No gallop, just steady plodding as the surefooted horses carried us upon there backs up, up, up. As switchback after switchback undulated behind and before us, we continued to gain elevation on the John Muir Wilderness Trail. Those horses... they amazed me. I was one of their lighter fares at 175 pounds, yet I was constantly in awe of their strength and ability to cling to the many narrow, rocky, trails where, to the left and right, the earth dropped off for hundreds of feet.
Like masked bandits of the old wild west, we often pulled our bandana over our nose and mouth to diminish the amount of fine, stifling, choking dust rising in plumes encircling each rider. Be it blue denim or any other colored fabric, soon every inch of us turned to beige.
Leaving the tree line behind, hour after hour we rode through a world of moon-like landscape rarely changing color. At times, sight lines were blurred to a few feet. Then, we would top a rise or turn a corner and a mountain lake,
the result of melting snowpacks and a shadowed low spot, appeared. Looking completely out of place, from its edges crystal clear water revealed the sandy tones of its bed beneath. As it deepened, clear lines of demarcation revealed bands of emerald green, then deep blue. Like a mirage to thirsty men, each pool shimmered vividly amid the hot, dry, dusty world surrounding them. Every single rider felt the urge to dismount, peel off our clothes, and plunge into its coolness for relief.