Infomotions, Inc.The Mountains / White, Stewart Edward, 1873-1946



Author: White, Stewart Edward, 1873-1946
Title: The Mountains
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): tenderfoot; trail; saddle; canon; golden trout; pack; deer
Contributor(s): Starr, Frederick, 1858-1933 [Editor]
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Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 55,096 words (really short) Grade range: 9-11 (high school) Readability score: 64 (easy)
Identifier: etext465
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The Mountains

by Stewart Edward White

March, 1996  [Etext #465]
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?? marks two smudged characters that need to be obtained.
{bean- did encodes, depag, italics, decaption. Couldn't get a
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THE MOUNTAINS
BY
STEWART EDWARD WHITE

AUTHOR OF
"THE BLAZED TRAIL," "SILENT PLACES,"
"THE FOREST," ETC.





PREFACE


The author has followed a true sequence of events
practically in all particulars save in respect to the
character of the Tenderfoot.  He is in one sense fictitious;
in another sense real.  He is real in that he is the
apotheosis of many tenderfeet, and that everything he does
in this narrative he has done at one time or another in the
author's experience.  He is fictitious in the sense that he
is in no way to be identified with the third member of our
party in the actual trip.


CONTENTS

I.     THE RIDGE TRAIL
II.    ON EQUIPMENT
III.   ON HORSES
IV.    HOW TO GO ABOUT IT
V.     THE COAST RANGES
VI.    THE INFERNO
VII.   THE FOOT-HILLS
VIII.  THE PINES
IX.    THE TRAIL
X.     ON SEEING DEER
XI.    ON TENDERFEET 
XII.   THE CANON
XIII.  TROUT, BUCKSKIN, AND PROSPECTORS
XIV.   ON CAMP COOKERY 
XV.    ON THE WIND AT NIGHT
XVI.   THE VALLEY
XVII.  THE MAIN CREST
XVIII. THE GIANT FOREST
XIX.   ON COWBOYS
XX.    THE GOLDEN TROUT
XXI.   ON GOING OUT
XXII.  THE LURE OF THE TRAIL



THE MOUNTAINS

I

THE RIDGE TRAIL

Six trails lead to the main ridge.  They are all
good trails, so that even the casual tourist in the
little Spanish-American town on the seacoast need
have nothing to fear from the ascent.  In some spots
they contract to an arm's length of space, outside of
which limit they drop sheer away; elsewhere they
stand up on end, zigzag in lacets each more hair-
raising than the last, or fill to demoralization with
loose boulders and shale.  A fall on the part of your
horse would mean a more than serious accident; but
Western horses do not fall.  The major premise stands:
even the casual tourist has no real reason for fear,
however scared he may become.

Our favorite route to the main ridge was by a way
called the Cold Spring Trail.  We used to enjoy
taking visitors up it, mainly because you come on
the top suddenly, without warning.  Then we collected
remarks.  Everybody, even the most stolid,
said something.

You rode three miles on the flat, two in the leafy
and gradually ascending creek-bed of a canon, a half

hour of laboring steepness in the overarching mountain
lilac and laurel.  There you came to a great rock
gateway which seemed the top of the world.  At the
gateway was a Bad Place where the ponies planted
warily their little hoofs, and the visitor played "eyes
front," and besought that his mount should not
stumble.

Beyond the gateway a lush level canon into which
you plunged as into a bath; then again the laboring
trail, up and always up toward the blue California
sky, out of the lilacs, and laurels, and redwood
chaparral into the manzanita, the Spanish bayonet, the
creamy yucca, and the fine angular shale of the
upper regions.  Beyond the apparent summit you
found always other summits yet to be climbed.  And
all at once, like thrusting your shoulders out of a
hatchway, you looked over the top.

Then came the remarks.  Some swore softly; some
uttered appreciative ejaculation; some shouted aloud;
some gasped; one man uttered three times the word
"Oh,"--once breathlessly, Oh! once in awakening
appreciation, OH! once in wild enthusiasm, OH!
Then invariably they fell silent and looked.

For the ridge, ascending from seaward in a gradual
coquetry of foot-hills, broad low ranges, cross-systems,
canons, little flats, and gentle ravines, inland
dropped off almost sheer to the river below.  And
from under your very feet rose, range after range, tier
after tier, rank after rank, in increasing crescendo of
wonderful tinted mountains to the main crest of the
Coast Ranges, the blue distance, the mightiness of
California's western systems.  The eye followed them
up and up, and farther and farther, with the accumulating
emotion of a wild rush on a toboggan.  There
came a point where the fact grew to be almost too
big for the appreciation, just as beyond a certain
point speed seems to become unbearable.  It left you
breathless, wonder-stricken, awed.  You could do
nothing but look, and look, and look again, tongue-
tied by the impossibility of doing justice to what you
felt.  And in the far distance, finally, your soul, grown
big in a moment, came to rest on the great precipices
and pines of the greatest mountains of all, close under
the sky.

In a little, after the change had come to you, a
change definite and enduring, which left your inner
processes forever different from what they had been,
you turned sharp to the west and rode five miles
along the knife-edge Ridge Trail to where Rattlesnake
Canon led you down and back to your accustomed
environment.

To the left as you rode you saw, far on the horizon,
rising to the height of your eye, the mountains
of the channel islands.  Then the deep sapphire of
the Pacific, fringed with the soft, unchanging white
of the surf and the yellow of the shore.  Then the
town like a little map, and the lush greens of the
wide meadows, the fruit-groves, the lesser ranges--
all vivid, fertile, brilliant, and pulsating with vitality. 
You filled your senses with it, steeped them in the
beauty of it.  And at once, by a mere turn of the
eyes, from the almost crude insistence of the bright
primary color of life, you faced the tenuous azures
of distance, the delicate mauves and amethysts, the
lilacs and saffrons of the arid country.

This was the wonder we never tired of seeing for
ourselves, of showing to others.  And often,
academically, perhaps a little wistfully, as one talks of
something to be dreamed of but never enjoyed, we
spoke of how fine it would be to ride down into that
land of mystery and enchantment, to penetrate one
after another the canons dimly outlined in the shadows
cast by the westering sun, to cross the mountains
lying outspread in easy grasp of the eye, to gain the
distant blue Ridge, and see with our own eyes what
lay beyond.

For to its other attractions the prospect added that
of impossibility, of unattainableness.  These rides of
ours were day rides.  We had to get home by nightfall. 
Our horses had to be fed, ourselves to be housed. 
We had not time to continue on down the other side
whither the trail led.  At the very and literal brink
of achievement we were forced to turn back.

Gradually the idea possessed us.  We promised
ourselves that some day we would explore.  In our
after-dinner smokes we spoke of it.  Occasionally,
from some hunter or forest-ranger, we gained little
items of information, we learned the fascination of
musical names--Mono Canon, Patrera Don Victor,
Lloma Paloma, Patrera Madulce, Cuyamas, became
familiar to us as syllables.  We desired mightily to
body them forth to ourselves as facts.  The extent
of our mental vision expanded.  We heard of other
mountains far beyond these farthest--mountains
whose almost unexplored vastnesses contained great
forests, mighty valleys, strong water-courses, beautiful
hanging-meadows, deep canons of granite, eternal
snows,--mountains so extended, so wonderful, that
their secrets offered whole summers of solitary
exploration.  We came to feel their marvel, we came
to respect the inferno of the Desert that hemmed
them in.  Shortly we graduated from the indefiniteness
of railroad maps to the intricacies of geological
survey charts.  The fever was on us.  We must go.

A dozen of us desired.  Three of us went; and
of the manner of our going, and what you must
know who would do likewise, I shall try here to
tell.



II

ON EQUIPMENT

If you would travel far in the great mountains
where the trails are few and bad, you will need
a certain unique experience and skill.  Before you
dare venture forth without a guide, you must be able
to do a number of things, and to do them well.

First and foremost of all, you must be possessed
of that strange sixth sense best described as the sense
of direction.  By it you always know about where
you are.  It is to some degree a memory for back-
tracks and landmarks, but to a greater extent an
instinct for the lay of the country, for relative
bearings, by which you are able to make your way
across-lots back to your starting-place.  It is not an
uncommon faculty, yet some lack it utterly.  If you
are one of the latter class, do not venture, for you
will get lost as sure as shooting, and being lost in
the mountains is no joke.

Some men possess it; others do not.  The distinction
seems to be almost arbitrary.  It can be largely
developed, but only in those with whom original
endowment of the faculty makes development possible. 
No matter how long a direction-blind man
frequents the wilderness, he is never sure of himself. 
Nor is the lack any reflection on the intelligence.  I
once traveled in the Black Hills with a young fellow
who himself frankly confessed that after much
experiment he had come to the conclusion he could
not "find himself."  He asked me to keep near him,
and this I did as well as I could; but even then,
three times during the course of ten days he lost
himself completely in the tumultuous upheavals and
canons of that badly mixed region.  Another, an old
grouse-hunter, walked twice in a circle within the
confines of a thick swamp about two miles square. 
On the other hand, many exhibit almost marvelous
skill in striking a bee-line for their objective point,
and can always tell you, even after an engrossing and
wandering hunt, exactly where camp lies.  And I
know nothing more discouraging than to look up
after a long hard day to find your landmarks changed
in appearance, your choice widened to at least five
diverging and similar canons, your pockets empty
of food, and the chill mountain twilight descending.

Analogous to this is the ability to follow a dim
trail.  A trail in the mountains often means merely a
way through, a route picked out by some prospector,
and followed since at long intervals by chance travelers.

It may, moreover, mean the only way through. 
Missing it will bring you to ever-narrowing ledges,
until at last you end at a precipice, and there is no
room to turn your horses around for the return.  Some
of the great box canons thousands of feet deep are
practicable by but one passage,--and that steep and
ingenious in its utilization of ledges, crevices, little
ravines, and "hog's-backs"; and when the only
indications to follow consist of the dim vestiges left by
your last predecessor, perhaps years before, the affair
becomes one of considerable skill and experience. 
You must be able to pick out scratches made by
shod hoofs on the granite, depressions almost filled
in by the subsequent fall of decayed vegetation,
excoriations on fallen trees.  You must have the sense
to know AT ONCE when you have overrun these indications,
and the patience to turn back immediately to
your last certainty, there to pick up the next clue,
even if it should take you the rest of the day.  In
short, it is absolutely necessary that you be at least
a persistent tracker.

Parenthetically; having found the trail, be charitable. 
Blaze it, if there are trees; otherwise "monument"
it by piling rocks on top of one another.  Thus will 
those who come after bless your unknown shade.

Third, you must know horses.  I do not mean that
you should be a horse-show man, with a knowledge
of points and pedigrees.  But you must learn exactly
what they can and cannot do in the matters of carrying
weights, making distance, enduring without deterioration
hard climbs in high altitudes; what they can or cannot 
get over in the way of bad places.  This last is not 
always a matter of appearance merely.  Some bits of trail,
seeming impassable to anything but a goat, a Western 
horse will negotiate easily; while others, not 
particularly terrifying in appearance, offer 
complications of abrupt turn or a single bit of unstable,
leg-breaking footing which renders them exceedingly 
dangerous.  You must, moreover, be able to manage your 
animals to the best advantage in such bad places.  Of 
course you must in the beginning have been wise as to 
the selection of the horses.

Fourth, you must know good horse-feed when
you see it.  Your animals are depending entirely on
the country; for of course you are carrying no dry
feed for them.  Their pasturage will present itself
under a variety of aspects, all of which you must
recognize with certainty.  Some of the greenest,
lushest, most satisfying-looking meadows grow nothing
but water-grasses of large bulk but small nutrition;
while apparently barren tracts often conceal small but
strong growths of great value.  You must differentiate these.

Fifth, you must possess the ability to pare a hoof,
fit a shoe cold, nail it in place.  A bare hoof does not
last long on the granite, and you are far from the
nearest blacksmith.  Directly in line with this, you
must have the trick of picking up and holding a
hoof without being kicked, and you must be able to
throw and tie without injuring him any horse that
declines to be shod in any other way.

Last, you must of course be able to pack a horse
well, and must know four or five of the most essential
pack-"hitches."

With this personal equipment you ought to be
able to get through the country.  It comprises the
absolutely essential.

But further, for the sake of the highest efficiency,
you should add, as finish to your mountaineer's
education, certain other items.  A knowledge of the
habits of deer and the ability to catch trout with fair
certainty are almost a necessity when far from the base
of supplies.  Occasionally the trail goes to pieces
entirely: there you must know something of the
handling of an axe and pick.  Learn how to swim a
horse.  You will have to take lessons in camp-fire
cookery.  Otherwise employ a guide.  Of course
your lungs, heart, and legs must be in good condition.

As to outfit, certain especial conditions will
differentiate your needs from those of forest and canoe
travel.

You will in the changing altitudes be exposed to
greater variations in temperature.  At morning you
may travel in the hot arid foot-hills; at noon you will
be in the cool shades of the big pines; towards
evening you may wallow through snowdrifts; and at
dark you may camp where morning will show you
icicles hanging from the brinks of little waterfalls. 
Behind your saddle you will want to carry a sweater,
or better still a buckskin waistcoat.  Your arms are
never cold anyway, and the pockets of such a waistcoat,
made many and deep, are handy receptacles for
smokables, matches, cartridges, and the like.  For the
night-time, when the cold creeps down from the high
peaks, you should provide yourself with a suit of
very heavy underwear and an extra sweater or a
buckskin shirt.  The latter is lighter, softer, and more
impervious to the wind than the sweater.  Here
again I wish to place myself on record as opposed to
a coat.  It is a useless ornament, assumed but rarely,
and then only as substitute for a handier garment.

Inasmuch as you will be a great deal called on to
handle abrading and sometimes frozen ropes, you
will want a pair of heavy buckskin gauntlets.  An
extra pair of stout high-laced boots with small
Hungarian hob-nails will come handy.  It is marvelous
how quickly leather wears out in the downhill friction
of granite and shale.  I once found the heels of
a new pair of shoes almost ground away by a single
giant-strides descent of a steep shale-covered thirteen-
thousand-foot mountain.  Having no others I patched
them with hair-covered rawhide and a bit of horseshoe. 
It sufficed, but was a long and disagreeable
job which an extra pair would have obviated.

Balsam is practically unknown in the high hills,
and the rocks are especially hard.  Therefore you will
take, in addition to your gray army-blanket, a thick
quilt or comforter to save your bones.  This, with
your saddle-blankets and pads as foundation, should
give you ease--if you are tough.  Otherwise take a
second quilt.

A tarpaulin of heavy canvas 17 x 6 feet goes under
you, and can be, if necessary, drawn up to cover your
head.  We never used a tent.  Since you do not have
to pack your outfit on your own back, you can, if you
choose, include a small pillow.  Your other personal
belongings are those you would carry into the Forest.  
I have elsewhere described what they should be.

Now as to the equipment for your horses.

The most important point for yourself is your riding-
saddle.  The cowboy or military style and seat are
the only practicable ones.  Perhaps of these two the
cowboy saddle is the better, for the simple reason that
often in roping or leading a refractory horse, the horn
is a great help.  For steep-trail work the double cinch
is preferable to the single, as it need not be pulled so
tight to hold the saddle in place.

Your riding-bridle you will make of an ordinary
halter by riveting two snaps to the lower part of the
head-piece just above the corners of the horse's mouth. 
These are snapped into the rings of the bit.  At night
you unsnap the bit, remove it and the reins, and leave
the halter part on the horse.  Each animal, riding and
packing, has furthermore a short lead-rope attached
always to his halter-ring.

Of pack-saddles the ordinary sawbuck tree is by all
odds the best, provided it fits.  It rarely does.  If you
can adjust the wood accurately to the anatomy of the
individual horse, so that the side pieces bear evenly
and smoothly without gouging the withers or chafing
the back, you are possessed of the handiest machine
made for the purpose.  Should individual fitting prove
impracticable, get an old LOW California riding-tree
and have a blacksmith bolt an upright spike on the
cantle.  You can hang the loops of the kyacks or
alforjas--the sacks slung on either side the horse
--from the pommel and this iron spike.  Whatever
the saddle chosen, it should be supplied with breast-
straps, breeching, and two good cinches.

The kyacks or alforjas just mentioned are made
either of heavy canvas, or of rawhide shaped square
and dried over boxes.  After drying, the boxes are
removed, leaving the stiff rawhide like small trunks
open at the top.  I prefer the canvas, for the reason
that they can be folded and packed for railroad
transportation.  If a stiffer receptacle is wanted for
miscellaneous loose small articles, you can insert a soap-box
inside the canvas.  It cannot be denied that the rawhide
will stand rougher usage.

Probably the point now of greatest importance is
that of saddle-padding.  A sore back is the easiest
thing in the world to induce,--three hours' chafing
will turn the trick,--and once it is done you are in
trouble for a month.  No precautions or pains are too
great to take in assuring your pack-animals against
this.  On a pinch you will give up cheerfully part
of your bedding to the cause.  However, two good-
quality woolen blankets properly and smoothly
folded, a pad made of two ordinary collar-pads sewed
parallel by means of canvas strips in such a manner
as to lie along both sides of the backbone, a well-fitted
saddle, and care in packing will nearly always suffice. 
I have gone months without having to doctor a single
abrasion.

You will furthermore want a pack-cinch and a
pack-rope for each horse.  The former are of canvas
or webbing provided with a ring at one end and a
big bolted wooden hook at the other.  The latter
should be half-inch lines of good quality.  Thirty-three
feet is enough for packing only; but we usually
bought them forty feet long, so they could be used
also as picket-ropes.  Do not fail to include several
extra.  They are always fraying out, getting broken,
being cut to free a fallen horse, or becoming lost.

Besides the picket-ropes, you will also provide for
each horse a pair of strong hobbles.  Take them to
a harness-maker and have him sew inside each ankle-
band a broad strip of soft wash-leather twice the width
of the band.  This will save much chafing.  Some advocate
sheepskin with the wool on, but this I have found
tends to soak up water or to freeze hard.  At least
two loud cow-bells with neck-straps are handy to
assist you in locating whither the bunch may have
strayed during the night.  They should be hung on
the loose horses most inclined to wander.

Accidents are common in the hills.  The repair-kit
is normally rather comprehensive.  Buy a number of
extra latigos, or cinch-straps.  Include many copper
rivets of all sizes--they are the best quick-repair
known for almost everything, from putting together
a smashed pack-saddle to cobbling a worn-out boot. 
Your horseshoeing outfit should be complete with
paring-knife, rasp, nail-set, clippers, hammer, nails,
and shoes.  The latter will be the malleable soft iron,
low-calked "Goodenough," which can be fitted cold. 
Purchase a dozen front shoes and a dozen and a half
hind shoes.  The latter wear out faster on the trail. 
A box or so of hob-nails for your own boots, a waxed
end and awl, a whetstone, a file, and a piece of buckskin
for strings and patches complete the list.

Thus equipped, with your grub supply, your cooking-
utensils, your personal effects, your rifle and your
fishing-tackle, you should be able to go anywhere
that man and horses can go, entirely self-reliant,
independent of the towns.



III

ON HORSES

I really believe that you will find more variation
of individual and interesting character
in a given number of Western horses than in an
equal number of the average men one meets on the
street.  Their whole education, from the time they
run loose on the range until the time when, branded,
corralled, broken, and saddled, they pick their way
under guidance over a bad piece of trail, tends to
develop their self-reliance.  They learn to think for
themselves.

To begin with two misconceptions, merely by way
of clearing the ground: the Western horse is generally
designated as a "bronco."  The term is considered
synonymous of horse or pony.  This is not so. 
A horse is "bronco" when he is ugly or mean or
vicious or unbroken.  So is a cow "bronco" in the
same condition, or a mule, or a burro.  Again, from
certain Western illustrators and from a few samples,
our notion of the cow-pony has become that of a lean,
rangy, wiry, thin-necked, scrawny beast.  Such may
be found.  But the average good cow-pony is apt
to be an exceedingly handsome animal, clean-built,
graceful.  This is natural, when you stop to think of
it, for he is descended direct from Moorish and Arabian
stock.

Certain characteristics he possesses beyond the
capabilities of the ordinary horse.  The most marvelous
to me of these is his sure-footedness.  Let me give
you a few examples.

I once was engaged with a crew of cowboys in
rounding up mustangs in southern Arizona.  We would
ride slowly in through the hills until we caught sight
of the herds.  Then it was a case of running them
down and heading them off, of turning the herd,
milling it, of rushing it while confused across country
and into the big corrals.  The surface of the ground
was composed of angular volcanic rocks about the
size of your two fists, between which the bunch-grass
sprouted.  An Eastern rider would ride his horse very
gingerly and at a walk, and then thank his lucky
stars if he escaped stumbles.  The cowboys turned
their mounts through at a dead run.  It was beautiful
to see the ponies go, lifting their feet well up and
over, planting them surely and firmly, and nevertheless
making speed and attending to the game.  Once,
when we had pushed the herd up the slope of a
butte, it made a break to get through a little hog-
back.  The only way to head it was down a series of
rough boulder ledges laid over a great sheet of
volcanic rock.  The man at the hog-back put his little
gray over the ledges and boulders, down the sheet of
rock,--hop, slip, slide,--and along the side hill in
time to head off the first of the mustangs.  During the
ten days of riding I saw no horse fall.  The animal
I rode, Button by name, never even stumbled.

In the Black Hills years ago I happened to be one
of the inmates of a small mining-camp.  Each night
the work-animals, after being fed, were turned loose
in the mountains.  As I possessed the only cow-pony
in the outfit, he was fed in the corral, and kept up
for the purpose of rounding up the others.  Every
morning one of us used to ride him out after the
herd.  Often it was necessary to run him at full speed
along the mountain-side, over rocks, boulders, and
ledges, across ravines and gullies.  Never but once in
three months did he fall.

On the trail, too, they will perform feats little short
of marvelous.  Mere steepness does not bother them
at all.  They sit back almost on their haunches, bunch
their feet together, and slide.  I have seen them go
down a hundred feet this way.  In rough country
they place their feet accurately and quickly, gauge
exactly the proper balance.  I have led my saddle-
horse, Bullet, over country where, undoubtedly to
his intense disgust, I myself have fallen a dozen times
in the course of a morning.  Bullet had no such
troubles.  Any of the mountain horses will hop cheerfully
up or down ledges anywhere.  They will even walk
a log fifteen or twenty feet above a stream.  I have
seen the same trick performed in Barnum's circus as
a wonderful feat, accompanied by brass bands and
breathlessness.  We accomplished it on our trip with
out any brass bands; I cannot answer for the breathlessness. 
As for steadiness of nerve, they will walk
serenely on the edge of precipices a man would hate
to look over, and given a palm's breadth for the soles
of their feet, they will get through.  Over such a place
I should a lot rather trust Bullet than myself.

In an emergency the Western horse is not apt to
lose his head.  When a pack-horse falls down, he lies
still without struggle until eased of his pack and told
to get up.  If he slips off an edge, he tries to double
his fore legs under him and slide.  Should he find
himself in a tight place, he waits patiently for you to
help him, and then proceeds gingerly.  A friend of
mine rode a horse named Blue.  One day, the trail
being slippery with rain, he slid and fell.  My friend
managed a successful jump, but Blue tumbled about
thirty feet to the bed of the canon.  Fortunately he
was not injured.  After some difficulty my friend
managed to force his way through the chaparral to
where Blue stood.  Then it was fine to see them. 
My friend would go ahead a few feet, picking a route. 
When he had made his decision, he called Blue.  Blue
came that far, and no farther.  Several times the little
horse balanced painfully and unsteadily like a goat,
all four feet on a boulder, waiting for his signal to
advance.  In this manner they regained the trail, and
proceeded as though nothing had happened.  Instances
could be multiplied indefinitely.

A good animal adapts himself quickly.  He is
capable of learning by experience.  In a country
entirely new to him he soon discovers the best method
of getting about, where the feed grows, where he can
find water.  He is accustomed to foraging for himself. 
You do not need to show him his pasturage.
If there is anything to eat anywhere in the district he
will find it.  Little tufts of bunch-grass growing
concealed under the edges of the brush, he will search out. 
If he cannot get grass, he knows how to rustle for the
browse of small bushes.  Bullet would devour sage-
brush, when he could get nothing else; and I have
even known him philosophically to fill up on dry
pine-needles.  There is no nutrition in dry pine-
needles, but Bullet got a satisfyingly full belly.  On the
trail a well-seasoned horse will be always on the forage,
snatching here a mouthful, yonder a single spear of
grass, and all without breaking the regularity of his
gait, or delaying the pack-train behind him.  At the
end of the day's travel he is that much to the good.

By long observation thus you will construct your
ideal of the mountain horse, and in your selection
of your animals for an expedition you will search
always for that ideal.  It is only too apt to be
modified by personal idiosyncrasies, and proverbially an
ideal is difficult of attainment; but you will, with
care, come closer to its realization than one accustomed
only to the conventionality of an artificially
reared horse would believe possible.

The ideal mountain horse, when you come to pick
him out, is of medium size.  He should be not
smaller than fourteen hands nor larger than fifteen. 
He is strongly but not clumsily built, short-coupled,
with none of the snipy speedy range of the valley
animal.  You will select preferably one of wide full
forehead, indicating intelligence, low in the withers,
so the saddle will not be apt to gall him.  His sureness
of foot should be beyond question, and of course
he must be an expert at foraging.  A horse that knows
but one or two kinds of feed, and that starves unless
he can find just those kinds, is an abomination.  He
must not jump when you throw all kinds of rattling
and terrifying tarpaulins across him, and he must not
mind if the pack-ropes fall about his heels.  In the
day's march he must follow like a dog without the
necessity of a lead-rope, nor must he stray far when
turned loose at night.

Fortunately, when removed from the reassuring
environment of civilization, horses are gregarious. 
They hate to be separated from the bunch to which
they are accustomed.  Occasionally one of us would
stop on the trail, for some reason or another, thus
dropping behind the pack-train.  Instantly the saddle-
horse so detained would begin to grow uneasy.  Bullet
used by all means in his power to try to induce me
to proceed.  He would nibble me with his lips, paw
the ground, dance in a circle, and finally sidle up to
me in the position of being mounted, than which he
could think of no stronger hint.  Then when I had
finally remounted, it was hard to hold him in.  He
would whinny frantically, scramble with enthusiasm
up trails steep enough to draw a protest at ordinary
times, and rejoin his companions with every symptom
of gratification and delight.  This gregariousness and
alarm at being left alone in a strange country tends to
hold them together at night.  You are reasonably
certain that in the morning, having found one, you will
come upon the rest not far away.

The personnel of our own outfit we found most
interesting.  Although collected from divergent
localities they soon became acquainted.  In a crowded
corral they were always compact in their organization,
sticking close together, and resisting as a solid phalanx
encroachments on their feed by other and stranger
horses.  Their internal organization was very amusing. 
A certain segregation soon took place.  Some became
leaders; others by common consent were relegated to
the position of subordinates.

The order of precedence on the trail was rigidly
preserved by the pack-horses.  An attempt by Buckshot
to pass Dinkey, for example, the latter always
met with a bite or a kick by way of hint.  If the
gelding still persisted, and tried to pass by a long
detour, the mare would rush out at him angrily, her
ears back, her eyes flashing, her neck extended.  And
since Buckshot was by no means inclined always to
give in meekly, we had opportunities for plenty
of amusement.  The two were always skirmishing. 
When by a strategic short cut across the angle of
a trail Buckshot succeeded in stealing a march on
Dinkey, while she was nipping a mouthful, his triumph
was beautiful to see.  He never held the place
for long, however.  Dinkey's was the leadership by
force of ambition and energetic character, and at the
head of the pack-train she normally marched.

Yet there were hours when utter indifference
seemed to fall on the militant spirits.  They trailed
peacefully and amiably in the rear while Lily or Jenny
marched with pride in the coveted advance.  But the
place was theirs only by sufferance.  A bite or a kick
sent them back to their own positions when the true
leaders grew tired of their vacation.

However rigid this order of precedence, the saddle-
animals were acknowledged as privileged;--and
knew it.  They could go where they pleased.  Furthermore
theirs was the duty of correcting infractions
of the trail discipline, such as grazing on the march,
or attempting unauthorized short cuts.  They appreciated
this duty.  Bullet always became vastly indignant
if one of the pack-horses misbehaved.  He would
run at the offender angrily, hustle him to his place with
savage nips of his teeth, and drop back to his own
position with a comical air of virtue.  Once in a great
while it would happen that on my spurring up from
the rear of the column I would be mistaken for one
of the pack-horses attempting illegally to get ahead. 
Immediately Dinkey or Buckshot would snake his
head out crossly to turn me to the rear.  It was really
ridiculous to see the expression of apology with which
they would take it all back, and the ostentatious,
nose-elevated indifference in Bullet's very gait as he
marched haughtily by.  So rigid did all the animals
hold this convention that actually in the San Joaquin
Valley Dinkey once attempted to head off a Southern
Pacific train.  She ran at full speed diagonally
toward it, her eyes striking fire, her ears back, her
teeth snapping in rage because the locomotive would
not keep its place behind her ladyship.

Let me make you acquainted with our outfit.

I rode, as you have gathered, an Arizona pony
named Bullet.  He was a handsome fellow with a
chestnut brown coat, long mane and tail, and a
beautiful pair of brown eyes.  Wes always called him
"Baby."  He was in fact the youngster of the party,
with all the engaging qualities of youth.  I never saw
a horse more willing.  He wanted to do what you
wanted him to; it pleased him, and gave him a
warm consciousness of virtue which the least observant
could not fail to remark.  When leading he
walked industriously ahead, setting the pace; when
driving,--that is, closing up the rear,--he attended
strictly to business.  Not for the most luscious bunch
of grass that ever grew would he pause even for an
instant.  Yet in his off hours, when I rode irresponsibly
somewhere in the middle, he was a great hand
to forage.  Few choice morsels escaped him.  He
confided absolutely in his rider in the matter of bad
country, and would tackle anything I would put him
at.  It seemed that he trusted me not to put him at
anything that would hurt him.  This was an invaluable
trait when an example had to be set to the reluctance
of the other horses.  He was a great swimmer. 
Probably the most winning quality of his nature was
his extreme friendliness.  He was always wandering
into camp to be petted, nibbling me over with his
lips, begging to have his forehead rubbed, thrusting
his nose under an elbow, and otherwise telling how
much he thought of us.  Whoever broke him did a
good job.  I never rode a better-reined horse.  A mere
indication of the bridle-hand turned him to right or
left, and a mere raising of the hand without the 
slightest pressure on the bit stopped him short.  And how
well he understood cow-work!  Turn him loose after
the bunch, and he would do the rest.  All I had to do
was to stick to him.  That in itself was no mean task,
for he turned like a flash, and was quick as a cat on
his feet.  At night I always let him go foot free. 
He would be there in the morning, and I could always
walk directly up to him with the bridle in plain
sight in my hand.  Even at a feedless camp we once
made where we had shot a couple of deer, he did
not attempt to wander off in search of pasture, as
would most horses.  He nosed around unsuccessfully
until pitch dark, then came into camp, and with great
philosophy stood tail to the fire until morning.  I
could always jump off anywhere for a shot, without
even the necessity of "tying him to the ground," by
throwing the reins over his head.  He would wait for
me, although he was never overfond of firearms.

Nevertheless Bullet had his own sense of dignity. 
He was literally as gentle as a kitten, but he drew a
line.  I shall never forget how once, being possessed
of a desire to find out whether we could swim our
outfit across a certain stretch of the Merced River, I
climbed him bareback.  He bucked me off so quickly
that I never even got settled on his back.  Then he
gazed at me with sorrow, while, laughing irrepressibly
at this unusual assertion of independent ideas,
I picked myself out of a wild-rose bush.  He did not
attempt to run away from me, but stood to be saddled,
and plunged boldly into the swift water where
I told him to.  Merely he thought it disrespectful in
me to ride him without his proper harness.  He was
the pet of the camp.

As near as I could make out, he had but one fault. 
He was altogether too sensitive about his hind quarters,
and would jump like a rabbit if anything touched
him there.

