Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction.Unknown
Well, a winner, anyway. A winner of a particular category, and frankly, I’ll take what I can get! “Sierra Cowboy” came in First Place in Equestrian for the 2020 Pacific Crest Trail Association Photo Contest. Hooray!
What a day that was when I snapped that pic. The PCT veers to the left at beautiful Thousand Island Lake splitting off from the John Muir Trail which continues straight. I hiked the JMT eight years before, so was happy to try out this detour and walk the designated PCT route. But several hikers seemed biased against it, so when the trail stayed in the woods, dipping steeply up and down, I wondered if I’d made a poor decision.
But soon, I climbed out of the woods onto an exposed ridge that looked across a deep valley, the JMT far below. The views from my perch were astounding, the snow-capped “Range of Light” directly to my right. I was all alone up there, soaking it in and singing in the sunshine, knowing that in a few days, a cold front would move through and likely bring snow (which it did, plus bracing cold)
As I crested the ridge and began to see down towards my destination below where the trails meet up again, a cowboy slowly approached me, kicking up dust which settled on sagebrush lining the trail. He’d likely just delivered his charges and was leading the horse train back to Red Meadows Resort.
“Howdy!” I exclaimed to his tip of the hat. “You look straight out of central casting,” bringing a quizzical look as he pressed past my scrawny self far up and off the trail where the horses could see me but no hoof could reach me.
As they strode off, their line created a perfect foil to the grandeur of the mountains, like a beginner’s class in painting perspective. His Stetson was small at the top of the frame, the final horse’s considerable rump, wobbly and unwieldy despite its obviously cared for sheen.
I am deeply grateful to the Pacific Crest Trail Association for their dedicated work keeping hikers safe and maintaining the trail, as well as for their devotion to preserving wilderness for future generations. I am incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to walk the trail from end-to-end when I did. This season, due to Covid19, the PCT Association is asking hikers to postpone or cancel their hiking plans.
Please do stay home right now, but, if you can, take solo walks in your own backyard. This difficult time will eventually pass and the mountains will still be there when we get to the other side. As always, I’d love to hear from you. Keep me posted on where you’re walking and what you see. ~alison
You can see all the winners in this year’s PCTA Photo Contest in a nifty slideshow by clicking here.