they traveled light,
pemmican, guns, tin plate and tin cup.
Their ponies belly-deep in snow,
they wore snowshoes when the horses gave out.
They ate their moccasins when the game hid,
made friends and found wives when they could,
traded twists of tobacco for furs,
drank rotgut at isolated posts,
sang ribald songs to forget the bone-cold
and the howls of wolves.
Sometimes I wonder what they thought about
as they scanned the skies for sudden storms
or the ground for tracks.
They must have missed those left behind.
Did they marvel at sweeping vistas,
unending pine forests, or stare up at the stars?
They must have worried about the miles ahead,
signs of an early winter, an unhealed cut,
frozen fingers and toes.
They might have wintered over at a trading post,
hunkered by the fire, trading stories, gambling,
passing a bottle. But when the snow melted,
they would lurch outside,
sniff the air in all directions,
eager to leave.
I still get the itch to hit the road in the summer, to throw the tent in the trunk and all that camping gear, to hike along a trail anywhere close to wilderness.
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|Mystery bird at Yellowstone (Camp)|
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