ing horse flies with their tails until Irnsprayed them down with a strong repellent.rnThe gelding carried the big pack,rnthe bedroll tied into the saddle stringsrnahead of the pommel, and myself; thernmare had only the water canteens andrnthe day pack with the medical kit overrnthe horn. Wc rode out half an hour laterrnat a slow trot, ponying the mare on a leadrnI held with my gloved hand.rnIt was cooler in the forest though stillrnwarm, and at the first water we camernto the horses refused a drink. But theyrndrank at the next crossing, where wernturned north and began the climb diagonallyrnacross the east slope of Mount Darbyrnabove the North Fork of South PinevrnCreek. Across the steep canyon the parksrnshowed brilliant green and along therntrail the columbine was still in bloom,rnthough the lupin was fading. I sat relaxedrnin the saddle, letting my hips swayrnwith the movement of the horse andrnhearing the hollowish thud of hooves onrnthe trail, interrupted occasionally by thernmarc scrambling behind us to keep up.rnTlirough the screen of the trees I caughtrna glimpse of a great bird, most likely anrneagle, sweeping down canyon on leveledrnwings. Where the trail steepened andrnswung left against the watershed wernclimbed above the lodgepole forests andrnascended among the huge limber pinesrnbeginning at around 9,600 feet, widespacedrnmonsters with trunks several feetrnin diameter admitting a hazy sunshinernthat slanted between them and glowedrnin the thin grass growing from the forestrnfloor. We broke into the first of the highestrnparks enclosed by curving battlementsrnof pink rock and rode on along thernbase of the cliff until we came to a partialrnamphitheater resembling half a volcanicrncrater with a forested cone rising at therncenter. Patches of snow remained on therntalused walls below a four-point bull elkrnand four cows who watched from the escarpmentrn700 feet above as we ascendedrnthe cone to make camp within the whitebarkrnpine scrub that covered it. The momentrnI dismounted they turned andrndropped behind the crest of the ridge.rnMy fire ring after four years was undisturbedrnin the shade of a white-bark pinerncurving outward in five separate trunksrnfrom the base. I unloaded the horses besidernit and picketed them before I spreadrnthe groundcloth on the grassy slope amidrntiny alpine grasshoppers jumping in thernwarm sun, and erected the tent above it.rnBy walking a few steps away from camp 1rncould look down Fish Creek drainage tornthe Green River Basin, and across thernplain to the Wind River Range 80 or 90rnmiles to the east. I placed one of the saddlesrnover a low branch, spread the blanketsrnto dry in the sun, and set the otherrnsaddle upright on the pommel. Whilernthe horses grazed I sat propped againstrnthe saddletree, surrounded by lupin,rnblue forget-me-nots, cinquefoil, and thernlarge fleshy green gentians, reading thernEnglish explorer Wilfred Thesiger’s ArabianrnSands, an account of his travels byrncamelback in the Empty Quarter ofrnsouthern Arabia in the late 1940’s.rnWhen my friend Steve Bodio of NewrnMexico recently proposed to his publisherrnthat he write a book about falconers inrnMongolia, the editor patiently explainedrnto him that travel books are “passe.” Perhapsrnshe was right, since the literature ofrntravel is in some ways the richest in thernWestern literary tradition for its devotionrnto reality, something in which the modernrnreading public has scant interest. Indeed,rntravel itself is passe. For Thesiger,rna heroic man and a fine writer, now 85rnyears of age, his explorations were personalrnventures. Of the Empty Quarterrnhe says, “1 went there to find peace in thernhardship of desert travel and tlie companyrnof desert peoples.” Despising machinesrnand the Western concept ofrnprogress, feeling himself an exile duringrnhis stays in England, he nevertheless appreciatedrnthe danger of falling betweenrntwo wodds, alienated from his own peoplernwhile remaining unable ever to becomernone of the Bedu or the Abyssiniansrnwhose way of life he so admires. Whilernthe camp robbers squawked and flewrndown to peek at the pack stretched onrnthe ground, I read the poignant descriptionrnof his encounter at the well at Manwakhrnwith a lovely Arab girl wearing herrnhair in braids over her shoulders and arnblue tunic open at the neck to expose herrnbreasts. “She was very fair,” Thesigerrnsays. Condemned by the life of hisrnchoice to bachelodiood, elsewhere in hisrnwork he appears uninterested in femalerncompanionship. Putting aside his book, Irnwent with a pan to seoop snow from arncompacting drift for my solitary eveningrntoddy.rnI did not make use of the tent butrnslept again under the stars after watchingrnthe moon come up and whiten the surroundingrncliffs. We were on our way byrnten the next morning over Cheese Pass.rnThe trail, which from a distance appearsrnto be slipping off the cliff face, in realityrnis secure enough: 1 led the mare on footrnand let the gelding, who does not leadrnso well on the steeps, follow us. Wernreached the saddle, elevation 10,440, afterrna climb of 660 vertical feet. I mountedrnthe gelding, took the mare in handrnagain, and followed the switchbacksrndown the more gentle, wooded westernrnaspect of the ridge. Near the bottom wernfound a spring rising among moss andrnelephant head, where I dismounted tornfill the canteens before riding north,rndownhill into the forested hole where thernEast Fork of the Greys River heads. Thernclimb out of the bottom was steeprnenough that I was forced to get downrnand lead once more, but when I mountedrnagain we were traversing the greatrnalpine meadow tilting west toward thernGreys River Valley. We climbed on therndiagonal across thin grass growing overrnfresh elk droppings and fractured shalernon which the winded horses stumbledrnoccasionally. I paused long enough to letrnthem blow before ascending a red pulverizingrnknob above a snow cornicernmarked 10,460 on the topographic map.rnThe knowledge of what lies beyond thisrnknob is never sufficient to lessen the impactrnof the view, as Bald Mountain andrnWyoming Peak come suddenly intornsight, their twin peaks rising from massivernpedestals in huge red trianglesrnstreaked with snow against an ultravioletrnsky. 1 rode on across the meadow feelingrnthe horse tipped sideways by the terrihernwind, until we reached a reading ofrn10,920 on the map. Here I dismountedrnand let the horses crop the grass while,rnstanding amid alpine forget-me-not,rnpipestemmon, larkspur, Indian paintbrush,rnblue flax, and eruptions of purplernlupin, I gazed about a horizon extendingrn360 degrees. Beneath my feet MiddlernPiney Lake lay inset in a furrow of rockrn2,000 feet below. Utah, Idaho, Wyoming,rnColorado; Wasatch, Gros Ventres,rnWind River, and Uinta Mountains; thernSalt River Range. “Gilead as far as Dan,rnall Naphtali, the land of Ephraim andrnManasseh, all the land of Judah as far asrnthe Western Sea, the Negeb, and thernstretch of the valley of Jericho, city ofrnpalm trees, as far as Zoar.” There is solitude,rneven loneliness, in the wilderness.rnBut only from wilderness do you everrngain a view of the promised land. I stoodrnfor several minutes feeling the sun burnrnmy face and the hard wind chafe it.rnThen I remounted and started back thernway we had come. From this place, therernwas nowhere to go but down.rn50/CHRONICLESrnrnrn