Thankfully, the trail has turned back to dirt, and we eventually find ourselves down by the river on singletrack. I squeeze past some ruts that could eat a bike and ride out on a ledge. The path has suddenly ended. To my left I see an immediate plunge of doom off a cliff into the river, and to my right I see an impossibly steep hill or cliff. With the helmet light I can only see the spot I look at, not the whole scene, and rather than seeing what is probably a beautiful and relaxing river scene, I'm only seeing potential disaster. The pucker factor is high. I can't tell quite how far I can roll backwards so we turn around very carefully. As cold as the air is, I'm sure the water is worse.
In about 20 feet we see a steep ascent, so up we go, squeezing between rocks. Down a steep drop and we're laughing as we barely fit between cliff and vegetation.
Up a hill, now there are volcanic looking chunks of black rock all over the place, in stark contrast to the light colored dirt. The smell of sage brush is strong as the singletrack widens into two-track.