Gus was my horse that day--"a known eater," said the wrangler, a cowgirl from Portola.
Horses and us--we picked our way through heavy timber, sunlight shafting through to illumine ferns nourished by springs.
From a clearing, we saw mountains higher than the mountain we here on. Horse-tails swished. Sweet odor of horse manure sometimes wafted. Then there: the painfully blue lake, exquisite and real.
Gus liked to sop and nip red heads of Indian paintbrush wildflowers; chew; snort. I let him eat, wasn't supposed to.
It was summer, we were riding a loop, and Gus had a sense of how pointless it all was. Alpine breezes pushed off the lake. I nudged Gus forward, past wildflowers down the the rocky, dusty, dry trail.