161 - Discovering Ah-shi-sle-pah in New Mexico
In the middle of a vast desert they call badlands in northwestern New Mexico is a remote wilderness protected by the Navajo Nation and the BLM. Called Ah-shi-sle-pah, the unpronounceable Navajo term for grey salt, this vast geological fantasyland has not been promoted in any travel magazines I’ve seen and is hard to find, located at the end of a rough road and a long walk. I was the only person out there during my four-day stay and the silence was wonderful.
A long and dreary winter, lasting from early December to late March, kept me in California. All the mountain passes were closed for weeks by record snowfalls. My gear had been packed for weeks in my new Telluride, ready to travel. After a few dry days, across the western states, I left the S.F. Bay Area. It took three days to reach Bloomfield, New Mexico, a 17-hour drive, taking a shortcut through the Navajo Reservation north of Flagstaff.