Mike Moutoux's Ranch Notes
I was back in the Pecos Wilderness with my friend, Ben, in late September. He wanted to check on the cattle up there and see if we couldn’t persuade them to move to pastures closer to where they would be gathered in a week. Since I couldn’t make it the following week, I was eager to come up on any pretense. Such is the attraction for me to this magnificent place.
We got a terribly late start and it wasn’t until mid-afternoon that we were headed up the trail; each of us leading a pack horse loaded with cattle feed we would use to lure the cattle and remind them that cowboys were worth paying some attention to when they show up. I rode a big stout bay horse named Dusty. Again, all my saddle gear was let out to the last hole, and I sure wanted a high spot to get on him.
Dusty was deep chested and not really wide, so it was a comfortable ride and he was a pretty good listener. We got along fine. We found a herd with about 29 pairs and a bull and they were sure interested in that feed despite the abundance of green grass still up there. We did some more poking around without finding any more cows and turned around for home about 5:00. That had us riding down the mountain as dusk was settling in. Off to the West, a bull elk bugled 4 times—a reminder that we were in a special place. We rode the last hour in darkness, trusting the horses to stay on a trail we could barely make out ourselves.
These are the times I file away in my memory bank. The ring of horse hoof on rock, seeing the occasional spark in the dark from the horse ahead of me as his shoes struck one just right; winding through an aspen grove, each leaf fluttering to a song carried by the mountain wind. Conversation around a campfire: horses, places, people, and older memories shared. A fire has a way of tempering a conversation that I can’t explain, but enjoy very much. I write these notes for me as much as for the reader I suppose. They help me hang on to the memories so that I might cash them in later. Perhaps these memories shared will bring us closer in the same way that campfires will. I hope so.
I’m also adding a poem called “The Old Brass Bell”. It’s about a previous trip with Ben. You can find it on this website’s poetry section—I’m betting you will really like it.