Ranger Kathryn's Arches

September 7, 2011

Fiery Furnace… the saga continues

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 7:00 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

The Fiery Furnace. Rock formations are nearly 100 feet tall.

The 60-ish man with utter lack of balance and zero stamina was worrying me. Our hike goes along edges of precipices, up sandstone faces, down the same, across one gap three feet wide, over irregular rocks, through cracks. It is not for the faint of heart nor faint of balance. He was breathing hard at every stop and sitting down wherever possible. Several times I watched him nearly tip over just from the moves we had to make as we scrambled through the obstacles of the Fiery Furnace — a maze in Arches National Park that requires a permit or a ranger-led tour for exploration.

As we rounded a bend on a very exposed and somewhat slanty ledge, he stumbled and I gasped. The drop was 40 feet down onto rock and we might be doing a body recovery if a fall ever happened right there. Catching himself, he continued on; I, however, made a beeline toward him and quietly asked him to come up and hike right behind me. “No, no, I’m staying with my party,” was his ego-preserving answer. I shrugged and let it go, knowing that the worst dangers were finally behind us.

After some thought, I’ve decided that ‘no’ will not be an acceptable answer in the future. Yesterday one of my fellow rangers had a middle-aged woman trip and fall into a crack (30 feet deep, 2 feet wide) — but she got wedged at the top by one leg (think ‘the splits’) and was able to be retrieved with some pulling and yanking. Other than being scraped up and scared, she wasn’t hurt. It would have been disastrous had she fallen to the bottom.

So… this is the hike I lead three times weekly. With 25 people of all different ages and abilities, a complicated route, six or seven interpretive stops, a steady stream of questions, weather that regularly brings oncoming storms, all while keeping my eyes peeled for the rattlesnake that sometimes makes an appearance on the trail.



  1. Do you have a 25 ft piece of webbing with you for rescues? Just a thought.

    Comment by midsummerman — September 7, 2011 @ 7:16 pm | Reply

    • Excellent suggestion. I’m going to get me some webbing. Thanks, Ed.

      Comment by Kathryn Burke — September 8, 2011 @ 4:51 pm | Reply

  2. If this route requires a permit, that would suggest that the issuer of that permit could do some kind of estimate of each hiker’s ability to handle the terrain.
    WoW~! This certainly would add spice to your task!

    Comment by leroqueleroque — September 7, 2011 @ 8:55 pm | Reply

    • They buy their tickets online and some don’t watch the “required” video designed to help them see the physical difficulties of the tour. They just click “Buy Now” and get on the list. It’s disheartening! They hold up two dozen other people but don’t think twice about it. If I had wishes…

      Comment by Kathryn Burke — September 8, 2011 @ 4:51 pm | Reply

  3. Sounds eerily reminiscent of “Fat mans revenge”….. We will be in your neighborhood is a week or so…. might swing by for a hug.

    Comment by Ric Colestock — September 8, 2011 @ 9:42 pm | Reply

    • Do! Please do! I’ve been saving several for you!

      Comment by Kathryn Burke — September 10, 2011 @ 10:00 pm | Reply

  4. Looking forward to taking this hike led by you (or one of your peers) in a coupe of weeks! Hoping that rattlesnake stays away. 🙂

    Comment by See the Parks (@SeetheParks) — September 17, 2011 @ 7:11 pm | Reply

    • Thanks for stopping by the blog! I hope I have the privilege of guiding you through the Furnace, but my colleagues all do a fantastic job and any of us will love having you. Do you have a blog? Sounds like you’re seeing ALL the parks???

      Comment by Kathryn Burke — September 18, 2011 @ 8:36 pm | Reply

  5. I have a picture of you and another ranger name Lily i don’t know her last name that i took in horseshoe canyon . is there any way to send this picture to you and her?

    Comment by Gene Leavitt — September 22, 2011 @ 11:06 pm | Reply

    • Sure! Email it to me at klcb@charter.net … I’ll be sure Lily gets it, too! Thanks!

      Comment by Kathryn Burke — September 23, 2011 @ 10:53 am | Reply

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