Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bisti Sojourn

With beautiful autumn weather comes wanderlust in New Mexico, and last week I and my son Max decided to make the 3+ hour trek out to the Bisti Badlands, a wilderness area in the northwest corner of the state. A fair portion of the drive is on dirt roads (REAL roads, by God!) like this one, as I shot it out of the window en route...
...heading west across the sagebrush steppe of the San Juan Basin. This is Navajo country, despite the fact that the official border of the rez is out there ahead of us. An occasional house or two is the only evidence that this land is inhabited, and there have been times I've had to slow down so a dusty herd of sheep can clear the road.
We arrived at the dirt parking lot for the wilderness, where a group of somewhat bemused-looking out-of-staters had just wandered back to their vehicles. They had no idea that the really interesting stuff, seen above and following in no particular order, is a good mile up the wash. Which keeps the riffraff out, incidentally.
The above image is pure Bisti: dark hills of shale and clay seamed with coal, bonewhite clay hoodoos, and huge petrified logs. One of the logs is visible resting on a pedestal of clay in the bottom center of the photo.

The hoodoos and other formations look like living things, graceful and muscular...like something that has only briefly transformed to stone and clay...

An intriguing side passage.

A towering hoodoo. This one is over 15 feet tall; many of the formations in Bisti are actually quite small. Wonderful and strange things happen just above ground level, and the feel is intimate, like a sculpture garden, rather than the monumental formations of canyon country. Hoodoos form when a layer of harder strata erodes away until only isolated caprocks remain. The stems that support them are of softer stuff, and once the caprock falls will quickly erode away.

Small, exquisite hoodoos in the glow of evening light.

During a rest, Max contemplates the meaning of life, the universe, and beef jerky.

I've never seen another place quite like the Bisti. Truly another world...the most desolate, eerie, and fascinating place in the Southwest.

At one place, and only one as far as I know, there is a field of stone eggs which have cracked open and seem to be evaporating back into the dreamtime...

Stones take forms here that I've never seen elsewhere, and wouldn't believe were possible unless I'd seen them myself. Wind seems to be the prime sculptor of these shapes. Many fantastic formations were impossible to photograph in a way that showed clearly what they were, but some, like those above, literally composed themselves.
...We stayed out for a good six hours which went by very fast, and arrived back at the suv just as the sun had slipped below the horizon. Then a long, dark drive homeward...
Next time in the Drylands Journal:
Ogg Goes to the Used Atlatl Lot!
Stay tuned...

1 comment:

Steph said...

Wowwwwwwwwww you live in a beautiful place! Love your jewelry!