Tag Archives: shale

Old, New


Throughout the desert West, the backcountry hiker finds “sheepherders’ monuments”: cairns or slabs of stone raised by turn-of-the-century herdsmen while their sheep grazed, day after day, in the wide silence.

On a hillside of small-grain, gray, dissolving shale we came upon a slab of white sandstone, set on end like a tombstone and blocked up all around with dark rocks. Prickly pear had grown in among the stones.

We’d hiked there a dozen times and never seen it.┬áThe desert is like that: bare and open, yet turn your head and there’ll be something that’s been looking at the sun for a hundred, or a hundred million, years.

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