Handsome landscapes spill in every direction. Sage and juniper burgeon among boulders. Rivers rollick and then meander. Dirt roads dust the view. Jackleg fences enclose nothing but empty. Plateaus grip tightly to disappearing snow fields. And in a high elevation duel, the Pioneer Mountains shoulder the Pintlers to the background.
I breathe the broadness of it all, and I smile.
We’ve come to the Big Hole area, husband, mutts and me, to putter about and do lots of nothing. In tiny Melrose, we’ve rented a Lab-friendly cabin with a propane furnace we will certainly use, even though it’s mid-May.
The sun is sparkling but the wind is blowing like a whore. Looks can be deceiving; it’s downright cold outside.
In the early morning, we crawl up and into the hills along Canyon Creek road, a bumpy gravel path that escorts us through ranchland and into timber. It’s rugged country, with rocks and boulders and sheer escarpments roaring upward from the ground. We clank along, moseying over potholes and around sharp, hairpin turns. We creep slowly, stopping when it seems right. The dogs alternately lope ahead of the vehicle, and then re-board to ride as cargo – heads hanging out of windows, tongues dripping.
At an elevation of 8000 feet, we break through the trees and into the Vipond, a vast, empty and high plateau stretching, in a grand gesture, to all directions. The Labs, sensing the expanse of open land unrestricted by fences, gallop like wild ponies, running far into the distance before making wide arcs and returning to us. Not because they must, but rather because they wish.
The wild is in their eyes, and we smile.
Oh, that all dogs could feel such joy.