Pedernal's silhouette, lifting its slightly-tilted, sheer-sided mesa skyward to the west, brooded under a dark and boiling sky as I drove up the winding road out of Abiquiu, New Mexico. It was nearly noon, earlier than usual in the day for a monsoon-season storm. As I crested the pass, a wide vista opened. To the north, sheets of dense rain moved toward walls and promontories of red and yellow stone. Lightning flashed, thunder boomed. As I made the turn up to Ghost Ranch, a huge squall obscured the high mesa above it. By the time I got to the ranch headquarters, the squall had passed over the heights to the east. I walked to the trailhead at the dry wash and headed up toward the golden precipice of Chimney Rock, hoping to get there before the next storm cell approached. To the east, flashes of light were followed by deep booms rolling and tumbling across the broken landscape.