ted into the thin topsoil. No sign of thernsheepherder riding him, either.rn”What’s wrong with Larki?” I asked,rnturning in the saddle.rn”She won’t move.”rn”Wliat do you mean, won’t move?”rn”You’re looking at what I mean, aren’trnyou?”rnOnly dudes and amateurs ever strike arnhorse. Fortunately, there are other formsrnof discipline available to the seasonedrnhorseman. When a couple of these hadrnbeen employed, we rode on at a trot overrnthe summit and dropped down into thernshelter of the timber below, where therntrail turned south and continued onrnacross the face of the mountain, contouringrnthrough thick forest in the directionrnof Ross Meadow, only two miles distantrnaccording to the topo map.rnRoss Meadow, with its pond of tea-coloredrnwater in which leaf molds and variousrnother ingredients float (and swim), inrnthis season of drought was the onlyrnsource of water we’d seen since WhiskeyrnCreek expired two thirds of the way uprnthe other side of the mountain. Ofrncourse, we had a large supply of JimrnBeam along, but still not enough to sharernwith the horses. Ross Meadow, therefore,rnwas camp. We unloaded and picketedrnthe animals, assembled the gas stove, andrnwent to the pond for water. It was not, inrnfact, Evian, but we planned on boiling itrn15 minutes to kill the Giardia parasite,rnand old Jim is famous for covering a multitudernof sins when he has to. The firstrngas canister expired before we’d finishedrnsterilizing the first bucket, so we ate arncold supper in the interests of conservation,rnstretched our bedrolls under a tree,rnand fell asleep early, half drunk on Beamrnand starshine.rnAfter breakfast next morning, wernsnubbed the horses close to a couple ofrnpine trees and set out on foot for RossrnLake, two miles out and 1,500 verticalrnfeet below camp. The day was overcast,rnso we brought along raia gear in thernevent of a miracle called rain; also lunch,rnthe bottle of Jim Beam, matches, maps, etrncetera, tucked inside my daypack.rnAt the top of the switchbacks droppingrn500 feet in an eighth of a mile, we pausedrnto admire the lake stretched in a graniticrntrench beneath glaciers hanging from thernContinental Divide, then started the descent.rnThe trail, difficult enough on foot,rnwas a horseman’s nightmare: Scatteredrnhorse apples at intervals suggested the lastrnhorse to attempt the rockfalls and graniternslides felt the same way. I worked my wayrndown cautiously and proceeded aheadrnon level ground a few hundred yards beforernhalting in a drizzle of rain to pull thernponcho from the daypack and draw itrnover my head. Norma was out of sightrnbehind me; still negotiating the switchbacks,rnI supposed. I started forwardrnagain, then stopped. Hiking is supposedrnto be a companionable affair, and myrncompanion couldn’t be more than 30 orrn40 seconds behind. I waited a minute—rntwo minutes, three—before retracing myrnsteps to the switchbacks, watching thernground for footprints among my own,rnvaguely apprehensive. When I reachedrnthe base of the cliff and started up the firstrnswitchback, I knew we had a problem.rnHeart attack? A blow to the head from arnfall? Standing in the trail, I turned outwardrnto the depthy wilderness and shouted,rnthrough megaphone hands betweenrnthe trees—”NORMA!”—then waited tornlisten. “NORMA!”rnFar below the trail, a faint voice respondedrnfrom a timbered basin. “I’MrnLOST!” it seemed to say. Or perhaps itrnwas just my imagination. We’d neverrnhad anyone lost from camp before.rnI took a compass reading on the directionrnof the call, and considered. Beyondrnthe point where the trail struck levelrnground it crossed a dome of exposedrngranite, an easy place to lose one’s way.rnFinding no sign I continued on a hundredrnyards, checking and rechecking therncompass, until I came to a cliff falling arnsheer 100 feet to the basin from wherernthe sound had come: an ideal broadcastingrnstation. I called again, then drew thern.41 magnum from under the poncho andrnfired a shot in the air. As the echoes diedrnaway among the peaks, the cry camernonce more, closer this time and clearer:rn”KEEP TALKING!”rnIt took half an hour to call her in,rnthrough heavy timber toward the curvingrnwall of cliff beneath my feet until shernemerged at last, a small figure in a purplernparka picking its way toward the forestrnedge. We spent another 30 minutes findingrna way up for her, and then she wasrnsafe beside me in the drizzle, her breathrncoming hard and water tiickling from thernend of her nose.rn”How did you ever manage to findrnyour way down there?”rn”I don’t know. I knew we had arnchance if you just kept talking and didn’trntry to get down in the woods with me.”rn”I knew better than to do that. If worstrncame to worst, I was going to go back torncamp, take Star, and ride all night tornbring help from town,”rn”I was going to try and find TorreyrnCreek and follow it up to the lake, wherernthere might be someone camped. I wasrnso scared when I realized I was lost! —rnwithout a map, a compass, matches,rnfood.”rn”After this we both carry a pack, everyrntime. My main worry was this rain wouldrnturn to snow and you’d be out all nightrnwithout protection.”rn”I’d have survived, but it wouldn’t havernbeen a pleasant experience.”rnFrom the direction of the trail, a femalernvoice drifted. “Oh,” it said in a singsongrnmanner, “I hear people speaking!”rnA pale, pointy head appeared around arntree before The Wanderer emerged:rnsmall and slim, wearing translucent rainrngear over hiking shorts, the hood drawnrnup over a black baseball cap, and carryingrnan aluminum walking stick in eachrnhand, like ski poles, on her back a packrnnearly as big as she was.rn”I’m sorry about the gimshot,” I toldrnher. “We had someone lost for a while.”rn”I didn’t hear any gun,” the girl said,rnpulling a Power Bar from under the raincoatrnand taking a bite of it, “just the voices.rnI’ve been out 11 days already. If I rationrnmyself, I’ve got enough food to lastrnme another day and a half”rnWe asked what her destination was,rnand she said the Torrey Lake trailhead.rnWhen Norma explained the trail hadrnbeen closed since the previous year onrnaccount of an active mudslide, the girlrnsmiled.rn”If I don’t get down to the car by tomorrowrnnight, they’ll send the helicoptersrnout looking for me.”rnWe reminded her the rain could activaternthe slide and invited her to stay overrnat our camp for the night. She lookedrnpleased to be asked, but shook her head.rn”I half expected to be burned up in arnforest fire anyway, so I guess I’ll go aheadrnand risk getting buried in mud instead. Ifrnyou see my green Dodge Duster in thernparking area when you come out, yournmight give the Forest Service a tip wherernto look for my body. If they feel they havernto have it.”rnShe accepted a handful of the gorprnNorma offered her, showed us her will-o’-rnthe-wisp smile, and moved off into thernforest, her muscled brown calves pumpingrnbeneath the hem of her raincoat.rn”Well,” Norma said, “we started offrnthis morning to see the lake.”rn”Sure,” I agreed. “Let’s go on downrnthere now, and see it.” crn50/CHRONICLESrnrnrn