Wes rode a horse we called Old Slob.  Wes, be
it premised, was an interesting companion.  He had
done everything,--seal-hunting, abalone-gathering,
boar-hunting, all kinds of shooting, cow-punching
in the rough Coast Ranges, and all other queer and
outlandish and picturesque vocations by which a
man can make a living.  He weighed two hundred
and twelve pounds and was the best game shot with
a rifle I ever saw.

As you may imagine, Old Slob was a stocky
individual.  He was built from the ground up.  His
disposition was quiet, slow, honest.  Above all, he
gave the impression of vast, very vast experience. 
Never did he hurry his mental processes, although
he was quick enough in his movements if need arose. 
He quite declined to worry about anything.  Consequently,
in spite of the fact that he carried by far the
heaviest man in the company, he stayed always fat
and in good condition.  There was something almost
pathetic in Old Slob's willingness to go on working,
even when more work seemed like an imposition. 
You could not fail to fall in love with his mild
inquiring gentle eyes, and his utter trust in the
goodness of human nature.  His only fault was an excess
of caution.  Old Slob was very very experienced.  He
knew all about trails, and he declined to be hurried
over what he considered a bad place.  Wes used
sometimes to disagree with him as to what constituted
a bad place.  "Some day you're going to take
a tumble, you old fool," Wes used to address him,
"if you go on fiddling down steep rocks with your
little old monkey work.  Why don't you step out?" 
Only Old Slob never did take a tumble.  He was
willing to do anything for you, even to the assuming
of a pack.  This is considered by a saddle-animal
distinctly as a come-down.

The Tenderfoot, by the irony of fate, drew a
tenderfoot horse.  Tunemah was a big fool gray that
was constitutionally rattle-brained.  He meant well
enough, but he didn't know anything.  When he
came to a bad place in the trail, he took one good
look--and rushed it.  Constantly we expected him
to come to grief.  It wore on the Tenderfoot's nerves. 
Tunemah was always trying to wander off the trail,
trying fool routes of his own invention.  If he were
sent ahead to set the pace, he lagged and loitered and
constantly looked back, worried lest he get too far in
advance and so lose the bunch.  If put at the rear, he
fretted against the bit, trying to push on at a senseless
speed.  In spite of his extreme anxiety to stay with
the train, he would once in a blue moon get a strange
idea of wandering off solitary through the mountains,
passing good feed, good water, good shelter.  We
would find him, after a greater or less period of difficult
tracking, perched in a silly fashion on some elevation. 
Heaven knows what his idea was: it certainly
was neither search for feed, escape, return whence he
came, nor desire for exercise.  When we came up
with him, he would gaze mildly at us from a foolish
vacant eye and follow us peaceably back to camp. 
Like most weak and silly people, he had occasional
stubborn fits when you could beat him to a pulp
without persuading him.  He was one of the type
already mentioned that knows but two or three kinds
of feed.  As time went on he became thinner and
thinner.  The other horses prospered, but Tunemah
failed.  He actually did not know enough to take
care of himself; and could not learn.  Finally, when
about two months out, we traded him at a cow-camp
for a little buckskin called Monache.

So much for the saddle-horses.  The pack-animals
were four.

A study of Dinkey's character and an experience
of her characteristics always left me with mingled
feelings.  At times I was inclined to think her
perfection: at other times thirty cents would have been
esteemed by me as a liberal offer for her.  To enumerate
her good points: she was an excellent weight-
carrier; took good care of her pack that it never
scraped nor bumped; knew all about trails, the
possibilities of short cuts, the best way of easing herself
downhill; kept fat and healthy in districts where
grew next to no feed at all; was past-mistress in the
picking of routes through a trailless country.  Her
endurance was marvelous; her intelligence equally
so.  In fact too great intelligence perhaps accounted
for most of her defects.  She thought too much for
herself; she made up opinions about people; she
speculated on just how far each member of the party,
man or beast, would stand imposition, and tried
conclusions with each to test the accuracy of her
speculations; she obstinately insisted on her own way in
going up and down hill,--a way well enough for
Dinkey, perhaps, but hazardous to the other less skillful
animals who naturally would follow her lead.  If
she did condescend to do things according to your
ideas, it was with a mental reservation.  You caught
her sardonic eye fixed on you contemptuously.  You
felt at once that she knew another method, a much
better method, with which yours compared most
unfavorably.  "I'd like to kick you in the stomach,"
Wes used to say; "you know too much for a horse!"

If one of the horses bucked under the pack, Dinkey
deliberately tried to stampede the others--and
generally succeeded.  She invariably led them off
whenever she could escape her picket-rope.  In
case of trouble of any sort, instead of standing still
sensibly, she pretended to be subject to wild-eyed
panics.  It was all pretense, for when you DID yield to
temptation and light into her with the toe of your
boot, she subsided into common sense.  The spirit of
malevolent mischief was hers.

Her performances when she was being packed
were ridiculously histrionic.  As soon as the saddle
was cinched, she spread her legs apart, bracing them
firmly as though about to receive the weight of an
iron safe.  Then as each article of the pack was thrown
across her back, she flinched and uttered the most
heart-rending groans.  We used sometimes to amuse
ourselves by adding merely an empty sack, or
other article quite without weight.  The groans and
tremblings of the braced legs were quite as pitiful
as though we had piled on a sack of flour.  Dinkey,
I had forgotten to state, was a white horse, and
belonged to Wes.

Jenny also was white and belonged to Wes.  Her
chief characteristic was her devotion to Dinkey.  She
worshiped Dinkey, and seconded her enthusiastically. 
Without near the originality of Dinkey, she was yet
a very good and sure pack-horse.  The deceiving
part about Jenny was her eye.  It was baleful with
the spirit of evil,--snaky and black, and with green
sideways gleams in it.  Catching the flash of it, you
would forever after avoid getting in range of her
heels or teeth.  But it was all a delusion.  Jenny's
disposition was mild and harmless.

The third member of the pack-outfit we bought at
an auction sale in rather a peculiar manner.  About
sixty head of Arizona horses of the C. A. Bar outfit
were being sold.  Toward the close of the afternoon
they brought out a well-built stocky buckskin of
first-rate appearance except that his left flank was
ornamented with five different brands.  The auctioneer
called attention to him.

"Here is a first-rate all-round horse," said he. 
"He is sound; will ride, work, or pack; perfectly
broken, mild, and gentle.  He would make a first-rate
family horse, for he has a kind disposition."

The official rider put a saddle on him to give him
a demonstrating turn around the track.  Then that
mild, gentle, perfectly broken family horse of kind
disposition gave about as pretty an exhibition of
barbed-wire bucking as you would want to see.  Even
the auctioneer had to join in the wild shriek of delight
that went up from the crowd.  He could not get a
bid, and I bought the animal in later very cheaply.

As I had suspected, the trouble turned out to be
merely exuberance or nervousness before a crowd. 
He bucked once with me under the saddle; and twice
subsequently under a pack,--that was all.  Buckshot
was the best pack-horse we had.  Bar an occasional
saunter into the brush when he got tired of the trail,
we had no fault to find with him.  He carried a heavy
pack, was as sure-footed as Bullet, as sagacious on
the trail as Dinkey, and he always attended strictly
to his own business.  Moreover he knew that business
thoroughly, knew what should be expected of him,
accomplished it well and quietly.  His disposition
was dignified but lovable.  As long as you treated
him well, he was as gentle as you could ask.  But
once let Buckshot get it into his head that he was
being imposed on, or once let him see that your
temper had betrayed you into striking him when
he thought he did not deserve it, and he cut loose
vigorously and emphatically with his heels.  He
declined to be abused.

There remains but Lily.  I don't know just how
to do justice to Lily--the "Lily maid."  We named
her that because she looked it.  Her color was a pure
white, her eye was virginal and silly, her long bang
strayed in wanton carelessness across her face and
eyes, her expression was foolish, and her legs were
long and rangy.  She had the general appearance of
an overgrown school-girl too big for short dresses and
too young for long gowns;--a school-girl named
Flossie, or Mamie, or Lily.  So we named her that.

At first hers was the attitude of the timid and
shrinking tenderfoot.  She stood in awe of her
companions; she appreciated her lack of experience. 
Humbly she took the rear; slavishly she copied the
other horses; closely she clung to camp.  Then in a
few weeks, like most tenderfeet, she came to think
that her short experience had taught her everything
there was to know.  She put on airs.  She became
too cocky and conceited for words.

Everything she did was exaggerated, overdone. 
She assumed her pack with an air that plainly said,
"Just see what a good horse am I!"  She started out
three seconds before the others in a manner intended
to shame their procrastinating ways.  Invariably she
was the last to rest, and the first to start on again. 
She climbed over-vigorously, with the manner of
conscious rectitude.  "Acts like she was trying to
get her wages raised," said Wes.

In this manner she wore herself down.  If
permitted she would have climbed until winded, and
then would probably have fallen off somewhere for
lack of strength.  Where the other horses watched the
movements of those ahead, in order that when a halt
for rest was called they might stop at an easy place on
the trail, Lily would climb on until jammed against
the animal immediately preceding her.  Thus often
she found herself forced to cling desperately to
extremely bad footing until the others were ready to
proceed.  Altogether she was a precious nuisance, that
acted busily but without thinking.

Two virtues she did possess.  She was a glutton
for work; and she could fall far and hard without
injuring herself.  This was lucky, for she was always
falling.  Several times we went down to her fully
expecting to find her dead or so crippled that she would
have to be shot.  The loss of a little skin was her only
injury.  She got to be quite philosophic about it.  On
losing her balance she would tumble peaceably, and
then would lie back with an air of luxury, her eyes
closed, while we worked to free her.  When we had
loosened the pack, Wes would twist her tail.  Thereupon
she would open one eye inquiringly as though
to say, "Hullo!  Done already?"  Then leisurely
she would arise and shake herself.



IV

ON HOW TO GO ABOUT IT

One truth you must learn to accept, believe as
a tenet of your faith, and act upon always.  It
is that your entire welfare depends on the condition
of your horses.  They must, as a consequence, receive
always your first consideration.  As long as they have
rest and food, you are sure of getting along; as soon
as they fail, you are reduced to difficulties.  So
absolute is this truth that it has passed into an idiom. 
When a Westerner wants to tell you that he lacks
a thing, he informs you he is "afoot" for it.  "Give
me a fill for my pipe," he begs; "I'm plumb afoot
for tobacco."

Consequently you think last of your own comfort. 
In casting about for a place to spend the night, you
look out for good feed.  That assured, all else is of
slight importance; you make the best of whatever
camping facilities may happen to be attached.  If
necessary you will sleep on granite or in a marsh,
walk a mile for firewood or water, if only your
animals are well provided for.  And on the trail you
often will work twice as hard as they merely to save
them a little.  In whatever I may tell you regarding
practical expedients, keep this always in mind.

As to the little details of your daily routine in the
mountains, many are worth setting down, however
trivial they may seem.  They mark the difference
between the greenhorn and the old-timer; but, more
important, they mark also the difference between the
right and the wrong, the efficient and the inefficient
ways of doing things.

In the morning the cook for the day is the first man
afoot, usually about half past four.  He blows on his
fingers, casts malevolent glances at the sleepers, finally
builds his fire and starts his meal.  Then he takes
fiendish delight in kicking out the others.  They do not
run with glad shouts to plunge into the nearest pool,
as most camping fiction would have us believe.  Not
they.  The glad shout and nearest pool can wait until
noon when the sun is warm.  They, too, blow on their
fingers and curse the cook for getting them up so
early.  All eat breakfast and feel better.

Now the cook smokes in lordly ease.  One of the
other men washes the dishes, while his companion
goes forth to drive in the horses.  Washing dishes is
bad enough, but fumbling with frozen fingers at stubborn
hobble-buckles is worse.  At camp the horses are caught, 
and each is tied near his own saddle and pack.

The saddle-horses are attended to first.  Thus they
are available for business in case some of the others
should make trouble.  You will see that your saddle-
blankets are perfectly smooth, and so laid that the
edges are to the front where they are least likely to
roll under or wrinkle.  After the saddle is in place,
lift it slightly and loosen the blanket along the back
bone so it will not draw down tight under the weight
of the rider.  Next hang your rifle-scabbard under
your left leg.  It should be slanted along the horse's
side at such an angle that neither will the muzzle
interfere with the animal's hind leg, nor the butt with
your bridle-hand.  This angle must be determined by
experiment.  The loop in front should be attached to
the scabbard, so it can be hung over the horn; that
behind to the saddle, so the muzzle can be thrust
through it.  When you come to try this method, you
will appreciate its handiness.  Besides the rifle, you
will carry also your rope, camera, and a sweater or
waistcoat for changes in temperature.  In your saddle
bags are pipe and tobacco, perhaps a chunk of bread,
your note-book, and the map--if there is any.  Thus
your saddle-horse is outfitted.  Do not forget your
collapsible rubber cup.  About your waist you will wear
your cartridge-belt with six-shooter and sheath-knife. 
I use a forty-five caliber belt.  By threading a buck
skin thong in and out through some of the cartridge
loops, their size is sufficiently reduced to hold also the
30-40 rifle cartridges.  Thus I carry ammunition for
both revolver and rifle in the one belt.  The belt
should not be buckled tight about your waist, but
should hang well down on the hip.  This is for two
reasons.  In the first place, it does not drag so heavily
at your anatomy, and falls naturally into position when
you are mounted.  In the second place, you can jerk
your gun out more easily from a loose-hanging holster. 
Let your knife-sheath be so deep as almost to
cover the handle, and the knife of the very best steel
procurable.  I like a thin blade.  If you are a student
of animal anatomy, you can skin and quarter a deer
with nothing heavier than a pocket-knife.

When you come to saddle the pack-horses, you
must exercise even greater care in getting the saddle-
blankets smooth and the saddle in place.  There is
some give and take to a rider; but a pack carries
"dead," and gives the poor animal the full handicap
of its weight at all times.  A rider dismounts in bad
or steep places; a pack stays on until the morning's
journey is ended.  See to it, then, that it is on right.

Each horse should have assigned him a definite
and, as nearly as possible, unvarying pack.  Thus you
will not have to search everywhere for the things
you need.

For example, in our own case, Lily was known as
the cook-horse.  She carried all the kitchen utensils,
the fire-irons, the axe, and matches.  In addition her
alforjas contained a number of little bags in which
were small quantities for immediate use of all the
different sorts of provisions we had with us.  When
we made camp we unpacked her near the best place
for a fire, and everything was ready for the cook. 
Jenny was a sort of supply store, for she transported
the main stock of the provisions of which Lily's little
bags contained samples.  Dinkey helped out Jenny,
and in addition--since she took such good care
of her pack--was intrusted with the fishing-rods,
the shot-gun, the medicine-bag, small miscellaneous
duffle, and whatever deer or bear meat we happened
to have.  Buckshot's pack consisted of things not
often used, such as all the ammunition, the horse-
shoeing outfit, repair-kit, and the like.  It was rarely
disturbed at all.

These various things were all stowed away in the
kyacks or alforjas which hung on either side.  They
had to be very accurately balanced.  The least difference
in weight caused one side to sag, and that in
turn chafed the saddle-tree against the animal's
withers.

So far, so good.  Next comes the affair of the top
packs.  Lay your duffle-bags across the middle of the
saddle.  Spread the blankets and quilts as evenly as
possible.  Cover all with the canvas tarpaulin suitably
folded.  Everything is now ready for the pack-rope.

The first thing anybody asks you when it is
discovered that you know a little something of pack-
trains is, "Do you throw the Diamond Hitch?" 
Now the Diamond is a pretty hitch and a firm one,
but it is by no means the fetish some people make
of it.  They would have you believe that it represents
the height of the packer's art; and once having
mastered it, they use it religiously for every weight,
shape, and size of pack.  The truth of the matter is
that the style of hitch should be varied according to
the use to which it is to be put.

The Diamond is good because it holds firmly, is
a great flattener, and is especially adapted to the
securing of square boxes.  It is celebrated because it
is pretty and rather difficult to learn.  Also it possesses
the advantage for single-handed packing that it can
be thrown slack throughout and then tightened, and
that the last pull tightens the whole hitch.  However,
for ordinary purposes, with a quiet horse and a
comparatively soft pack, the common Square Hitch holds
well enough and is quickly made.  For a load of
small articles and heavy alforjas there is nothing like
the Lone Packer.  It too is a bit hard to learn.  Chiefly
is it valuable because the last pulls draw the alforjas
away from the horse's sides, thus preventing their
chafing him.  Of the many hitches that remain, you
need learn, to complete your list for all practical
purposes, only the Bucking Hitch.  It is complicated,
and takes time and patience to throw, but it is
warranted to hold your deck-load through the most
violent storms bronco ingenuity can stir up.

These four will be enough.  Learn to throw them,
and take pains always to throw them good and tight. 
A loose pack is the best expedient the enemy of your
soul could possibly devise.  It always turns or comes
to pieces on the edge of things; and then you will
spend the rest of the morning trailing a wildly buck-
ing horse by the burst and scattered articles of camp
duffle.  It is furthermore your exhilarating task, after
you have caught him, to take stock, and spend most
of the afternoon looking for what your first search
passed by.  Wes and I once hunted two hours for
as large an object as a Dutch oven.  After which you
can repack.  This time you will snug things down. 
You should have done so in the beginning.

Next, the lead-ropes are made fast to the top of
the packs.  There is here to be learned a certain knot. 
In case of trouble you can reach from your saddle
and jerk the whole thing free by a single pull on a
loose end.

All is now ready.  You take a last look around to
see that nothing has been left.  One of the horsemen
starts on ahead.  The pack-horses swing in behind. 
We soon accustomed ours to recognize the whistling
of "Boots and Saddles" as a signal for the advance. 
Another horseman brings up the rear.  The day's
journey has begun.

To one used to pleasure-riding the affair seems
almost too deliberate.  The leader plods steadily,
stopping from time to time to rest on the steep slopes. 
The others string out in a leisurely procession.  It
does no good to hurry.  The horses will of their own
accord stay in sight of one another, and constant
nagging to keep the rear closed up only worries them
without accomplishing any valuable result.  In going
uphill especially, let the train take its time.  Each
animal is likely to have his own ideas about when and
where to rest.  If he does, respect them.  See to it
merely that there is no prolonged yielding to the
temptation of meadow feed, and no careless or malicious
straying off the trail.  A minute's difference in
the time of arrival does not count.  Remember that
the horses are doing hard and continuous work on a
grass diet.

The day's distance will not seem to amount to
much in actual miles, especially if, like most
Californians, you are accustomed on a fresh horse to make
an occasional sixty or seventy between suns; but
it ought to suffice.  There is a lot to be seen and
enjoyed in a mountain mile.  Through the high country
two miles an hour is a fair average rate of speed,
so you can readily calculate that fifteen make a pretty
long day.  You will be afoot a good share of the time. 
If you were out from home for only a few hours' jaunt,
undoubtedly you would ride your horse over places where 
in an extended trip you will prefer to lead him.  It is 
always a question of saving your animals.

About ten o'clock you must begin to figure on
water.  No horse will drink in the cool of the morning,
and so, when the sun gets well up, he will be
thirsty.  Arrange it.

As to the method of travel, you can either stop at
noon or push straight on through.  We usually arose
about half past four; got under way by seven; and
then rode continuously until ready to make the next
camp.  In the high country this meant until two or
three in the afternoon, by which time both we and the
horses were pretty hungry.  But when we did make
camp, the horses had until the following morning to
get rested and to graze, while we had all the remainder
of the afternoon to fish, hunt, or loaf.  Sometimes,
however, it was more expedient to make a lunch-camp
at noon.  Then we allowed an hour for grazing, and
about half an hour to pack and unpack.  It meant
steady work for ourselves.  To unpack, turn out the
horses, cook, wash dishes, saddle up seven animals,
and repack, kept us very busy.  There remained not
much leisure to enjoy the scenery.  It freshened the
horses, however, which was the main point.  I should
say the first method was the better for ordinary
journeys; and the latter for those times when, to reach
good feed, a forced march becomes necessary.

On reaching the night's stopping-place, the cook
for the day unpacks the cook-horse and at once sets
about the preparation of dinner.  The other two attend
to the animals.  And no matter how tired you
are, or how hungry you may be, you must take time
to bathe their backs with cold water; to stake the
picket-animal where it will at once get good feed and
not tangle its rope in bushes, roots, or stumps; to
hobble the others; and to bell those inclined to
wander.  After this is done, it is well, for the peace and
well-being of the party, to take food.

A smoke establishes you in the final and normal
attitude of good humor.  Each man spreads his tarpaulin
where he has claimed his bed.  Said claim is
indicated by his hat thrown down where he wishes
to sleep.  It is a mark of pre-emption which every one
is bound to respect.  Lay out your saddle-blankets,
cover them with your quilt, place the sleeping-
blanket on top, and fold over the tarpaulin to cover
the whole.  At the head deposit your duffle-bag.  Thus
are you assured of a pleasant night.

About dusk you straggle in with trout or game. 
The camp-keeper lays aside his mending or his
repairing or his note-book, and stirs up the cooking-
fire.  The smell of broiling and frying and boiling
arises in the air.  By the dancing flame of the campfire
you eat your third dinner for the day--in the
mountains all meals are dinners, and formidable ones
at that.  The curtain of blackness draws down close. 
Through it shine stars, loom mountains cold and
mist-like in the moon.  You tell stories.  You smoke
pipes.  After a time the pleasant chill creeps down
from the eternal snows.  Some one throws another
handful of pine-cones on the fire.  Sleepily you prepare
for bed.  The pine-cones flare up, throwing their
light in your eyes.  You turn over and wrap the soft
woolen blanket close about your chin.  You wink
drowsily and at once you are asleep.  Along late in
the night you awaken to find your nose as cold as a
dog's.  You open one eye.  A few coals mark where
the fire has been.  The mist mountains have drawn
nearer, they seem to bend over you in silent
contemplation.  The moon is sailing high in the heavens.

With a sigh you draw the canvas tarpaulin over
your head.  Instantly it is morning.



V

THE COAST RANGES

At last, on the day appointed, we, with five
horses, climbed the Cold Spring Trail to the
ridge; and then, instead of turning to the left, we
plunged down the zigzag lacets of the other side. 
That night we camped at Mono Canon, feeling ourselves
strangely an integral part of the relief map we
had looked upon so many times that almost we had
come to consider its features as in miniature, not
capacious for the accommodation of life-sized men. 
Here we remained a day while we rode the hills in
search of Dinkey and Jenny, there pastured.

We found Jenny peaceful and inclined to be corralled. 
But Dinkey, followed by a slavishly adoring
brindle mule, declined to be rounded up.  We chased
her up hill and down; along creek-beds and through
the spiky chaparral.  Always she dodged craftily,
warily, with forethought.  Always the brindled mule,
wrapt in admiration at his companion's cleverness,
crashed along after.  Finally we teased her into a
narrow canon.  Wes and the Tenderfoot closed the
upper end.  I attempted to slip by to the lower, but
was discovered.  Dinkey tore a frantic mile down the
side hill.  Bullet, his nostrils wide, his ears back, raced
parallel in the boulder-strewn stream-bed, wonderful
in his avoidance of bad footing, precious in his
selection of good, interested in the game, indignant at the
wayward Dinkey, profoundly contemptuous of the
besotted mule.  At a bend in the canon interposed
a steep bank.  Up this we scrambled, dirt and stones
flying.  I had just time to bend low along the saddle
when, with the ripping and tearing and scratching of
thorns, we burst blindly through a thicket.  In the
open space on the farther side Bullet stopped, panting
but triumphant.  Dinkey, surrounded at last, turned
back toward camp with an air of utmost indifference. 
The mule dropped his long ears and followed.

At camp we corralled Dinkey, but left her friend
to shift for himself.  Then was lifted up his voice in
mulish lamentations until, cursing, we had to ride out
bareback and drive him far into the hills and there
stone him into distant fear.  Even as we departed up
the trail the following day the voice of his sorrow,
diminishing like the echo of grief, appealed uselessly
to Dinkey's sympathy.  For Dinkey, once captured,
seemed to have shrugged her shoulders and accepted
inevitable toil with a real though cynical philosophy.

The trail rose gradually by imperceptible gradations
and occasional climbs.  We journeyed in the
great canons.  High chaparral flanked the trail,
occasional wide gray stretches of "old man" filled the air
with its pungent odor and with the calls of its quail. 
The crannies of the rocks, the stretches of wide loose
shale, the crumbling bottom earth offered to the
eye the dessicated beauties of creamy yucca, of yerba
buena, of the gaudy red paint-brushes, the Spanish
bayonet; and to the nostrils the hot dry perfumes of
the semi-arid lands.  The air was tepid; the sun hot. 
A sing-song of bees and locusts and strange insects
lulled the mind.  The ponies plodded on cheerfully. 
We expanded and basked and slung our legs over
the pommels of our saddles and were glad we had come.

At no time did we seem to be climbing mountains. 
Rather we wound in and out, round and about,
through a labyrinth of valleys and canons and
ravines, farther and farther into a mysterious shut-in
country that seemed to have no end.  Once in a while,
to be sure, we zigzagged up a trifling ascent; but it
was nothing.  And then at a certain point the Tenderfoot
happened to look back.

"Well!" he gasped; "will you look at that!"

We turned.  Through a long straight aisle which
chance had placed just there, we saw far in the distance
a sheer slate-colored wall; and beyond, still
farther in the distance, overtopping the slate-colored
wall by a narrow strip, another wall of light azure blue.

"It's our mountains," said Wes, "and that blue
ridge is the channel islands.  We've got up higher
than our range."

We looked about us, and tried to realize that we
were actually more than halfway up the formidable
ridge we had so often speculated on from the Cold
Spring Trail.  But it was impossible.  In a few
moments, however, our broad easy canon narrowed. 
Huge crags and sheer masses of rock hemmed us
in.  The chaparral and yucca and yerba buena gave
place to pine-trees and mountain oaks, with little
close clumps of cottonwoods in the stream bottom. 
The brook narrowed and leaped, and the white of
alkali faded from its banks.  We began to climb
in good earnest, pausing often for breath.  The view
opened.  We looked back on whence we had come,
and saw again, from the reverse, the forty miles of
ranges and valleys we had viewed from the Ridge Trail.

At this point we stopped to shoot a rattlesnake. 
Dinkey and Jenny took the opportunity to push
ahead.  From time to time we would catch sight
of them traveling earnestly on, following the trail
accurately, stopping at stated intervals to rest, doing
their work, conducting themselves as decorously as
though drivers had stood over them with blacksnake
whips.  We tried a little to catch up.

"Never mind," said Wes, "they've been over this
trail before.  They'll stop when they get to where
we're going to camp."

We halted a moment on the ridge to look back
over the lesser mountains and the distant ridge,
beyond which the islands now showed plainly.  Then
we dropped down behind the divide into a cup valley
containing a little meadow with running water on
two sides of it and big pines above.  The meadow
was brown, to be sure, as all typical California is at
this time of year.  But the brown of California and
the brown of the East are two different things.  Here
is no snow or rain to mat down the grass, to suck
out of it the vital principles.  It grows ripe and sweet
and soft, rich with the life that has not drained away,
covering the hills and valleys with the effect of beaver
fur, so that it seems the great round-backed hills must
have in a strange manner the yielding flesh-elasticity
of living creatures.  The brown of California is the
brown of ripeness; not of decay.

Our little meadow was beautifully named Madulce,[1] 
and was just below the highest point of this
section of the Coast Range.  The air drank fresh with
the cool of elevation.  We went out to shoot supper;
and so found ourselves on a little knoll fronting the
brown-hazed east.  As we stood there, enjoying the
breeze after our climb, a great wave of hot air swept
by us, filling our lungs with heat, scorching our faces
as the breath of a furnace.  Thus was brought to our
minds what, in the excitement of a new country, we
had forgotten,--that we were at last on the eastern slope, 
and that before us waited the Inferno of the desert.


[1] In all Spanish names the final e should be pronounced.


That evening we lay in the sweet ripe grasses of
Madulce, and talked of it.  Wes had been across it
once before and did not possess much optimism with
which to comfort us.

"It's hot, just plain hot," said he, "and that's all
there is about it.  And there's mighty little water,
and what there is is sickish and a long ways apart. 
And the sun is strong enough to roast potatoes in."

"Why not travel at night?" we asked.

"No place to sleep under daytimes," explained
Wes.  "It's better to keep traveling and then get
a chance for a little sleep in the cool of the night."

We saw the reasonableness of that.

"Of course we'll start early, and take a long
nooning, and travel late.  We won't get such a lot of
sleep."

"How long is it going to take us?"

Wes calculated.

"About eight days," he said soberly.

The next morning we descended from Madulce
abruptly by a dirt trail, almost perpendicular until we
slid into a canon of sage-brush and quail, of mescale
cactus and the fierce dry heat of sun-baked shale.

"Is it any hotter than this on the desert?" we inquired.

Wes looked on us with pity.

"This is plumb arctic," said he.

Near noon we came to a little cattle ranch situated
in a flat surrounded by red dikes and buttes
after the manner of Arizona.  Here we unpacked,
early as it was, for through the dry countries one has
to apportion his day's journeys by the water to be
had.  If we went farther to-day, then to-morrow night
would find us in a dry camp.

The horses scampered down the flat to search out
alfilaria.  We roosted under a slanting shed,--where
were stock saddles, silver-mounted bits and spurs,
rawhide riatas, branding-irons, and all the lumber of
the cattle business,--and hung out our tongues and
gasped for breath and earnestly desired the sun to
go down or a breeze to come up.  The breeze shortly
did so.  It was a hot breeze, and availed merely to
cover us with dust, to swirl the stable-yard into our
faces.  Great swarms of flies buzzed and lit and stung. 
Wes, disgusted, went over to where a solitary cow-
puncher was engaged in shoeing a horse.  Shortly
we saw Wes pressed into service to hold the horse's
hoof.  He raised a pathetic face to us, the big round
drops chasing each other down it as fast as rain.  We
grinned and felt better.

The fierce perpendicular rays of the sun beat down. 
The air under the shed grew stuffier and more
oppressive, but it was the only patch of shade in all that
pink and red furnace of a little valley.  The Tenderfoot
discovered a pair of horse-clippers, and, becoming
slightly foolish with the heat, insisted on our
barbering his head.  We told him it was cooler with
hair than without; and that the flies and sun would
be offered thus a beautiful opportunity, but without
avail.  So we clipped him,--leaving, however, a beautiful
long scalp-lock in the middle of his crown.  He
looked like High-low-kickapoo-waterpot, chief of
the Wam-wams.  After a while he discovered it, and
was unhappy.

Shortly the riders began to come in, jingling up to
the shed, with a rattle of spurs and bit-chains.  There
they unsaddled their horses, after which, with great
unanimity, they soused their heads in the horse-trough. 
The chief, a six-footer, wearing beautifully decorated
gauntlets and a pair of white buckskin chaps, went
so far as to say it was a little warm for the time of
year.  In the freshness of evening, when frazzled
nerves had regained their steadiness, he returned to
smoke and yarn with us and tell us of the peculiarities
of the cattle business in the Cuyamas.  At present
he and his men were riding the great mountains, driving
the cattle to the lowlands in anticipation of a
rodeo the following week.  A rodeo under that sun!

We slept in the ranch vehicles, so the air could get
under us.  While the stars still shone, we crawled
out, tired and unrefreshed.  The Tenderfoot and I
went down the valley after the horses.  While we
looked, the dull pallid gray of dawn filtered into the
darkness, and so we saw our animals, out of proportion,
monstrous in the half light of that earliest morning. 
Before the range riders were even astir we had
taken up our journey, filching thus a few hours from
the inimical sun.

