We rode on, up the trail winding in and out of aspen groves and deep green pines. Our mounts both had a spring in their step, as if they too needed a venture out of their normal environment. Ears perked up whenever one of us slipped a cinnamon candy out of a cellophane wrapper that crinkled as we stuffed it into a pocket. I thought about what she’d ask when we stopped by the little lake to eat our PBJs, Cheezits, and candy bars.
But I wasn’t in a place for that conversation yet. I wanted to simply take in the bright blue skies, a few drifting puffy clouds, that smell of fall that is all brown leaves and chill and earth. I wanted that feeling I always get when I ride, those powerful muscles moving over the deep soul of the planet, giving me depth and strength and the space just to be.
She would see that in my stance, on my face, in the quiet that followed behind her on this mountain path. We turned on the last switchback and time stopped. The horses stilled and standing there, our knees inches apart, we drank in the circle of snow-capped peaks before us. I forgot how to breathe.