Today I pulled into the Bedwell Bayfront Park, in Menlo Park. Originally I wanted to check my phone for directions, but I was intrigued by a park that I had no idea was here. I got out of the car and walked over to pick up a brochure.
I was informed that Bedwell Bayfront Park is in fact Menlo Park’s largest park and it’s the only Open Space preserve on the Bay. Besides birdwatching for at least 105 species, you can see the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration, the largest tidal wetland restoration project on the West Coast!, and you can hike the extensive trail system. What caught my eyes was the Great Spirit Path. Advertised as an unique art installation – and unique it was!
The creator Susan Dunlap describes it as a “505-ton stone poem inspired by Native American pictographs”. The different stations, each holding a section of the poem were installed along this ¾ mile hike between 1980 and 1985. Knowing now that this is from the 1980’s, it makes sense that some paths are more maintained than others. The sign post got restored in 2015. I also missed out on the Great Spirit Path brochure; (for a pdf) all three possible holders were empty.
So, for me this was a true adventure. Led maybe by those spirits I might have conjured? After all, some folks around here celebrated indigenous people day just a week prior.
In the beginning I was led by sounds of hammers from a nearby construction site, the sign of the times. Walking closer to the Bay, it was surprisingly calm. I felt understood by the poem and liked the stone interpretations of the Native American signs. No wonder locals named it the “Stonehenge by the Bay.”
The four stanzas of the poem are spread out over a ¾ mile hike. 53 posts depict each part of the poem. With 892 rocks used it is the largest sculpture of its kind in the world!
The poem reads as follows:
Weather clear with stars.
I walk with the wind behind me
Inspired, with glad heart.
Discover many animals,
Grass, sun, canyons, and earth.
No hunger, war, no fear,
Making peace and strong brothers.
Climb this way,
Over mountain or hill.
Go in four directions –
Up, down, close, or far away,
To places hidden or bright,
Under rain or cloud, night or day,
Reaching to see
Birds, plants, water and trees,
As you walk this trail and cross this path.
Flee your troubles to the sky
Holding firm to harmony, virtue and peace,
Strong with wisdom and healing,
Reaching out with supplication
To the Great Spirit everywhere.
Copyright S.C.Dunlap 1985
Have you walked the Great Spirit Path?