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An Evening at Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah
Students at Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah
“Run!” At the command of their teacher and cross country coach, our most boisterous group of youth disappeared, leaving behind a cloud of dust in the surreal mushroom-rock landscape of the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area. They ran through hoodoos carved by drenching monsoon floods in the ever-thirsty desert, as the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wash drained into Chaco Canyon. They ran past rocks formed by sand, mud, and petrified tree stumps of some ancient Bosque that formed along a river some 70 million years ago. They ran until they came to an unusual rock, the leg bone of a dinosaur that had once run across this very landscape. Maybe it ran fast enough, or maybe it was the discarded remains from a meal consumed by the Bisti Beast, a close relative of the Tyrannosaurus Rex. “Yikes!” At that thought, we popped over mushroom-capped hoodoos, slid down muddy slopes, and drove off to camp in search of our own dinner. High on the mesa, we looked out over the canyons and sprawling sagebrush-piñon-juniper grasslands of the San Juan Basin, like a pterodactyl flying high above the Western Interior Seaway.
Brad Jeffrey is a “rock doctor” with a Ph.D. in Geology from the University of New Mexico. He grew up exploring the rivers, lakes, and forests of his native state of Wisconsin, before embarking on the deserts, mountains, and canyons of the Land of Enchantment and the Southwest. Early in the morning and late in the evening, you will hear his guitar and extensive musing over a rock or panoramic vista while contemplating a new puzzle piece of Earth’s story.