Until ten o'clock we traveled in the valley of the
Cuyamas.  The river was merely a broad sand and
stone bed, although undoubtedly there was water
below the surface.  California rivers are said to flow
bottom up.  To the northward were mountains typical
of the arid countries,--boldly defined, clear in
the edges of their folds, with sharp shadows and hard,
uncompromising surfaces.  They looked brittle and
hollow, as though made of papier mache and set down
in the landscape.  A long four hours' noon we spent
beneath a live-oak near a tiny spring.  I tried to hunt,
but had to give it up.  After that I lay on my back
and shot doves as they came to drink at the spring. 
It was better than walking about, and quite as effective
as regards supper.  A band of cattle filed stolidly
in, drank, and filed as stolidly away.  Some half-wild
horses came to the edge of the hill, stamped, snorted,
essayed a tentative advance.  Them we drove away,
lest they decoy our own animals.  The flies would
not let us sleep.  Dozens of valley and mountain
quail called with maddening cheerfulness and energy. 
By a mighty exercise of will we got under way again. 
In an hour we rode out into what seemed to be a grassy 
foot-hill country, supplied with a most refreshing breeze.

The little round hills of a few hundred feet rolled
gently away to the artificial horizon made by their
closing in.  The trail meandered white and distinct
through the clear fur-like brown of their grasses.  
Cattle grazed.  Here and there grew live-oaks, planted
singly as in a park.  Beyond we could imagine the
great plain, grading insensibly into these little hills.

And then all at once we surmounted a slight
elevation, and found that we had been traveling on a
plateau, and that these apparent little hills were in
reality the peaks of high mountains.

We stood on the brink of a wide smooth velvet-
creased range that dipped down and down to miniature
canons far below.  Not a single little boulder
broke the rounded uniformity of the wild grasses. 
Out from beneath us crept the plain, sluggish and
inert with heat.

Threads of trails, dull white patches of alkali, vague
brown areas of brush, showed indeterminate for a little
distance.  But only for a little distance.  Almost
at once they grew dim, faded in the thickness of
atmosphere, lost themselves in the mantle of heat that lay
palpable and brown like a shimmering changing veil,
hiding the distance in mystery and in dread.  It was
a land apart; a land to be looked on curiously from
the vantage-ground of safety,--as we were looking
on it from the shoulder of the mountain,--and then
to be turned away from, to be left waiting behind
its brown veil for what might come.  To abandon
the high country, deliberately to cut loose from the
known, deliberately to seek the presence that lay
in wait,--all at once it seemed the height of
grotesque perversity.  We wanted to turn on our heels. 
We wanted to get back to our hills and fresh breezes
and clear water, to our beloved cheerful quail, to our
trails and the sweet upper air.

For perhaps a quarter of an hour we sat our horses,
gazing down.  Some unknown disturbance lazily
rifted the brown veil by ever so little.  We saw, lying
inert and languid, obscured by its own rank steam, a
great round lake.  We knew the water to be bitter,
poisonous.  The veil drew together again.  Wes shook
himself and sighed, "There she is,--damn her!" said he.



VI

THE INFERNO

For eight days we did penance, checking off the
hours, meeting doggedly one after another the
disagreeable things.  We were bathed in heat; we
inhaled it; it soaked into us until we seemed to radiate
it like so many furnaces.  A condition of thirst
became the normal condition, to be only slightly
mitigated by a few mouthfuls from zinc canteens of
tepid water.  Food had no attractions: even smoking
did not taste good.  Always the flat country stretched
out before us.  We could see far ahead a landmark
which we would reach only by a morning's travel. 
Nothing intervened between us and it.  After we
had looked at it a while, we became possessed of an
almost insane necessity to make a run for it.  The
slow maddening three miles an hour of the pack-
train drove us frantic.  There were times when it
seemed that unless we shifted our gait, unless we
stepped outside the slow strain of patience to which
the Inferno held us relentlessly, we should lose our
minds and run round and round in circles--as people
often do, in the desert.

And when the last and most formidable hundred
yards had slunk sullenly behind us to insignificance,
and we had dared let our minds relax from the
insistent need of self-control--then, beyond the cotton. 
woods, or creek-bed, or group of buildings, whichever
it might be, we made out another, remote as
paradise, to which we must gain by sunset.  So again
the wagon-trail, with its white choking dust, its
staggering sun, its miles made up of monotonous inches,
each clutching for a man's sanity.

We sang everything we knew; we told stories;
we rode cross-saddle, sidewise, erect, slouching; we
walked and led our horses; we shook the powder of
years from old worn jokes, conundrums, and puzzles,
--and at the end, in spite of our best efforts, we fell
to morose silence and the red-eyed vindictive
contemplation of the objective point that would not
seem to come nearer.

For now we lost accurate sense of time.  At first it
had been merely a question of going in at one side
of eight days, pressing through them, and coming out
on the other side.  Then the eight days would be
behind us.  But once we had entered that enchanted
period, we found ourselves more deeply involved. 
The seemingly limited area spread with startling
swiftness to the very horizon.  Abruptly it was borne
in on us that this was never going to end; just as
now for the first time we realized that it had begun
infinite ages ago.  We were caught in the entanglement
of days.  The Coast Ranges were the experiences
of a past incarnation: the Mountains were a myth. 

Nothing was real but this; and this would endure
forever.  We plodded on because somehow it was
part of the great plan that we should do so.  Not
that it did any good:--we had long since given up
such ideas.  The illusion was very real; perhaps it
was the anodyne mercifully administered to those
who pass through the Inferno.

Most of the time we got on well enough.  One
day, only, the Desert showed her power.  That day,
at five of the afternoon, it was one hundred and
twenty degrees in the shade.  And we, through necessity
of reaching the next water, journeyed over the
alkali at noon.  Then the Desert came close on us and
looked us fair in the eyes, concealing nothing.  She
killed poor Deuce, the beautiful setter who had traveled
the wild countries so long; she struck Wes
and the Tenderfoot from their horses when finally
they had reached a long-legged water tank; she even
staggered the horses themselves.  And I, lying under
a bush where I had stayed after the others in the hope
of succoring Deuce, began idly shooting at ghostly
jack-rabbits that looked real, but through which the
revolver bullets passed without resistance.

After this day the Tenderfoot went water-crazy. 
Watering the horses became almost a mania with
him.  He could not bear to pass even a mud-hole
without offering the astonished Tunemah a chance to fill 
up, even though that animal had drunk freely not twenty 
rods back.  As for himself, he embraced every opportunity; 
and journeyed draped in many canteens.

After that it was not so bad.  The thermometer
stood from a hundred to a hundred and five or six,
to be sure, but we were getting used to it.  Discomfort,
ordinary physical discomfort, we came to accept
as the normal environment of man.  It is astonishing
how soon uniformly uncomfortable conditions, by
very lack of contrast, do lose their power to color
the habit of mind.  I imagine merely physical
unhappiness is a matter more of contrasts than of actual
circumstances.  We swallowed dust; we humped
our shoulders philosophically under the beating of
the sun, we breathed the debris of high winds; we
cooked anyhow, ate anything, spent long idle fly-
infested hours waiting for the noon to pass; we slept
in horse-corrals, in the trail, in the dust, behind
stables, in hay, anywhere.  There was little water,
less wood for the cooking.

It is now all confused, an impression of events with
out sequence, a mass of little prominent purposeless
things like rock conglomerate.  I remember leaning
my elbows on a low window-ledge and watching a
poker game going on in the room of a dive.  The
light came from a sickly suspended lamp.  It fell
on five players,--two miners in their shirt-sleeves, a
Mexican, a tough youth with side-tilted derby hat,
and a fat gorgeously dressed Chinaman.  The men
held their cards close to their bodies, and wagered in
silence.  Slowly and regularly the great drops of sweat
gathered on their faces.  As regularly they raised the
backs of their hands to wipe them away.  Only the
Chinaman, broad-faced, calm, impassive as Buddha,
save for a little crafty smile in one corner of his eye,
seemed utterly unaffected by the heat, cool as autumn. 
His loose sleeve fell back from his forearm when he
moved his hand forward, laying his bets.  A jade
bracelet slipped back and forth as smoothly as on
yellow ivory.

Or again, one night when the plain was like a sea
of liquid black, and the sky blazed with stars, we
rode by a sheep-herder's camp.  The flicker of a fire
threw a glow out into the dark.  A tall wagon, a
group of silhouetted men, three or four squatting
dogs, were squarely within the circle of illumination. 
And outside, in the penumbra of shifting half light,
now showing clearly, now fading into darkness, were
the sheep, indeterminate in bulk, melting away by
mysterious thousands into the mass of night.  We
passed them.  They looked up, squinting their eyes
against the dazzle of their fire.  The night closed
about us again.

Or still another: in the glare of broad noon, after
a hot and trying day, a little inn kept by a French
couple.  And there, in the very middle of the Inferno,
was served to us on clean scrubbed tables, a meal
such as one gets in rural France, all complete, with
the potage, the fish fried in oil, the wonderful ragout, 
the chicken and salad, the cheese and the black coffee,
even the vin ordinaire.  I have forgotten the name
of the place, its location on the map, the name of its
people,--one has little to do with detail in the
Inferno,--but that dinner never will I forget, any
more than the Tenderfoot will forget his first sight
of water the day when the Desert "held us up."

Once the brown veil lifted to the eastward.  We,
souls struggling, saw great mountains and the whiteness
of eternal snow.  That noon we crossed a river,
hurrying down through the flat plain, and in its
current came the body of a drowned bear-cub, an alien
from the high country.

These things should have been as signs to our
jaded spirits that we were nearly at the end of our
penance, but discipline had seared over our souls, and
we rode on unknowing.

Then we came on a real indication.  It did not
amount to much.  Merely a dry river-bed; but the
farther bank, instead of being flat, cut into a low swell
of land.  We skirted it.  Another swell of land, like
the sullen after-heave of a storm, lay in our way. 
Then we crossed a ravine.  It was not much of a
ravine; in fact it was more like a slight gouge in the
flatness of the country.  After that we began to see
oak-trees, scattered at rare intervals.  So interested
were we in them that we did not notice rocks beginning
to outcrop through the soil until they had
become numerous enough to be a feature of the 
landscape.  The hills, gently, quietly, without abrupt
transition, almost as though they feared to awaken
our alarm by too abrupt movement of growth, glided
from little swells to bigger swells.  The oaks gathered
closer together.  The ravine's brother could almost be
called a canon.  The character of the country had
entirely changed.

And yet, so gradually had this change come about
that we did not awaken to a full realization of our
escape.  To us it was still the plain, a trifle modified
by local peculiarity, but presently to resume its
wonted aspect.  We plodded on dully, anodyned
with the desert patience.

But at a little before noon, as we rounded the cheek
of a slope, we encountered an errant current of air. 
It came up to us curiously, touched us each in turn,
and went on.  The warm furnace heat drew in on us
again.  But it had been a cool little current of air, with
something of the sweetness of pines and water and
snow-banks in it.  The Tenderfoot suddenly reined
in his horse and looked about him.

"Boys!" he cried, a new ring of joy in his voice,
"we're in the foot-hills!"

Wes calculated rapidly.  "It's the eighth day
to-day:  I guessed right on the time."

We stretched our arms and looked about us.  They
were dry brown hills enough; but they were hills, and
they had trees on them, and canons in them, so to our
eyes, wearied with flatness, they seemed wonderful.



VII

THE FOOT-HILLS

At once our spirits rose.  We straightened in our
saddles, we breathed deep, we joked.  The
country was scorched and sterile; the wagon-trail,
almost paralleling the mountains themselves on a long
easy slant toward the high country, was ankle-deep
in dust; the ravines were still dry of water.  But it
was not the Inferno, and that one fact sufficed.  After
a while we crossed high above a river which dashed
white water against black rocks, and so were happy.

The country went on changing.  The change was
always imperceptible, as is growth, or the stealthy
advance of autumn through the woods.  From moment 
to moment one could detect no alteration. Something 
intangible was taken away; something impalpable added.  
At the end of an hour we were in the oaks and sycamores; 
at the end of two we were in the pines and low 
mountains of Bret Harte's Forty-Nine.

The wagon-trail felt ever farther and farther into
the hills.  It had not been used as a stage-route for
years, but the freighting kept it deep with dust, that
writhed and twisted and crawled lazily knee-high to
our horses, like a living creature.  We felt the swing
and sweep of the route.  The boldness of its stretches,
the freedom of its reaches for the opposite slope, the
wide curve of its horseshoes, all filled us with the
breath of an expansion which as yet the broad low
country only suggested.

Everything here was reminiscent of long ago.  The
very names hinted stories of the Argonauts.  Coarse
Gold Gulch, Whiskey Creek, Grub Gulch, Fine
Gold Post-Office in turn we passed.  Occasionally,
with a fine round dash into the open, the trail drew
one side to a stage-station.  The huge stables, the
wide corrals, the low living-houses, each shut in its
dooryard of blazing riotous flowers, were all familiar. 
Only lacked the old-fashioned Concord coach, from
which to descend Jack Hamlin or Judge Starbottle. 
As for M'liss, she was there, sunbonnet and all.

Down in the gulch bottoms were the old placer
diggings.  Elaborate little ditches for the deflection
of water, long cradles for the separation of gold,
decayed rockers, and shining in the sun the tons and
tons of pay dirt which had been turned over pound
by pound in the concentrating of its treasure.  Some
of the old cabins still stood.  It was all deserted now,
save for the few who kept trail for the freighters, or
who tilled the restricted bottom-lands of the flats. 
Road-runners racked away down the paths; squirrels
scurried over worn-out placers; jays screamed and
chattered in and out of the abandoned cabins.  Strange
and shy little creatures and birds, reassured by the
silence of many years, had ventured to take to
themselves the engines of man's industry.  And the warm
California sun embalmed it all in a peaceful forgetfulness.

Now the trees grew bigger, and the hills more
impressive.  We should call them mountains in the East. 
Pines covered them to the top, straight slender pines
with voices.  The little flats were planted with great
oaks.  When we rode through them, they shut out
the hills, so that we might have imagined ourselves
in the level wooded country.  There insisted the effect
of limitless tree-grown plains, which the warm drowsy
sun, the park-like landscape, corroborated.  And yet
the contrast of the clear atmosphere and the sharp air
equally insisted on the mountains.  It was a strange
and delicious double effect, a contradiction of natural
impressions, a negation of our right to generalize from
previous experience.

Always the trail wound up and up.  Never was it
steep; never did it command an outlook.  Yet we
felt that at last we were rising, were leaving the level
of the Inferno, were nearing the threshold of the high
country.

Mountain peoples came to the edges of their clearings
and gazed at us, responding solemnly to our
salutations.  They dwelt in cabins and held to
agriculture and the herding of the wild mountain cattle. 
From them we heard of the high country to which
we were bound.  They spoke of it as you or I
would speak of interior Africa, as something inconceivably
remote, to be visited only by the adventurous,
an uninhabited realm of vast magnitude and
unknown dangers.  In the same way they spoke of
the plains.  Only the narrow pine-clad strip between
the two and six thousand feet of elevation they felt
to be their natural environment.  In it they found the
proper conditions for their existence.  Out of it those
conditions lacked.  They were as much a localized
product as are certain plants which occur only at
certain altitudes.  Also were they densely ignorant of
trails and routes outside of their own little districts.

All this, you will understand, was in what is known
as the low country.  The landscape was still brown;
the streams but trickles; sage-brush clung to the
ravines; the valley quail whistled on the side hills.

But one day we came suddenly into the big pines and 
rocks; and that very night we made our first camp in a 
meadow typical of the mountains we had dreamed about.



THE PINES

VIII

THE PINES

I do not know exactly how to make you feel the charm 
of that first camp in the big country.  Certainly I can 
never quite repeat it in my own experience.

Remember that for two months we had grown
accustomed to the brown of the California landscape,
and that for over a week we had traveled in the
Inferno.  We had forgotten the look of green grass,
of abundant water; almost had we forgotten the taste
of cool air.  So invariably had the trails been dusty,
and the camping-places hard and exposed, that we
had come subconsciously to think of such as typical
of the country.  Try to put yourself in the frame of
mind those conditions would make.

Then imagine yourself climbing in an hour or
so up into a high ridge country of broad cup-like
sweeps and bold outcropping ledges.  Imagine a forest
of pine-trees bigger than any pines you ever saw
before,--pines eight and ten feet through, so huge
that you can hardly look over one of their prostrate
trunks even from the back of your pony.  Imagine,
further, singing little streams of ice-cold water, deep
refreshing shadows, a soft carpet of pine-needles
through which the faint furrow of the trail runs as
over velvet.  And then, last of all, in a wide opening,
clear as though chopped and plowed by some back-
woodsman, a park of grass, fresh grass, green as a
precious stone.

This was our first sight of the mountain meadows. 
From time to time we found others, sometimes a half
dozen in a day.  The rough country came down close
about them, edging to the very hair-line of the magic
circle, which seemed to assure their placid sunny
peace.  An upheaval of splintered granite often tossed
and tumbled in the abandon of an unrestrained passion
that seemed irresistibly to overwhelm the sanities
of a whole region; but somewhere, in the very forefront
of turmoil, was like to slumber one of these little 
meadows, as unconscious of anything but its own 
flawless green simplicity as a child asleep in mid-ocean.  
Or, away up in the snows, warmed by the fortuity of 
reflected heat, its emerald eye looked bravely out to 
the heavens.  Or, as here, it rested confidingly in the 
very heart of the austere forest.

Always these parks are green; always are they clear
and open.  Their size varies widely.  Some are as
little as a city lawn; others, like the great Monache,[2]
are miles in extent.  In them resides the possibility
of your traveling the high country; for they supply
the feed for your horses.


[2] Do not fail to sound the final e.


Being desert-weary, the Tenderfoot and I cried out
with the joy of it, and told in extravagant language
how this was the best camp we had ever made.

"It's a bum camp," growled Wes.  "If we couldn't
get better camps than this, I'd quit the game."

He expatiated on the fact that this particular
meadow was somewhat boggy; that the feed was too
watery; that there'd be a cold wind down through
the pines; and other small and minor details.  But
we, our backs propped against appropriately slanted
rocks, our pipes well aglow, gazed down the twilight
through the wonderful great columns of the trees to
where the white horses shone like snow against the
unaccustomed relief of green, and laughed him to
scorn.  What did we--or the horses for that matter
--care for trifling discomforts of the body?  In these
intangible comforts of the eye was a great refreshment
of the spirit.

The following day we rode through the pine
forests growing on the ridges and hills and in the
elevated bowl-like hollows.  These were not the so-
called "big trees,"--with those we had to do later,
as you shall see.  They were merely sugar and yellow
pines, but never anywhere have I seen finer specimens. 
They were planted with a grand sumptuousness
of space, and their trunks were from five to
twelve feet in diameter and upwards of two hundred
feet high to the topmost spear.  Underbrush, ground
growth, even saplings of the same species lacked 
entirely, so that we proceeded in the clear open aisles
of a tremendous and spacious magnificence.

This very lack of the smaller and usual growths,
the generous plan of spacing, and the size of the trees
themselves necessarily deprived us of a standard
of comparison.  At first the forest seemed immense. 
But after a little our eyes became accustomed to its
proportions.  We referred it back to the measures of
long experience.  The trees, the wood-aisles, the
extent of vision shrunk to the normal proportions of an
Eastern pinery.  And then we would lower our gaze. 
The pack-train would come into view.  It had become
lilliputian, the horses small as white mice, the men 
like tin soldiers, as though we had undergone an 
enchantment.  But in a moment, with the rush of a mighty
transformation, the great trees would tower huge again.

In the pine woods of the mountains grows also a
certain close-clipped parasitic moss.  In color it is
a brilliant yellow-green, more yellow than green.  In
shape it is crinkly and curly and tangled up with
itself like very fine shavings.  In consistency it is dry
and brittle.  This moss girdles the trunks of trees
with innumerable parallel inch-wide bands a foot or
so apart, in the manner of old-fashioned striped
stockings.  It covers entirely sundry twigless branches. 
Always in appearance is it fantastic, decorative,
almost Japanese, as though consciously laid in with its
vivid yellow-green as an intentional note of a tone
scheme.  The somberest shadows, the most neutral
twilights, the most austere recesses are lighted by it
as though so many freakish sunbeams had severed
relations with the parent luminary to rest quietly in
the coolnesses of the ancient forest.

Underfoot the pine-needles were springy beneath
the horse's hoof.  The trail went softly, with the
courtesy of great gentleness.  Occasionally we caught sight
of other ridges,--also with pines,--across deep
sloping valleys, pine filled.  The effect of the distant
trees seen from above was that of roughened velvet,
here smooth and shining, there dark with rich
shadows.  On these slopes played the wind.  In the
level countries it sang through the forest progressively:
here on the slope it struck a thousand trees at
once.  The air was ennobled with the great voice, as
a church is ennobled by the tones of a great organ. 
Then we would drop back again to the inner country,
for our way did not contemplate the descents nor
climbs, but held to the general level of a plateau.

Clear fresh brooks ran in every ravine.  Their water
was snow-white against the black rocks; or lay dark
in bank-shadowed pools.  As our horses splashed
across we could glimpse the rainbow trout flashing
to cover.  Where the watered hollows grew lush were 
thickets full of birds, outposts of the aggressively
and cheerfully worldly in this pine-land of spiritual
detachment. Gorgeous bush-flowers, great of petal
as magnolias, with perfume that lay on the air like
a heavy drowsiness; long clear stretches of an ankle-
high shrub of vivid emerald, looking in the distance
like sloping meadows of a peculiar color-brilliance;
patches of smaller flowers where for the trifling space
of a street's width the sun had unobstructed fall,--
these from time to time diversified the way, brought
to our perceptions the endearing trifles of earthiness,
of humanity, befittingly to modify the austerity of
the great forest.  At a brookside we saw, still fresh
and moist, the print of a bear's foot.  From a patch
of the little emerald brush, a barren doe rose to
her feet, eyed us a moment, and then bounded away
as though propelled by springs.  We saw her from
time to time surmounting little elevations farther and
farther away.

The air was like cold water.  We had not lung
capacity to satisfy our desire for it.  There came with
it a dry exhilaration that brought high spirits, an
optimistic viewpoint, and a tremendous keen appetite. 
It seemed that we could never tire.  In fact we never
did.  Sometimes, after a particularly hard day, we
felt like resting; but it was always after the day's
work was done, never while it was under way.  The
Tenderfoot and I one day went afoot twenty-two
miles up and down a mountain fourteen thousand
feet high.  The last three thousand feet were nearly
straight up and down.  We finished at a four-mile
clip an hour before sunset, and discussed what to
do next to fill in the time.  When we sat down, we
found we had had about enough; but we had not
discovered it before.

All of us, even the morose and cynical Dinkey, felt
the benefit of the change from the lower country. 
Here we were definitely in the Mountains.  Our
plateau ran from six to eight thousand feet in
altitude.  Beyond it occasionally we could see three more
ridges, rising and falling, each higher than the last. 
And then, in the blue distance, the very crest of the
broad system called the Sierras,--another wide region
of sheer granite rising in peaks, pinnacles, and minarets,
rugged, wonderful, capped with the eternal snows.



IX

THE TRAIL

When you say "trail" to a Westerner, his eye
lights up.  This is because it means something
to him.  To another it may mean something
entirely different, for the blessed word is of that rare
and beautiful category which is at once of the widest
significance and the most intimate privacy to him
who utters it.  To your mind leaps the picture of
the dim forest-aisles and the murmurings of tree-top
breezes; to him comes a vision of the wide dusty
desert; to me, perhaps, a high wild country of wonder. 
To all of us it is the slender, unbroken, never-
ending thread connecting experiences.

For in a mysterious way, not to be understood, our
trails never do end.  They stop sometimes, and wait
patiently while we dive in and out of houses, but
always when we are ready to go on, they are ready
too, and so take up the journey placidly as though
nothing had intervened.  They begin, when?  Sometime,
away in the past, you may remember a single
episode, vivid through the mists of extreme youth. 
Once a very little boy walked with his father under a
green roof of leaves that seemed farther than the sky
and as unbroken.  All of a sudden the man raised
his gun and fired upwards, apparently through the
green roof.  A pause ensued.  Then, hurtling roughly
through still that same green roof, a great bird fell,
hitting the earth with a thump.  The very little boy
was I.  My trail must have begun there under the
bright green roof of leaves.

From that earliest moment the Trail unrolls behind
you like a thread so that never do you quite lose
connection with your selves.  There is something a
little fearful to the imaginative in the insistence of it. 
You may camp, you may linger, but some time or
another, sooner or later, you must go on, and when
you do, then once again the Trail takes up its
continuity without reference to the muddied place you
have tramped out in your indecision or indolence or
obstinacy or necessity.  It would be exceedingly
curious to follow out in patience the chart of a man's
going, tracing the pattern of his steps with all its
windings of nursery, playground, boys afield, country,
city, plain, forest, mountain, wilderness, home,
always on and on into the higher country of responsibility
until at the last it leaves us at the summit of the 
Great Divide.  Such a pattern would tell his story as 
surely as do the tracks of a partridge on the snow.

A certain magic inheres in the very name, or at
least so it seems to me.  I should be interested to
know whether others feel the same glamour that I do
in the contemplation of such syllables as the Lo-Lo
Trail, the Tunemah Trail, the Mono Trail, the Bright
Angel Trail.  A certain elasticity of application too
leaves room for the more connotation.  A trail may
be almost anything.  There are wagon-trails which
East would rank as macadam roads; horse-trails that
would compare favorably with our best bridle-paths;
foot-trails in the fur country worn by constant use as
smooth as so many garden-walks.  Then again there
are other arrangements.  I have heard a mule-driver
overwhelmed with skeptical derision because he
claimed to have upset but six times in traversing a
certain bit of trail not over five miles long; in charts
of the mountains are marked many trails which are
only "ways through,"--you will find few traces of
predecessors; the same can be said of trails in the
great forests where even an Indian is sometimes at
fault.  "Johnny, you're lost," accused the white man. 
"Trail lost: Injun here," denied the red man.  And
so after your experience has led you by the campfires
of a thousand delights, and each of those campfires
is on the Trail, which only pauses courteously
for your stay and then leads on untiring into new
mysteries forever and ever, you come to love it as the
donor of great joys.  You too become a Westerner, and 
when somebody says "trail," your eye too lights up.

The general impression of any particular trail is
born rather of the little incidents than of the big
accidents.  The latter are exotic, and might belong to
any time or places; the former are individual.  For
the Trail is a vantage-ground, and from it, as your
day's travel unrolls, you see many things.  Nine
tenths of your experience comes thus, for in the long
journeys the side excursions are few enough and
unimportant enough almost to merit classification with
the accidents.  In time the character of the Trail thus
defines itself.

Most of all, naturally, the kind of country has to
do with this generalized impression.  Certain surprises,
through trees, of vista looking out over unexpected
spaces; little notches in the hills beyond which
you gain to a placid far country sleeping under a sun
warmer than your elevation permits; the delicious
excitement of the moment when you approach the
very knife-edge of the summit and wonder what lies
beyond,--these are the things you remember with a
warm heart.  Your saddle is a point of vantage.  By
it you are elevated above the country; from it you
can see clearly.  Quail scuttle away to right and left,
heads ducked low; grouse boom solemnly on the
rigid limbs of pines; deer vanish through distant
thickets to appear on yet more distant ridges, thence
to gaze curiously, their great ears forward; across the
canon the bushes sway violently with the passage of
a cinnamon bear among them,--you see them all
from your post of observation.  Your senses are
always alert for these things; you are always bending
from your saddle to examine the tracks and signs  that
continually offer themselves for your inspection
and interpretation.

Our trail of this summer led at a general high
elevation, with comparatively little climbing and
comparatively easy traveling for days at a time.  Then
suddenly we would find ourselves on the brink of a
great box canon from three to seven thousand feet
deep, several miles wide, and utterly precipitous.  In
the bottom of this canon would be good feed, fine
groves of trees, and a river of some size in which
swam fish.  The trail to the canon-bed was always
bad, and generally dangerous.  In many instances we
found it bordered with the bones of horses that had
failed.  The river had somehow to be forded.  We
would camp a day or so in the good feed and among
the fine groves of trees, fish in the river, and then
address ourselves with much reluctance to the ascent
of the other bad and dangerous trail on the other
side.  After that, in the natural course of events,
subject to variation, we could expect nice trails, the
comfort of easy travel, pines, cedars, redwoods, and
joy of life until another great cleft opened before us
or another great mountain-pass barred our way.

This was the web and woof of our summer.  But
through it ran the patterns of fantastic delight such
as the West alone can offer a man's utter disbelief in
them.  Some of these patterns stand out in memory
with peculiar distinctness.

Below Farewell Gap is a wide canon with high
walls of dark rock, and down those walls run many
streams of water.  They are white as snow with the
dash of their descent, but so distant that the eye
cannot distinguish their motion.  In the half light of
dawn, with the yellow of sunrise behind the mountains,
they look like gauze streamers thrown out from
the windows of morning to celebrate the solemn
pageant of the passing of many hills.

Again, I know of a canon whose westerly wall is
colored in the dull rich colors, the fantastic patterns
of a Moorish tapestry.  Umber, seal brown, red, terra-
cotta, orange, Nile green, emerald, purple, cobalt
blue, gray, lilac, and many other colors, all rich with
the depth of satin, glow wonderful as the craftiest
textures.  Only here the fabric is five miles long and
half a mile wide.

There is no use in telling of these things.  They,
and many others of their like, are marvels, and exist;
but you cannot tell about them, for the simple reason
that the average reader concludes at once you
must be exaggerating, must be carried away by the
swing of words.  The cold sober truth is, you cannot
exaggerate.  They haven't made the words.  Talk
as extravagantly as you wish to one who will in the
most childlike manner believe every syllable you
utter.  Then take him into the Big Country.  He will
probably say, "Why, you didn't tell me it was
going to be anything like THIS!"  We in the East have
no standards of comparison either as regards size or
as regards color--especially color.  Some people
once directed me to "The Gorge" on the New
England coast.  I couldn't find it.  They led me to it,
and rhapsodized over its magnificent terror.  I could
have ridden a horse into the ridiculous thing.  As for
color, no Easterner believes in it when such men as
Lungren or Parrish transposit it faithfully, any more
than a Westerner would believe in the autumn foliage
of our own hardwoods, or an Englishman in the
glories of our gaudiest sunsets.  They are all true.

In the mountains, the high mountains above the
seven or eight thousand foot level, grows an affair
called the snow-plant.  It is, when full grown, about
two feet in height, and shaped like a loosely
constructed pine-cone set up on end.  Its entire
substance is like wax, and the whole concern--stalk,
broad curling leaves, and all--is a brilliant scarlet. 
Sometime you will ride through the twilight of deep
pine woods growing on the slope of the mountain,
a twilight intensified, rendered more sacred to your
mood by the external brilliancy of a glimpse of vivid
blue sky above dazzling snow mountains far away. 
Then, in this monotone of dark green frond and dull
brown trunk and deep olive shadow, where, like
the ordered library of one with quiet tastes, nothing
breaks the harmony of unobtrusive tone, suddenly
flames the vivid red of a snow-plant.  You will never
forget it.

Flowers in general seem to possess this concentrated 
brilliancy both of color and of perfume.  You
will ride into and out of strata of perfume as sharply
defined as are the quartz strata on the ridges.  They
lie sluggish and cloying in the hollows, too heavy to
rise on the wings of the air.

As for color, you will see all sorts of queer things. 
The ordered flower-science of your childhood has
gone mad.  You recognize some of your old friends,
but strangely distorted and changed,--even the dear
old "butter 'n eggs" has turned pink!  Patches of
purple, of red, of blue, of yellow, of orange are laid
in the hollows or on the slopes like brilliant blankets
out to dry in the sun.  The fine grasses are spangled
with them, so that in the cup of the great fierce
countries the meadows seem like beautiful green
ornaments enameled with jewels.  The Mariposa
Lily, on the other hand, is a poppy-shaped flower
varying from white to purple, and with each petal
decorated by an "eye" exactly like those on the
great Cecropia or Polyphemus moths, so that their
effect is that of a flock of gorgeous butterflies come
to rest.  They hover over the meadows poised.  A
movement would startle them to flight; only the
proper movement somehow never comes.

