Horse-Trail, High Sierra
Riding horses in the High Sierra, we take
trails threaded through hulking conifers,
bypass a Maidu/Washo ceremonial hill
covered with black gravel. Breezes off
Gold Lake wrangle scents of wildflowers,
thick aroma of skunk-cabbage, corn-lily,
and mountain misery. The horses snort
thin air. There's sign of bear.
Lightning felled a tree not long ago.
Now new thunder-clouds amass explosive,
creamy ambition over blue distant peaks,
east. Alpine meadows seem closer to
Paradise than most places, at least
in this easy summer's ride. The
sun-scalded cowgirl from Portola
leading the way shifts on the saddle
and hollers unsentimentally, "This
tree you're passing's over 300 years old."