The most wonderful thing to happen in the hike happened right at the beginning of it.
There’d been rain the night before, and the clouds had half withdrawn over the mesas. Arroyos were dry. But as we crossed the first, and just as we crossed, a slow, creamy tongue of water came snaking down it.
It arrived from some far-distant cloudburst, miles away and maybe hours ago. Traveling, say, five inches per second. It was cream-colored and laden with lumps of tan foam, remnants of some fury upstream, now abated.
Best was its sound. As it moved over the dry sand it made a purr, a hiss, filling tiny underground gaps—perhaps animal or insect burrows—from which the air escaped in tiny gurgling fountains. The flow came slowly, slowly over the rippled sand.
When, five or six hours later, we hiked back, it was still running slightly, but the sand was saturated and completely silent.