The great redwoods, too, add to the colored-
edition impression of the whole country.  A redwood,
as perhaps you know, is a tremendous big tree sometimes
as big as twenty feet in diameter.  It is exquisitely
proportioned like a fluted column of noble
height.  Its bark is slightly furrowed longitudinally, and
of a peculiar elastic appearance that lends it an almost
perfect illusion of breathing animal life.  The color
is a rich umber red.  Sometimes in the early morning
or the late afternoon, when all the rest of the forest
is cast in shadow, these massive trunks will glow as
though incandescent.  The Trail, wonderful always,
here seems to pass through the outer portals of the
great flaming regions where dwell the risings and
fallings of days.

As you follow the Trail up, you will enter also the
permanent dwelling-places of the seasons.  With us
each visits for the space of a few months, then steals
away to give place to the next.  Whither they go you
have not known until you have traveled the high
mountains.  Summer lives in the valley; that you
know.  Then a little higher you are in the spring-
time, even in August.  Melting patches of snow
linger under the heavy firs; the earth is soggy with
half-absorbed snow-water, trickling with exotic little
rills that do not belong; grasses of the year before
float like drowned hair in pellucid pools with an air
of permanence, except for the one fact; fresh green
things are sprouting bravely; through bare branches
trickles a shower of bursting buds, larger at the top,
as though the Sower had in passing scattered them
from above.  Birds of extraordinary cheerfulness sing
merrily to new and doubtful flowers.  The air tastes
cold, but the sun is warm.  The great spring 
humming and promise is in the air.  And a few thousand
feet higher you wallow over the surface of drifts
while a winter wind searches your bones.  I used to
think that Santa Claus dwelt at the North Pole. 
Now I am convinced that he has a workshop somewhere
among the great mountains where dwell the
Seasons, and that his reindeer paw for grazing in the
alpine meadows below the highest peaks.

Here the birds migrate up and down instead of
south and north.  It must be a great saving of trouble
to them, and undoubtedly those who have discovered
it maintain toward the unenlightened the same
delighted and fraternal secrecy with which you and I
guard the knowledge of a good trout-stream.  When
you can migrate adequately in a single day, why
spend a month at it?

Also do I remember certain spruce woods with
openings where the sun shone through.  The shadows
were very black, the sunlight very white.  As I looked
back I could see the pack-horses alternately suffer
eclipse and illumination in a strange flickering manner
good to behold.  The dust of the trail eddied
and billowed lazily in the sun, each mote flashing
as though with life; then abruptly as it crossed the
sharp line of shade it disappeared.

From these spruce woods, level as a floor, we came
out on the rounded shoulder of a mountain to find
ourselves nearly nine thousand feet above the sea. 
Below us was a deep canon to the middle of the
earth.  And spread in a semicircle about the curve
of our mountain a most magnificent panoramic view. 
First there were the plains, represented by a brown
haze of heat; then, very remote, the foot-hills, the
brush-hills, the pine mountains, the upper timber,
the tremendous granite peaks, and finally the barrier
of the main crest with its glittering snow.  From the
plains to that crest was over seventy miles.  I should
not dare say how far we could see down the length of 
the range; nor even how distant was the other wall of 
the canon over which we rode.  Certainly it was many 
miles; and to reach the latter point consumed three days.

It is useless to multiply instances.  The principle
is well enough established by these.  Whatever
impression of your trail you carry away will come from
the little common occurrences of every day.  That is true 
of all trails; and equally so, it seems to me, of our 
Trail of Life sketched at the beginning of this essay.

But the trail of the mountains means more than
wonder; it means hard work.  Unless you stick to
the beaten path, where the freighters have lost so
many mules that they have finally decided to fix
things up a bit, you are due for lots of trouble.  Bad
places will come to be a nightmare with you and a
topic of conversation with whomever you may meet. 
We once enjoyed the company of a prospector three
days while he made up his mind to tackle a certain
bit of trail we had just descended.  Our accounts did
not encourage him.  Every morning he used to squint
up at the cliff which rose some four thousand feet
above us.  "Boys," he said finally as he started, "I
may drop in on you later in the morning."  I am
happy to say he did not.

The most discouraging to the tenderfoot, but in
reality the safest of all bad trails, is the one that skirts
a precipice.  Your horse possesses a laudable desire
to spare your inside leg unnecessary abrasion, so he
walks on the extreme outer edge.  If you watch the
performance of the animal ahead, you will observe
that every few moments his outer hind hoof slips off
that edge, knocking little stones down into the abyss. 
Then you conclude that sundry slight jars you have
been experiencing are from the same cause.  Your
peace of mind deserts you.  You stare straight ahead,
sit VERY light indeed, and perhaps turn the least bit
sick.  The horse, however, does not mind, nor will
you, after a little.  There is absolutely nothing to do
but to sit steady and give your animal his head.  In
a fairly extended experience I never got off the edge
but once.  Then somebody shot a gun immediately
ahead; my horse tried to turn around, slipped, and
slid backwards until he overhung the chasm. 
Fortunately his hind feet caught a tiny bush.  He gave
a mighty heave, and regained the trail.  Afterwards
I took a look and found that there were no more
bushes for a hundred feet either way.

Next in terror to the unaccustomed is an ascent by
lacets up a very steep side hill.  The effect is
cumulative.  Each turn brings you one stage higher, adds
definitely one more unit to the test of your hardihood. 
This last has not terrified you; how about the
next? or the next? or the one after that?  There is
not the slightest danger.  You appreciate this point
after you have met head-on some old-timer.  After
you have speculated frantically how you are to pass
him, he solves the problem by calmly turning his
horse off the edge and sliding to the next lacet below. 
Then you see that with a mountain horse it does not
much matter whether you get off such a trail or not.

The real bad places are quite as likely to be on
the level as on the slant.  The tremendous granite
slides, where the cliff has avalanched thousands of
tons of loose jagged rock-fragments across the passage,
are the worst.  There your horse has to be a goat
in balance.  He must pick his way from the top of
one fragment to the other, and if he slips into the
interstices he probably breaks a leg.  In some parts
of the granite country are also smooth rock aprons
where footing is especially difficult, and where often
a slip on them means a toboggan chute off into space. 
I know of one spot where such an apron curves
off the shoulder of the mountain.  Your horse slides
directly down it until his hoofs encounter a little
crevice.  Checking at this, he turns sharp to the left
and so off to the good trail again.  If he does not
check at the little crevice, he slides on over the curve
of the shoulder and lands too far down to bury.

Loose rocks in numbers on a very steep and narrow
trail are always an abomination, and a numerous
abomination at that.  A horse slides, skates, slithers. 
It has always seemed to me that luck must count
largely in such a place.  When the animal treads on
a loose round stone--as he does every step of the
way--that stone is going to roll under him, and he
is going to catch himself as the nature of that stone
and the little gods of chance may will.  Only furthermore
I have noticed that the really good horse keeps
his feet, and the poor one tumbles.  A judgmatical
rider can help a great deal by the delicacy of his
riding and the skill with which he uses his reins.  Or
better still, get off and walk.

Another mean combination, especially on a slant,
is six inches of snow over loose stones or small
boulders.  There you hope for divine favor and flounder
ahead.  There is one compensation; the snow is soft
to fall on.  Boggy areas you must be able to gauge
the depth of at a glance.  And there are places, beautiful
to behold, where a horse clambers up the least
bit of an ascent, hits his pack against a projection,
and is hurled into outer space.  You must recognize
these, for he will be busy with his feet.

Some of the mountain rivers furnish pleasing
afternoons of sport.  They are deep and swift, and below
the ford are rapids.  If there is a fallen tree of any sort
across them,--remember the length of California
trees, and do not despise the rivers,--you would
better unpack, carry your goods across yourself, and
swim the pack-horses.  If the current is very bad, you
can splice riatas, hitch one end to the horse and the
other to a tree on the farther side, and start the
combination.  The animal is bound to swing across
somehow.  Generally you can drive them over loose.  In
swimming a horse from the saddle, start him well
upstream to allow for the current, and never, never,
never attempt to guide him by the bit.  The Tenderfoot
tried that at Mono Creek and nearly drowned
himself and Old Slob.  You would better let him
alone, as he probably knows more than you do.  If
you must guide him, do it by hitting the side of his
head with the flat of your hand.

Sometimes it is better that you swim.  You can
perform that feat by clinging to his mane on the
downstream side, but it will be easier both for you
and him if you hang to his tail.  Take my word for
it, he will not kick you.

Once in a blue moon you may be able to cross
the whole outfit on logs.  Such a log bridge spanned
Granite Creek near the North Fork of the San Joaquin
at an elevation of about seven thousand feet. 
It was suspended a good twenty feet above the water,
which boiled white in a most disconcerting manner
through a gorge of rocks.  If anything fell off that
log it would be of no further value even to the
curiosity seeker.  We got over all the horses save
Tunemah.  He refused to consider it, nor did peaceful
argument win.  As he was more or less of a fool,
we did not take this as a reflection on our judgment,
but culled cedar clubs.  We beat him until we were
ashamed.  Then we put a slip-noose about his neck. 
The Tenderfoot and I stood on the log and heaved
while Wes stood on the shore and pushed.  Suddenly
it occurred to me that if Tunemah made up his silly
mind to come, he would probably do it all at once,
in which case the Tenderfoot and I would have about
as much show for life as fossil formations.  I didn't
say anything about it to the Tenderfoot, but I hitched
my six-shooter around to the front, resolved to find
out how good I was at wing-shooting horses.  But
Tunemah declared he would die for his convictions. 
"All right," said we, "die then," with the embellishment
of profanity.  So we stripped him naked, and
stoned him into the raging stream, where he had one
chance in three of coming through alive.  He might
as well be dead as on the other side of that stream. 
He won through, however, and now I believe he'd
tackle a tight rope.

Of such is the Trail, of such its wonders, its
pleasures, its little comforts, its annoyances, its dangers. 
And when you are forced to draw your six-shooter
to end mercifully the life of an animal that has served
you faithfully, but that has fallen victim to the leg-
breaking hazard of the way, then you know a little
of its tragedy also.  May you never know the greater
tragedy when a man's life goes out, and you unable
to help!  May always your trail lead through fine trees, 
green grasses, fragrant flowers, and pleasant waters!



X

ON SEEING DEER

Once I happened to be sitting out a dance with
a tactful young girl of tender disposition who
thought she should adapt her conversation to the
one with whom she happened to be talking.  Therefore
she asked questions concerning out-of-doors.  She
knew nothing whatever about it, but she gave a very
good imitation of one interested.  For some occult
reason people never seem to expect me to own evening
clothes, or to know how to dance, or to be able
to talk about anything civilized; in fact, most of
them appear disappointed that I do not pull off a
war-jig in the middle of the drawing-room.

This young girl selected deer as her topic.  She
mentioned liquid eyes, beautiful form, slender ears;
she said "cute," and "darlings," and "perfect dears." 
Then she shuddered prettily.

"And I don't see how you can ever BEAR to shoot
them, Mr. White," she concluded.

"You quarter the onions and slice them very thin,"
said I dreamily.  "Then you take a little bacon fat
you had left over from the flap-jacks and put it in
the frying-pan.  The frying-pan should be very hot. 
While the onions are frying, you must keep turning
them over with a fork.  It's rather difficult to get
them all browned without burning some.  I should
broil the meat.  A broiler is handy, but two willows,
peeled and charred a little so the willow taste won't
penetrate the meat, will do.  Have the steak fairly
thick.  Pepper and salt it thoroughly.  Sear it well
at first in order to keep the juices in; then cook
rather slowly.  When it is done, put it on a hot
plate and pour the browned onions, bacon fat and
all, over it."

"What ARE you talking about?" she interrupted.

"I'm telling you why I can bear to shoot deer,"
said I.

"But I don't see--" said she.

"Don't you?" said I.  "Well; suppose you've
been climbing a mountain late in the afternoon when
the sun is on the other side of it.  It is a mountain of
big boulders, loose little stones, thorny bushes.  The
slightest misstep would send pebbles rattling, brush
rustling; but you have gone all the way without
making that misstep.  This is quite a feat.  It means
that you've known all about every footstep you've
taken.  That would be business enough for most
people, wouldn't it?  But in addition you've managed
to see EVERYTHING on that side of the mountain
--especially patches of brown.  You've seen lots of
patches of brown, and you've examined each one
of them.  Besides that, you've heard lots of little
rustlings, and you've identified each one of them.  To
do all these things well keys your nerves to a high
tension, doesn't it?  And then near the top you look
up from your last noiseless step to see in the brush
a very dim patch of brown.  If you hadn't been looking
so hard, you surely wouldn't have made it out. 
Perhaps, if you're not humble-minded, you may
reflect that most people wouldn't have seen it at all. 
You whistle once sharply.  The patch of brown
defines itself.  Your heart gives one big jump.  You
know that you have but the briefest moment, the
tiniest fraction of time, to hold the white bead of
your rifle motionless and to press the trigger.  It has
to be done VERY steadily, at that distance,--and you
out of breath, with your nerves keyed high in the
tension of such caution."

"NOW what are you talking about?" she broke in
helplessly.

"Oh, didn't I mention it?" I asked, surprised. 
"I was telling you why I could bear to shoot deer."

"Yes, but--" she began.

"Of course not," I reassured her.  "After all, it's
very simple.  The reason I can bear to kill deer is
because, to kill deer, you must accomplish a skillful
elimination of the obvious."

My young lady was evidently afraid of being
considered stupid; and also convinced of her inability to
understand what I was driving at.  So she temporized
in the manner of society.

"I see," she said, with an air of complete enlightenment.

Now of course she did not see.  Nobody could see the 
force of that last remark without the grace of further
explanation, and yet in the elimination of the obvious 
rests the whole secret of seeing deer in the woods.

In traveling the trail you will notice two things:
that a tenderfoot will habitually contemplate the
horn of his saddle or the trail a few yards ahead
of his horse's nose, with occasionally a look about at
the landscape; and the old-timer will be constantly
searching the prospect with keen understanding eyes. 
Now in the occasional glances the tenderfoot takes,
his perceptions have room for just so many impressions. 
When the number is filled out he sees nothing
more.  Naturally the obvious features of the landscape
supply the basis for these impressions.  He sees
the configuration of the mountains, the nature of their
covering, the course of their ravines, first of all.  Then
if he looks more closely, there catches his eye an odd-
shaped rock, a burned black stub, a flowering bush,
or some such matter.  Anything less striking in its
appeal to the attention actually has not room for
its recognition.  In other words, supposing that a
man has the natural ability to receive x visual
impressions, the tenderfoot fills out his full capacity with
the striking features of his surroundings.  To be able
to see anything more obscure in form or color, he
must naturally put aside from his attention some one
or another of these obvious features.  He can, for
example, look for a particular kind of flower on a side
hill only by refusing to see other kinds.

If this is plain, then, go one step further in the
logic of that reasoning.  Put yourself in the mental
attitude of a man looking for deer.  His eye sweeps
rapidly over a side hill; so rapidly that you cannot
understand how he can have gathered the main features
of that hill, let alone concentrate and refine his
attention to the seeing of an animal under a bush. 
As a matter of fact he pays no attention to the main
features.  He has trained his eye, not so much to see
things, as to leave things out.  The odd-shaped rock,
the charred stub, the bright flowering bush do not
exist for him.  His eye passes over them as unseeing
as yours over the patch of brown or gray that represents
his quarry.  His attention stops on the unusual,
just as does yours; only in his case the unusual is
not the obvious.  He has succeeded by long training
in eliminating that.  Therefore he sees deer where
you do not.  As soon as you can forget the naturally
obvious and construct an artificially obvious, then you
too will see deer.

These animals are strangely invisible to the
untrained eye even when they are standing "in plain
sight."  You can look straight at them, and not see
them at all.  Then some old woodsman lets you sight
over his finger exactly to the spot.  At once the figure
of the deer fairly leaps into vision.  I know of no
more perfect example of the instantaneous than this. 
You are filled with astonishment that you could for
a moment have avoided seeing it.  And yet next time
you will in all probability repeat just this "puzzle
picture" experience.

The Tenderfoot tried for six weeks before he
caught sight of one.  He wanted to very much. 
Time and again one or the other of us would hiss
back, "See the deer! over there by the yellow bush!"
but before he could bring the deliberation of his
scrutiny to the point of identification, the deer would
be gone.  Once a fawn jumped fairly within ten feet
of the pack-horses and went bounding away through
the bushes, and that fawn he could not help seeing. 
We tried conscientiously enough to get him a shot;
but the Tenderfoot was unable to move through the
brush less majestically than a Pullman car, so we had
ended by becoming apathetic on the subject.

Finally, while descending a very abrupt mountain-
side I made out a buck lying down perhaps three
hundred feet directly below us.  The buck was not
looking our way, so I had time to call the Tenderfoot. 
He came.  With difficulty and by using my
rifle-barrel as a pointer I managed to show him the
animal.  Immediately he began to pant as though
at the finish of a mile race, and his rifle, when he
leveled it, covered a good half acre of ground.  This
would never do.

"Hold on!" I interrupted sharply.

He lowered his weapon to stare at me wild-eyed.

"What is it?" he gasped.

"Stop a minute!" I commanded.  "Now take
three deep breaths."

He did so.

"Now shoot," I advised, "and aim at his knees."

The deer was now on his feet and facing us, so
the Tenderfoot had the entire length of the animal
to allow for lineal variation.  He fired.  The deer
dropped.  The Tenderfoot thrust his hat over one
eye, rested hand on hip in a manner cocky to behold.

"Simply slaughter!" he proffered with lofty scorn.

We descended.  The bullet had broken the deer's
back--about six inches from the tail.  The Tenderfoot
had overshot by at least three feet.

You will see many deer thus from the trail,--in
fact, we kept up our meat supply from the saddle,
as one might say,--but to enjoy the finer savor of
seeing deer, you should start out definitely with that
object in view.  Thus you have opportunity for the
display of a certain finer woodcraft.  You must know
where the objects of your search are likely to be found,
and that depends on the time of year, the time of days
their age, their sex, a hundred little things.  When
the bucks carry antlers in the velvet, they frequent
the inaccessibilities of the highest rocky peaks, so
their tender horns may not be torn in the brush, but
nevertheless so that the advantage of a lofty viewpoint
may compensate for the loss of cover.  Later you
will find them in the open slopes of a lower altitude,
fully exposed to the sun, that there the heat may
harden the antlers.  Later still, the heads in fine
condition and tough to withstand scratches, they plunge
into the dense thickets.  But in the mean time the
fertile does have sought a lower country with patches of
small brush interspersed with open passages.  There
they can feed with their fawns, completely concealed,
but able, by merely raising the head, to survey the
entire landscape for the threatening of danger.  The
barren does, on the other hand, you will find through
the timber and brush, for they are careless of all
responsibilities either to offspring or headgear.  These
are but a few of the considerations you will take into
account, a very few of the many which lend the
deer countries strange thrills of delight over new
knowledge gained, over crafty expedients invented
or well utilized, over the satisfactory matching of
your reason, your instinct, your subtlety and skill
against the reason, instinct, subtlety, and skill of one
of the wariest of large wild animals.

Perversely enough the times when you did NOT see
deer are more apt to remain vivid in your memory
than the times when you did.  I can still see distinctly
sundry wide jump-marks where the animal I was
tracking had evidently caught sight of me and lit out
before I came up to him.  Equally, sundry little thin
disappearing clouds of dust; cracklings of brush,
growing ever more distant; the tops of bushes waving
to the steady passage of something remaining persistently
concealed,--these are the chief ingredients often 
repeated which make up deer-stalking memory.  When I 
think of seeing deer, these things automatically rise.

A few of the deer actually seen do, however, stand
out clearly from the many.  When I was a very small
boy possessed of a 32-20 rifle and large ambitions,
I followed the advantage my father's footsteps made
me in the deep snow of an unused logging-road. 
His attention was focused on some very interesting
fresh tracks.  I, being a small boy, cared not at all
for tracks, and so saw a big doe emerge from the
bushes not ten yards away, lope leisurely across the
road, and disappear, wagging earnestly her tail. 
When I had recovered my breath I vehemently
demanded the sense of fooling with tracks when there
were real live deer to be had.  My father examined me.

"Well, why didn't you shoot her?" he inquired dryly.

I hadn't thought of that.

In the spring of 1900 I was at the head of the
Piant River waiting for the log-drive to start.  One
morning, happening to walk over a slashing of many
years before in which had grown a strong thicket of
white popples, I jumped a band of nine deer.  I shall
never forget the bewildering impression made by the
glancing, dodging, bouncing white of those nine
snowy tails and rumps.

But most wonderful of all was a great buck, of I
should be afraid to say how many points, that stood
silhouetted on the extreme end of a ridge high above
our camp.  The time was just after twilight, and as
we watched, the sky lightened behind him in prophecy
of the moon.



ON TENDERFEET

XI

ON TENDERFEET

The tenderfoot is a queer beast.  He makes
more trouble than ants at a picnic, more work
than a trespassing goat; he never sees anything,
knows where anything is, remembers accurately your
instructions, follows them if remembered, or is able to
handle without awkwardness his large and pathetic
hands and feet; he is always lost, always falling off
or into things, always in difficulties; his articles of
necessity are constantly being burned up or washed
away or mislaid; he looks at you beamingly through
great innocent eyes in the most chuckle-headed of
manners; he exasperates you to within an inch of
explosion,--and yet you love him.

I am referring now to the real tenderfoot, the fellow
who cannot learn, who is incapable ever of adjusting
himself to the demands of the wild life.  Sometimes
a man is merely green, inexperienced.  But give him
a chance and he soon picks up the game.  That is
your greenhorn, not your tenderfoot.  Down near
Monache meadows we came across an individual leading
an old pack-mare up the trail.  The first thing, he
asked us to tell him where he was.  We did so.  Then
we noticed that he carried his gun muzzle-up in his
hip-pocket, which seemed to be a nice way to shoot
a hole in your hand, but a poor way to make your
weapon accessible.  He unpacked near us, and promptly 
turned the mare into a bog-hole because it looked 
green.  Then he stood around the rest of the evening 
and talked deprecating talk of a garrulous nature.

"Which way did you come?" asked Wes.

The stranger gave us a hazy account of misnamed
canons, by which we gathered that he had come
directly over the rough divide below us.

"But if you wanted to get to Monache, why
didn't you go around to the eastward through that
pass, there, and save yourself all the climb?  It must
have been pretty rough through there."

"Yes, perhaps so," he hesitated.  "Still--I got
lots of time--I can take all summer, if I want to--
and I'd rather stick to a straight line--then you
know where you ARE--if you get off the straight
line, you're likely to get lost, you know."

We knew well enough what ailed him, of course. 
He was a tenderfoot, of the sort that always, to its
dying day, unhobbles its horses before putting their
halters on.  Yet that man for thirty-two years had
lived almost constantly in the wild countries.  He
had traveled more miles with a pack-train than we
shall ever dream of traveling, and hardly could we
mention a famous camp of the last quarter century
that he had not blundered into.  Moreover he proved
by the indirections of his misinformation that he had
really been there and was not making ghost stories
in order to impress us.  Yet if the Lord spares him
thirty-two years more, at the end of that time he will
probably still be carrying his gun upside down, turning
his horse into a bog-hole, and blundering through
the country by main strength and awkwardness.  He
was a beautiful type of the tenderfoot.

The redeeming point of the tenderfoot is his
humbleness of spirit and his extreme good nature. 
He exasperates you with his fool performances to
the point of dancing cursing wild crying rage, and
then accepts your--well, reproofs--so meekly that you 
come off the boil as though some one had removed you 
from the fire, and you feel like a low-browed thug.

Suppose your particular tenderfoot to be named
Algernon.  Suppose him to have packed his horse
loosely--they always do--so that the pack has
slipped, the horse has bucked over three square miles
of assorted mountains, and the rest of the train is
scattered over identically that area.  You have run
your saddle-horse to a lather heading the outfit.  You
have sworn and dodged and scrambled and yelled,
even fired your six-shooter, to turn them and bunch
them.  In the mean time Algernon has either sat his
horse like a park policeman in his leisure hours,
or has ambled directly into your path of pursuit on
an average of five times a minute.  Then the trouble
dies from the landscape and the baby bewilderment
from his eyes.  You slip from your winded horse and
address Algernon with elaborate courtesy.

"My dear fellow," you remark, "did you not see
that the thing for you to do was to head them down
by the bottom of that little gulch there?  Don't you
really think ANYBODY would have seen it?  What in
hades do you think I wanted to run my horse all
through those boulders for?  Do you think I want
to get him lame 'way up here in the hills?  I don't
mind telling a man a thing once, but to tell it to
him fifty-eight times and then have it do no good--
Have you the faintest recollection of my instructing
you to turn the bight OVER instead of UNDER when you
throw that pack-hitch?  If you'd remember that, we
shouldn't have had all this trouble."

"You didn't tell me to head them by the little
gulch," babbles Algernon.

This is just the utterly fool reply that upsets your
artificial and elaborate courtesy.  You probably foam
at the mouth, and dance on your hat, and shriek wild
imploring imprecations to the astonished hills.  This
is not because you have an unfortunate disposition,
but because Algernon has been doing precisely the
same thing for two months.

"Listen to him!" you howl.  "Didn't tell him! 
Why you gangle-legged bug-eyed soft-handed pop-
eared tenderfoot, you! there are some things you
never THINK of telling a man.  I never told you to
open your mouth to spit, either.  If you had a hired
man at five dollars a year who was so all-around
hopelessly thick-headed and incompetent as you are,
you'd fire him to-morrow morning."

Then Algernon looks truly sorry, and doesn't
answer back as he ought to in order to give occasion
for the relief of a really soul-satisfying scrap, and
utters the soft answer humbly.  So your wrath is
turned and there remain only the dregs which taste
like some of Algernon's cooking.

It is rather good fun to relieve the bitterness of
the heart.  Let me tell you a few more tales of the
tenderfoot, premising always that I love him, and
when at home seek him out to smoke pipes at his
fireside, to yarn over the trail, to wonder how much
rancor he cherishes against the maniacs who declaimed
against him, and by way of compensation to build up
in the mind of his sweetheart, his wife, or his mother
a fearful and wonderful reputation for him as the
Terror of the Trail.  These tales are selected from
many, mere samples of a varied experience.  They
occurred here, there, and everywhere, and at various
times.  Let no one try to lay them at the door of our 
Tenderfoot merely because such is his title in this 
narrative.  We called him that by way of distinction.

Once upon a time some of us were engaged in  
climbing a mountain rising some five thousand feet
above our starting-place.  As we toiled along, one of
the pack-horses became impatient and pushed ahead. 
We did not mind that, especially, as long as she
stayed in sight, but in a little while the trail was
closed in by brush and timber.

"Algernon," said we, "just push on and get ahead
of that mare, will you?"

Algernon disappeared.  We continued to climb.  The trail 
was steep and rather bad.  The labor was strenuous, and 
we checked off each thousand feet with thankfulness.  As 
we saw nothing further of Algernon, we naturally 
concluded he had headed the mare and was continuing on 
the trail.  Then through a little opening we saw him 
riding cheerfully along without a care to occupy his 
mind.  Just for luck we hailed him.

"Hi there, Algernon!  Did you find her?"

"Haven't seen her yet."

"Well, you'd better push on a little faster.  She
may leave the trail at the summit."

Then one of us, endowed by heaven with a keen intuitive 
instinct for tenderfeet,--no one could have a knowledge 
of them, they are too unexpected,--had an inspiration.

"I suppose there are tracks on the trail ahead of
you?" he called.

We stared at each other, then at the trail.  Only
one horse had preceded us,--that of the tenderfoot. 
But of course Algernon was nevertheless due for his
chuckle-headed reply.

"I haven't looked," said he.

That raised the storm conventional to such an occasion.

"What in the name of seventeen little dicky-birds
did you think you were up to!" we howled.  "Were
you going to ride ahead until dark in the childlike
faith that that mare might show up somewhere?  Here's 
a nice state of affairs.  The trail is all tracked up 
now with our horses, and heaven knows whether she's 
left tracks where she turned off.  It may be rocky there."

We tied the animals savagely, and started back on
foot.  It would be criminal to ask our saddle-horses
to repeat that climb.  Algernon we ordered to stay
with them.

"And don't stir from them no matter what happens, 
or you'll get lost," we commanded out of the
wisdom of long experience.

We climbed down the four thousand odd feet,
and then back again, leading the mare.  She had
turned off not forty rods from where Algernon had
taken up her pursuit.

Your Algernon never does get down to little
details like tracks--his scheme of life is much too
magnificent.  To be sure he would not know fresh
tracks from old if he should see them; so it is
probably quite as well.  In the morning he goes out after
the horses.  The bunch he finds easily enough, but
one is missing.  What would you do about it?  You
would naturally walk in a circle around the bunch
until you crossed the track of the truant leading
away from it, wouldn't you?  If you made a wide
enough circle you would inevitably cross that track,
wouldn't you? provided the horse started out with
the bunch in the first place.  Then you would follow
the track, catch the horse, and bring him back.  Is
this Algernon's procedure?  Not any.  "Ha!" says
he, "old Brownie is missing.  I will hunt him up." 
Then he maunders off into the scenery, trusting to
high heaven that he is going to blunder against
Brownie as a prominent feature of the landscape. 
After a couple of hours you probably saddle up
Brownie and go out to find the tenderfoot.

He has a horrifying facility in losing himself. 
Nothing is more cheering than to arise from a hard-
earned couch of ease for the purpose of trailing an
Algernon or so through the gathering dusk to the
spot where he has managed to find something--a very 
real despair of ever getting back to food and warmth.  
Nothing is more irritating then than his gratitude.

I traveled once in the Black Hills with such a
tenderfoot.  We were off from the base of supplies
for a ten days' trip with only a saddle-horse apiece. 
This was near first principles, as our total provisions
consisted of two pounds of oatmeal, some tea, and
sugar.  Among other things we climbed Mt. Harney. 
The trail, after we left the horses, was as plain as a
strip of Brussels carpet, but somehow or another
that tenderfoot managed to get off it.  I hunted him
up.  We gained the top, watched the sunset, and
started down.  The tenderfoot, I thought, was fairly
at my coat-tails, but when I turned to speak to him
he had gone; he must have turned off at one of the
numerous little openings in the brush.  I sat down
to wait.  By and by, away down the west slope of
the mountain, I heard a shot, and a faint, a very faint,
despairing yell.  I, also, shot and yelled.  After various
signals of the sort, it became evident that the
tenderfoot was approaching.  In a moment he tore by
at full speed, his hat off, his eye wild, his six-shooter
popping at every jump.  He passed within six feet
of me, and never saw me.  Subsequently I left him
on the prairie, with accurate and simple instructions.

"There's the mountain range.  You simply keep
that to your left and ride eight hours.  Then you'll
see Rapid City.  You simply CAN'T get lost.  Those
hills stick out like a sore thumb."

Two days later he drifted into Rapid City, having
wandered off somewhere to the east.  How he had
done it I can never guess.  That is his secret.

The tenderfoot is always in hard luck.  Apparently,
too, by all tests of analysis it is nothing but
luck, pure chance, misfortune.  And yet the very
persistence of it in his case, where another escapes,
perhaps indicates that much of what we call good luck 
is in reality unconscious skill in the arrangement 
of those elements which go to make up events.  A 
persistently unlucky man is perhaps sometimes to be 
pitied, but more often to be booted.  That philosophy 
will be cryingly unjust about once in ten.

But lucky or unlucky, the tenderfoot is human. 
Ordinarily that doesn't occur to you.  He is a
malevolent engine of destruction--quite as impersonal
as heat or cold or lack of water.  He is an unfortunate
article of personal belonging requiring much looking 
after to keep in order.  He is a credulous and 
convenient response to practical jokes, huge tales,
misinformation.  He is a laudable object of attrition 
for the development of your character.  But somehow, 
in the woods, he is not as other men, and so you do 
not come to feel yourself in close human relations to him.

