"The first thing that we want you to understand is that spirit has no color or race to it. It doesn't matter whether your skin is white, black, red, yellow, whatever. No one out there is any better than you, and you are no better than anyone else out there...That's something to think about."
- Slow Turtle (John Peters)
Day 36 - Friday, July 28, 1995 - The Sunbow 5 walk reached Shenandoah National Park in Virginia -- an astonishingly uplifting and agreeable part of our North American home. Deeply impressed with the restful splendor of the place, the walkers will spend the day on the Beauty Way -- with prayer and contemplation in nature.
Scholars debate the definitive meaning of the lyrical name "Shenandoah," but every meaning ever brought forward conjures an image of beauty: "Silver water," "great meadows," “Daughter of the Stars,” and "river of high mountains" are some of the meanings people have suggested.
The most romantic meaning for "Sheanandoah," the one popularly accepted by the people who live there, is "Daughter of the Stars." But “river of high mountains” is also apt, for that is indeed how the cascade of mountains appears from many outlooks -- as if the valleys and ridges were a river of undulating land.
When colonial settlers arrived here they found a well-marked trail along the top of the Blue Ridge, where Skyline Drive now runs. There was another trail below, which is now the Valley Pike (US Route 11).
Skyline Drive is one of the most scenic byways anywhere in the world; a thin ribbon of pavement curving along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains for 105 miles. It starts near the town of Front Royal, Virginia, 75 miles west of Washington, D.C. The roadway winds south through the park, giving a series of heart-pumping views over the Piedmont plateau to the east and the charming Shenandoah Valley to the west. This should be a happy, strengthening route for the walkers to follow in the coming days.
The Blue Ridge Mountains form the eastern rampart of the Appalachian Mountains -- the North South spine stretching from Maine to Georgia. There are hidden sacred caves along this mountain spine. They are part of the spiritual traditions of appreciation that are central to the mysteries of Turtle Island (North America). Some elders say the traditions go back in time well over 100,000 years, and that they have much to do with remaining in right relationship with our Earth.
A 105-mile road that winds along the crest of the mountains through the length of the park, Skyline Drive provides glimpses into deep forests, and vistas of spectacular landscape.
Many animals, including deer, black bears, and wild turkeys, flourish among the rich growth of the oak-hickory forest. In season, wildflowers and shrubs bloom in profusion long the Drive and the many trails which branch off of it.
After spending many restorative hours in nature, the walkers gathered together in the evening to share a Medicine Wheel ceremony at the farmhouse of Debbie Jimenez in Warrenton. Her farmhouse will serve as the walk's base for a day or two.
Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 37 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire