We did our annual backpack in the Weminuche Wilderness at the end of July, but gah, I have so many photos to go through and so much to write about that I haven't even started trying! So instead have a very short write-up about a mini-trip we did last week to the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness
in New Mexico.
As you probably know, the Perseid meteor shower peaked last Wednesday night/Thursday morning
, and as it was expected to be an "outburst" event with many more and brighter meteors than usual, we decided we ought to spend that night in the desert, where we could sleep outside far from city lights. For previous celestial events we've camped at Valley of the Gods
near Mexican Hat, Utah, and originally we'd been planning to head out there, but at the last minute we decided to go south rather than west. Neither of us had been to the Bisti Badlands, and it's about the same driving distance, around two hours.
We headed out after work, following Google Maps. When we got there, we found a nice flat spot to park the Sportsmobile, with room to lay out a tarp and sleeping bags nearby, not far from the main parking area. Two other vehicles were parked not far away, and as we surveyed our spot we noticed a group of people with packs heading into the hoodoos. Clearly others had the same idea!
After a brief hike down a wash through some of the formations, we returned to the van for drinks and dinner. Then, as the sky darkened, we took out a pair of binoculars for each of us and looked at the various planets: Jupiter, Mercury, and Venus were all visible near the west horizon, while Mars and Saturn were in Scorpio near the moon - a five-planet night! (Mercury was particularly cool to see since it's rarely visible.) I saw an amazing meteor slash across the sky even before it got fully dark! We went to sleep around 10 and woke up around 1:30 am, after the moon had set, and watched the Perseid display for a couple of hours. There were only a few really bright ones, but the frequency of meteors was impressive - sometimes we'd see one after another, four or five within a minute.
(Alas, no photos of the light show - our camera wasn't good enough, and we were too busy using our eyeballs.)
When we could no longer keep our eyes open, we went back to sleep. The sun woke us after we'd had far too little sleep, but we got up anyway, because we wanted to hike around the badlands before it got too hot. This is seriously a wilderness, in that there are no trails and no water sources: hikers are advised to bring a GPS (we had a GPS app) and plenty of water. A map at the parking area indicated several areas of interest, and Britt had grabbed the coordinates of a few others from people's web pages.
So what did we find? Wild and wonderful pillars:
The "Cracked Eggs", oval rocks with reddish layers peeking out from under the pale tan sandstone (no doubt they hatched dinosaurs!):
And other strange landscapes, weirdly-shaped rocks, and petrified wood that looked exactly like someone had just split a few logs and left them there with the woodchips scattered around them, and it had all bleached in the sun. Then we tried to lift them.... It was like a practical joke played by nature, "Haha, you think this is wood, but it's NOT!"The best of our photos are on Flickr
. We definitely need to go back at a better time of year (spring or fall) and explore further!