But Algernon is real, nevertheless.  He has
feelings, even if you do not respect them.  He has his
little enjoyments, even though he does rarely contemplate
anything but the horn of his saddle.

"Algernon," you cry, "for heaven's sake stick
that saddle of yours in a glass case and glut yourself
with the sight of its ravishing beauties next WINTER. 
For the present do gaze on the mountains.  That's
what you came for."

No use.

He has, doubtless, a full range of all the appreciative
emotions, though from his actions you'd never suspect 
it.  Most human of all, he possesses his little vanities.

Algernon always overdoes the equipment question. 
If it is bird-shooting, he accumulates leggings and
canvas caps and belts and dog-whistles and things
until he looks like a picture from a department-store
catalogue.  In the cow country he wears Stetson hats,
snake bands, red handkerchiefs, six-shooters, chaps,
and huge spurs that do not match his face.  If it is
yachting, he has a chronometer with a gong in the
cabin of a five-ton sailboat, possesses a nickle-plated
machine to register the heel of his craft, sports a
brass-bound yachting-cap and all the regalia.  This
is merely amusing.  But I never could understand
his insane desire to get sunburned.  A man will get
sunburned fast enough; he could not help it if he
would.  Algernon usually starts out from town without 
a hat.  Then he dares not take off his sweater
for a week lest it carry away his entire face.  I have
seen men with deep sores on their shoulders caused
by nothing but excessive burning in the sun.  This,
too, is merely amusing.  It means quite simply that
Algernon realizes his inner deficiencies and wants to
make up for them by the outward seeming.  Be kind
to him, for he has been raised a pet.

The tenderfoot is lovable--mysterious in how he
does it--and awfully unexpected.



XII

THE CANON

One day we tied our horses to three bushes, and walked 
on foot two hundred yards.  Then we looked down.

It was nearly four thousand feet down.  Do you
realize how far that is?  There was a river meandering
through olive-colored forests.  It was so distant
that it was light green and as narrow as a piece of
tape.  Here and there were rapids, but so remote that
we could not distinguish the motion of them, only
the color.  The white resembled tiny dabs of cotton
wool stuck on the tape.  It turned and twisted,
following the turns and twists of the canon.  Somehow
the level at the bottom resembled less forests and
meadows than a heavy and sluggish fluid like
molasses flowing between the canon walls.  It emerged
from the bend of a sheer cliff ten miles to eastward:
it disappeared placidly around the bend of another
sheer cliff an equal distance to the westward.

The time was afternoon.  As we watched, the
shadow of the canon wall darkened the valley. 
Whereupon we looked up.

Now the upper air, of which we were dwellers for
the moment, was peopled by giants and clear 
atmosphere and glittering sunlight, flashing like silver
and steel and precious stones from the granite domes,
peaks, minarets, and palisades of the High Sierras. 
Solid as they were in reality, in the crispness of this
mountain air, under the tangible blue of this mountain
sky, they seemed to poise light as so many balloons. 
Some of them rose sheer, with hardly a fissure;  some 
had flung across their shoulders long trailing pine 
draperies, fine as fur; others matched mantles of the 
whitest white against the bluest blue of the sky.  
Towards the lower country were more pines rising in 
ridges, like the fur of an animal that has been alarmed.

We dangled our feet over the edge and talked about it.  
Wes pointed to the upper end where the sluggish lava-like 
flow of the canon-bed first came into view.

"That's where we'll camp," said he.

"When?" we asked.

"When we get there," he answered.

For this canon lies in the heart of the mountains. 
Those who would visit it have first to get into the
country--a matter of over a week.  Then they have
their choice of three probabilities of destruction.

The first route comprehends two final days of
travel at an altitude of about ten thousand feet, where
the snow lies in midsummer; where there is no feed,
no comfort, and the way is strewn with the bones of
horses.  This is known as the "Basin Trail."  After
taking it, you prefer the others--until you try them.

The finish of the second route is directly over the
summit of a mountain.  You climb two thousand
feet and then drop down five.  The ascent is heart-
breaking but safe.  The descent is hair-raising and
unsafe: no profanity can do justice to it.  Out of a
pack-train of thirty mules, nine were lost in the
course of that five thousand feet.  Legend has it that
once many years ago certain prospectors took in a
Chinese cook.  At first the Mongolian bewailed his
fate loudly and fluently, but later settled to a single
terrified moan that sounded like "tu-ne-mah! tu-ne-
mah!"  The trail was therefore named the "Tu-ne-
mah Trail."  It is said that "tu-ne-mah" is the very
worst single vituperation of which the Chinese
language is capable.

The third route is called "Hell's Half Mile."  It is
not misnamed.

Thus like paradise the canon is guarded; but
like paradise it is wondrous in delight.  For when
you descend you find that the tape-wide trickle
of water seen from above has become a river with
profound darkling pools and placid stretches and
swift dashing rapids; that the dark green sluggish
flow in the canon-bed has disintegrated into a noble
forest with great pine-trees, and shaded aisles, and
deep dank thickets, and brush openings where the
sun is warm and the birds are cheerful, and groves
of cottonwoods where all day long softly, like snow,
the flakes of cotton float down through the air. 
Moreover there are meadows, spacious lawns, opening
out, closing in, winding here and there through
the groves in the manner of spilled naphtha, actually
waist high with green feed, sown with flowers like a
brocade.  Quaint tributary little brooks babble and
murmur down through these trees, down through
these lawns.  A blessed warm sun hums with the joy
of innumerable bees.  To right hand and to left,
in front of you and behind, rising sheer, forbidding,
impregnable, the cliffs, mountains, and ranges hem
you in.  Down the river ten miles you can go: then
the gorge closes, the river grows savage, you can only
look down the tumbling fierce waters and turn back. 
Up the river five miles you can go, then interpose
the sheer snow-clad cliffs of the Palisades, and them,
rising a matter of fourteen thousand feet, you may
not cross.  You are shut in your paradise as
completely as though surrounded by iron bars.

But, too, the world is shut out.  The paradise is
yours.  In it are trout and deer and grouse and bear
and lazy happy days.  Your horses feed to the fatness
of butter.  You wander at will in the ample
though definite limits of your domain.  You lie on
your back and examine dispassionately, with an
interest entirely detached, the huge cliff-walls of the
valley.  Days slip by.  Really, it needs at least an
angel with a flaming sword to force you to move on.

We turned away from our view and addressed
ourselves to the task of finding out just when we were
going to get there.  The first day we bobbed up and
over innumerable little ridges of a few hundred feet
elevation, crossed several streams, and skirted the
wide bowl-like amphitheatre of a basin.  The second
day we climbed over things and finally ended in a
small hanging park named Alpine Meadows, at an
elevation of eight thousand five hundred feet.  There
we rested-over a day, camped under a single pine-
tree, with the quick-growing mountain grasses thick
about us, a semicircle of mountains on three sides,
and the plunge into the canon on the other.  As
we needed meat, we spent part of the day in finding
a deer.  The rest of the time we watched idly for bear.

Bears are great travelers.  They will often go
twenty miles overnight, apparently for the sheer
delight of being on the move.  Also are they exceedingly
loath to expend unnecessary energy in getting
to places, and they hate to go down steep hills.  You
see, their fore legs are short.  Therefore they are
skilled in the choice of easy routes through the
mountains, and once having made the choice they
stick to it until through certain narrow places on
the route selected they have worn a trail as smooth
as a garden-path.  The old prospectors used quite
occasionally to pick out the horse-passes by trusting
in general to the bear migrations, and many a
well-traveled route of to-day is superimposed over
the way-through picked out by old bruin long ago.

Of such was our own trail.  Therefore we kept
our rifles at hand and our eyes open for a straggler. 
But none came, though we baited craftily with
portions of our deer.  All we gained was a rattlesnake,
and he seemed a bit out of place so high up in the air.

Mount Tunemah stood over against us, still
twenty-two hundred feet above our elevation.  We
gazed on it sadly, for directly by its summit, and for
five hours beyond, lay our trail, and evil of
reputation was that trail beyond all others.  The horses,
as we bunched them in preparation for the packing,
took on a new interest, for it was on the cards that
the unpacking at evening would find some missing
from the ranks.

"Lily's a goner, sure," said Wes.  "I don't know
how she's got this far except by drunken man's luck. 
She'll never make the Tunemah."

"And Tunemah himself," pointed out the Tenderfoot, 
naming his own fool horse; "I see where I start in to walk."

"Sort of a `morituri te salutamur,' " said I.

We climbed the two thousand two hundred feet,
leading our saddle-horses to save their strength. 
Every twenty feet we rested, breathing heavily of
the rarified air.  Then at the top of the world we
paused on the brink of nothing to tighten cinches,
while the cold wind swept by us, the snow glittered
in a sunlight become silvery like that of early April,
and the giant peaks of the High Sierras lifted into a
distance inconceivably remote, as though the horizon
had been set back for their accommodation.

To our left lay a windrow of snow such as you
will see drifted into a sharp crest across a corner of
your yard; only this windrow was twenty feet high
and packed solid by the sun, the wind, and the weight
of its age.  We climbed it and looked over directly
into the eye of a round Alpine lake seven or eight
hundred feet below.  It was of an intense cobalt blue,
a color to be seen only in these glacial bodies of
water, deep and rich as the mantle of a merchant
of Tyre.  White ice floated in it.  The savage fierce
granite needles and knife-edges of the mountain crest
hemmed it about.

But this was temporizing, and we knew it.  The
first drop of the trail was so steep that we could flip
a pebble to the first level of it, and so rough in its
water-and-snow-gouged knuckles of rocks that it
seemed that at the first step a horse must necessarily
fall end over end.  We made it successfully, however,
and breathed deep.  Even Lily, by a miracle of
lucky scrambling, did not even stumble.

"Now she's easy for a little ways," said Wes,
"then we'll get busy."

When we "got busy" we took our guns in our
hands to preserve them from a fall, and started in. 
Two more miracles saved Dinkey at two more places. 
We spent an hour at one spot, and finally built a
new trail around it.  Six times a minute we held our
breaths and stood on tiptoe with anxiety, powerless
to help, while the horse did his best.  At the
especially bad places we checked them off one after
another, congratulating ourselves on so much saved
as each came across without accident.  When there
were no bad places, the trail was so extraordinarily
steep that we ahead were in constant dread of
a horse's falling on us from behind, and our legs did
become wearied to incipient paralysis by the constant
stiff checking of the descent.  Moreover every
second or so one of the big loose stones with which
the trail was cumbered would be dislodged and come
bouncing down among us.  We dodged and swore;
the horses kicked; we all feared for the integrity of
our legs.  The day was full of an intense nervous
strain, an entire absorption in the precise present. 
We promptly forgot a difficulty as soon as we were
by it: we had not time to think of those still ahead. 
All outside the insistence of the moment was blurred
and unimportant, like a specialized focus, so I cannot
tell you much about the scenery.  The only outside
impression we received was that the canon floor
was slowly rising to meet us.

Then strangely enough, as it seemed, we stepped
off to level ground.

Our watches said half-past three.  We had made
five miles in a little under seven hours.

Remained only the crossing of the river.  This
was no mean task, but we accomplished it lightly,
searching out a ford.  There were high grasses, and
on the other side of them a grove of very tall
cottonwoods, clean as a park.  First of all we cooked
things; then we spread things; then we lay on our
backs and smoked things, our hands clasped back
of our heads.  We cocked ironical eyes at the sheer
cliff of old Mount Tunemah, very much as a man
would cock his eye at a tiger in a cage.

Already the meat-hawks, the fluffy Canada jays,
had found us out, and were prepared to swoop down
boldly on whatever offered to their predatory skill. 
We had nothing for them yet,--there were no
remains of the lunch,--but the fire-irons were out,
and ribs of venison were roasting slowly over the
coals in preparation for the evening meal.  Directly
opposite, visible through the lattice of the trees, were
two huge mountain peaks, part of the wall that shut
us in, over against us in a height we had not dared
ascribe to the sky itself.  By and by the shadow of
these mountains rose on the westerly wall.  It crept
up at first slowly, extinguishing color; afterwards
more rapidly as the sun approached the horizon. 
The sunlight disappeared.  A moment's gray intervened,
and then the wonderful golden afterglow laid
on the peaks its enchantment.  Little by little that
too faded, until at last, far away, through a rift in
the ranks of the giants, but one remained gilded
by the glory of a dream that continued with it after
the others.  Heretofore it had seemed to us an
insignificant peak, apparently overtopped by many, but
by this token we knew it to be the highest of them all.

Then ensued another pause, as though to give the
invisible scene-shifter time to accomplish his work,
followed by a shower of evening coolness, that seemed
to sift through the trees like a soft and gentle rain. 
We ate again by the flicker of the fire, dabbing a
trifle uncertainly at the food, wondering at the
distant mountain on which the Day had made its final
stand, shrinking a little before the stealthy dark that
flowed down the canon in the manner of a heavy smoke.

In the notch between the two huge mountains
blazed a star,--accurately in the notch, like the
front sight of a rifle sighted into the marvelous
depths of space.  Then the moon rose.

First we knew of it when it touched the crest of
our two mountains.  The night has strange effects on
the hills.  A moment before they had menaced black
and sullen against the sky, but at the touch of the
moon their very substance seemed to dissolve, leaving
in the upper atmosphere the airiest, most nebulous,
fragile, ghostly simulacrums of themselves you could
imagine in the realms of fairy-land.  They seemed
actually to float, to poise like cloud-shapes about to
dissolve.  And against them were cast the inky silhouettes
of three fir-trees in the shadow near at hand.

Down over the stones rolled the river, crying out
to us with the voices of old accustomed friends in
another wilderness.  The winds rustled.



XIII

TROUT, BUCKSKIN, AND PROSPECTORS

As I have said, a river flows through the canon. 
It is a very good river with some riffles that
can be waded down to the edges of black pools
or white chutes of water; with appropriate big trees
fallen slantwise into it to form deep holes; and with
hurrying smooth stretches of some breadth.  In all of
these various places are rainbow trout.

There is no use fishing until late afternoon.  The
clear sun of the high altitudes searches out mercilessly
the bottom of the stream, throwing its miniature
boulders, mountains, and valleys as plainly into
relief as the buttes of Arizona at noon.  Then the
trout quite refuse.  Here and there, if you walk far
enough and climb hard enough over all sorts of
obstructions, you may discover a few spots shaded by
big trees or rocks where you can pick up a half dozen
fish; but it is slow work.  When, however, the
shadow of the two huge mountains feels its way
across the stream, then, as though a signal had been
given, the trout begin to rise.  For an hour and a
half there is noble sport indeed.

The stream fairly swarmed with them, but of course
some places were better than others.  Near the upper
reaches the water boiled like seltzer around the base
of a tremendous tree.  There the pool was at least ten
feet deep and shot with bubbles throughout the
whole of its depth, but it was full of fish.  They rose
eagerly to your gyrating fly,--and took it away with
them down to subaqueous chambers and passages
among the roots of that tree.  After which you broke
your leader.  Royal Coachman was the best lure, and
therefore valuable exceedingly were Royal Coachmen. 
Whenever we lost one we lifted up our voices
in lament, and went away from there, calling to mind
that there were other pools, many other pools, free
of obstruction and with fish in them.  Yet such is the
perversity of fishermen, we were back losing more
Royal Coachmen the very next day.  In all I managed
to disengage just three rather small trout from
that pool, and in return decorated their ancestral halls
with festoons of leaders and the brilliance of many flies.

Now this was foolishness.  All you had to do was
to walk through a grove of cottonwoods, over a
brook, through another grove of pines, down a sloping
meadow to where one of the gigantic pine-trees
had obligingly spanned the current.  You crossed
that, traversed another meadow, broke through a
thicket, slid down a steep grassy bank, and there you
were.  A great many years before a pine-tree had
fallen across the current.  Now its whitened skeleton
lay there, opposing a barrier for about twenty-five
feet out into the stream.  Most of the water turned
aside, of course, and boiled frantically around the end
as though trying to catch up with the rest of the
stream which had gone on without it, but some of it
dived down under and came up on the other side. 
There, as though bewildered, it paused in an uneasy
pool.  Its constant action had excavated a very deep
hole, the debris of which had formed a bar immediately
below.  You waded out on the bar and cast along
the length of the pine skeleton over the pool.

If you were methodical, you first shortened your
line, and began near the bank, gradually working
out until you were casting forty-five feet to the very
edge of the fast current.  I know of nothing pleasanter
for you to do.  You see, the evening shadow
was across the river, and a beautiful grass slope at your
back.  Over the way was a grove of trees whose birds
were very busy because it was near their sunset, while
towering over them were mountains, quite peaceful
by way of contrast because THEIR sunset was still far
distant.  The river was in a great hurry, and was talking
to itself like a man who has been detained and
is now at last making up time to his important
engagement.  And from the deep black shadow beneath
the pine skeleton, occasionally flashed white bodies
that made concentric circles where they broke the
surface of the water, and which fought you to a finish
in the glory of battle.  The casting was against the
current, so your flies could rest but the briefest possible
moment on the surface of the stream.  That moment
was enough.  Day after day you could catch your
required number from an apparently inexhaustible supply.

I might inform you further of the gorge downstream,
where you lie flat on your stomach ten feet
above the river, and with one hand cautiously
extended over the edge cast accurately into the angle
of the cliff.  Then when you get your strike, you tow 
him downstream, clamber precariously to the water's 
level--still playing your fish--and there land him,--if 
he has accommodatingly stayed hooked.  A three-pound 
fish will make you a lot of tribulation at this game.

We lived on fish and venison, and had all we
wanted.  The bear-trails were plenty enough, and
the signs were comparatively fresh, but at the time
of our visit the animals themselves had gone over
the mountains on some sort of a picnic.  Grouse,
too, were numerous in the popple thickets, and
flushed much like our ruffed grouse of the East. 
They afforded first-rate wing-shooting for Sure-Pop,
the little shot-gun.

But these things occupied, after all, only a small
part of every day.  We had loads of time left.  Of
course we explored the valley up and down.  That
occupied two days.  After that we became lazy. 
One always does in a permanent camp.  So did
the horses.  Active--or rather restless interest in
life seemed to die away.  Neither we nor they had
to rustle hard for food.  They became fastidious
in their choice, and at all times of day could be
seen sauntering in Indian file from one part of the
meadow to the other for the sole purpose apparently
of cropping a half dozen indifferent mouthfuls.  The
rest of the time they roosted under trees, one hind
leg relaxed, their eyes half closed, their ears
wabbling, the pictures of imbecile content.  We were
very much the same.

Of course we had our outbursts of virtue.  While
under their influence we undertook vast works.  But 
after their influence had died out, we found ourselves 
with said vast works on our hands, and so came to 
cursing ourselves and our fool spasms of industry.

For instance, Wes and I decided to make buckskin
from the hide of the latest deer.  We did not
need the buckskin--we already had two in the
pack.  Our ordinary procedure would have been to
dry the hide for future treatment by a Mexican, at a
dollar a hide, when we should have returned home. 
But, as I said, we were afflicted by sporadic activity,
and wanted to do something.

We began with great ingenuity by constructing a
graining-tool out of a table-knife.  We bound it with
rawhide, and encased it with wood, and wrapped it
with cloth, and filed its edge square across, as is
proper.  After this we hunted out a very smooth,
barkless log, laid the hide across it, straddled it, and
began graining.

Graining is a delightful process.  You grasp the
tool by either end, hold the square edge at a certain
angle, and push away from you mightily.  A half-
dozen pushes will remove a little patch of hair;
twice as many more will scrape away half as much
of the seal-brown grain, exposing the white of the
hide.  Then, if you want to, you can stop and establish
in your mind a definite proportion between the
amount thus exposed, the area remaining unexposed,
and the muscular fatigue of these dozen and
a half of mighty pushes.  The proportion will be
wrong.  You have left out of account the fact that you
are going to get almighty sick of the job; that your
arms and upper back are going to ache shrewdly
before you are done; and that as you go on it is going
to be increasingly difficult to hold down the edges
firmly enough to offer the required resistance to your
knife.  Besides--if you get careless--you'll scrape
too hard: hence little holes in the completed buckskin. 
Also--if you get careless--you will probably
leave the finest, tiniest shreds of grain, and each of
them means a hard transparent spot in the product. 
Furthermore, once having started in on the job, you
are like the little boy who caught the trolley: you
cannot let go.  It must be finished immediately, all
at one heat, before the hide stiffens.

Be it understood, your first enthusiasm has evaporated, 
and you are thinking of fifty pleasant things
you might just as well be doing.

Next you revel in grease,--lard oil, if you have
it; if not, then lard, or the product of boiled brains. 
This you must rub into the skin.  You rub it in
until you suspect that your finger-nails have worn
away, and you glisten to the elbows like an Eskimo
cutting blubber.

By the merciful arrangement of those who
invented buckskin, this entitles you to a rest.  You
take it--for several days--until your conscience
seizes you by the scruff of the neck.

Then you transport gingerly that slippery, clammy,
soggy, snaky, cold bundle of greasy horror to the
bank of the creek, and there for endless hours you
wash it.  The grease is more reluctant to enter the
stream than you are in the early morning.  Your
hands turn purple.  The others go by on their way
to the trout-pools, but you are chained to the stake.

By and by you straighten your back with creaks,
and walk home like a stiff old man, carrying your
hide rid of all superfluous oil.  Then if you are just
learning how, your instructor examines the result.

"That's all right," says he cheerfully.  "Now when
it dries, it will be buckskin."

That encourages you.  It need not.  For during
the process of drying it must be your pastime
constantly to pull and stretch at every square inch of
that boundless skin in order to loosen all the fibres. 
Otherwise it would dry as stiff as whalebone.  Now
there is nothing on earth that seems to dry slower
than buckskin.  You wear your fingers down to the
first joints, and, wishing to preserve the remainder for
future use, you carry the hide to your instructor.

"Just beginning to dry nicely," says he.

You go back and do it some more, putting the
entire strength of your body, soul, and religious
convictions into the stretching of that buckskin.  It looks
as white as paper; and feels as soft and warm as the
turf on a southern slope.  Nevertheless your tyrant
declares it will not do.

"It looks dry, and it feels dry," says he, "but it
isn't dry.  Go to it!"

But at this point your outraged soul arches its back
and bucks.  You sneak off and roll up that piece of
buckskin, and thrust it into the alforja.  You KNOW
it is dry.  Then with a deep sigh of relief you come
out of prison into the clear, sane, lazy atmosphere of
the camp.

"Do you mean to tell me that there is any one chump 
enough to do that for a dollar a hide?" you inquire.

"Sure," say they.

"Well, the Fool Killer is certainly behind on his
dates," you conclude.

About a week later one of your companions drags out of 
the alforja something crumpled that resembles in general
appearance and texture a rusted five-gallon coal-oil 
can that has been in a wreck.  It is only imperceptibly 
less stiff and angular and cast-iron than rawhide.

"What is this?" the discoverer inquires.

Then quietly you go out and sit on a high place
before recognition brings inevitable--and sickening
--chaff.  For you know it at a glance.  It is your
buckskin.

Along about the middle of that century an old
prospector with four burros descended the Basin
Trail and went into camp just below us.  Towards
evening he sauntered in.

I sincerely wish I could sketch this man for you
just as he came down through the fire-lit trees.  He
was about six feet tall, very leanly built, with a
weather-beaten face of mahogany on which was
superimposed a sweeping mustache and beetling eye-
brows.  These had originally been brown, but the
sun had bleached them almost white in remarkable
contrast to his complexion.  Eyes keen as sunlight
twinkled far down beneath the shadows of the brows
and a floppy old sombrero hat.  The usual flannel
shirt, waistcoat, mountain-boots, and six-shooter
completed the outfit.  He might have been forty, but 
was probably nearer sixty years of age.

"Howdy, boys," said he, and dropped to the
fireside, where he promptly annexed a coal for his pipe.

We all greeted him, but gradually the talk fell
to him and Wes.  It was commonplace talk enough
from one point of view: taken in essence it was
merely like the inquiry and answer of the civilized
man as to another's itinerary--"Did you visit Florence?
Berlin? St. Petersburg?"--and then the
comparing of impressions.  Only here again that old
familiar magic of unfamiliar names threw its glamour
over the terse sentences.

"Over beyond the Piute Monument," the old
prospector explained, "down through the Inyo
Range, a leetle north of Death Valley--"

"Back in seventy-eight when I was up in Bay
Horse Canon over by Lost River--"

"Was you ever over in th' Panamit Mountains? 
--North of th' Telescope Range?"--

That was all there was to it, with long pauses for
drawing at the pipes.  Yet somehow in the aggregate
that catalogue of names gradually established in the
minds of us two who listened an impression of long
years, of wide wilderness, of wandering far over the
face of the earth.  The old man had wintered here,
summered a thousand miles away, made his strike
at one end of the world, lost it somehow, and cheerfully
tried for a repetition of his luck at the other. 
I do not believe the possibility of wealth, though
always of course in the background, was ever near
enough his hope to be considered a motive for
action.  Rather was it a dream, remote, something to
be gained to-morrow, but never to-day, like the mediaeval
Christian's idea of heaven.  His interest was 
in the search.  For that one could see in him a real
enthusiasm.  He had his smattering of theory, his
very real empirical knowledge, and his superstitions,
like all prospectors.  So long as he could keep in
grub, own a little train of burros, and lead the life
he loved, he was happy.

Perhaps one of the chief elements of this remarkable
interest in the game rather than the prizes of it
was his desire to vindicate his guesses or his conclusions. 
He liked to predict to himself the outcome of
his solitary operations, and then to prove that
prediction through laborious days.  His life was a
gigantic game of solitaire.  In fact, he mentioned a
dozen of his claims many years apart which he had
developed to a certain point,--"so I could see what
they was,"--and then abandoned in favor of fresher
discoveries.  He cherished the illusion that these were
properties to whose completion some day he would
return.  But we knew better; he had carried them to
the point where the result was no longer in doubt
and then, like one who has no interest in playing on
in an evidently prescribed order, had laid his cards
on the table to begin a new game.

This man was skilled in his profession; he had
pursued it for thirty odd years; he was frugal and
industrious; undoubtedly of his long series of
discoveries a fair percentage were valuable and are
producing-properties to-day.  Yet he confessed his bank
balance to be less than five hundred dollars.  Why
was this?  Simply and solely because he did not care. 
At heart it was entirely immaterial to him whether
he ever owned a dollar above his expenses.  When
he sold his claims, he let them go easily, loath to
bother himself with business details, eager to get
away from the fuss and nuisance.  The few hundred
dollars he received he probably sunk in unproductive
mining work, or was fleeced out of in the towns. 
Then joyfully he turned back to his beloved mountains
and the life of his slow deep delight and his
pecking away before the open doors of fortune.  By
and by he would build himself a little cabin down
in the lower pine mountains, where he would grow
a white beard, putter with occult wilderness crafts,
and smoke long contemplative hours in the sun before
his door.  For tourists he would braid rawhide
reins and quirts, or make buckskin.  The jays and
woodpeckers and Douglas squirrels would become
fond of him.  So he would be gathered to his fathers,
a gentle old man whose life had been spent harmlessly
in the open.  He had had his ideal to which
blindly he reached; he had in his indirect way
contributed the fruits of his labor to mankind; his
recompenses he had chosen according to his desires. 
When you consider these things, you perforce have
to revise your first notion of him as a useless sort of
old ruffian.  As you come to know him better, you
must love him for the kindliness, the simple honesty,
the modesty, and charity that he seems to draw from
his mountain environment.  There are hundreds of
him buried in the great canons of the West.

Our prospector was a little uncertain as to his
plans.  Along toward autumn he intended to land at
some reputed placers near Dinkey Creek.  There
might be something in that district.  He thought he
would take a look.  In the mean time he was just
poking up through the country--he and his jackasses. 
Good way to spend the summer.  Perhaps he might run 
across something 'most anywhere; up near the top of 
that mountain opposite looked mineralized.  Didn't 
know but what he'd take a look at her to-morrow.

He camped near us during three days.  I never
saw a more modest, self-effacing man.  He seemed
genuinely, childishly, almost helplessly interested in
our fly-fishing, shooting, our bear-skins, and our
travels.  You would have thought from his demeanor
--which was sincere and not in the least ironical--
that he had never seen or heard anything quite like
that before, and was struck with wonder at it.  Yet
he had cast flies before we were born, and shot even
earlier than he had cast a fly, and was a very
Ishmael for travel.  Rarely could you get an account of
his own experiences, and then only in illustration
of something else.

"If you-all likes bear-hunting," said he, "you
ought to get up in eastern Oregon.  I summered
there once.  The only trouble is, the brush is thick
as hair.  You 'most always have to bait them, or
wait for them to come and drink.  The brush is so
small you ain't got much chance.  I run onto a she-
bear and cubs that way once.  Didn't have nothin'
but my six-shooter, and I met her within six foot."

He stopped with an air of finality.

"Well, what did you do?" we asked.

"Me?" he inquired, surprised.  "Oh, I just leaked
out of th' landscape."

He prospected the mountain opposite, loafed with
us a little, and then decided that he must be going. 
About eight o'clock in the morning he passed us,
hazing his burros, his tall, lean figure elastic in
defiance of years.

"So long, boys," he called; "good luck!"

"So long," we responded heartily.  "Be good to
yourself."

He plunged into the river without hesitation, emerged 
dripping on the other side, and disappeared in the 
brush.  From time to time during the rest of the morning 
we heard the intermittent tinkling of his bell-animal 
rising higher and higher above us on the trail.

In the person of this man we gained our first 
connection, so to speak, with the Golden Trout.  He had 
caught some of them, and could tell us of their habits.

Few fishermen west of the Rockies have not heard
of the Golden Trout, though, equally, few have
much definite information concerning it.  Such information
usually runs about as follows:

It is a medium size fish of the true trout family,
resembling a rainbow except that it is of a rich
golden color.  The peculiarity that makes its capture
a dream to be dreamed of is that it swims in but one
little stream of all the round globe.  If you would
catch a Golden Trout, you must climb up under the
very base of the end of the High Sierras.  There is
born a stream that flows down from an elevation of
about ten thousand feet to about eight thousand
before it takes a long plunge into a branch of the Kern
River.  Over the twenty miles of its course you can
cast your fly for Golden Trout; but what is the nature
of that stream, that fish, or the method of its
capture, few can tell you with any pretense of accuracy.

To be sure, there are legends.  One, particularly
striking, claims that the Golden Trout occurs in one
other stream--situated in Central Asia!--and that
the fish is therefore a remnant of some pre-glacial
period, like Sequoia trees, a sort of grand-daddy of
all trout, as it were.  This is but a sample of what
you will hear discussed.

Of course from the very start we had had our eye
on the Golden Trout, and intended sooner or later
to work our way to his habitat.  Our prospector had
just come from there.

"It's about four weeks south, the way you and
me travels," said he.  "You don't want to try
Harrison's Pass; it's chock full of tribulation.  Go
around by way of the Giant Forest.  She's pretty
good there, too, some sizable timber.  Then over by
Redwood Meadows, and Timber Gap, by Mineral
King, and over through Farewell Gap.  You turn
east there, on a new trail.  She's steeper than straight-
up-an'-down, but shorter than the other.  When you
get down in the canon of Kern River,--say, she's a
fine canon, too,--you want to go downstream about
two mile to where there's a sort of natural over-
flowed lake full of stubs stickin' up.  You'll get
some awful big rainbows in there.  Then your best
way is to go right up Whitney Creek Trail to a big
high meadows mighty nigh to timber-line.  That's
where I camped.  They's lots of them little yaller
fish there.  Oh, they bite well enough.  You'll catch
'em.  They's a little shy."

So in that guise--as the desire for new and distant
things--did our angel with the flaming sword
finally come to us.

We caught reluctant horses reluctantly.  All the
first day was to be a climb.  We knew it; and I
suspect that they knew it too.  Then we packed
and addressed ourselves to the task offered us by
the Basin Trail.



