Saturday, June 11, 2011

Druid Arch

Yesterday I left you in the setting sun, crawled into my sack and went to sleep.  Above, hung the half-moon, dimly illuminating the rocks above my camp.  So utterly silent was the night that every scratch of rodant, every far away hoo-hoo of owl, every howl of coyote came inside my little tent to awake me until I learned to ignore them.  Something about a long stiff climb makes a meager meal and strange night sounds seem just right.

At some point in the darkness, after the moon had gone down, I came out of the tent and nearly fell over from a squat when I saw the sky burning with glittering stars, rich and frosty.  The sky was just as full of ancient portent as the rocks I had pondered the meanings of yesterday.  Fortunately, we now have telescopes that relieve us of assigning godly names and worshipful accolades to the stars, but it’s easy to see, on a dark night, how the Anasazi could.


In the morning I left most of my ger behind and carried only essentials for the up-and-back climb.  Elephant Canyon narrowed and steepened as I followed it deeper into the Needles, rock walls closing together on the sides, and in one place, Big Bird looking down.


In this picture, a rock appears to have been place precariously on a column of sandstone.  It is one of the Needles.  But geologists think that a very long ago, a great inland sea collected sand grains from rivers flowing into it.  The grains hardened into rock; the land rose; the sea disappeared.  Then came a long stage of erosion when the harder layers (like the rock on top of this needle) resisted rainfall better than the layers under it.  This is why the Colorado river is muddy, carrying all this erosion to another ocean, which might become another Canyonland.  It’s an incredible-sounding scenario.


I see what looks like another needle ahead and wonder if I am close to the heart of the Needles.

Looking back down the trail, I see the cairns that mark the way I have come.  “Trail” is the wrong word here.  It is simply a matter of finding a way to the next cairn.  Sometimes I try several routes before finding one that works.

The apparent needle is closer now.

Now the “needle” takies on a different shape.

After ascending through a crack and climbing over some huge boulders, I suddenly come upon a spectacle that takes my breath away.  Druid Arch.  Pictures cannot address the grandeur of this place.  It is like a cathedral lined with vertical walls and spires, and in its center, the massive Druid Arch.  It looked like a needle as I climbed toward it, viewing it on edge, but in this view it dazzles the imagination.


  1. Yes, amazing, amazing rocks and beauty. What simultaneous adventures we are having. Your statement "Pictures cannot address the grandeur of this place" is exactly how I feel about the Yellow Mountain. It is not a mountain... but a vast enormous landscape where people and things are specks on an magnificent living tapestry... to ours add huge cracks of thunder lightning and rainstorm wild loud currents of water everywhere, and strong winds all enough to threaten the centuries of placement of those red rock figures that might tremble hearing our gasps from afar... I love how the "needle" is sewn across the world, from Utah to China!

  2. Steven RadiceJune 12, 2011

    It's all so lingamlicious... if you're into that sort of thing, I mean. :o)

  3. I congratulate anyone who read this before noon on June 12. I omitted the link from my group email; you came here on your own.

    Steven, I imagine luscious linguisticies in the word, “lingamlicious”

    Kathabela, As you observed a huge crack of thunder, I may, at that instant, have been peering into a huge crack in sandstone, perhaps as deep as your lightning.

  4. Beautiful photos and observations Sharon. Sorry for the brevity but I'm beat but I want you to know I came, I saw, I rocked.

  5. Great photos! ARe you falling in love with our rocky state?

  6. Thanks Lois, I am being entertained by a great rock group.

    Yes, Lynn, I am loving Utah. It rocks!