Thursday, February 17, 2005

Eye of the Needle

Eye of the Needle

Some ten years ago, I had the opportunity to canoe down one hundred and fifty miles of the wild and scenic portion of the upper Missouri River in Montana. By chance, the water was high at the time so I mainly used my paddle just to keep from hitting the banks or other obstacles while I drifted. To pass the time I read passages from the journals of Lewis and Clark as I happened upon their campsites, geography features, etc. One particular interesting geological feature was the Eye of the Needle.

I camped on the far side of the river from the Eye the evening before and in the morning I ferried across to the other side. After a short hike up a canyon and out onto the ledge, I stood before the Eye which is a natural arch caused by hundreds of thousands of years of wind erosion. The erosion has left behind two stacks of rocks that leaned toward the middle and precariously touched each other at the top forming the arch. The whole thing looked as if it might topple over at the slightest breath and yet it had been like that for the last two hundred years since first being spotted by white men.

The view through the arch looked upstream framing the river and the bone white bluffs on either side and I sat on the downstream side admiring the view and soaking up the breeze. I could have sat there for hours but the call of the river was stronger and reluctantly I bid it goodbye and hiked down to the canoe. Eight years later I would read that vandals had destroyed it and thrown the pieces in the river some one hundred feet below.

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