ON CAMP COOKERY

XIV

ON CAMP COOKERY

One morning I awoke a little before the others,
and lay on my back staring up through the
trees.  It was not my day to cook.  We were camped
at the time only about sixty-five hundred feet high,
and the weather was warm.  Every sort of green thing
grew very lush all about us, but our own little space
was held dry and clear for us by the needles of two
enormous red cedars some four feet in diameter.  A
variety of thoughts sifted through my mind as it
followed lazily the shimmering filaments of loose spider-
web streaming through space.  The last thought stuck. 
It was that that day was a holiday.  Therefore I un-
limbered my six-shooter, and turned her loose, each
shot being accompanied by a meritorious yell.

The outfit boiled out of its blankets.  I explained
the situation, and after they had had some breakfast
they agreed with me that a celebration was in order. 
Unanimously we decided to make it gastronomic.

"We will ride till we get to good feed," we
concluded, "and then we'll cook all the afternoon. 
And nobody must eat anything until the whole business
is prepared and served."

It was agreed.  We rode until we were very
hungry, which was eleven o'clock.  Then we rode
some more.  By and by we came to a log cabin in a
wide fair lawn below a high mountain with a ducal
coronet on its top, and around that cabin was a fence,
and inside the fence a man chopping wood.  Him we
hailed.  He came to the fence and grinned at us from
the elevation of high-heeled boots.  By this token we
knew him for a cow-puncher.

"How are you?" said we.

"Howdy, boys," he roared.  Roared is the accurate
expression.  He was not a large man, and his hair
was sandy, and his eye mild blue.  But undoubtedly
his kinsmen were dumb and he had as birthright the
voice for the entire family.  It had been subsequently
developed in the shouting after the wild cattle of the
hills.  Now his ordinary conversational tone was that
of the announcer at a circus.  But his heart was good. 

"Can we camp here?" we inquired.

"Sure thing," he bellowed.  "Turn your horses
into the meadow.  Camp right here."

But with the vision of a rounded wooded knoll a
few hundred yards distant we said we'd just get out
of his way a little.  We crossed a creek, mounted an
easy slope to the top of the knoll, and were delighted
to observe just below its summit the peculiar fresh
green hump which indicates a spring.  The Tenderfoot,
however, knew nothing of springs, for shortly
he trudged a weary way back to the creek, and so
returned bearing kettles of water.  This performance
hugely astonished the cowboy, who subsequently
wanted to know if a "critter had died in the spring."

Wes departed to borrow a big Dutch oven of the
man and to invite him to come across when we raised
the long yell.  Then we began operations.

Now camp cooks are of two sorts.  Anybody can
with a little practice fry bacon, steak, or flapjacks, and
boil coffee.  The reduction of the raw material to its
most obvious cooked result is within the reach of all
but the most hopeless tenderfoot who never knows
the salt-sack from the sugar-sack.  But your true artist
at the business is he who can from six ingredients, by
permutation, combination, and the genius that is in
him turn out a full score of dishes.  For simple
example:  GIVEN, rice, oatmeal, and raisins.  Your expert
accomplishes the following:

ITEM--Boiled rice.

ITEM--Boiled oatmeal.

ITEM--Rice boiled until soft, then stiffened by the
addition of quarter as much oatmeal.

ITEM--Oatmeal in which is boiled almost to the
dissolving point a third as much rice.

These latter two dishes taste entirely unlike each
other or their separate ingredients.  They are moreover
great in nutrition.

ITEM--Boiled rice and raisins.

ITEM--Dish number three with raisins.

ITEM--Rice boiled with raisins, sugar sprinkled on
top, and then baked.

ITEM--Ditto with dish number three.

All these are good--and different.

Some people like to cook and have a natural knack for 
it.  Others hate it.  If you are one of the former,
select a propitious moment to suggest that you will
cook, if the rest will wash the dishes and supply the
wood and water.  Thus you will get first crack at the
fire in the chill of morning; and at night you can squat 
on your heels doing light labor while the others rustle.

In a mountain trip small stout bags for the
provisions are necessary.  They should be big enough to
contain, say, five pounds of corn-meal, and should tie
firmly at the top.  It will be absolutely labor lost for
you to mark them on the outside, as the outside soon
will become uniform in color with your marking. 
Tags might do, if occasionally renewed.  But if you
have the instinct, you will soon come to recognize
the appearance of the different bags as you recognize
the features of your family.  They should contain
small quantities for immediate use of the provisions
the main stock of which is carried on another pack-
animal.  One tin plate apiece and "one to grow on";
the same of tin cups; half a dozen spoons; four
knives and forks; a big spoon; two frying-pans; a
broiler; a coffee-pot; a Dutch oven; and three light
sheet-iron pails to nest in one another was what we
carried on this trip.  You see, we had horses.  Of course
in the woods that outfit would be materially reduced.

For the same reason, since we had our carrying
done for us, we took along two flat iron bars about
twenty-four inches in length.  These, laid across two
stones between which the fire had been built, we
used to support our cooking-utensils stove-wise.  I
should never carry a stove.  This arrangement is
quite as effective, and possesses the added advantage
that wood does not have to be cut for it of any
definite length.  Again, in the woods these iron bars
would be a senseless burden.  But early you will
learn that while it is foolish to carry a single ounce
more than will pay in comfort or convenience for its
own transportation, it is equally foolish to refuse the
comforts or conveniences that modified circumstance
will permit you.  To carry only a forest equipment
with pack-animals would be as silly as to carry only
a pack-animal outfit on a Pullman car.  Only look
out that you do not reverse it.

Even if you do not intend to wash dishes, bring
along some "Gold Dust."  It is much simpler in
getting at odd corners of obstinate kettles than any
soap.  All you have to do is to boil some of it in
that kettle, and the utensil is tamed at once.

That's about all you, as expert cook, are going to
need in the way of equipment.  Now as to your fire.

There are a number of ways of building a cooking
fire, but they share one first requisite: it should
be small.  A blaze will burn everything, including
your hands and your temper.  Two logs laid side by
side and slanted towards each other so that small
things can go on the narrow end and big things on
the wide end; flat rocks arranged in the same manner;
a narrow trench in which the fire is built; and
the flat irons just described--these are the best-
known methods.  Use dry wood.  Arrange to do your 
boiling first--in the flame; and your frying and 
broiling last--after the flames have died to coals.

So much in general.  You must remember that
open-air cooking is in many things quite different
from indoor cooking.  You have different utensils,
are exposed to varying temperatures, are limited in
resources, and pursued by a necessity of haste.  Pre-
conceived notions must go by the board.  You are
after results; and if you get them, do not mind the
feminines of your household lifting the hands of
horror over the unorthodox means.  Mighty few women
I have ever seen were good camp-fire cooks; not
because camp-fire cookery is especially difficult, but
because they are temperamentally incapable of ridding
themselves of the notion that certain things
should be done in a certain way, and because if an
ingredient lacks, they cannot bring themselves to
substitute an approximation.  They would rather
abandon the dish than do violence to the sacred art.

Most camp-cookery advice is quite useless for the
same reason.  I have seen many a recipe begin with
the words:  "Take the yolks of four eggs, half a
cup of butter, and a cup of fresh milk--"  As if
any one really camping in the wilderness ever had
eggs, butter, and milk!

Now here is something I cooked for this particular
celebration.  Every woman to whom I have ever described 
it has informed me vehemently that it is not cake, 
and must be "horrid."  Perhaps it is not cake, but 
it looks yellow and light, and tastes like cake.

First I took two cups of flour, and a half cup of
corn-meal to make it look yellow.  In this I mixed
a lot of baking-powder,--about twice what one
should use for bread,--and topped off with a cup of
sugar.  The whole I mixed with water into a light
dough.  Into the dough went raisins that had previously
been boiled to swell them up.  Thus was the
cake mixed.  Now I poured half the dough into the
Dutch oven, sprinkled it with a good layer of sugar,
cinnamon, and unboiled raisins; poured in the rest
of the dough; repeated the layer of sugar, cinnamon,
and raisins; and baked in the Dutch oven.  It
was gorgeous, and we ate it at one fell swoop.

While we are about it, we may as well work backwards
on this particular orgy by describing the rest of our 
dessert.  In addition to the cake and some stewed 
apricots, I, as cook of the day, constructed also a pudding.

The basis was flour--two cups of it.  Into this I
dumped a handful of raisins, a tablespoonful of baking-
powder, two of sugar, and about a pound of fat
salt pork cut into little cubes.  This I mixed up into
a mess by means of a cup or so of water and a
quantity of larrupy-dope.[3]  Then I dipped a flour-
sack in hot water, wrung it out, sprinkled it with
dry flour, and half filled it with my pudding
mixture.  The whole outfit I boiled for two hours in a
kettle.  It, too, was good to the palate, and was even
better sliced and fried the following morning.


[3] Camp-lingo for any kind of syrup.


This brings us to the suspension of kettles.  There
are two ways.  If you are in a hurry, cut a springy
pole, sharpen one end, and stick it perpendicular in
the ground.  Bend it down towards your fire.  Hang
your kettle on the end of it.  If you have jabbed it
far enough into the ground in the first place, it will
balance nicely by its own spring and the elasticity
of the turf.  The other method is to plant two forked
sticks on either side your fire over which a strong
cross-piece is laid.  The kettles are hung on hooks
cut from forked branches.  The forked branches are
attached to the cross-piece by means of thongs or withes.

On this occasion we had deer, grouse, and ducks
in the larder.  The best way to treat them is as
follows.  You may be sure we adopted the best way.

When your deer is fresh, you will enjoy greatly a
dish of liver and bacon.  Only the liver you will
discover to be a great deal tenderer and more delicate
than any calf's liver you ever ate.  There is this
difference: a deer's liver should be parboiled in order
to get rid of a green bitter scum that will rise to the
surface and which you must skim off.

Next in order is the "back strap" and tenderloin,
which is always tender, even when fresh.  The hams
should be kept at least five days.  Deer-steak, to my
notion, is best broiled, though occasionally it is
pleasant by way of variety to fry it.  In that case a brown
gravy is made by thoroughly heating flour in the
grease, and then stirring in water.  Deer-steak threaded
on switches and "barbecued" over the coals is delicious. 
The outside will be a little blackened, but all
the juices will be retained.  To enjoy this to the
utmost you should take it in your fingers and GNAW. 
The only permissible implement is your hunting-
knife.  Do not forget to peel and char slightly the
switches on which you thread the meat, otherwise
they will impart their fresh-wood taste.

By this time the ribs are in condition.  Cut little
slits between them, and through the slits thread in and
out long strips of bacon.  Cut other little gashes, and
fill these gashes with onions chopped very fine. 
Suspend the ribs across two stones between which
you have allowed a fire to die down to coals.

There remain now the hams, shoulders, and heart. 
The two former furnish steaks.  The latter you will
make into a "bouillon."  Here inserts itself quite
naturally the philosophy of boiling meat.  It may be
stated in a paragraph.

If you want boiled meat, put it in hot water.  That
sets the juices.  If you want soup, put it in cold water
and bring to a boil.  That sets free the juices. 
Remember this.

Now you start your bouillon cold.  Into a kettle
of water put your deer hearts, or your fish, a chunk
of pork, and some salt.  Bring to a boil.  Next drop
in quartered potatoes, several small whole onions, a
half cupful of rice, a can of tomatoes--if you have
any.  Boil slowly for an hour or so--until things
pierce easily under the fork.  Add several chunks of
bread and a little flour for thickening.  Boil down to
about a chowder consistency, and serve hot.  It is all
you will need for that meal; and you will eat of it
until there is no more.

I am supposing throughout that you know enough
to use salt and pepper when needed.

So much for your deer.  The grouse you can split
and fry, in which case the brown gravy described
for the fried deer-steak is just the thing.  Or you can
boil him.  If you do that, put him into hot water,
boil slowly, skim frequently, and add dumplings
mixed of flour, baking-powder, and a little lard.  Or
you can roast him in your Dutch oven with your ducks.

Perhaps it might be well here to explain the Dutch
oven.  It is a heavy iron kettle with little legs and
an iron cover.  The theory of it is that coals go among
the little legs and on top of the iron cover.  This heats
the inside, and so cooking results.  That, you will
observe, is the theory.

In practice you will have to remember a good
many things.  In the first place, while other affairs are
preparing, lay the cover on the fire to heat it through;
but not on too hot a place nor too long, lest it warp
and so fit loosely.  Also the oven itself is to be heated
through, and well greased.  Your first baking will
undoubtedly be burned on the bottom.  It is almost
impossible without many trials to understand just how
little heat suffices underneath.  Sometimes it seems
that the warmed earth where the fire has been is
enough.  And on top you do not want a bonfire.  A
nice even heat, and patience, are the proper ingredients. 
Nor drop into the error of letting your bread
chill, and so fall to unpalatable heaviness.  Probably
for some time you will alternate between the extremes
of heavy crusts with doughy insides, and white
weighty boiler-plate with no distinguishable crusts at
all.  Above all, do not lift the lid too often for the
sake of taking a look.  Have faith.

There are other ways of baking bread.  In the North
Country forests, where you carry everything on your
back, you will do it in the frying-pan.  The mixture
should be a rather thick batter or a rather thin dough. 
It is turned into the frying-pan and baked first on one
side, then on the other, the pan being propped on
edge facing the fire.  The whole secret of success is
first to set your pan horizontal and about three feet
from the fire in order that the mixture may be
thoroughly warmed--not heated--before the pan is
propped on edge.  Still another way of baking is in
a reflector oven of tin.  This is highly satisfactory,
provided the oven is built on the scientific angles to
throw the heat evenly on all parts of the bread-pan
and equally on top and bottom.  It is not so easy as
you might imagine to get a good one made.  These
reflectors are all right for a permanent camp, but too
fragile for transportation on pack-animals.

As for bread, try it unleavened once in a while by
way of change.  It is really very good,--just salt,
water, flour, and a very little sugar.  For those who
like their bread "all crust," it is especially toothsome. 
The usual camp bread that I have found the most
successful has been in the proportion of two cups of
flour to a teaspoonful of salt, one of sugar, and three
of baking-powder.  Sugar or cinnamon sprinkled on
top is sometimes pleasant.  Test by thrusting a splinter
into the loaf.  If dough adheres to the wood, the
bread is not done.  Biscuits are made by using twice
as much baking-powder and about two tablespoonfuls
of lard for shortening.  They bake much more quickly
than the bread.  Johnny-cake you mix of corn-meal
three cups, flour one cup, sugar four spoonfuls, salt
one spoonful, baking-powder four spoonfuls, and lard
twice as much as for biscuits.  It also is good, very
good.

The flapjack is first cousin to bread, very palatable,
and extremely indigestible when made of flour, as is
ordinarily done.  However, the self-raising buckwheat
flour makes an excellent flapjack, which is likewise
good for your insides.  The batter is rather thin, is
poured into the piping hot greased pan, "flipped"
when brown on one side, and eaten with larrupy-dope
or brown gravy.

When you come to consider potatoes and beans
and onions and such matters, remember one thing:
that in the higher altitudes water boils at a low
temperature, and that therefore you must not expect your
boiled food to cook very rapidly.  In fact, you'd
better leave beans at home.  We did.  Potatoes you can
sometimes tease along by quartering them.

Rolled oats are better than oatmeal.  Put them in
plenty of water and boil down to the desired consistency. 
In lack of cream you will probably want it rather soft.

Put your coffee into cold water, bring to a boil, let
boil for about two minutes, and immediately set off. 
Settle by letting a half cup of cold water flow slowly
into the pot from the height of a foot or so.  If your
utensils are clean, you will surely have good coffee
by this simple method.  Of course you will never
boil your tea.

The sun was nearly down when we raised our long 
yell.  The cow-puncher promptly responded.  We ate.  
Then we smoked.  Then we basely left all our dishes 
until the morrow, and followed our cow-puncher to 
his log cabin, where we were to spend the evening.

By now it was dark, and a bitter cold swooped
down from the mountains.  We built a fire in a huge
stone fireplace and sat around in the flickering light
telling ghost-stories to one another.  The place was
rudely furnished, with only a hard earthen floor, and
chairs hewn by the axe.  Rifles, spurs, bits, revolvers,
branding-irons in turn caught the light and vanished
in the shadow.  The skin of a bear looked at us from
hollow eye-sockets in which there were no eyes.  We
talked of the Long Trail.  Outside the wind, rising,
howled through the shakes of the roof.


ON THE WIND AT NIGHT

XV

ON THE WIND AT NIGHT

The winds were indeed abroad that night.  They
rattled our cabin, they shrieked in our eaves,
they puffed down our chimney, scattering the ashes
and leaving in the room a balloon of smoke as though
a shell had burst.  When we opened the door and
stepped out, after our good-nights had been said, it
caught at our hats and garments as though it had
been lying in wait for us.

To our eyes, fire-dazzled, the night seemed very
dark.  There would be a moon later, but at present
even the stars seemed only so many pinpoints of
dull metal, lustreless, without illumination.  We felt
our way to camp, conscious of the softness of grasses,
the uncertainty of stones.

At camp the remains of the fire crouched beneath
the rating of the storm.  Its embers glowed sullen
and red, alternately glaring with a half-formed resolution
to rebel, and dying to a sulky resignation.  Once
a feeble flame sprang up for an instant, but was
immediately pounced on and beaten flat as though by
a vigilant antagonist.

We, stumbling, gathered again our tumbled blankets. 
Across the brow of the knoll lay a huge pine 
trunk.  In its shelter we respread our bedding, and
there, standing, dressed for the night.  The power of
the wind tugged at our loose garments, hoping for
spoil.  A towel, shaken by accident from the interior
of a sweater, departed white-winged, like a bird, into
the outer blackness.  We found it next day caught
in the bushes several hundred yards distant.  Our
voices as we shouted were snatched from our lips
and hurled lavishly into space.  The very breath of
our bodies seemed driven back, so that as we faced
the elements, we breathed in gasps, with difficulty.

Then we dropped down into our blankets.

At once the prostrate tree-trunk gave us its
protection.  We lay in a little back-wash of the racing
winds, still as a night in June.  Over us roared the
battle.  We felt like sharpshooters in the trenches;
as though, were we to raise our heads, at that instant
we should enter a zone of danger.  So we lay quietly
on our backs and stared at the heavens.

The first impression thence given was of stars
sailing serene and unaffected, remote from the
turbulence of what until this instant had seemed to fill
the universe.  They were as always, just as we should
see them when the evening was warm and the tree-toads 
chirped clearly audible at half a mile.  The importance 
of the tempest shrank.  Then below them next we 
noticed the mountains; they too were serene and calm.

Immediately it was as though the storm were an
hallucination; something not objective; something
real, but within the soul of him who looked upon it. 
It claimed sudden kinship with those blackest days
when nevertheless the sun, the mere external unimportant
sun, shines with superlative brilliancy.  Emotions
of a power to shake the foundations of life
seemed vaguely to stir in answer to these their hollow
symbols.  For after all, we were contented at heart
and tranquil in mind, and this was but the outer
gorgeous show of an intense emotional experience
we did not at the moment prove.  Our nerves
responded to it automatically.  We became excited,
keyed to a high tension, and so lay rigid on our
backs, as though fighting out the battles of our souls.

It was all so unreal and yet so plain to our senses
that perforce automatically our experience had to
conclude it psychical.  We were in air absolutely
still.  Yet above us the trees writhed and twisted and
turned and bent and struck back, evidently in the
power of a mighty force.  Across the calm heavens
the murk of flying atmosphere--I have always maintained
that if you looked closely enough you could
SEE the wind--the dim, hardly-made-out, fine debris
fleeing high in the air;--these faintly hinted at intense
movement rushing down through space.  A roar of
sound filled the hollow of the sky.  Occasionally it
intermitted, falling abruptly in volume like the
mysterious rare hushings of a rapid stream.  Then the
familiar noises of a summer night became audible
for the briefest instant,--a horse sneezed, an owl
hooted, the wild call of birds came down the wind. 
And with a howl the legions of good and evil took
up their warring.  It was too real, and yet it was not
reconcilable with the calm of our resting-places.

For hours we lay thus in all the intensity of an
inner storm and stress, which it seemed could not
fail to develop us, to mould us, to age us, to leave
on us its scars, to bequeath us its peace or remorse or
despair, as would some great mysterious dark experience
direct from the sources of life.  And then
abruptly we were exhausted, as we should have been
by too great emotion.  We fell asleep.  The morning
dawned still and clear, and garnished and set in
order as though such things had never been.  Only
our white towel fluttered like a flag of truce in the
direction the mighty elements had departed.



THE VALLEY

XVI

THE VALLEY

Once upon a time I happened to be staying in
a hotel room which had originally been part
of a suite, but which was then cut off from the others
by only a thin door through which sounds carried
clearly.  It was about eleven o'clock in the evening. 
The occupants of that next room came home.  I
heard the door open and close.  Then the bed
shrieked aloud as somebody fell heavily upon it. 
There breathed across the silence a deep restful sigh.

"Mary," said a man's voice, "I'm mighty sorry I
didn't join that Association for Artificial Vacations. 
They guarantee to get you just as tired and just as
mad in two days as you could by yourself in two weeks."

We thought of that one morning as we descended
the Glacier Point Trail in Yosemite.

The contrast we need not have made so sharp. 
We might have taken the regular wagon-road by
way of Chinquapin, but we preferred to stick to the
trail, and so encountered our first sign of civilization
within an hundred yards of the brink.  It, the
sign, was tourists.  They were male and female, as
the Lord had made them, but they had improved on
that idea since.  The women were freckled, hatted
with alpines, in which edelweiss--artificial, I think
--flowered in abundance; they sported severely
plain flannel shirts, bloomers of an aggressive and
unnecessary cut, and enormous square boots weighing
pounds.  The men had on hats just off the sunbonnet
effect, pleated Norfolk jackets, bloomers ditto ditto to
the women, stockings whose tops rolled over innumerable
times to help out the size of that which they
should have contained, and also enormous square
boots.  The female children they put in skin-tight
blue overalls.  The male children they dressed in
bloomers.  Why this should be I cannot tell you.  All
carried toy hatchets with a spike on one end built to
resemble the pictures of alpenstocks.

They looked business-like, trod with an assured
air of veterans and a seeming of experience more
extended than it was possible to pack into any one
human life.  We stared at them, our eyes bulging
out.  They painfully and evidently concealed a
curiosity as to our pack-train.  We wished them good-day,
in order to see to what language heaven had fitted
their extraordinary ideas as regards raiment.  They
inquired the way to something or other--I think
Sentinel Dome.  We had just arrived, so we did not
know, but in order to show a friendly spirit we
blandly pointed out A way.  It may have led to Sentinel
Dome for all I know.  They departed uttering
thanks in human speech.

Now this particular bunch of tourists was evidently
staying at the Glacier Point, and so was fresh.  But
in the course of that morning we descended straight
down a drop of, is it four thousand feet?  The trail
was steep and long and without water.  During the
descent we passed first and last probably twoscore
of tourists, all on foot.  A good half of them were
delicate women,--young, middle-aged, a few gray-
haired and evidently upwards of sixty.  There were
also old men, and fat men, and men otherwise out of
condition.  Probably nine out of ten, counting in the
entire outfit, were utterly unaccustomed, when at
home where grow street-cars and hansoms, to even
the mildest sort of exercise.  They had come into the
Valley, whose floor is over four thousand feet up,
without the slightest physical preparation for the
altitude.  They had submitted to the fatigue of a long
and dusty stage journey.  And then they had merrily
whooped it up at a gait which would have appalled
seasoned old stagers like ourselves.  Those blessed
lunatics seemed positively unhappy unless they
climbed up to some new point of view every day. 
I have never seen such a universally tired out,
frazzled, vitally exhausted, white-faced, nervous
community in my life as I did during our four days'
stay in the Valley.  Then probably they go away,
and take a month to get over it, and have queer
residual impressions of the trip.  I should like to know
what those impressions really are.

Not but that Nature has done everything in her
power to oblige them.  The things I am about to say
are heresy, but I hold them true.

Yosemite is not as interesting nor as satisfying
to me as some of the other big box canons, like
those of the Tehipite, the Kings in its branches, or
the Kaweah.  I will admit that its waterfalls are
better.  Otherwise it possesses no features which are
not to be seen in its sister valleys.  And there is
this difference.  In Yosemite everything is jumbled
together, apparently for the benefit of the tourist
with a linen duster and but three days' time at his
disposal.  He can turn from the cliff-headland to the
dome, from the dome to the half dome, to the glacier
formation, the granite slide and all the rest of it,
with hardly the necessity of stirring his feet.  Nature
has put samples of all her works here within reach
of his cataloguing vision.  Everything is crowded in
together, like a row of houses in forty-foot lots.  The
mere things themselves are here in profusion and
wonder, but the appropriate spacing, the approach,
the surrounding of subordinate detail which should
lead in artistic gradation to the supreme feature--
these things, which are a real and essential part of
esthetic effect, are lacking utterly for want of room. 
The place is not natural scenery; it is a junk-shop, a
storehouse, a sample-room wherein the elements of
natural scenery are to be viewed.  It is not an arrangement
of effects in accordance with the usual laws of
landscape, but an abnormality, a freak of Nature.

All these things are to be found elsewhere.  There
are cliffs which to the naked eye are as grand as El
Capitan; domes, half domes, peaks as noble as any
to be seen in the Valley; sheer drops as breath-taking
as that from Glacier Point.  But in other places
each of these is led up to appropriately, and stands
the central and satisfying feature to which all other
things look.  Then you journey on from your cliff, or
whatever it happens to be, until, at just the right
distance, so that it gains from the presence of its
neighbor without losing from its proximity, a dome or a
pinnacle takes to itself the right of prominence.  I
concede the waterfalls; but in other respects I prefer
the sister valleys.

That is not to say that one should not visit
Yosemite; nor that one will be disappointed.  It is grand
beyond any possible human belief; and no one, even
a nerve-frazzled tourist, can gaze on it without the
strongest emotion.  Only it is not so intimately satisfying
as it should be.  It is a show.  You do not take
it into your heart.  "Whew!" you cry.  "Isn't that
a wonder!" then after a moment, "Looks just like
the photographs.  Up to sample.  Now let's go."

As we descended the trail, we and the tourists
aroused in each other a mutual interest.  One husband
was trying to encourage his young and handsome wife
to go on.  She was beautifully dressed for the part
in a marvelous, becoming costume of whipcord--
short skirt, high laced elkskin boots and the rest of it;
but in all her magnificence she had sat down on the
ground, her back to the cliff, her legs across the trail,
and was so tired out that she could hardly muster
interest enough to pull them in out of the way of
our horses' hoofs.  The man inquired anxiously of
us how far it was to the top.  Now it was a long
distance to the top, but a longer to the bottom, so we
lied a lie that I am sure was immediately forgiven
us, and told them it was only a short climb.  I should
have offered them the use of Bullet, but Bullet had
come far enough, and this was only one of a dozen
such cases.  In marked contrast was a jolly white-
haired clergyman of the bishop type who climbed
vigorously and hailed us with a shout.

The horses were decidedly unaccustomed to any
such sights, and we sometimes had our hands full
getting them by on the narrow way.  The trail was
safe enough, but it did have an edge, and that edge
jumped pretty straight off.  It was interesting to
observe how the tourists acted.  Some of them were
perfect fools, and we had more trouble with them
than we did with the horses.  They could not seem
to get the notion into their heads that all we wanted
them to do was to get on the inside and stand still. 
About half of them were terrified to death, so that
at the crucial moment, just as a horse was passing
them, they had little fluttering panics that called the
beast's attention.  Most of the remainder tried to be
bold and help.  They reached out the hand of 
assistance toward the halter rope; the astonished animal
promptly snorted, tried to turn around, cannoned
against the next in line.  Then there was a mix-up. 
Two tall clean-cut well-bred looking girls of our slim
patrician type offered us material assistance.  They
seemed to understand horses, and got out of the way
in the proper manner, did just the right thing, and
made sensible suggestions.  I offer them my homage.

They spoke to us as though they had penetrated
the disguise of long travel, and could see we were
not necessarily members of Burt Alvord's gang. 
This phase too of our descent became increasingly
interesting to us, a species of gauge by which we
measured the perceptions of those we encountered. 
Most did not speak to us at all.  Others responded
to our greetings with a reserve in which was more
than a tinge of distrust.  Still others patronized us. 
A very few overlooked our faded flannel shirts, our
soiled trousers, our floppy old hats with their
rattlesnake bands, the wear and tear of our equipment, to
respond to us heartily.  Them in return we generally
perceived to belong to our totem.

We found the floor of the Valley well sprinkled
with campers.  They had pitched all kinds of tents;
built all kinds of fancy permanent conveniences;
erected all kinds of banners and signs advertising
their identity, and were generally having a nice, easy,
healthful, jolly kind of a time up there in the
mountains.  Their outfits they had either brought in with
their own wagons, or had had freighted.  The store
near the bend of the Merced supplied all their needs. 
It was truly a pleasant sight to see so many people
enjoying themselves, for they were mostly those in
moderate circumstances to whom a trip on tourist
lines would be impossible.  We saw bakers' and
grocers' and butchers' wagons that had been pressed
into service.  A man, his wife, and little baby had
come in an ordinary buggy, the one horse of which,
led by the man, carried the woman and baby to the
various points of interest.

We reported to the official in charge, were allotted
a camping and grazing place, and proceeded to make
ourselves at home.

During the next two days we rode comfortably
here and there and looked at things.  The things
could not be spoiled, but their effect was very
materially marred by the swarms of tourists.  Sometimes
they were silly, and cracked inane and obvious jokes
in ridicule of the grandest objects they had come so
far to see; sometimes they were detestable and left
their insignificant calling-cards or their unimportant
names where nobody could ever have any object in
reading them; sometimes they were pathetic and
helpless and had to have assistance; sometimes
they were amusing; hardly ever did they seem
entirely human.  I wonder what there is about the
traveling public that seems so to set it apart, to make
of it at least a sub-species of mankind?

Among other things, we were vastly interested in
the guides.  They were typical of this sort of thing. 
Each morning one of these men took a pleasantly
awe-stricken band of tourists out, led them around in
the brush awhile, and brought them back in time for
lunch.  They wore broad hats and leather bands
and exotic raiment and fierce expressions, and looked
dark and mysterious and extra-competent over the
most trivial of difficulties.

Nothing could be more instructive than to see two
or three of these imitation bad men starting out in
the morning to "guide" a flock, say to Nevada Falls. 
The tourists, being about to mount, have outdone
themselves in weird and awesome clothes--especially
the women.  Nine out of ten wear their stirrups
too short, so their knees are hunched up.  One guide
rides at the head--great deal of silver spur, clanking
chain, and the rest of it.  Another rides in the rear. 
The third rides up and down the line, very gruff,
very preoccupied, very careworn over the dangers
of the way.  The cavalcade moves.  It proceeds for
about a mile.  There arise sudden cries, great but
subdued excitement.  The leader stops, raising a
commanding hand.  Guide number three gallops up. 
There is a consultation.  The cinch-strap of the brindle
shave-tail is taken up two inches.  A catastrophe
has been averted.  The noble three look volumes of
relief.  The cavalcade moves again.

Now the trail rises.  It is a nice, safe, easy trail. 
But to the tourists it is made terrible.  The noble
three see to that.  They pass more dangers by the
exercise of superhuman skill than you or I could
discover in a summer's close search.  The joke of the
matter is that those forty-odd saddle-animals have
been over that trail so many times that one would
have difficulty in heading them off from it once they
got started.

Very much the same criticism would hold as to
the popular notion of the Yosemite stage-drivers. 
They drive well, and seem efficient men.  But their
wonderful reputation would have to be upheld on
rougher roads than those into the Valley.  The tourist
is, of course, encouraged to believe that he is doing
the hair-breadth escape; but in reality, as mountain
travel goes, the Yosemite stage-road is very mild.

This that I have been saying is not by way of
depreciation.  But it seems to me that the Valley is
wonderful enough to stand by itself in men's appreciation
without the unreality of sickly sentimentalism
in regard to imaginary dangers, or the histrionics of
playing wilderness where no wilderness exists.

