|The "Running W" brand of Pine Creek Ranch|
Journal for Saturday, 5/13/17
In which we enter a 200 year-old world of ranching and cowboys.
We enjoyed a delightful sleep in, cozy after a cool night of bright stars in the Belmont Campground, followed by coffee time and catching up the journal. After breakfast and with Eric at the wheel we drove sedately through Belmont, where we stopped briefly to say hello to Henry who was helping to set up a horseshoe tournament, thank him again for the courthouse tour, and tell him that we had been invited by Ray and Jason to attend a branding at Pine Creek Ranch. Then on over the low pass, where we had trudged a mile and a half yesterday under the threat of rain hoping for help with our flat tire, not only receiving it graciously but an invite to the branding at Pine Creek Ranch as well. Clear blue skies made the orange brick of the Combination Mill stack stand out against the sky and contrast with the purples of the vast valley.
|The approach to Pine Creek Ranch past snowmelt from the Toquima Range.|
|The ranch house at Pine Creek|
All of this took place with the background of the Toquima Range, the long long vistas of Monitor Valley, and … but wait, my son Eric has produced a piece of writing as part of a note to a friend that expresses the ambiance of the event far beyond my powers:
The days and experiences of this adventure with my father have been truly good. This time together and the way the world has opened to us have created something that will stay in us until we each die. Yesterday, for example, we spent hours at a ranch on the edge of a tremendously long valley sided by snow capped mountains and carpeted with sage brush and cattle meadows fed by the surging runoff of melting snow. The sky was endlessly blue and clear and the air had a bite to it that left my cheeks red and reminded me how tropical my blood is. We'd been invited out to Pine Creek Ranch by the cowboys who'd fixed our flat the day before. It was branding day and we both watched and photographed somewhat transfixed in this world of confident, friendly, sturdy handed outdoorsmen wearing worn Carhart jackets and beat leather boots with pretty horses... and the crazy, jumbled work of lining up cattle to brand and ear snip. The animals bellowed and bucked, hammered against the fences and each other with heaving breath , the air smelled of woodsmoke from the branding iron fire and sizzled hair from the branding proper. And as they worked in that big open landscape, or spoke to me with an ease and openness akin to that l
|Ray prepares to wield a branding iron, which has been|
heated in the wood fire in the wheelbarrow.
== Eric Mindling, May 13, 2017
|Conner sat his horse just out of the way of the turmoil of the roundup with the patience of an adult. I'd observed his outfit the day before of straw hat, long-sleeved shirt, and jeans, and adopted it as best I could for the event at Pine Creek.|