it’s pitch black beneath the snow line on a starry but moonless night. s. is in a timeless zone letting don juan pick his way down the trail. about 9:00 p.m. they hear a voice in the distance. quietly mysterious here in the sangre de christo mountains and s. is in a sort of state of samadhi, exhausted but very spiritual.
an old cowboy was coming up the trail leading a train of pack mules. you don’t run into many people in the wilderness so when you do you don’t just ride by without a word. you stop and exchange pleasantries. then he, mr. dixon, invited s. to stay with “us”, as he put it. s. thought the old codger meant himself and his mules. s. fell in behind him and went back up the trail to a cutoff. after awhile they began to be greeted by samll groups of young men about s’s age who were big and strong beyond the normal by far. there were about twenty of them and they were professional trailblazers working on a government contract.
they slept in one big tent. enormous quantities of hamburgers were sizzling on an open fire. they just kept cooking until everyone had enough. in the tent later s. passed around his cognac and in the dark of the tent some talked into the night. s. never saw anyone’s face.
they talked about the sense and aim of existence. every now and then a voice would shout “shut up. go to sleep!”
the next day s. decided to give his horse a rest and s. worked with the trailblazers felling trees and moving boulders to make the trail.
then strengthened by the work and the food s. said goodbye to his new friends and headed for red river city about twelve miles away.
colorado was lush and green with wildflowers everywhere and s. crossed many streams of clear gurgling fresh mountain water. stopping to rest now and then when the trail passed a waterfall or a sylvan grove of aspens and larches and meadows teeming with life of insects and birds. s. took time to sit on mossy rocks and just listen to the om of the river. he was in no hurry. some mornings later he rode to town.
red river city was not quaint or pretty, just tourist attractions. so, planning to head back into the mountains s. stopped at a diner to get a little lunch. before he could even get in the door the manager came out screaming and signaling him off. s. had already dismounted and was leading don juan around the side of the building to tie him to a tree. but the vociferousness of the diner manager scared him and don juan. the manager thought he was an indian and indians in that neck of the woods were not appreciated in restaurants.
when he put his foot in the stirrup don juan was already taking off. it must have looked amazing to the diners looking out of the windows. by the time s. was in the saddle the horse (sensitive to the bad vibrations) was already speeding away.
on the evening of the sixth day s. camped early. don juan was tired and it was wet and cold. they had been crossing farms and meandering westward. they had been through one agonizing night in the rain and it was hard to see.twice s. had to use his wirecutters to get through barbed wire fences. (you always carry a few segments of wire to splice these back again after cutting through them.) they came to a bridge near the main highway on a dirt road. it seemed it would be good because it was dry and near good water for cooking. but it was saturday night and turned out to be a very popular place with girls undressing across the river for a swim and about eight hotrods barreled back and forth across the bridge until around midnight.
buffalo and the river and the girls