As we went out, this time by the Chinquapin
wagon-road, we met one stage-load after another of
tourists coming in.  They had not yet donned the
outlandish attire they believe proper to the occasion,
and so showed for what they were,--prosperous,
well-bred, well-dressed travelers.  In contrast to their
smartness, the brilliancy of new-painted stages, the
dash of the horses maintained by the Yosemite Stage
Company, our own dusty travel-worn outfit of mountain
ponies, our own rough clothes patched and
faded, our sheath-knives and firearms seemed out of
place and curious, as though a knight in medieval
armor were to ride down Broadway.

I do not know how many stages there were.  We
turned our pack-horses out for them all, dashing back
and forth along the line, coercing the diabolical
Dinkey.  The road was too smooth.  There were no
obstructions to surmount; no dangers to avert; no
difficulties to avoid.  We could not get into trouble,
but proceeded as on a county turnpike.  Too tame,
too civilized, too representative of the tourist
element, it ended by getting on our nerves.  The
wilderness seemed to have left us forever.  Never would
we get back to our own again.  After a long time
Wes, leading, turned into our old trail branching off
to the high country.  Hardly had we traveled a half
mile before we heard from the advance guard a crash
and a shout.

"What is it, Wes?" we yelled.

In a moment the reply came,--

"Lily's fallen down again,--thank God!"

We understood what he meant.  By this we knew
that the tourist zone was crossed, that we had left
the show country, and were once more in the open.



XVII

THE MAIN CREST

The traveler in the High Sierras generally keeps
to the west of the main crest.  Sometimes he
approaches fairly to the foot of the last slope;
sometimes he angles away and away even down to what
finally seems to him a lower country,--to the pine
mountains of only five or six thousand feet.  But
always to the left or right of him, according to whether
he travels south or north, runs the rampart of the
system, sometimes glittering with snow, sometimes
formidable and rugged with splinters and spires of
granite.  He crosses spurs and tributary ranges as high,
as rugged, as snow-clad as these.  They do not quite
satisfy him.  Over beyond he thinks he ought to see
something great,--some wide outlook, some space
bluer than his trail can offer him.  One day or
another he clamps his decision, and so turns aside for
the simple and only purpose of standing on the top
of the world.

We were bitten by that idea while crossing the
Granite Basin.  The latter is some ten thousand feet
in the air, a cup of rock five or six miles across,
surrounded by mountains much higher than itself.  That
would have been sufficient for most moods, but, 
resting on the edge of a pass ten thousand six hundred
feet high, we concluded that we surely would have
to look over into Nevada.

We got out the map.  It became evident, after a
little study, that by descending six thousand feet into
a box canon, proceeding in it a few miles, and
promptly climbing out again, by climbing steadily
up the long narrow course of another box canon for
about a day and a half's journey, and then climbing
out of that to a high ridge country with little flat
valleys, we would come to a wide lake in a meadow
eleven thousand feet up.  There we could camp. 
The mountain opposite was thirteen thousand three
hundred and twenty feet, so the climb from the
lake became merely a matter of computation.  This,
we figured, would take us just a week, which may
seem a considerable time to sacrifice to the gratification
of a whim.  But such a glorious whim!

We descended the great box canon, and scaled its
upper end, following near the voices of a cascade. 
Cliffs thousands of feet high hemmed us in.  At the
very top of them strange crags leaned out looking
down on us in the abyss.  From a projection a colossal
sphinx gazed solemnly across at a dome as smooth
and symmetrical as, but vastly larger than, St. Peter's
at Rome.

The trail labored up to the brink of the cascade. 
At once we entered a long narrow aisle between regular
palisaded cliffs.

The formation was exceedingly regular.  At the
top the precipice fell sheer for a thousand feet or so;
then the steep slant of the debris, like buttresses,
down almost to the bed of the river.  The lower parts
of the buttresses were clothed with heavy chaparral,
which, nearer moisture, developed into cottonwoods,
alders, tangled vines, flowers, rank grasses.  And away
on the very edge of the cliffs, close under the sky,
were pines, belittled by distance, solemn and aloof,
like Indian warriors wrapped in their blankets watching
from an eminence the passage of a hostile force.

We caught rainbow trout in the dashing white
torrent of the river.  We followed the trail through
delicious thickets redolent with perfume; over the
roughest granite slides, along still dark aisles of forest
groves, between the clefts of boulders so monstrous
as almost to seem an insult to the credulity.  Among
the chaparral, on the slope of the buttress across the
river, we made out a bear feeding.  Wes and I sat
ten minutes waiting for him to show sufficiently
for a chance.  Then we took a shot at about four
hundred yards, and hit him somewhere so he angled
down the hill furiously.  We left the Tenderfoot to
watch that he did not come out of the big thicket of
the river bottom where last we had seen him, while
we scrambled upstream nearly a mile looking for a
way across.  Then we trailed him by the blood, each
step one of suspense, until we fairly had to crawl in
after him; and shot him five times more, three in the
head, before he gave up not six feet from us; and
shouted gloriously and skinned that bear.  But the
meat was badly bloodshot, for there were three bullets
in the head, two in the chest and shoulders, one
through the paunch, and one in the hind quarters.

Since we were much in want of meat, this grieved
us.  But that noon while we ate, the horses ran down
toward us, and wheeled, as though in cavalry formation,
looking toward the hill and snorting.  So I put
down my tin plate gently, and took up my rifle, and
without rising shot that bear through the back of the
neck.  We took his skin, and also his hind quarters,
and went on.

By the third day from Granite Basin we reached
the end of the long narrow canon with the high cliffs
and the dark pine-trees and the very blue sky. 
Therefore we turned sharp to the left and climbed
laboriously until we had come up into the land of
big boulders, strange spare twisted little trees, and
the singing of the great wind.

The country here was mainly of granite.  It out-
cropped in dikes, it slid down the slopes in aprons,
it strewed the prospect in boulders and blocks, it
seamed the hollows with knife-ridges.  Soil gave the
impression of having been laid on top; you divined
the granite beneath it, and not so very far beneath it,
either.  A fine hair-grass grew close to this soil, as
though to produce as many blades as possible in the
limited area.

But strangest of all were the little thick twisted
trees with the rich shaded umber color of their trunks. 
They occurred rarely, but still in sufficient regularity
to lend the impression of a scattered grove-
cohesiveness.  Their limbs were sturdy and reaching
fantastically.  On each trunk the colors ran in streaks,
patches, and gradations from a sulphur yellow,
through browns and red-orange, to a rich red-umber. 
They were like the earth-dwarfs of German legend,
come out to view the roof of their workshop in the
interior of the hill; or, more subtly, like some of the
more fantastic engravings of Gustave Dore.

We camped that night at a lake whose banks
were pebbled in the manner of an artificial pond, and
whose setting was a thin meadow of the fine hair-
grass, for the grazing of which the horses had to bare
their teeth.  All about, the granite mountains rose. 
The timber-line, even of the rare shrub-like gnome-
trees, ceased here.  Above us was nothing whatever
but granite rock, snow, and the sky.

It was just before dusk, and in the lake the fish
were jumping eagerly.  They took the fly well, and
before the fire was alight we had caught three for
supper.  When I say we caught but three, you will
understand that they were of good size.  Firewood
was scarce, but we dragged in enough by means of
Old Slob and a riata to build us a good fire.  And
we needed it, for the cold descended on us with the
sharpness and vigor of eleven thousand feet.

For such an altitude the spot was ideal.  The lake
just below us was full of fish.  A little stream ran
from it by our very elbows.  The slight elevation was
level, and covered with enough soil to offer a fairly
good substructure for our beds.  The flat in which
was the lake reached on up narrower and narrower to
the foot of the last slope, furnishing for the horses an
admirable natural corral about a mile long.  And the
view was magnificent.

First of all there were the mountains above us,
towering grandly serene against the sky of morning;
then all about us the tumultuous slabs and boulders
and blocks of granite among which dare-devil and
hardy little trees clung to a footing as though in
defiance of some great force exerted against them; then
below us a sheer drop, into which our brook plunged,
with its suggestion of depths; and finally beyond those 
depths the giant peaks of the highest Sierras rising 
lofty as the sky, shrouded in a calm and stately peace.

Next day the Tenderfoot and I climbed to the
top.  Wes decided at the last minute that he hadn't
lost any mountains, and would prefer to fish.

The ascent was accompanied by much breathlessness
and a heavy pounding of our hearts, so that we
were forced to stop every twenty feet to recover our
physical balance.  Each step upward dragged at our
feet like a leaden weight.  Yet once we were on the
level, or once we ceased our very real exertions for a
second or so, the difficulty left us, and we breathed
as easily as in the lower altitudes.

The air itself was of a quality impossible to
describe to you unless you have traveled in the high
countries.  I know it is trite to say that it had the
exhilaration of wine, yet I can find no better simile. 
We shouted and whooped and breathed deep and
wanted to do things.

The immediate surroundings of that mountain
peak were absolutely barren and absolutely still. 
How it was accomplished so high up I do not know,
but the entire structure on which we moved--I cannot
say walked--was composed of huge granite
slabs.  Sometimes these were laid side by side like
exaggerated paving flags; but oftener they were up-
ended, piled in a confusion over which we had
precariously to scramble.  And the silence.  It was so
still that the very ringing in our ears came to a
prominence absurd and almost terrifying.  The wind
swept by noiseless, because it had nothing movable to
startle into noise.  The solid eternal granite lay heavy
in its statics across the possibility of even a whisper. 
The blue vault of heaven seemed emptied of sound.

But the wind did stream by unceasingly, weird
in the unaccustomedness of its silence.  And the sky
was blue as a turquoise, and the sun burned fiercely,
and the air was cold as the water of a mountain spring.

We stretched ourselves behind a slab of granite,
and ate the luncheon we had brought, cold venison
steak and bread.  By and by a marvelous thing
happened.  A flash of wings sparkled in the air, a brave
little voice challenged us cheerily, a pert tiny rock-
wren flirted his tail and darted his wings and wanted
to know what we were thinking of anyway to enter
his especial territory.  And shortly from nowhere
appeared two Canada Jays, silent as the wind itself,
hoping for a share in our meal.  Then the Tenderfoot
discovered in a niche some strange, hardy alpine
flowers.  So we established a connection, through these
wondrous brave children of the great mother, with
the world of living things.

After we had eaten, which was the very first thing
we did, we walked to the edge of the main crest and
looked over.  That edge went straight down.  I do
not know how far, except that even in contemplation
we entirely lost our breaths, before we had fallen half
way to the bottom.  Then intervened a ledge, and in
the ledge was a round glacier lake of the very deepest
and richest ultramarine you can find among your
paint-tubes, and on the lake floated cakes of
dazzling white ice.  That was enough for the moment.

Next we leaped at one bound direct down to some
brown hazy liquid shot with the tenderest filaments
of white.  After analysis we discovered the hazy
brown liquid to be the earth of the plains, and the
filaments of white to be roads.  Thus instructed we
made out specks which were towns.  That was all. 

The rest was too insignificant to classify without the
aid of a microscope.

And afterwards, across those plains, oh, many,
many leagues, were the Inyo and Panamit mountains,
and beyond them Nevada and Arizona, and
blue mountains, and bluer, and still bluer rising,
rising, rising higher and higher until at the level of the
eye they blended with the heavens and were lost
somewhere away out beyond the edge of the world.

We said nothing, but looked for a long time. 
Then we turned inland to the wonderful great titans
of mountains clear-cut in the crystalline air.  Never
was such air.  Crystalline is the only word which will
describe it, for almost it seemed that it would ring
clearly when struck, so sparkling and delicate and
fragile was it.  The crags and fissures across the
way--two miles across the way--were revealed
through it as through some medium whose transparence
was absolute.  They challenged the eye, stereoscopic
in their relief.  Were it not for the belittling
effects of the distance, we felt that we might count
the frost seams or the glacial scorings on every granite
apron.  Far below we saw the irregular outline
of our lake.  It looked like a pond a few hundred
feet down.  Then we made out a pin-point of white
moving leisurely near its border.  After a while we
realized that the pin-point of white was one of
our pack-horses, and immediately the flat little scene
shot backwards as though moved from behind and
acknowledged its due number of miles.  The miniature
crags at its back became gigantic; the peaks
beyond grew thousands of feet in the establishment
of a proportion which the lack of "atmosphere" had
denied.  We never succeeded in getting adequate
photographs.  As well take pictures of any eroded
little arroyo or granite canon.  Relative sizes do not
exist, unless pointed out.

"See that speck there?" we explain.  "That's a
big pine-tree.  So by that you can see how tremendous
those cliffs really are."

And our guest looks incredulously at the speck.

There was snow, of course, lying cold in the hot
sun.  This phenomenon always impresses a man when
first he sees it.  Often I have ridden with my sleeves
rolled up and the front of my shirt open, over drifts
whose edges, even, dripped no water.  The direct
rays seem to have absolutely no effect.  A scientific
explanation I have never heard expressed; but I
suppose the cold nights freeze the drifts and pack
them so hard that the short noon heat cannot penetrate
their density.  I may be quite wrong as to my
reason, but I am entirely correct as to my fact.

Another curious thing is that we met our mosquitoes
only rarely below the snow-line.  The camping
in the Sierras is ideal for lack of these pests.  They
never bite hard nor stay long even when found.  But
just as sure as we approached snow, then we renewed
acquaintance with our old friends of the north woods. 

It is analogous to the fact that the farther north you
go into the fur countries, the more abundant they become.

By and by it was time to descend.  The camp lay
directly below us.  We decided to go to it straight,
and so stepped off on an impossibly steep slope
covered, not with the great boulders and granite blocks,
but with a fine loose shale.  At every stride we
stepped ten feet and slid five.  It was gloriously near
to flying.  Leaning far back, our arms spread wide to
keep our balance, spying alertly far ahead as to where
we were going to land, utterly unable to check until
we encountered a half-buried ledge of some sort, and
shouting wildly at every plunge, we fairly shot
downhill.  The floor of our valley rose to us as the earth
to a descending balloon.  In three quarters of an hour
we had reached the first flat.

There we halted to puzzle over the trail of a mountain
lion clearly printed on the soft ground.  What
had the great cat been doing away up there above
the hunting country, above cover, above everything
that would appeal to a well-regulated cat of any size
whatsoever?  We theorized at length, but gave it
up finally, and went on.  Then a familiar perfume
rose to our nostrils.  We plucked curiously at a bed
of catnip and wondered whether the animal had
journeyed so far to enjoy what is always such a treat to
her domestic sisters.

It was nearly dark when we reached camp.  We
found Wes contentedly scraping away at the bearskins.

"Hello," said he, looking up with a grin.  "Hello,
you dam fools!  I'VE been having a good time.  I've
been fishing."



THE GIANT FOREST

XVIII

THE GIANT FOREST

Every one is familiar, at least by reputation and
photograph, with the Big Trees of California. 
All have seen pictures of stage-coaches driving in
passageways cut through the bodies of the trunks;
of troops of cavalry ridden on the prostrate trees.  No
one but has heard of the dancing-floor or the dinner-
table cut from a single cross-section; and probably
few but have seen some of the fibrous bark of
unbelievable thickness.  The Mariposa, Calaveras, and
Santa Cruz groves have become household names.

The public at large, I imagine, meaning by that
you and me and our neighbors, harbor an idea that
the Big Tree occurs only as a remnant, in scattered
little groves carefully fenced and piously visited by
the tourist.  What would we have said to the information
that in the very heart of the Sierras there grows
a thriving forest of these great trees; that it takes
over a day to ride throughout that forest; and that
it comprises probably over five thousand specimens?

Yet such is the case.  On the ridges and high
plateaus north of the Kaweah River is the forest I
describe; and of that forest the trees grow from fifteen
to twenty-six feet in diameter.  Do you know what
that means?  Get up from your chair and pace off
the room you are in.  If it is a very big room, its
longest dimension would just about contain one of the
bigger trunks.  Try to imagine a tree like that.

It must be a columnar tree straight and true as the
supports of a Greek facade.  The least deviation from
the perpendicular of such a mass would cause it to
fall.  The limbs are sturdy like the arms of Hercules,
and grow out from the main trunk direct instead of
dividing and leading that main trunk to themselves,
as is the case with other trees.  The column rises with
a true taper to its full height; then is finished with
the conical effect of the top of a monument. 
Strangely enough the frond is exceedingly fine, and
the cones small.

When first you catch sight of a Sequoia, it does
not impress you particularly except as a very fine
tree.  Its proportions are so perfect that its effect is
rather to belittle its neighbors than to show in its true
magnitude.  Then, gradually, as your experience
takes cognizance of surroundings,--the size of a
sugar-pine, of a boulder, of a stream flowing near,--
the giant swells and swells before your very vision
until he seems at the last even greater than the mere
statistics of his inches had led you to believe.  And
after that first surprise over finding the Sequoia
something not monstrous but beautiful in proportion has
given place to the full realization of what you are
beholding, you will always wonder why no one who
has seen has ever given any one who has not seen an
adequate idea of these magnificent old trees.

Perhaps the most insistent note, besides that of
mere size and dignity, is of absolute stillness.  These
trees do not sway to the wind, their trunks are
constructed to stand solid.  Their branches do not bend
and murmur, for they too are rigid in fiber.  Their
fine thread-like needles may catch the breeze's whisper,
may draw together and apart for the exchange
of confidences as do the leaves of other trees, but if
so, you and I are too far below to distinguish it. 
All about, the other forest growths may be rustling
and bowing and singing with the voices of the air;
the Sequoia stands in the hush of an absolute calm. 
It is as though he dreamed, too wrapt in still great
thoughts of his youth, when the earth itself was
young, to share the worldlier joys of his neighbor, to
be aware of them, even himself to breathe deeply. 
You feel in the presence of these trees as you would
feel in the presence of a kindly and benignant sage,
too occupied with larger things to enter fully into
your little affairs, but well disposed in the wisdom
of clear spiritual insight.

This combination of dignity, immobility, and a
certain serene detachment has on me very much the
same effect as does a mountain against the sky.  It is
quite unlike the impression made by any other tree,
however large, and is lovable.

We entered the Giant Forest by a trail that
climbed.  Always we entered desirable places by
trails that climbed or dropped.  Our access to
paradise was never easy.  About halfway up we met five
pack-mules and two men coming down.  For some
reason, unknown, I suspect, even to the god of
chance, our animals behaved themselves and walked
straight ahead in a beautiful dignity, while those
weak-minded mules scattered and bucked and scraped
under trees and dragged back on their halters when
caught.  The two men cast on us malevolent glances
as often as they were able, but spent most of their
time swearing and running about.  We helped them
once or twice by heading off, but were too thankfully
engaged in treading lightly over our own phenomenal
peace to pay much attention.  Long after
we had gone on, we caught bursts of rumpus ascending
from below.  Shortly we came to a comparatively
level country, and a little meadow, and a rough sign
which read


"Feed 20C a night."


Just beyond this extortion was the Giant Forest.

We entered it toward the close of the afternoon,
and rode on after our wonted time looking for feed
at less than twenty cents a night.  The great trunks,
fluted like marble columns, blackened against the
western sky.  As they grew huger, we seemed to
shrink, until we moved fearful as prehistoric man
must have moved among the forces over which he
had no control.  We discovered our feed in a narrow
"stringer" a few miles on.  That night, we, pigmies,
slept in the setting before which should have stridden
the colossi of another age.  Perhaps eventually, in
spite of its magnificence and wonder, we were a little
glad to leave the Giant Forest.  It held us too rigidly
to a spiritual standard of which our normal lives were
incapable; it insisted on a loftiness of soul, a dignity,
an aloofness from the ordinary affairs of life, the
ordinary occupations of thought hardly compatible with
the powers of any creature less noble, less aged, less
wise in the passing of centuries than itself.



XIX

ON COWBOYS

Your cowboy is a species variously subdivided. 
If you happen to be traveled as to the wild
countries, you will be able to recognize whence
your chance acquaintance hails by the kind of saddle
he rides, and the rigging of it; by the kind of rope
he throws, and the method of the throwing; by the
shape of hat he wears; by his twist of speech; even
by the very manner of his riding.  Your California
"vaquero" from the Coast Ranges is as unlike as
possible to your Texas cowman, and both differ from
the Wyoming or South Dakota article.  I should be
puzzled to define exactly the habitat of the "typical"
cowboy.  No matter where you go, you will find
your individual acquaintance varying from the type
in respect to some of the minor details.

Certain characteristics run through the whole tribe,
however.  Of these some are so well known or have
been so adequately done elsewhere that it hardly
seems wise to elaborate on them here.  Let us assume
that you and I know what sort of human beings cowboys
are,--with all their taciturnity, their surface
gravity, their keen sense of humor, their courage,
their kindness, their freedom, their lawlessness, their
foulness of mouth, and their supreme skill in the
handling of horses and cattle.  I shall try to tell you
nothing of all that.

If one thinks down doggedly to the last analysis,
he will find that the basic reason for the differences
between a cowboy and other men rests finally on
an individual liberty, a freedom from restraint either
of society or convention, a lawlessness, an accepting
of his own standard alone.  He is absolutely self-
poised and sufficient; and that self-poise and that
sufficiency he takes pains to assure first of all.  After
their assurance he is willing to enter into human
relations.  His attitude toward everything in life is, not
suspicious, but watchful.  He is "gathered together,"
his elbows at his side.

This evidences itself most strikingly in his terseness
of speech.  A man dependent on himself naturally
does not give himself away to the first comer. 
He is more interested in finding out what the other
fellow is than in exploiting his own importance.  A
man who does much promiscuous talking he is likely
to despise, arguing that man incautious, hence weak.

Yet when he does talk, he talks to the point and
with a vivid and direct picturesqueness of phrase
which is as refreshing as it is unexpected.  The
delightful remodeling of the English language in Mr.
Alfred Lewis's "Wolfville" is exaggerated only in
quantity, not in quality.  No cowboy talks habitually
in quite as original a manner as Mr. Lewis's Old
Cattleman; but I have no doubt that in time he
would be heard to say all the good things in that
volume.  I myself have note-books full of just such
gorgeous language, some of the best of which I have
used elsewhere, and so will not repeat here.[4]


[4] See especially Jackson Himes in The Blazed Trail; 
and TheRawhide.


This vividness manifests itself quite as often in the
selection of the apt word as in the construction of
elaborate phrases with a half-humorous intention.  A
cowboy once told me of the arrival of a tramp by
saying, "He SIFTED into camp."  Could any verb be
more expressive?  Does not it convey exactly the
lazy, careless, out-at-heels shuffling gait of the hobo? 
Another in the course of description told of a saloon
scene, "They all BELLIED UP TO the bar."  Again, a
range cook, objecting to purposeless idling about his
fire, shouted:  "If you fellows come MOPING around
here any more, I'LL SURE MAKE YOU HARD TO CATCH!" 
"Fish in that pond, son?  Why, there's some fish
in there big enough to rope," another advised me. 
"I quit shoveling," one explained the story of his
life, "because I couldn't see nothing ahead of
shoveling but dirt."  The same man described ploughing
as, "Looking at a mule's tail all day."  And one of
the most succinct epitomes of the motifs of fiction
was offered by an old fellow who looked over my
shoulder as I was reading a novel.  "Well, son," said
he, "what they doing now, KISSING OR KILLING?"

Nor are the complete phrases behind in aptness.  I
have space for only a few examples, but they will
illustrate what I mean.  Speaking of a companion
who was "putting on too much dog," I was informed,
"He walks like a man with a new suit of WOODEN
UNDERWEAR!"  Or again, in answer to my inquiry as to a
mutual acquaintance, "Jim?  Oh, poor old Jim!  For
the last week or so he's been nothing but an
insignificant atom of humanity hitched to a boil."

But to observe the riot of imagination turned loose
with the bridle off, you must assist at a burst of anger
on the part of one of these men.  It is mostly
unprintable, but you will get an entirely new idea of
what profanity means.  Also you will come to the
conclusion that you, with your trifling DAMNS, and
the like, have been a very good boy indeed.  The
remotest, most obscure, and unheard of conceptions
are dragged forth from earth, heaven, and hell, and
linked together in a sequence so original, so gaudy,
and so utterly blasphemous, that you gasp and are
stricken with the most devoted admiration.  It is genius.

Of course I can give you no idea here of what
these truly magnificent oaths are like.  It is a pity,
for it would liberalize your education.  Occasionally,
like a trickle of clear water into an alkali torrent, a
straight English sentence will drop into the flood.  It
is refreshing by contrast, but weak.

"If your brains were all made of dynamite, you
couldn't blow the top of your head off."

"I wouldn't speak to him if I met him in hell
carrying a lump of ice in his hand."

"That little horse'll throw you so high the black-
birds will build nests in your hair before you come
down."

These are ingenious and amusing, but need the
blazing settings from which I have ravished them to
give them their due force.

In Arizona a number of us were sitting around
the feeble camp-fire the desert scarcity of fuel
permits, smoking our pipes.  We were all contemplative
and comfortably silent with the exception of one
very youthful person who had a lot to say.  It was
mainly about himself.  After he had bragged awhile
without molestation, one of the older cow-punchers
grew very tired of it.  He removed his pipe deliberately,
and spat in the fire.

"Say, son," he drawled, "if you want to say
something big, why don't you say `elephant'?"

The young fellow subsided.  We went on smoking
our pipes.

Down near the Chiracahua Range in southeastern
Arizona, there is a butte, and halfway up that butte
is a cave, and in front of that cave is a ramshackle
porch-roof or shed.  This latter makes the cave into
a dwelling-house.  It is inhabited by an old "alkali"
and half a dozen bear dogs.  I sat with the old fellow
one day for nearly an hour.  It was a sociable visit,
but economical of the English language.  He made
one remark, outside our initial greeting.  It was
enough, for in terseness, accuracy, and compression,
I have never heard a better or more comprehensive
description of the arid countries.

"Son," said he, "in this country thar is more cows
and less butter, more rivers and less water, and you
kin see farther and see less than in any other country
in the world."

Now this peculiar directness of phrase means but
one thing,--freedom from the influence of convention. 
The cowboy respects neither the dictionary nor
usage.  He employs his words in the manner that
best suits him, and arranges them in the sequence
that best expresses his idea, untrammeled by tradition. 
It is a phase of the same lawlessness, the same
reliance on self, that makes for his taciturnity and
watchfulness.

In essence, his dress is an adaptation to the
necessities of his calling; as a matter of fact, it is an
elaboration on that.  The broad heavy felt hat he
has found by experience to be more effective in turning
heat than a lighter straw; he further runs to
variety in the shape of the crown and in the nature
of the band.  He wears a silk handkerchief about his
neck to turn the sun and keep out the dust, but
indulges in astonishing gaudiness of color.  His gauntlets
save his hands from the rope; he adds a fringe
and a silver star.  The heavy wide "chaps" of leather
about his legs are necessary to him when he is riding
fast through brush; he indulges in such frivolities
as stamped leather, angora hair, and the like.  High
heels to his boots prevent his foot from slipping
through his wide stirrup, and are useful to dig into
the ground when he is roping in the corral.  Even
his six-shooter is more a tool of his trade than a
weapon of defense.  With it he frightens cattle from
the heavy brush; he slaughters old or diseased steers;
he "turns the herd" in a stampede or when rounding
it in; and especially is it handy and loose to his
hip in case his horse should fall and commence to
drag him.

So the details of his appearance spring from the
practical, but in the wearing of them and the using
of them he shows again that fine disregard for the
way other people do it or think it.

Now in civilization you and I entertain a double
respect for firearms and the law.  Firearms are
dangerous, and it is against the law to use them
promiscuously.  If we shoot them off in unexpected places,
we first of all alarm unduly our families and neighbors,
and in due course attract the notice of the police. 
By the time we are grown up we look on shooting
a revolver as something to be accomplished after
an especial trip for the purpose.

But to the cowboy shooting a gun is merely what
lighting a match would be to us.  We take reasonable
care not to scratch that match on the wall nor to
throw it where it will do harm.  Likewise the 
cowboy takes reasonable care that his bullets do not land
in some one's anatomy nor in too expensive bric-a-
brac.  Otherwise any time or place will do.

The picture comes to me of a bunk-house on an
Arizona range.  The time was evening.  A half-dozen
cowboys were sprawled out on the beds smoking,
and three more were playing poker with the Chinese
cook.  A misguided rat darted out from under one
of the beds and made for the empty fireplace.  He
finished his journey in smoke.  Then the four who
had shot slipped their guns back into their holsters
and resumed their cigarettes and drawling low-toned
conversation.

On another occasion I stopped for noon at the
Circle I ranch.  While waiting for dinner, I lay on
my back in the bunk-room and counted three hundred
and sixty-two bullet-holes in the ceiling.  They
came to be there because the festive cowboys used to
while away the time while lying as I was lying, waiting
for supper, in shooting the flies that crawled about
the plaster.

This beautiful familiarity with the pistol as a parlor
toy accounts in great part for a cowboy's propensity
to "shoot up the town" and his indignation
when arrested therefor.

The average cowboy is only a fair target-shot with
the revolver.  But he is chain lightning at getting
his gun off in a hurry.  There are exceptions to this,
however, especially among the older men.  Some can 
handle the Colts 45 and its heavy recoil with almost 
uncanny accuracy.  I have seen individuals who could 
from their saddles nip lizards darting across the road; 
and one who was able to perforate twice before it hit 
the ground a tomato-can tossed into the air.  The 
cowboy is prejudiced against the double-action gun, 
for some reason or other.  He manipulates his 
single-action weapon fast enough, however.

His sense of humor takes the same unexpected
slants, not because his mental processes differ from
those of other men, but because he is unshackled by
the subtle and unnoticed nothingnesses of precedent
which deflect our action toward the common
uniformity of our neighbors.  It must be confessed that
his sense of humor possesses also a certain robustness.

The J. H. outfit had been engaged for ten days in
busting broncos.  This the Chinese cook, Sang, a
newcomer in the territory, found vastly amusing. 
He liked to throw the ropes off the prostrate broncos,
when all was ready; to slap them on the flanks; to
yell shrill Chinese yells; and to dance in celestial
delight when the terrified animal arose and scattered
out of there.  But one day the range men drove up
a little bunch of full-grown cattle that had been
bought from a smaller owner.  It was necessary to
change the brands.  Therefore a little fire was built,
the stamp-brand put in to heat, and two of the men
on horseback caught a cow by the horns and one
hind leg, and promptly upset her.  The old brand
was obliterated, the new one burnt in.  This irritated
the cow.  Promptly the branding-men, who were of
course afoot, climbed to the top of the corral to be
out of the way.  At this moment, before the horsemen
could flip loose their ropes, Sang appeared.

"Hol' on!" he babbled.  "I take him off;" and
he scrambled over the fence and approached the cow.

Now cattle of any sort rush at the first object they
see after getting to their feet.  But whereas a steer
makes a blind run and so can be avoided, a cow
keeps her eyes open.  Sang approached that wild-
eyed cow, a bland smile on his countenance.

A dead silence fell.  Looking about at my
companions' faces I could not discern even in the depths
of their eyes a single faint flicker of human interest.

Sang loosened the rope from the hind leg, he
threw it from the horns, he slapped the cow with his
hat, and uttered the shrill Chinese yell.  So far all was
according to programme.

The cow staggered to her feet, her eyes blazing fire.  
She took one good look, and then started for Sang.

What followed occurred with all the briskness of
a tune from a circus band.  Sang darted for the corral
fence.  Now, three sides of the corral were railed,
and so climbable, but the fourth was a solid adobe
wall.  Of course Sang went for the wall.  There,
finding his nails would not stick, he fled down the
length of it, his queue streaming, his eyes popping,
his talons curved toward an ideal of safety, gibbering
strange monkey talk, pursued a scant arm's length
behind by that infuriated cow.  Did any one help
him?  Not any.  Every man of that crew was hanging
weak from laughter to the horn of his saddle or
the top of the fence.  The preternatural solemnity
had broken to little bits.  Men came running from
the bunk-house, only to go into spasms outside, to
roll over and over on the ground, clutching handfuls
of herbage in the agony of their delight.

