I have always said that you meet the nicest people in the pool and Moab is no different. Last week the swimmer in the lane next to me asked about my “SAC” cap as she grew up in Sacramento. As we got to chatting she was quick to bring me into the local fold and invite me to join their hiking group and then to her house for dinner that night. Needless to say I have met some great folks here starting with a nice group at dinner then another fun group of people on the hike the next day.
The first hike was in the Needles section of Canyonlands NP to Druid Arch. A long 12 hour day including the drive and the 12.5 mile hike (not for the faint of heart!) but worth every minute of it!
The hike started in a more remote section of Canyonlands NP called the Needles, about a 70 minute drive from Moab.
There were a number of sections of the trail that took this traveler out of her comfort zone and challenged my discomfort with heights and ledges. The group was very supportive and encouraging and I am so glad that I have been able to spend time with them!
The trail over slickrock terraces, sandy washes, rock scrambles, ledges and along the canyon floor passes beneath a never ending spectacle of spires and needles that line the sides of Elephant Canyon.
The ancient Cedar Mesa Sandstone, from which the pinnacles have been etched, was originally deposited in many distinct layers, and now the spires are heavily banded with horizontal stripes of red, white, orange, and pink. They present an awesome example of nature’s handiwork.
Druid Arch stands high above the far upstream end of Elephant Canyon, surrounded by slickrock benches and multicolored pinnacles.
The isolated, freestanding arch projects outwards at right angles from the Cedar Mesa sandstone cliffs and is notable both for its height (450 feet) and shape – sharply angular, with two main openings and one smaller. The formation is named because of the resemblance to Stonehenge in England, a place long associated with druids.
Besides the arch itself, the view down canyon from its base is also spectacular, as the partly bushy streambed is hidden beneath red benches so the canyon appears entirely made of undulating red sandstone, lined by white spires and fins, with a narrow slit along the base.
The best way to describe this hike and many of the wonderful things along this journey is reported in a recent Parade magazine article (that also featured Druid Arch):
“Feeling Awe May Be the Secret to Health and Happiness”
Awestruck —altered in an instant by an electrifying emotion that scientists have only recently begun to study. New studies show that it’s a dramatic feeling with the power to inspire, heal, change our thinking and bring people together. What is awe, anyway? “Awe is the feeling of being in the presence of something vast or beyond human scale, that transcends our current understanding of things,” says psychologist Dacher Keltner, who heads the University of California, Berkeley’s Social Interaction Lab.
My goal – a perpetual state of “awe” 🙂
More hikes with this group to come – stay tuned!