. I think they got our order wrong as they gave Pooh the VERY spicy dish and me the mild one. The mild one was hot enough for me but the spicy one was even too much for me. So they gave Pooh some more rice to cover-up the spice. Overall great food – so good, Pooh even wanted to go back there at a later time (she never does that as she really does not care for eating out that much.

Back at the RV we took Quique out for another walk around town and the berry trees where again; we ate too much and got purple hands. Since we had a tough but fun hike, we just chilled at the RV for the rest of the night.
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