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Lost and Found in the Big Lost River Valley

July 9, 2011

It had all the makings of a perfect day.  After coffee and breakfast on deck, basking in the brilliant sunlight, our horses munching breakfast within view, we did our chores and prepared for fun.  I was going on my first solo ride on Two Feathers and Tim was heading for a paddle on Mackay reservoir. Our strategy for separating our two horses, joined in their herd of two as if life depended on it, was sound.  I saddled Two Feathers within sight of Sonata and then Tim took his horse to the round pen as I was riding off toward the gate.  The quarter-mile to our gate was an exciting time, but Two Feathers kept it together with only one long song in response to her sister’s cry.  I was able to focus her enough to manage the gate latch while mounted.  My goal was to trot around the butte and Two Feathers was ready.  She was more forward than I had experienced to date, just what I want in a horse.  We made our way through the creeks without incident and headed up the other side.  Two Feathers showed the desire to break into a run, so I agreed.  We had a little bucking fest that ended well, but that kept us at a trot for the duration.  As our house came into view, I expected to see dust rising from Sonata’s running in fits.  I could see that Tim and Sonata were still in the round pen.  It turns out that their session lasted the entire time I was gone and Tim was able to command Sonata’s full attention and get her to walk in a relaxed manner.  Very cool.  Next, Tim went off to paddle while I finally broke out Pacheco Falls and began to work.

The remainder of the day went the same.  The afternoon sky filled with big puffy clouds that promised cool weather for an evening run.  Tim took off up the mountain on his bike while I warmed up for my run.  I called my little dog and off we went.  Zephyr was not as enthusiastic about the late run as I, but she followed along, albeit at a distance back.  I kept her in sight until I turned off into the backcountry, making sure she made the turn too.  Usually, by the time I surmount the first rise, she passes me on important canine business.  Not this time.  She was nowhere in sight.  I waited and called, but no little doggie.  I assumed she decided to go home, and since I was only running a few miles, I continued.  Five minutes later, Tim came riding up in front of me.  I told him that Zephyr turned back and he headed off to find her.  When I returned to the brink of our property, Tim was out searching.  Zephyr was nowhere to be seen.  Night was coming on and we hoped the coyotes wouldn’t find her.  After a wait that seemed too long, Tim rode back up Rock Creek to look for her.  I stayed home to wait.  An hour went by.  I paced.  Then I saw movement and there she was, making her way up our driveway, tongue hanging.  She was soaking wet, so I knew she had spent some time laying down in the creek.  That may have saved her life, because for the next 10 hours we didn’t know if she was going to make it.

The next day, we had planned to go to Sun Valley to shop (we hadn’t been to the store in 2 weeks), but we shelved the plan and called the vet first thing in the morning.  Soon Zephyr began to keep water down and within a few more hours, she was sleeping deeply and peacefully.  She woke hungry and thirsty and we knew she had pulled through.  We left for Sun Valley four hours later, convinced that an afternoon of rest in a cool house was what she needed most.

We drove the unpaved road over the mountain and descended into the alternate world of Sun Valley with two lists, an enormous ice chest for our perishables and a spare gas can to bring home. We found parking among the throngs of cars and walked toward ice coffee.  After fulfilling our shopping mission, we left civilization behind and navigated back over the mountain.  Our dog greeted us with sleep in her eyes.  Summer days in Idaho are a beautiful thing.  It was about 8:30 pm and I still had time for an evening walk.  Zephyr was ready to come with, so the two of us walked around our property, orange and pink clouds bursting behind mountain ranges all around us, the sliver moon setting to the west, our horses munching in their pasture, the only sounds, the raging Big Lost River, the creek along our property line and the breeze rustling the quaking aspens.  Once again, I was overcome with a keen sense of belonging, of knowing how right this all is.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 9, 2011 4:55 am

    Had Zepher been sick or lost or hiding or what?

    • July 9, 2011 5:15 pm

      All of the above Ellen. She got lost, then got sick from dehydration and then tried to run off and hide because she was disoriented. She is all better now!

  2. Eva permalink
    July 11, 2011 10:42 pm

    So glad to hear Ol Granny is okay! And having more progress with your horsies.

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