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Those who have wanted to go on a National Geographic or Smithsonian exploration, but balked at the almost $4,000 cost are in luck. It’s not a discount on these adventures being offered, but rather the same level of experience in their own backyards for a much lower cost.
Local geologist Kirt Kempter, who leads group trips for both National Geographic and Smithsonian exploration, is leading a trip for Pajarito Environmental Education Center to Georgia O’Keeffe country on Saturday. The cost is $25 per person or $60 per family.
Attendees will explore the geologic story behind the landscape that fascinated O’Keeffe at her homes in Abiquiu and at Ghost Ranch. Kempter will lead participants on an easy, one-mile hike through the Abiquiu Formation, which inspired several of O’Keeffe’s paintings.
Bizarre and captivating rock formations adorn the white cliffs in this intimate canyon only a few miles from the town of Abiquiu. Following the morning hike, participants will continue toward Ghost Ranch, where dinosaur-age rocks ring the panoramic Piedra Lumbre on the eastern edge of the Colorado Plateau. If time permits, there will be an optional highway stop at Poshuoinge, a large pueblo ruin overlooking the Rio Chama, just a few miles east of Abiquiu.
A National Geographic grantee and Fulbright Fellow, Kempter is also a teacher and photographer. He lives in Santa Fe and has led many geologic expeditions to Bryce, Zion, and Grand Canyon National Parks, and has published numerous geologic maps and articles on the geology of the American Southwest. He received his doctorate in geology from the University of Texas and has visited and studied plate tectonics and related volcanism around the world, including Iceland, Costa Rica, Mexico and South America. He now works for the U.S. Geological Survey as a field geologist, studying the volcanic history of the Jemez Mountains in Northern New Mexico. He is also well known as a photographer of stunning photomosaics.
Participants should bring appropriate winter hiking attire, picnic lunch and water. Meet at PEEC at 9 a.m. to carpool, or at the Kentucky Fried Chicken and Conoco parking lot on the north side of Española at 9:30 a.m. Advance registration is required and you can sign up on PEEC’s Web site at www.pajaritoeec.org or by calling 662-0460.
If you go
What: Geological tour in O’Keeffe country
When: 9 a.m. Saturday to carpool, or meet in Española at 9:30 a.m.
Cost: $25 per person or $60 per family