Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Head In The Clouds

It was one of those foggy days. The kind you'd expect to see early in the morning on the coast of California. Not a fairly common sight on the high plains of Wyoming. Banks of clouds, white and grey, rumbling and tumbling. I drove along side the puffy pillows of moisture moving across the prairie and watched them drift through navy blue mountains in the distance.

It was my day off and I kept hearing John Muir whispering, "The mountains are calling and I must go." There was only one place in my heart that was calling. A place on the top of the world, full of forest and meadows and mustangs.

Climbing the gravel road I eased my way through the shroud of clouds. The Aspen trees, the road, everything was a blur, like a London fog. Cresting the last hill to 9,000 feet, I felt my way to the main meadow and turned off the ignition. Nobody else was up there. Nothing moved. It was eerie and exhilarating as I poked around in the mist, looking out over the edge to the desert down below. It was a drop off of pure white. I couldn't see anything! Like wild lands in Lord Of The Rings, the pine trees were buried in smoke-like puffs of mist. As I looked around, I was hoping with all my heart that I'd see Ponyboy standing there in the fog. Wouldn't that have been a sight! But, there were no horses to be found there. So, I drove to Wild Horse Point, which took me an hour because I couldn't see what was in front of me. What did it matter? I had the whole day to myself and the rule is, when you're up on Magic Mountain, time is of no importance.

Driving back to Main Meadow I stopped to stare at a plump, grey mule deer peeking around a tree trunk. I sat there for awhile and the clouds began to make way for patches of blue. Back at the meadow I sat on a rock. The sun came out. The fog lifted. I poured myself a cup of steaming blonde coffee from a thermos and I celebrated. I drank to my blessed life. I drank to the heavenly horses, wherever they may be. I rejoiced in the sunshine, in the starlings above me, in the fluorescent yellow rabbitbrush that was the only color left on this land of dried up sage.

I kept hoping I'd see a forelock and a mane come out of the darkened forest, following a path to where the sun shines. I'd close my eyes and count to ten. Then I'd look to the trees. But, the boys of summer have left now. For greener pastures down below. As I sat crossed legged on that rock, I started thinking about all the good times C and I had this summer, together, with the horses. I reminisced of when I first met Ghost. He's got a face you could never forget. A snow white face on a charcoal grey, muscular body, with more scars than any of the others. I thought of the perfect heads of Coal and Gris and Storm, all wearing a white star and how every one of the boys has a roman nose and how some necks were thicker than others. The day we finally found the mares on the hill, was the luckiest day of all, with Flax and Mocha only a few months old, they were the epitome of life. With their tails like flags they would run like the wind, so alive and so free. Then my thoughts went to our meeting with the King of the mountain, and my eyes filled up with tears. I can tell you every last detail of that time with King. The scent of him still lingers. The look in his eyes, staring into mine, I will never forget.

I took my time going down the mountain, just in case. Frolicking on the side of a rocky cliff was a herd of pronghorn, looking very pretty, with their neck stripes and big brown eyes. When I got to the bottom of the last hill I pulled over to pop in a Lucinda Williams CD. As I looked out at the sage flats and Moonstone Mountain in the distance, I spotted something black, a cluster of something out there. I grabbed my binoculars and those black things turned out to be a bundle of wild horses!

To be continued...























Wednesday, September 17, 2014



It's been a whirlwind, this new beginning of Autumn. A flurry of flying, plane changes, luggage carousels, rental cars, maps and schedules, and along with it, songs and stories topped off with laughter and comfortable quiet, a thousand hugs and a kiss goodbye.

I discovered something about myself on this trip. I'm no good at airports. I'm impatient, intolerant and nervous. My heart flutters and I bite my nails. My short attention span gets even shorter. I get disoriented and confused and I don't drink enough water. I get a little grouchy. I worry my plane will crash. I always worry about that.

I discovered, or I should say, re confirmed the fact that I am uncomfortable around crowds of people and the blather, all the clamor and the noise! Good heavens!

Relieved to be back in Denver, I drove without hesitation, straight for the village of Red Feather. Like a miner, my headlamp was the only light I saw, except for the infinite stars above me, as I walked the pathway to the door of that little tin can in the woods.

I didn't hear a sound.

I collapsed in my little bed in the Silver Moonbeam and I dreamed of a black bear.



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Banner Day

Pretty soon, like these summer days, our wild horse chasing days will sadly disappear. Winter will come. The mountain will be covered in snow and the iron gate that leads to our magic meadows will be closed and locked until the following June.

Yesterday C and I got to spend the whole live long day with many bands of mustangs, and with it the return of 60 mile gusts and cooler temperatures mixed with sun and rain and partly cloudy skies. It all makes for interesting photos shoots, bad hair days (for the horses) and constant wardrobe changes. The layered look is in again.

Some of the horses, we noticed, have already come down off the mountain. They have so many, thousands of acres, to disappear into, but I have an eye for spotting them right away. Then, with my binoculars, there they were, up to their eyeballs in blue-grey sage and Rabbitbrush. Along sloping hills and vastness, we hiked out about a mile toward a dozen contented grazers with tangles and scars. As we made our appearance over a hill we startled them and the dust began to fly. Manes flew, hooves curled and nostrils flared. Like racehorses coming out of a chute, they were off! I got chills, my jaw dropped and in a low voice I told them to run.

As always, we made our rounds to the familiar meadows but most were empty of horses. We did see some mule deer heads peek around tree trunks. Signs of elk were everywhere and Jackrabbits scurried and ducked under bramble. Instead, fancy RV's made their home in the meadows and ATV's were all lined up. Bow hunting season would begin tomorrow. There is a healthy and thriving elk herd on that mountain. We've seen them all summer, bounding through the woods and we've heard their wild sounds echoing through the trees.

But, wouldn't you know it. We found a couple of jewels in main meadow. A young boy, either the son or brother of Ghost. So many of the horses have the same look. Like they're all related. They sport that spanish blood. That roman nose. The predominantly charcoal grey and white face. Coal was there, too. He's always been a favorite of mine. He's lean and shiny black with the perfect white blaze and gentle eyes.

Further down the road we stopped to make some tailgate coffee. Strolling and sipping we came upon a lone palomino, full of caution and curiosity. I was reminded of Pony Boy. That palomino paint that was so often alone. That boy we don't see anymore. Where's Pony Boy?

It wasn't long before we got to hang out with The Lucky Black Stallion and his mares, and the young 'uns Flaxen and Mocha. Those babes grew! Just two weeks ago they looked like newborns, fumbling and carefree, running all over the place. I wonder if they know how lucky they are to live on Magic Mountain?

Nearing dusk, we started making our way down the mountain and I looked to the west and shouted "Horses!" C is used to me shouting and carrying on when I get excited and fired up about mustangs. Afterall, there is a side to me that is spirited and high strung, like some horses, and he figures it just goes with the territory.

Down at the base of the mountain about a mile in the distance was a herd of tobiano paint mustangs! Approximately 10 of them. They were lovely. All of them with beautiful patches of brown and white. My little 10 year old niece, Shelby, had just sent me a picture she had drawn, of a wild paint horse. It was titled 'Patches: The Wild One'. How did she know I would soon have the pleasure of seeing these fine painted ponies?

Maybe one day she will get the chance to see Patches for herself, in person. I'll make sure of that.