The day began with mottled clouds that later burned off. No friendly sand to walk in, just acrid mud dust, with now and then a stiff, dried place where a cow had pissed. We hiked down terrifying deep arroyos whose walls, scored by mud-laden runnels, were poised to collapse.
Mudstone concretions: eyeballs and entrails lay in drifts on the yellow-red dirt. We came across two half-buried spheres, both about twelve feet in diameter, like the backs of two huge skulls: Baba Yaga and her daughter.
Bushwhacking in the dense piñon-juniper and oak brush that covered the mesa, on a windy day that obscured all sound. I was newly aware of how one tracks companions by constant, quick glances through the twiggage, near-subliminal glimpses every four to eight seconds: a scrap of color, a blink of movement out of place against the moving background. It’s an almost-unconscious art, and takes practice. First we lost Rob, then Gary, then John.
They all straggled in later at the car, remarking on how, in countryside like this, a group can get separated in less than a minute. Their shouts had been inaudible in the wind.
In the middle of the desert wilderness we came upon a wooden bed frame and a rusty hibachi, standing all alone in a meadow. Someone had built the bed a plywood bottom.
Snakeweed had grown up green all around. I picked a broken shell earring out of the sand.
Hiking the Piedra Lumbre area of La Leña. A cold, dry day with a storm moving in.
Lots of petrified wood. Not the brilliant agates we see so often but a frail, glittering mudstone that preserves knotholes and wormholes, almost the worm itself.
Fossil tree trunks dissolve into perfect wood chips: the desert floor is littered as though a stone woodcutter had passed, chopping stone trees for a stone fire.