Dana’s Arch and the Vernal Equinox


To celebrate the Vernal Equinox on March 20-21 I decided to go trekking in the Arizona desert. My idea was to get away from the noise of man and perhaps enjoy a walking meditation. But, in a country where everything scratches, cuts, scrapes, pokes or bites the meditation was complete mindfulness. You had to be wholly aware of where you were right NOW! And being right here right now is truly amazing.


The Trail Head

I journeyed to Dana’s Arch, which is named after Dana Burden, who led tours on the Navajo Nation, the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon and the White Mountains. The route to the destination as about a mile and not difficult, I stretched it longer by traversing the hill sides, finding a few stock trails and just wondering around the desert in total and complete bliss.

Because its spring and the rains have been heavy the desert is amazingly beautiful. I was completely alone and not once did I hear another sound. Well there was one pause in the serenity as a couple of rattlesnakes informed me of their location. Which, being who I am, held the experience with importance. I asked if I could perhaps make a picture of them. They didn’t seem to mind, I got the picture, thanked them I moved on without disturbing them anymore. Besides, I was on their turf and they were just being snakes. It is also known that seeing snakes are a symbol, or sign of change and healing, you are becoming more sensitive to others and to trust your honest feelings and intuition.


When I got to Dana’s Arch and I found the unique beauty talked about. It is a destination that should be seen and understood for its beauty. At the base of this distinctive rock formation I found a dry wash with a nice sandy area that was calling me. I went over removed my shoes and stood feeling the earth’s energy. This evoked more time for solidarity as I removed my burdens and became lost in where I was. The moment was beyond belief and added spectacular joy to the day. Little did I know the wonderment had just begun?

After I got everything sorted out and back on I hiked up out of the wash to find a turtle in the trail to receive me. (In the desert they are referred to as a tortoise, as it takes water to be a turtle. With that being said, I refer to this totem animal as turtles.) It was just looking at me without exhibiting fear, bewilderment perhaps, but not fear. I asked the turtle, I have an extensive history with turtles, how he was doing on this today and if I could make an image with my camera. The turtle didn’t seem to mind so I asked if I could perhaps touch its graphically ornamental shell? The turtle kept looking at me with a healing type of charisma. I gently reached down and touched, caressed and stroked its shell. Not once did it retract its head for protection. It just kept looking intensely. I thanked the turtle, wished for its safety and I strolled on. Walking in a clear state of light and euphoria with what the experience I just lived.


To add more spiritual lore to this story, seeing a turtle is a sign for our ideas to be exposed. Take your time and with slow deliberation show yourself. Turtles remind us that the “Way,” is through the earth. Mother Earth is what we need to be. She will care for us and nurture us as long as we do the same for her. For this to happen we must slow down and amplify our sensibilities and find the connection to all natural things. Just as the turtle cannot be separated from their shell, we cannot be separated from what we are doing to the earth.

The Hike to Dana’s Arch was a boundless and a spiritual day spent in the wonderment of a nature. I was fortunate to be there alone without seeing a track before me. The trail is marked, but at times you have to stop and locate the next cairn that are marked it. Be sure to take some water and remember that if you start feeling really thirsty you are already getting dehydrated. And as you can see from the words and the pictures watch for snakes. As I said you are on their turf so don’t leave your brain in the car.

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Between the Lines. What I have omitted from the above story was the details about the euphoric time spent in the dry wash. This is the spot where I went into a naked meditation. Not just a meditation where I was free from clothing but also free from anger, judgment, comparison, ego, pretension and fear. I was naked of everything as I pray, each and every day, for these elements to be free of my true person. It was an amazing moment where time was lost and the conformation for my self-journey was the turtle, which has long been a spirit helper for me. To say the least I walked out of the desert with a newfound enlightenment. I know that I am on the right path for me and as the turtle; I will continue to move forward with each step, slow and deliberately.


To see the photographs from this excursion please visit my wordpress blog.

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