Shining and blackest black: the obsidian of the Jemez Mountains at one of its prehistoric sources.
The closest road had been closed for years—at least since the Las Conchas fire in 2011—and was blocked by the enormous trunks of dozens of burned and wind-fallen Ponderosas. We hiked the dusty three miles in.
For thousands of years, prehistoric miners knocked down big cobbles of obsidian into pieces more easily carried to distant pueblos, where they would be knapped into knives, scrapers, projectile points. What is left is debitage; whole acres of mesa glitter with a pavement of black glass.
In the Jemez Mountains we hiked among the Tent Rocks: eerie, beautiful. Pink-white ashy pumice forms teepees, minarets, cupolas, gables, totem poles, shrines—their bases scalloped like coconut-cream popsicles, their tops jagged as blades. Don’t slide off; by the time you got to the bottom you’d be, not just dead, but completely skinned by volcanic glass. As we crept along the steep sides of the hills each of us touched the slope with one hand.
The ash is full of obsidian, Apache Tears.
Hiking in the volcanic world of the Jémez Mountains, whose pavement of shattered obsidian has been mined by flint-knappers for twelve thousand years. Among the glittering prehistoric shards, a recently discarded cigar.
Cochití Golf Course nudges the Jémez wilderness. As we walked Jan told the story of finding, at the foot of a tall Ponderosa a mile from the course, about fifty white golf balls within a radius of thirty feet.
That’s one disillusioned raven.