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The Mountains by Stewart Edward White

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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.






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

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

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



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

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

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

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.



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

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

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.



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

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.



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

"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.



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.



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

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