At the end of the corral was a narrow chute.  Into
this Sang escaped as into a burrow.  The cow came
too.  Sang, in desperation, seized a pole, but the cow
dashed such a feeble weapon aside.  Sang caught
sight of a little opening, too small for cows, back
into the main corral.  He squeezed through.  The
cow crashed through after him, smashing the boards. 
At the crucial moment Sang tripped and fell on his
face.  The cow missed him by so close a margin that
for a moment we thought she had hit.  But she had
not, and before she could turn, Sang had topped the
fence and was halfway to the kitchen.  Tom Waters
always maintained that he spread his Chinese sleeves
and flew.  Shortly after a tremendous smoke arose from 
the kitchen chimney.  Sang had gone back to cooking.

Now that Mongolian was really in great danger,
but no one of the outfit thought for a moment of
any but the humorous aspect of the affair.  Analogously,
in a certain small cow-town I happened to be
transient when the postmaster shot a Mexican. 
Nothing was done about it.  The man went right on
being postmaster, but he had to set up the drinks
because he had hit the Mexican in the stomach. 
That was considered a poor place to hit a man.

The entire town of Willcox knocked off work for 
nearly a day to while away the tedium of an enforced 
wait there on my part.  They wanted me to go fishing. 
One man offered a team, the other a saddle-horse.  All 
expended much eloquence in directing me accurately, so 
that I should be sure to find exactly the spot where 
I could hang my feet over a bank beneath which there 
were "a plumb plenty of fish."  Somehow or other 
they raked out miscellaneous tackle.  But they were a 
little too eager.  I excused myself and hunted up a 
map.  Sure enough the lake was there, but it had been 
dry since a previous geological period.  The fish were
undoubtedly there too, but they were fossil fish.  I 
borrowed a pickaxe and shovel and announced myself 
as ready to start.

Outside the principal saloon in one town hung a
gong.  When a stranger was observed to enter the
saloon, that gong was sounded.  Then it behooved him
to treat those who came in answer to the summons.

But when it comes to a case of real hospitality
or helpfulness, your cowboy is there every time. 
You are welcome to food and shelter without price,
whether he is at home or not.  Only it is etiquette to
leave your name and thanks pinned somewhere about
the place.  Otherwise your intrusion may be
considered in the light of a theft, and you may be
pursued accordingly.

Contrary to general opinion, the cowboy is not
a dangerous man to those not looking for trouble. 
There are occasional exceptions, of course, but they
belong to the universal genus of bully, and can be
found among any class.  Attend to your own business,
be cool and good-natured, and your skin is
safe.  Then when it is really "up to you," be a man;
you will never lack for friends.

The Sierras, especially towards the south where
the meadows are wide and numerous, are full of cattle
in small bands.  They come up from the desert
about the first of June, and are driven back again
to the arid countries as soon as the autumn storms
begin.  In the very high land they are few, and to
be left to their own devices; but now we entered a
new sort of country.

Below Farewell Gap and the volcanic regions
one's surroundings change entirely.  The meadows
become high flat valleys, often miles in extent; the
mountains--while registering big on the aneroid--
are so little elevated above the plateaus that a few
thousand feet is all of their apparent height; the
passes are low, the slopes easy, the trails good, the
rock outcrops few, the hills grown with forests to
their very tops.  Altogether it is a country easy to
ride through, rich in grazing, cool and green, with its
eight thousand feet of elevation.  Consequently during
the hot months thousands of desert cattle are pastured
here; and with them come many of the desert men.

Our first intimation of these things was in the
volcanic region where swim the golden trout.  From the
advantage of a hill we looked far down to a hair-grass
meadow through which twisted tortuously a brook,
and by the side of the brook, belittled by distance,
was a miniature man.  We could see distinctly his
every movement, as he approached cautiously the
stream's edge, dropped his short line at the end of a
stick over the bank, and then yanked bodily the fish
from beneath.  Behind him stood his pony.  We
could make out in the clear air the coil of his raw-
hide "rope," the glitter of his silver bit, the metal
points on his saddle skirts, the polish of his six-
shooter, the gleam of his fish, all the details of his
costume.  Yet he was fully a mile distant.  After a
time he picked up his string of fish, mounted, and
jogged loosely away at the cow-pony's little Spanish
trot toward the south.  Over a week later, having
caught golden trout and climbed Mount Whitney,
we followed him and so came to the great central
camp at Monache Meadows.

Imagine an island-dotted lake of grass four or five
miles long by two or three wide to which slope regular
shores of stony soil planted with trees.  Imagine
on the very edge of that lake an especially fine grove
perhaps a quarter of a mile in length, beneath whose
trees a dozen different outfits of cowboys are camped
for the summer.  You must place a herd of ponies
in the foreground, a pine mountain at the back, an
unbroken ridge across ahead, cattle dotted here and
there, thousands of ravens wheeling and croaking
and flapping everywhere, a marvelous clear sun and
blue sky.  The camps were mostly open, though a
few possessed tents.  They differed from the ordinary
in that they had racks for saddles and equipments. 
Especially well laid out were the cooking arrangements. 
A dozen accommodating springs supplied fresh water with 
the conveniently regular spacing of faucets.

Towards evening the men jingled in.  This summer
camp was almost in the nature of a vacation to
them after the hard work of the desert.  All they had
to do was to ride about the pleasant hills examining
that the cattle did not stray nor get into trouble.  It
was fun for them, and they were in high spirits.

Our immediate neighbors were an old man of
seventy-two and his grandson of twenty-five.  At
least the old man said he was seventy-two.  I should
have guessed fifty.  He was as straight as an arrow,
wiry, lean, clear-eyed, and had, without food, ridden
twelve hours after some strayed cattle.  On arriving
he threw off his saddle, turned his horse loose, and
set about the construction of supper.  This consisted
of boiled meat, strong tea, and an incredible number
of flapjacks built of water, baking-powder, salt, and
flour, warmed through--not cooked--in a frying-
pan.  He deluged these with molasses and devoured
three platefuls.  It would have killed an ostrich, but
apparently did this decrepit veteran of seventy-two
much good.

After supper he talked to us most interestingly in
the dry cowboy manner, looking at us keenly from
under the floppy brim of his hat.  He confided to us
that he had had to quit smoking, and it ground him
--he'd smoked since he was five years old.

"Tobacco doesn't agree with you any more?" I hazarded.

"Oh, 'taint that," he replied; "only I'd ruther chew."

The dark fell, and all the little camp-fires under the
trees twinkled bravely forth.  Some of the men sang. 
One had an accordion.  Figures, indistinct and
formless, wandered here and there in the shadows,
suddenly emerging from mystery into the clarity of
firelight, there to disclose themselves as visitors.  Out
on the plain the cattle lowed, the horses nickered. 
The red firelight flashed from the metal of suspended
equipment, crimsoned the bronze of men's faces,
touched with pink the high lights on their gracefully
recumbent forms.  After a while we rolled up in our
blankets and went to sleep, while a band of coyotes
wailed like lost spirits from a spot where a steer had
died.



XX

THE GOLDEN TROUT

After Farewell Gap, as has been hinted, the
country changes utterly.  Possibly that is why
it is named Farewell Gap.  The land is wild, weird,
full of twisted trees, strangely colored rocks, fantastic
formations, bleak mountains of slabs, volcanic cones,
lava, dry powdery soil or loose shale, close-growing
grasses, and strong winds.  You feel yourself in
an upper world beyond the normal, where only the
freakish cold things of nature, elsewhere crowded
out, find a home.  Camp is under a lonely tree, none
the less solitary from the fact that it has companions. 
The earth beneath is characteristic of the treeless
lands, so that these seem to have been stuck alien into
it.  There is no shelter save behind great fortuitous
rocks.  Huge marmots run over the boulders, like
little bears.  The wind blows strong.  The streams run
naked under the eye of the sun, exposing clear and
yellow every detail of their bottoms.  In them there
are no deep hiding-places any more than there is
shelter in the land, and so every fish that swims shows
as plainly as in an aquarium.

We saw them as we rode over the hot dry shale
among the hot and twisted little trees.  They lay
against the bottom, transparent; they darted away
from the jar of our horses' hoofs; they swam slowly
against the current, delicate as liquid shadows, as
though the clear uniform golden color of the bottom
had clouded slightly to produce these tenuous ghostly
forms.  We examined them curiously from the
advantage our slightly elevated trail gave us, and knew
them for the Golden Trout, and longed to catch some.

All that day our route followed in general the
windings of this unique home of a unique fish.  We
crossed a solid natural bridge; we skirted fields of
red and black lava, vivid as poppies; we gazed
marveling on perfect volcano cones, long since extinct:
finally we camped on a side hill under two tall
branchless trees in about as bleak and exposed a
position as one could imagine.  Then all three, we
jointed our rods and went forth to find out what
the Golden Trout was like.

I soon discovered a number of things, as follows: 
The stream at this point, near its source, is very
narrow--I could step across it--and flows beneath
deep banks.  The Golden Trout is shy of approach. 
The wind blows.  Combining these items of knowledge
I found that it was no easy matter to cast forty
feet in a high wind so accurately as to hit a three-foot
stream a yard below the level of the ground.  In fact,
the proposition was distinctly sporty; I became as
interested in it as in accurate target-shooting, so that
at last I forgot utterly the intention of my efforts and
failed to strike my first rise.  The second, however,
I hooked, and in a moment had him on the grass.

He was a little fellow of seven inches, but mere
size was nothing, the color was the thing.  And that
was indeed golden.  I can liken it to nothing more
accurately than the twenty-dollar gold-piece, the
same satin finish, the same pale yellow.  The fish was
fairly molten.  It did not glitter in gaudy burnishment,
as does our aquarium gold-fish, for example,
but gleamed and melted and glowed as though fresh
from the mould.  One would almost expect that on
cutting the flesh it would be found golden through
all its substance.  This for the basic color.  You
must remember always that it was a true trout, without
scales, and so the more satiny.  Furthermore,
along either side of the belly ran two broad longitudinal
stripes of exactly the color and burnish of the
copper paint used on racing yachts.

I thought then, and have ever since, that the
Golden Trout, fresh from the water, is one of the
most beautiful fish that swims.  Unfortunately it
fades very quickly, and so specimens in alcohol
can give no idea of it.  In fact, I doubt if you will
ever be able to gain a very clear idea of it unless
you take to the trail that leads up, under the end
of which is known technically as the High Sierras.

The Golden Trout lives only in this one stream,
but occurs there in countless multitudes.  Every little
pool, depression, or riffles has its school.  When not
alarmed they take the fly readily.  One afternoon I
caught an even hundred in a little over an hour.  By
way of parenthesis it may be well to state that most
were returned unharmed to the water.  They run
small,--a twelve-inch fish is a monster,--but are
of extraordinary delicacy for eating.  We three
devoured sixty-five that first evening in camp.

Now the following considerations seem to me at
this point worthy of note.  In the first place, the
Golden Trout occurs but in this one stream, and is
easily caught.  At present the stream is comparatively
inaccessible, so that the natural supply probably
keeps even with the season's catches.  Still the
trail is on the direct route to Mount Whitney, and
year by year the ascent of this "top of the Republic"
is becoming more the proper thing to do.  Every
camping party stops for a try at the Golden Trout,
and of course the fish-hog is a sure occasional migrant. 
The cowboys told of two who caught six hundred
in a day.  As the certainly increasing tide of summer
immigration gains in volume, the Golden Trout, in
spite of his extraordinary numbers at present, is going
to be caught out.

Therefore, it seems the manifest duty of the Fisheries
to provide for the proper protection and distribution
of this species, especially the distribution. 
Hundreds of streams in the Sierras are without trout
simply because of some natural obstruction, such as
a waterfall too high to jump, which prevents their
ascent of the current.  These are all well adapted to
the planting of fish, and might just as well be stocked
by the Golden Trout as by the customary Rainbow. 
Care should be taken lest the two species become
hybridized, as has occurred following certain misguided
efforts in the South Fork of the Kern.

So far as I know but one attempt has been made
to transplant these fish.  About five or six years ago
a man named Grant carried some in pails across to a
small lake near at hand.  They have done well, and
curiously enough have grown to a weight of from one
and a half to two pounds.  This would seem to show
that their small size in Volcano Creek results entirely
from conditions of feed or opportunity for development,
and that a study of proper environment might
result in a game fish to rival the Rainbow in size and
certainly to surpass him in curious interest.

A great many well-meaning people who have
marveled at the abundance of the Golden Trout
in their natural habitat laugh at the idea that
Volcano Creek will ever become "fished out."  To such
it should be pointed out that the fish in question is
a voracious feeder, is without shelter, and quickly
landed.  A simple calculation will show how many
fish a hundred moderate anglers, camping a week
apiece, would take out in a season.  And in a short
time there will be many more than a hundred, few
of them moderate, coming up into the mountains to
camp just as long as they have a good time.  All it
needs is better trails, and better trails are under way. 
Well-meaning people used to laugh at the idea that
the buffalo and wild pigeons would ever disappear. 
They are gone.



ON GOING OUT

XXI

ON GOING OUT

The last few days of your stay in the wilderness
you will be consumedly anxious to get out. 
It does not matter how much of a savage you are,
how good a time you are having, or how long you
have been away from civilization.  Nor does it mean
especially that you are glad to leave the wilds. 
Merely does it come about that you drift unconcernedly
on the stream of days until you approach the
brink of departure: then irresistibly the current
hurries you into haste.  The last day of your week's
vacation; the last three of your month's or your
summer's or your year's outing,--these comprise the
hours in which by a mighty but invisible transformation
your mind forsakes its savagery, epitomizes
again the courses of social evolution, regains the poise
and cultivation of the world of men.  Before that you
have been content; yes, and would have gone on
being content for as long as you please until the
approach of the limit you have set for your wandering.

In effect this transformation from the state of
savagery to the state of civilization is very abrupt. 
When you leave the towns your clothes and mind
are new.  Only gradually do they take on the color
of their environment; only gradually do the subtle
influences of the great forest steal in on your dulled
faculties to flow over them in a tide that rises
imperceptibly.  You glide as gently from the artificial to
the natural life as do the forest shadows from night
to day.  But at the other end the affair is different. 
There you awake on the appointed morning in complete
resumption of your old attitude of mind.  The
tide of nature has slipped away from you in the night.

Then you arise and do the most wonderful of your
wilderness traveling.  On those days you look back
fondly, of them you boast afterwards in telling what
a rapid and enduring voyager you are.  The biggest
day's journey I ever undertook was in just such a
case.  We started at four in the morning through a
forest of the early spring-time, where the trees were
glorious overhead, but the walking ankle deep.  On
our backs were thirty-pound burdens.  We walked
steadily until three in the afternoon, by which time
we had covered thirty miles and had arrived at what
then represented civilization to us.  Of the nine who
started, two Indians finished an hour ahead; the half
breed, Billy, and I staggered in together, encouraging
each other by words concerning the bottle of beer we
were going to buy; and the five white men never
got in at all until after nine o'clock that night. 
Neither thirty miles, nor thirty pounds, nor ankle-
deep slush sounds formidable when considered as
abstract and separate propositions.

In your first glimpse of the civilized peoples your
appearance in your own eyes will undergo the same
instantaneous and tremendous revulsion that has
already taken place in your mental sphere.  Heretofore
you have considered yourself as a decently well
appointed gentleman of the woods.  Ten to one, in
contrast to the voluntary or enforced simplicity of the
professional woodsman you have looked on your
little luxuries of carved leather hat-band, fancy knife
sheath, pearl-handled six-shooter, or khaki breeches
as giving you slightly the air of a forest exquisite. 
But on that depot platform or in presence of that
staring group on the steps of the Pullman, you suddenly
discover yourself to be nothing less than a
disgrace to your bringing up.  Nothing could be more
evident than the flop of your hat, the faded, dusty
appearance of your blue shirt, the beautiful black
polish of your khakis, the grime of your knuckles, the
three days' beard of your face.  If you are a fool, you
worry about it.  If you are a sensible man, you do not
mind;--and you prepare for amusing adventures.

The realization of your external unworthiness,
however, brings to your heart the desire for a hot
bath in a porcelain tub.  You gloat over the thought;
and when the dream comes to be a reality, you soak
away in as voluptuous a pleasure as ever falls to the
lot of man to enjoy.  Then you shave, and array
yourself minutely and preciously in clean clothes
from head to toe, building up a new respectability,
and you leave scornfully in a heap your camping
garments.  They have heretofore seemed clean, but
now you would not touch them, no, not even to put
them in the soiled-clothes basket, let your feminines
rave as they may.  And for at least two days you
prove an almost childish delight in mere raiment.

But before you can reach this blissful stage you
have still to order and enjoy your first civilized
dinner.  It tastes good, not because your camp dinners
have palled on you, but because your transformation
demands its proper aliment.  Fortunate indeed you
are if you step directly to a transcontinental train or
into the streets of a modern town.  Otherwise the
transition through the small-hotel provender is apt
to offer too little contrast for the fullest enjoyment. 
But aboard the dining-car or in the cafe you will
gather to yourself such ill-assorted succulence as thick,
juicy beefsteaks, and creamed macaroni, and sweet
potatoes, and pie, and red wine, and real cigars and
other things.

In their acquisition your appearance will tell
against you.  We were once watched anxiously by
a nervous female head waiter who at last mustered
up courage enough to inform me that guests were
not allowed to eat without coats.  We politely pointed
out that we possessed no such garments.  After a long
consultation with the proprietor she told us it was all
right for this time, but that we must not do it again. 
At another place I had to identify myself as a 
responsible person by showing a picture in a magazine
bought for the purpose.

The public never will know how to take you. 
Most of it treats you as though you were a two-dollar
a day laborer; some of the more astute are puzzled. 
One February I walked out of the North Country on
snowshoes and stepped directly into a Canadian
Pacific transcontinental train.  I was clad in fur cap,
vivid blanket coat, corded trousers, German stockings
and moccasins; and my only baggage was the
pair of snowshoes.  It was the season of light travel. 
A single Englishman touring the world as the crow
flies occupied the car.  He looked at me so askance
that I made an opportunity of talking to him.  I
should like to read his "Travels" to see what he
made out of the riddle.  In similar circumstances,
and without explanation, I had fun talking French
and swapping boulevard reminiscences with a member
of a Parisian theatrical troupe making a long
jump through northern Wisconsin.  And once, at
six of the morning, letting myself into my own
house with a latch-key, and sitting down to read the
paper until the family awoke, I was nearly brained
by the butler.  He supposed me a belated burglar,
and had armed himself with the poker.  The most
flattering experience of the kind was voiced by a
small urchin who plucked at his mother's sleeve: 
"Look, mamma!" he exclaimed in guarded but
jubilant tones, "there's a real Indian!"

Our last camp of this summer was built and broken
in the full leisure of at least a three weeks' expectation. 
We had traveled south from the Golden Trout
through the Toowah range.  There we had viewed
wonders which I cannot expect you to believe in,--
such as a spring of warm water in which you could
bathe and from which you could reach to dip up a
cup of carbonated water on the right hand, or cast
a fly into a trout stream, on the left.  At length we
entered a high meadow in the shape of a maltese
cross, with pine slopes about it, and springs of water
welling in little humps of green.  There the long
pine-needles were extraordinarily thick and the pine-
cones exceptionally large.  The former we scraped
together to the depth of three feet for a bed in the
lea of a fallen trunk; the latter we gathered in arm-
fuls to pile on the camp-fire.  Next morning we rode
down a mile or so through the grasses, exclaimed
over the thousands of mountain quail buzzing from
the creek bottoms, gazed leisurely up at our well-
known pines and about at the grateful coolness of
our accustomed green meadows and leaves;--and
then, as though we had crossed a threshold, we
emerged into chaparral, dry loose shale, yucca, Spanish
bayonet, heated air and the bleached burned-out
furnace-like country of arid California in midsummer. 
The trail dropped down through sage-brush, just as
it always did in the California we had known; the
mountains rose with the fur-like dark-olive effect of
the coast ranges; the sun beat hot.  We had left the
enchanted land.

The trail was very steep and very long, and took
us finally into the country of dry brown grasses, gray
brush, waterless stony ravines, and dust.  Others had
traveled that trail, headed the other way, and
evidently had not liked it.  Empty bottles blazed the
path.  Somebody had sacrificed a pack of playing-
cards, which he had stuck on thorns from time to
time, each inscribed with a blasphemous comment
on the discomforts of such travel.  After an apparently
interminable interval we crossed an irrigating
ditch, where the horses were glad to water, and so
came to one of those green flowering lush California
villages so startlingly in contrast to their surroundings.

By this it was two o'clock and we had traveled
on horseback since four.  A variety of circumstances
learned at the village made it imperative that both
the Tenderfoot and myself should go out without
the delay of a single hour.  This left Wes to bring
the horses home, which was tough on Wes, but he
rose nobly to the occasion.

When the dust of our rustling cleared, we found we 
had acquired a team of wild broncos, a buckboard, 
an elderly gentleman with a white goatee, two bottles of beer,
some crackers and some cheese. With these we hoped to 
reach the railroad shortly after midnight.

The elevation was five thousand feet, the road
dusty and hot, the country uninteresting in sage-
brush and alkali and rattlesnakes and general dryness. 
Constantly we drove, checking off the landmarks
in the good old fashion.  Our driver had immigrated
from Maine the year before, and by some
chance had drifted straight to the arid regions.  He
was vastly disgusted.  At every particularly atrocious
dust-hole or unlovely cactus strip he spat into space
and remarked in tones of bottomless contempt:--

"BEAU-ti-ful Cal-if-or-nia!"

This was evidently intended as a quotation.

Towards sunset we ran up into rounded hills,
where we got out at every rise in order to ease the
horses, and where we hurried the old gentleman beyond 
the limits of his Easterner's caution at every descent.

It grew dark.  Dimly the road showed gray in the
twilight.  We did not know how far exactly we were
to go, but imagined that sooner or later we would
top one of the small ridges to look across one of the
broad plateau plains to the lights of our station. 
You see we had forgotten, in the midst of flatness,
that we were still over five thousand feet up.  Then
the road felt its way between two hills;--and the
blackness of night opened below us as well as above,
and from some deep and tremendous abyss breathed
the winds of space.

It was as dark as a cave, for the moon was yet two
hours below the horizon.  Somehow the trail turned
to the right along that tremendous cliff.  We thought
we could make out its direction, the dimness of its
glimmering; but equally well, after we had looked a
moment, we could imagine it one way or another, to
right and left.  I went ahead to investigate.  The trail
to left proved to be the faint reflection of a clump of
"old man" at least five hundred feet down; that to
right was a burned patch sheer against the rise of the
cliff.  We started on the middle way.

There were turns-in where a continuance straight
ahead would require an airship or a coroner; again
turns-out where the direct line would telescope you
against the state of California.  These we could make
out by straining our eyes.  The horses plunged and
snorted; the buckboard leaped.  Fire flashed from
the impact of steel against rock, momentarily blinding
us to what we should see.  Always we descended into 
the velvet blackness of the abyss, the canon walls rising
steadily above us shutting out even the dim illumination 
of the stars.  From time to time our driver, desperately 
scared, jerked out cheering bits of information.

"My eyes ain't what they was.  For the Lord's
sake keep a-lookin', boys."

"That nigh hoss is deef.  There don't seem to be
no use saying WHOA to her."

"Them brakes don't hold fer sour peanuts.  I been
figgerin' on tackin' on a new shoe for a week."

"I never was over this road but onct, and then I
was headed th' other way.  I was driving of a corpse."

Then, after two hours of it, BING! BANG! SMASH!
our tongue collided with a sheer black wall, no
blacker than the atmosphere before it.  The trail here
took a sharp V turn to the left.  We had left the face
of the precipice and henceforward would descend the bed 
of the canon.  Fortunately our collision had done damage 
to nothing but our nerves, so we proceeded to do so.

The walls of the crevice rose thousands of feet
above us.  They seemed to close together, like the
sides of a tent, to leave only a narrow pale lucent
strip of sky.  The trail was quite invisible, and even
the sense of its existence was lost when we traversed
groves of trees.  One of us had to run ahead of the
horses, determining its general direction, locating the
sharper turns.  The rest depended on the instinct of
the horses and pure luck.

It was pleasant in the cool of night thus to run down 
through the blackness, shouting aloud to guide our 
followers, swinging to the slope, bathed to the soul 
in mysteries of which we had no time to take cognizance.

By and by we saw a little spark far ahead of us
like a star.  The smell of fresh wood smoke and stale
damp fire came to our nostrils.  We gained the star
and found it to be a log smouldering; and up the
hill other stars red as blood.  So we knew that we
had crossed the zone of an almost extinct forest fire,
and looked on the scattered camp-fires of an army
of destruction.

The moon rose.  We knew it by touches of white
light on peaks infinitely far above us; not at all by
the relieving of the heavy velvet blackness in which
we moved.  After a time, I, running ahead in my
turn, became aware of the deep breathing of animals. 
I stopped short and called a warning.  Immediately
a voice answered me.

"Come on, straight ahead.  They're not on the road."

When within five feet I made out the huge
freight wagons in which were lying the teamsters,
and very dimly the big freight mules standing tethered
to the wheels.

"It's a dark night, friend, and you're out late."

"A dark night," I agreed, and plunged on.  Behind
me rattled and banged the abused buckboard,
snorted the half-wild broncos, groaned the unrepaired
brake, softly cursed my companions.

Then at once the abrupt descent ceased.  We glided out 
to the silvered flat, above which sailed the moon.

The hour was seen to be half past one.  We had
missed our train.  Nothing was visible of human
habitations.  The land was frosted with the moonlight,
enchanted by it, etherealized.  Behind us, huge
and formidable, loomed the black mass of the range
we had descended.  Before us, thin as smoke in the
magic lucence that flooded the world, rose other
mountains, very great, lofty as the sky.  We could
not understand them.  The descent we had just
accomplished should have landed us on a level plain
in which lay our town.  But here we found ourselves
in a pocket valley entirely surrounded by mountain
ranges through which there seemed to be no pass less
than five or six thousand feet in height.

We reined in the horses to figure it out.

"I don't see how it can be," said I.  "We've
certainly come far enough.  It would take us four
hours at the very least to cross that range, even if
the railroad should happen to be on the other side
of it."

"I been through here only once," repeated the
driver,--"going the other way.--Then I drew a
corpse."  He spat, and added as an afterthought,
"BEAU-ti-ful Cal-if-or-nia!"

We stared at the mountains that hemmed us in. 
They rose above us sheer and forbidding.  In the
bright moonlight plainly were to be descried the
brush of the foothills, the timber, the fissures, the
canons, the granites, and the everlasting snows. 
Almost we thought to make out a thread of a waterfall
high up where the clouds would be if the night
had not been clear.

"We got off the trail somewhere," hazarded the
Tenderfoot.

"Well, we're on a road, anyway," I pointed out. 
"It's bound to go somewhere.  We might as well
give up the railroad and find a place to turn-in."

"It can't be far," encouraged the Tenderfoot;
"this valley can't be more than a few miles across."

"Gi dap!" remarked the driver.

We moved forward down the white wagon trail
approaching the mountains.  And then we were
witnesses of the most marvelous transformation.  For
as we neared them, those impregnable mountains,
as though panic-stricken by our advance, shrunk
back, dissolved, dwindled, went to pieces.  Where
had towered ten-thousand-foot peaks, perfect in the
regular succession from timber to snow, now were
little flat hills on which grew tiny bushes of sage.  A
passage opened between them.  In a hundred yards
we had gained the open country, leaving behind us
the mighty but unreal necromancies of the moon.

Before us gleamed red and green lights.  The mass
of houses showed half distinguishable.  A feeble
glimmer illuminated part of a white sign above the
depot.  That which remained invisible was evidently
the name of the town.  That which was revealed was
the supplementary information which the Southern
Pacific furnishes to its patrons.  It read:  "Elevation
482 feet."  We were definitely out of the mountains.



XXII

THE LURE OF THE TRAIL

The trail's call depends not at all on your
common sense.  You know you are a fool for
answering it; and yet you go.  The comforts of
civilization, to put the case on its lowest plane, are
not lightly to be renounced: the ease of having your
physical labor done for you; the joy of cultivated
minds, of theatres, of books, of participation in the
world's progress; these you leave behind you.  And
in exchange you enter a life where there is much long
hard work of the hands--work that is really hard and
long, so that no man paid to labor would consider
it for a moment; you undertake to eat simply, to
endure much, to lie on the rack of anxiety; you
voluntarily place yourself where cold, wet, hunger, thirst,
heat, monotony, danger, and many discomforts will
wait upon you daily.  A thousand times in the course
of a woods life even the stoutest-hearted will tell
himself softly--very softly if he is really stout-hearted,
so that others may not be annoyed--that if ever the
fates permit him to extricate himself he will never
venture again.

These times come when long continuance has
worn on the spirit.  You beat all day to windward
against the tide toward what should be but an hour's
sail: the sea is high and the spray cold; there are
sunken rocks, and food there is none; chill gray
evening draws dangerously near, and there is a
foot of water in the bilge.  You have swallowed
your tongue twenty times on the alkali; and the
sun is melting hot, and the dust dry and pervasive,
and there is no water, and for all your effort the
relative distances seem to remain the same for days. 
You have carried a pack until your every muscle
is strung white-hot; the woods are breathless; the
black flies swarm persistently and bite until your
face is covered with blood.  You have struggled
through clogging snow until each time you raise
your snowshoe you feel as though some one had
stabbed a little sharp knife into your groin; it has
come to be night; the mercury is away below zero,
and with aching fingers you are to prepare a camp
which is only an anticipation of many more such
camps in the ensuing days.  For a week it has
rained, so that you, pushing through the dripping
brush, are soaked and sodden and comfortless, and
the bushes have become horrible to your shrinking
goose-flesh.  Or you are just plain tired out, not
from a single day's fatigue, but from the gradual
exhaustion of a long hike.  Then in your secret soul
you utter these sentiments:--

"You are a fool.  This is not fun.  There is no real
reason why you should do this.  If you ever get out
of here, you will stick right home where common
sense flourishes, my son!"

Then after a time you do get out, and are thankful. 
But in three months you will have proved in
your own experience the following axiom--I should
call it the widest truth the wilderness has to teach:--

"In memory the pleasures of a camping trip
strengthen with time, and the disagreeables weaken."

I don't care how hard an experience you have had,
nor how little of the pleasant has been mingled with
it, in three months your general impression of that
trip will be good.  You will look back on the hard
times with a certain fondness of recollection.

I remember one trip I took in the early spring
following a long drive on the Pine River.  It rained
steadily for six days.  We were soaked to the skin
all the time, ate standing up in the driving downpour,
and slept wet.  So cold was it that each morning
our blankets were so full of frost that they crackled
stiffly when we turned out.  Dispassionately I can
appraise that as about the worst I ever got into.  Yet
as an impression the Pine River trip seems to me a
most enjoyable one.

So after you have been home for a little while the
call begins to make itself heard.  At first it is very
gentle.  But little by little a restlessness seizes hold
of you.  You do not know exactly what is the matter:
you are aware merely that your customary life
has lost savor, that you are doing things more or less
perfunctorily, and that you are a little more irritable
than your naturally evil disposition.

And gradually it is borne in on you exactly what
is the matter.  Then say you to yourself:--

"My son, you know better.  You are no tenderfoot. 
You have had too long an experience to admit
of any glamour of indefiniteness about this thing. 
No use bluffing.  You know exactly how hard you
will have to work, and how much tribulation you are
going to get into, and how hungry and wet and cold
and tired and generally frazzled out you are going to
be.  You've been there enough times so it's pretty
clearly impressed on you.  You go into this thing
with your eyes open.  You know what you're in for. 
You're pretty well off right here, and you'd be a fool
to go."

"That's right," says yourself to you.  "You're dead
right about it, old man.  Do you know where we can
get another pack-mule?"





End of the Project Gutenberg Etext of The Mountains


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