Heavy clouds, partially clearing to the west. At sunset time, meaning right on time.
I divert from the trail onto slickrock, the canyon country term for bare rock on the surface, usually sandstone. In this case Cedar Mesa Sandstone. Although I’m in a National Monument, travel off trail is allowed here via slickrock and other areas where cryptobiotic soil crusts haven’t formed. Those crusts are alive, and crucial to holding down the ethereal high desert soil. So stick to the slick.
Speaking of that Cedar Mesa Sandstone, here it was formed from sand dunes. Big ones, like the Sahara. Since they were wind-formed dunes, they are cross bedded, meaning not level. Sloping up and down like sand dunes do. You’ll never see a flat sand dune. So. With an uneven surface, the sandstone erodes unevenly. Water collects in low places, the water stays longer there and slowly dissolves the “cement” between the sand grains a little faster there. Little potholes become connected, a drainage pattern forms. You get the idea.
Who cares besides geologists and naturalists? Oh, anybody that appreciates beauty in nature, because of the varies shapes and patterns and geologic structures that form. Erosion, like rust, never sleeps.
Which, somehow, gets me back to this photo. The late autumn rain had blessed the mesa for a day. The clouds had opened a crack. Not enough for a blazingly showy red sunset, just enough for a hint of it.
No one else around. Rock terrace, low sky, dusk at hand. Almost-full moon rising. Time to make my way back to the parking area and then home. Satisfied.
Photo location: Natural Bridges National Monument, San Juan County, southeast Utah.