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...