Beautiful hiking. Winter has lost its bite, but it’s still too cool for snakes. We crawled all over a Triassic-Jurassic hillside full of red and yellow ochre. We’ll take some to our Zuni friend Tim Edaakie, a traditional potter:
Into a stiff wind and spits of rain we climbed high on a Triassic ridge. Among the gray mudstone was a spill of red ochre. One chunk was handy as a pencil: I tried it on a rock, thinking about how our Paleolithic ancestors used ochre to paint bodies for dance, delight and death.
Afterward I turned the rock over to hide that a human had left a mark in that remote place. The next good rain will wash it away.
Hiking the red Triassic, we stopped to admire a wide, round, hissing spring that had been bubbling up CO2, methane, and hydrogen sulfide for a hundred thousand years.
In the Pleistocene this area must have boiled like Yellowstone, for all around were the empty vats of dry springs, thirty to sixty feet deep. If you fell in you could never get out—nor, so far off trail, would you be found. The living spring, presumably as deep, was capped with a peaty mat formed by the accumulated sedge roots of millenia, thick enough—we hoped—to support our weight.
We walked across. It trembled subtly under our feet, like an acqueous drum.