Click here to Download The Mountains PDF Book by Stewart Edward White English having PDF Size 1.1 MB and No of Pages 89.
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.
The Mountains PDF Book by Stewart Edward White
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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 cañon, a half hour of laboring steepness in the overarching mountain lilac and laurel.
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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 cañon 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.
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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, cañons, 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. The Mountains PDF Book
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 Cañon 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. The Mountains PDF Book
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 cañons 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. The Mountains PDF Book
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.
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. The Mountains PDF Book
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 Mountains PDF Book Download
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 miningcamp. The Mountains PDF Book Download
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. 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. The Mountains PDF Book Download
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, 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. 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. The Mountains PDF Book Download
“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 cañon 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. The Mountains PDF Book Free
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. 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. The Mountains PDF Book Free
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 Mountains PDF Book Free