- **Moab…..town of red cliffs and Arches National Park.
- **The best hiking trail near Moab.
- **Needles Overlook, plus golden eagle, plus arrowhead.
IT WAS LATE IN THE DAY WHEN I ARRIVED IN MOAB. Near the south-eastern border of Utah with Colorado, Moab was named by Mormon settlers in the 1800s. The biblical Moab was a verdant valley set in the middle of a severe desert…..like an emerald in the sand. Mid-summer in the red-rock desert, and with a temperature of 93F at 3 pm, I anticipated an empty town. Wrong! Moab was inundated by tourists from Europe, Japan, China, and even Brazil.
I have hiked in Arches National Park more than six times, but never tire of the fins and arches and bluffs of the Entrada sandstone formation, laid down about 200 million years ago. At the entrance you drive along a huge fault that uplifted the rock layers on your left a half mile higher than the layers on your right. This is the infamous Moab Fault. I hope it doesn’t slip any further while I’m driving on it, because the resulting earthquake could be totally destructive.
IN THE COOL OF THE AFTERNOON, AT 5 PM AND 91F, I took off on the trail to the Double-O arch. Setting a good pace to test out my arthritic hip, I bypassed lots of young 50- and 60-year olds.
I’m not too proud to admit there was some bum-sliding in a few places, consistent with the “Primitive trail” warning posted. However, as the sun drifted lower, my joy rose higher. As my friend Don says, you can find joy anywhere (its an internal state) — you just have to release it. I had been praying a lot for my step-daughter Staci, and spontaneous praise came up from my spirit…..praise to God who created the heavens and the earth and Arches National Park!
Darkness fell as I returned, and headed for the Moab Brewery, where they served the best black-bean soup followed by smoked-salmon salad that I’ve ever had.
NEXT MORNING IT WAS PROPERLY COOL: ABOUT 65F, so I drove 22 miles to a place called Needles Overlook. I knew what the Needles were: spires of sandstone jutting up in all shapes and sizes, like an army of marching men. These Needles are located in Canyonlands National Park…..another desert beauty.
The view at the Overlook rivaled the Grand Canyon. You can see for 30 miles at least. And the structures…..I was perched on great cliffs of Wingate sandstone that fell away 1000 feet, to colorful ribbons and spires of shale and sandstone which stretched all the way to the Colorado river. And this mighty river had cut its own super-canyon by relentlessly grinding away the rock for 5 million years.
The silence was deafening, since I owned the Overlook for 30 minutes before other cars pulled in. Reluctantly I said goodbye to this special location of joy and peace. On the drive back I stopped to walk up to a couple of caves in a sandstone bluff. But no petroglyphs! I was disappointed until I looked closer at the trail, and discovered several flinty “scrapers” which the Anasazi people used to scrape clean the hides of animals they had speared. And speaking of spears, I found two flint arrowheads which were carved by a flint-knapper maybe 700 years ago, although the tip of one was missing. Over the years I have uncovered lots of pottery shards of this vintage, but never an arrowhead.
BACK IN THE CAR, I ROUNDED A BEND AND SAW A GOLDEN EAGLE right next to the road, chewing on a rabbit. I was traveling too fast to stop, but stored the impressive image in my brain. The bird is similar to a wedge-tailed eagle in Australia. Only the second one I have ever seen in the USA – in the wild.
On the way home, about 40 miles down the road lies the tiny town of Monticello, and the Peace-Tree café, a health-food place. I ordered a chocolate goddess smoothie, which contained almond milk, cacao, carob powder, avocado, strawberries, hemp seed, and honey. Magnifique! There is a Peace-Tree café in Moab too.
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THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO STACI CLUBINE, who is as strong and resilient as the red rocks of Moab. In fact she once hiked the Arches trail called the Fiery Furnace, when she had a bad knee, but she never gave up. Staci, we pray that your light will break forth, and your healing will quickly appear, as we appropriate for you what the great prophet Isaiah wrote 2,500 years ago (see below).
The Gray Nomad
Probing the practices of Christian faith
PS: to read Treasures of the Southwest: Part 1, click here.
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. [Book of Isaiah, chapter 58].