This spot is only about half a mile down the trail. Of course you’ve seen this view before. It’s always different, though, and alters my consciousness every time. The air on Saturday was so clean and cool (about 16°C/60°F), it burned my throat. We went three miles, and that was plenty—funny how it sometimes is and sometimes isn’t. But we were pumped for hours afterwards. Just knowing that you did the thing can make you come alive and whoop.
What in the name of all that’s holy is that? The sound outside our bedroom window woke me up at 4:00 a.m. on Thursday night, the same loud bark-bark-moan, half a dozen times. An animal? A lunatic? An entity spawned from bloody karma on this ancient hill where arrowheads and spears pierced human flesh? The “barks” were gruff and hoarse, as if from someone who thought he were a dog, the moan that followed like an uninflected bellow:
I slipped quickly out of bed and grabbed my flashlight, careful not to turn it on unless I saw some movement in the waning moonlight, lest whatever or whoever it was become aroused and end up pounding on the door or worse. But there was nothing to be seen. Last night it happened again, two hours after midnight. More than anything else, I thought it sounded human, maybe twenty feet away, but I saw nothing in the gloom.
A bear? A barking cow?
Every word of this is true. I wonder if we have a ghost.
This is the context shot for the herd of bighorn sheep referred to in the previous post. I don’t know how high the top of that cliff is in the background, but 800-900 feet might cover it. Too high to jump off and play tricks, anyway. (Lord have mercy!) The Rio Grande itself flows right to left in this view, just beyond the light reddish brown vegetation behind the bighorns.
This picture is not a telephoto shot. The bighorn ram was six feet from my open driver’s side window, so I whipped out my iPhone 6s Plus and let him have it. The encounter was thrilling. We usually see them on the opposite side of whichever gorge we’re hiking. For me, at least, being this close is simply unheard of. I thought he was going to stick his head in the window. This looks like a diorama with a stuffed sheep, but it’s not.
It all started with the magic energy field generated by a visit to an artist in the canyon. Even before dropping down a thousand feet to Embudo, we hit a dimensional shift. The air was more transparent. The colors of the sky and landscape seemed more saturated, and it felt as if the underlying rocks were wide awake.
After that, completely on a whim because the turn was dead ahead, I aimed us for Pilar to drive along the Rio Grande. We often make that route a special trip and crawl along in second gear to look for ducks and geese and eagles. This time, though, there were no birds at first, but the water was extraordinary in its clarity and color. Even from fifty feet above, we could see dark green patches I knew were underwater plants on the lee side of the bends. I had to pull off twice, just to get a little closer. The second time is when I shot the video (be sure to set the player to the highest resolution).
Farther down the road, we came around a curve and ran into a miracle. What’s that fellow looking at, I wondered, slowing down to see, when all at once I realized we were surrounded by a herd of bighorn sheep (both sexes), grazing right beside the road!—blocking the road, for that matter, about thirty of them in all. I sat and stared and swore and took some iPhone shots. A huge ram lay down in the dirt along the shoulder, twenty feet in front of the car. What an amazing, mind-blowing thrill. It was like they didn’t care a thing about us. In eighteen years here and many round trips up and down that road, neither of us has seen anything like it. I’ll put up some pictures in the next few posts.