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The Coast Ranges
by [?]

At last, on the day appointed, we, with five horses, climbed the Cold Spring Trail to the ridge; and then, instead of turning to the left, we plunged down the zigzag lacets of the other side. That night we camped at Mono Canon, feeling ourselves strangely an integral part of the relief map we had looked upon so many times that almost we had come to consider its features as in miniature, not capacious for the accommodation of life-sized men. Here we remained a day while we rode the hills in search of Dinkey and Jenny, there pastured.

We found Jenny peaceful and inclined to be corralled. But Dinkey, followed by a slavishly adoring brindle mule, declined to be rounded up. We chased her up hill and down; along creek-beds and through the spiky chaparral. Always she dodged craftily, warily, with forethought. Always the brindled mule, wrapt in admiration at his companion’s cleverness, crashed along after. Finally we teased her into a narrow canon. Wes and the Tenderfoot closed the upper end. I attempted to slip by to the lower, but was discovered. Dinkey tore a frantic mile down the side hill. Bullet, his nostrils wide, his ears back, raced parallel in the boulder-strewn stream-bed, wonderful in his avoidance of bad footing, precious in his selection of good, interested in the game, indignant at the wayward Dinkey, profoundly contemptuous of the besotted mule. At a bend in the canon interposed a steep bank. Up this we scrambled, dirt and stones flying. I had just time to bend low along the saddle when, with the ripping and tearing and scratching of thorns, we burst blindly through a thicket. In the open space on the farther side Bullet stopped, panting but triumphant. Dinkey, surrounded at last, turned back toward camp with an air of utmost indifference. The mule dropped his long ears and followed.

At camp we corralled Dinkey, but left her friend to shift for himself. Then was lifted up his voice in mulish lamentations until, cursing, we had to ride out bareback and drive him far into the hills and there stone him into distant fear. Even as we departed up the trail the following day the voice of his sorrow, diminishing like the echo of grief, appealed uselessly to Dinkey’s sympathy. For Dinkey, once captured, seemed to have shrugged her shoulders and accepted inevitable toil with a real though cynical philosophy.

The trail rose gradually by imperceptible gradations and occasional climbs. We journeyed in the great canons. High chaparral flanked the trail, occasional wide gray stretches of “old man” filled the air with its pungent odor and with the calls of its quail. The crannies of the rocks, the stretches of wide loose shale, the crumbling bottom earth offered to the eye the dessicated beauties of creamy yucca, of yerba buena, of the gaudy red paint-brushes, the Spanish bayonet; and to the nostrils the hot dry perfumes of the semi-arid lands. The air was tepid; the sun hot. A sing-song of bees and locusts and strange insects lulled the mind. The ponies plodded on cheerfully. We expanded and basked and slung our legs over the pommels of our saddles and were glad we had come.

At no time did we seem to be climbing mountains. Rather we wound in and out, round and about, through a labyrinth of valleys and canons and ravines, farther and farther into a mysterious shut-in country that seemed to have no end. Once in a while, to be sure, we zigzagged up a trifling ascent; but it was nothing. And then at a certain point the Tenderfoot happened to look back.

“Well!” he gasped; “will you look at that!”

We turned. Through a long straight aisle which chance had placed just there, we saw far in the distance a sheer slate-colored wall; and beyond, still farther in the distance, overtopping the slate-colored wall by a narrow strip, another wall of light azure blue.