Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Sky So Overwhelmed Me

The sky so overwhelmed me.

Deep in the mountains of southern Wyoming, we held strange horses still for a photograph. Since it was late in the spring, the five-month old snow still held.

But just barely.

The snow was wet. The deep we rode into the country, our guide worried about possible icing--potential trouble for the horses in the steeper landscape. Clumps of snow stuck to the hooves and the stiff wind felt heavy, damp, and cold. At its strongest, the gusts stung my lungs if I inhaled too much, too quickly.

The horses were impatient and did not like stopping for pictures. Our group was three times the size that made it into this photograph--the others had hurried on ahead.

Soon after pictures, we found ourselves in snow that almost reached the knees of the horses. Their muscles fired and showed me just how weak and frail humans out.

Africa working to find more trustworthy footing revealed a detail I missed for the past hour--no paths exist beneath the wide high sky of Wyoming. The sky was all around me. It wrapped up in a virgin blue and seemed the curl beneath us as the land undulated and cupped away from us into the horizon.

I rode a black horse named Africa.

For long stretches our guide led us up and downhill over millions of broken fragments of granite. It was as if the mountains were eroding for a million years down into the basins, and had a million more to go. When Africa ascended to flatter land, he was a part of the landscape.

He could run and find his way. I was the stranger--out of place---a vistor. Nothing could make me feel more like an intruder than sitting on the back of that horse in that place.

Even though the slopes and lines of the horizon were gentle and wide, some of the natural routes the horses wanted to take, brought us to icy patched. Directed to steeper alternatives, the horses never faltered.

The guide directed up to lay back when the horses took us down a steep slope, and lean far forward  as they gallop and surged uphill. When it felt as if I were reclining so far back that I would tumble feet over head, my nerves seized and throbbed when I forgot to stop thinking and fell into the cruel fear only generated by thought. Going uphill revealed nothing but sky...I saw nothing but deep blue.


When Africa lurched downhill...incredibly, I still saw sky. It absorbed us no matter where we rode.

The sky so overwhelmed me.

1 comment:

  1. I know it's Montana that has the nickname, "Big Sky Country," but your post makes clear that Wyoming has a claim on that title, too! Your experience sounds amazing!