As we drove toward the Swell, we crossed huge grassy fields with red-hued rocky cliffs in the distance. Storms still swirled around us.
One aspect of the Swell that I didn't like so much was that a lot of land has been designated as "Wilderness Study Areas", meaning that only hikers and horses are permitted to use the trails. We didn't realize that until the next morning when I realized that there were no trails nearby that I was allowed to ride my mountain bike on. So, I did a dirt road ride while the rest of the pack went for a trail run.
Although I prefer trails, the dirt road was deserted and pretty. By the side of the road, a towering cliff held pictographs and petroglyphs from more than 2000 years ago. In the photo below, a red pictograph is in the lower right corner, depicting a person who appears to be striking a coiled snake. You can see more pictographs along the lower edge of the photo. I took the photo from this viewpoint because I was pondering why the artists chose this wall for their pictures. Perhaps they liked the overhanging rock at the top?
The next day, we drove the van to a trailhead at the top of a wash (narrow canyon that fills with water during storms) that led down to the San Rafael River. Like usual, there was absolutely nobody else in the vicinity. Before going to the trailhead, I believed that I wouldn't be allowed to ride in the wash because the rules about mountain bikes seemed so strict. However, as I set out for my ride, I headed toward the wash to read the signs. To my disbelief, the last sign that I saw said "Only hikers, horses, and mountain bikes allowed beyond this sign". I decided not to question my good fortune and started pedaling down the wash.
Soon, I caught up with the Runner and the two dogs, and we enjoyed a pack excursion for a while. Based on the pools of water and soaked gravel/sand surface, we surmised that the wash had flooded during the recent storms and was just drying out. I saw a remnant of a barbed wire fence in the wash that looked like a storm current had ripped past it, leaving debris caught in its wires. On that sunny and hot day, it was hard to visualize the canyon in a flash flood.
When the rest of the pack turned back, I kept riding down the wash. It got narrower as I rode, and overhanging cliffs provided respite from the relentless sun.
My ever-patient K let me take innumerable photos of her chocolate fur bathed in the glow of the setting sun.