Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Spike Camp

Snow Storm's End

Cold, numb and stiff, I shoulder into the wind.  Snowflakes drift collecting on the brim of my hat and catching in my lashes.  In the dusk the only sound is the muted step of the horses and the jingle of tack.  The air is filled with the smell of saddle leather and pine.  I shiver.
Above, a thin eggshell moon creeps in and out of fringed clouds.  As the trail steepens, we continue, silent into dark silhouettes of rock outcrops and evergreens.  We left the river three hours ago and are making our way through the Frank Church to spike camp another hour distant.
The cold digs in beneath lap blankets and my mind drifts between the stumbles my horse makes more and more often.  As we mount a rise in a dark, icy gust, three canvass wall tents flare bright yellow, illuminated by gas lanterns.  Hounds bound into the halo of light.  Light and the warmth of favorite hunting dogs chesting through deep snow, push back the dark chill of one icy night when I could still ride and the hounds were still young.

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