I went out what used to be a jeep trail. It's very straight for a long way and climbs gently. It was also quiet. The desert is very quiet this time of year. The birds are done claiming mates and territory. Most of the flowers are gone so there aren't as many bees around. The gnats are bothering somebody else. Sometimes there are small birds that fly around noiselessly close to the ground and call very softly, as if they are whispering. Mostly it's just the crunch of my footsteps and when I stop to take a picture, if I'm not breathing too hard, I can hear the chuff, chuff, chuff of my heartbeat when I open my mouth.
The rock I was looking for was easy to find. I would like to hike all the way out to it some day but it doesn't look like it will be easy to get to. I only went 3 miles on mostly smooth ground on this hike and my ankle hurt the next day. Anything over a couple of miles seems to bother it these days.
It was close to sunset as I made my way back to the truck. Usually the big red and black ants are back in their mounds before sunset. I kept seeing them all over the place, though, and they were scattered all over the place instead of following trails like they usually do. That should have told me that they weren't ants but I didn't realize it until I saw a couple that were connected end-to-end. That's when I finally took a closer look. They might be some kind of beetle and they were all over the place.
Click below for all of the pictures.