Late in the afternoon I can resist it no more. The wilderness below the PDI is calling me. I gather drawing materials and gingerly navigate the switchbacks down to the Painted Desert, telling myself to just keep on even ground and don't go too far. And don't keep wrenching my knee like I was doing. And avoid climbing over large rocks. Except for these.
Before going too far I find a spot to draw. Since my pad was too big for my pack I was going to carry it under my arm and grab it just as I went out the door. WAS going to grab it. FORGOT to grab it.
So a bit bummed, I decide to scrap my plan of sitting quietly drawing and instead explore the rocky terrain which is like a stairway drawing by M.C. Escher. Just when I think I'm at "ground level" I come to a cliff and have to backtrack, only to find myself in a high walled gully, which I follow only to find myself at the base of the same cliff.
The sun is getting low in the west but I figure I still have a few hours to ramble before heading back up to the Painted Desert Inn. High on the mesa, its visible most of the time from the desert below, and I been within sight of it not long ago. A thin cloud covers the sun and the light dims, which causes me to nervously take stock of where I am. Of course I know in general, but its just the kind of lost I would get, within sight of my destination but hitting dead ends and not able to get there. So I start making my way back. The sun strengthens, the terrain looks familiar and I relax and climb a high shale-covered hill to sit and watch the light change as the sun approached the horizon.