Wild Life on the Rockies
by Enos A. Mills
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At timber-line the trees have a hard time of it. All of them at this place are dwarfed, many distorted, some crushed to the earth, flattened out upon the ground like pressed flowers, by the snowdrifts that have so long lain upon them. The winter winds at this place blow almost constantly from the same quarter for days at a time, and often attain a high velocity. The effect of these winds is strikingly shown by the trees. None of the trees are tall, and most of them are leaning, pushed partly over by the wind. Some are sprawled on the ground like uncouth vines or spread out from the stump like a fan with the onsweeping direction of the storms. Most of the standing, unsheltered trees have limbs only on the leeward quarter, all the other limbs having been blown off by the wind or cut off by the wind-blown gravel. Most of the exposed trees are destitute of bark on the portion of the trunk that faces these winter winds. Some of the dead standing trees are carved into strange totem-poles by the sand-blasts of many fierce storms. With all the trees warped or distorted, the effect of timber-line is weird and strange.

Harriet and I got off the ponies the better to examine some of the storm-beaten trees. Harriet was attracted to a few dwarf spruces that were standing in a drift of recently fallen snow. Although these dwarfed little trees were more than a hundred years old, they were so short that the little mountain-climber who stood by them was taller than they. After stroking one of the trees with her hand, Harriet stood for a time in silence, then out of her warm childish nature she said, "What brave little trees to live up here where they have to stand all the time in the snow!" Timber-line, with its strange tree statuary and treeless snowy peaks and crags rising above it, together with its many kinds of bird and animal life and its flower-fringed snowdrifts, is one of nature's most expressive exhibits, and I wish every one might visit it. At an altitude of about eleven thousand seven hundred feet we came to the last tree. It was ragged, and so small that you could have hidden it beneath a hat. It nestled up to a boulder, and appeared so cold and pitiful that Harriet wanted to know if it was lost. It certainly appeared as if it had been lost for a long, long time.

Among the crags Harriet and I kept sharp watch for mountain sheep, but we did not see any. We were fortunate enough, however, to see a flock of ptarmigan. These birds were huddled in a hole which narrowly escaped being trampled on by Top. They walked quietly away, and we had a good look at them. They were almost white; in winter they are pure white, while in summer they are of a grayish brown. At all times their dress matches the surroundings fairly well, so that they have a protective coloring which makes it difficult for their enemies to see them.

At an altitude of twelve thousand five hundred feet the horses were tied to boulders and left behind. From this place to the top of the peak the way is too rough or precipitous for horses. For a mile Harriet and I went forward over the boulders of an old moraine. The last half-mile was the most difficult of all; the way was steep and broken, and was entirely over rocks, which were covered with a few inches of snow that had fallen during the night.

We climbed slowly; all good climbers go slowly. Harriet also faithfully followed another good mountain rule,—"Look before you step." She did not fall, slip, or stumble while making the climb. Of course we occasionally rested, and whenever we stopped near a flat rock or a level place, we made use of it by lying down on our backs, straightening out arms and legs, relaxing every muscle, and for a time resting as loosely as possible. Just before reaching the top, we made a long climb through the deepest snow that we had encountered. Though the sun was warm, the air, rocks, and snow were cold. Not only was the snow cold to the feet, but climbing through it was tiresome, and at the first convenient place we stopped to rest. Finding a large, smooth rock, we lay down on our backs side by side. We talked for a time and watched an eagle soaring around up in the blue sky. I think Harriet must have recalled a suggestion which I made at timber-line, for without moving she suddenly remarked, "Mr. Mills, my feet are so cold that I can't tell whether my toes are wiggling or not."

Five hours after starting, Harriet stepped upon the top, the youngest climber to scale Long's Peak. The top is fourteen thousand two hundred and fifty-nine feet above the sea, is almost level, and, though rough, is roomy enough for a baseball game. Of course if the ball went over the edge, it would tumble a mile or so before stopping. With the top so large, you will realize that the base measures miles across. The upper three thousand feet of the peak is but a gigantic mass, almost destitute of soil or vegetation. Some of the rocks are flecked and spotted with lichens, and a few patches of moss and straggling, beautiful alpine flowers can be found during August. There is but little chance for snow to lodge, and for nearly three thousand feet the peak rises a bald, broken, impressive stone tower.

While Harriet and I were eating luncheon, a ground-hog that I had fed on other visits came out to see if there was anything for him. Some sparrows also lighted near; they looked hungry, so we left some bread for them and then climbed upon the "tip-top," where our picture was taken.

From the tip-top we could see more than a hundred miles toward any point of the compass. West of us we saw several streams that were flowing away toward the Pacific; east of us the streams flowed to the Atlantic. I told Harriet that the many small streams we saw all grew larger as they neared the sea. Harriet lived at the "big" end of the Arkansas River. She suddenly wanted to know if I could show her the "little end of the Arkansas River."

After an hour on top we started downward and homeward, the little mountain-climber feeling happy and lively. But she was careful, and only once during the day did she slip, and this slip was hardly her fault: we were coming off an enormous smooth boulder that was wet from the new snow that was melting, when both Harriet's feet shot from under her and she fell, laughing, into my arms.

"Hello, Top, I am glad to see you," said Harriet when we came to the horses. While riding homeward I told Harriet that I had often climbed the peak by moonlight. On the way down she said good-bye to the little trees at timber-line, the squirrels, and the ouzel. When I at last lifted Harriet off old Top at the cabin, many people came out to greet her. To all she said, "Yes, I'm tired, but some time I want to go up by moonlight."

Midget, the Return Horse

In many of the Western mining-towns, the liverymen keep "return horses,"—horses that will return to the barn when set at liberty, whether near the barn or twenty miles away. These horses are the pick of their kind. They have brains enough to take training readily, and also to make plans of their own and get on despite the unexpected hindrances that sometimes occur. When a return horse is ridden to a neighboring town, he must know enough to find his way back, and he must also be so well trained that he will not converse too long with the horse he meets going in the opposite direction.

The return horse is a result of the necessities of mountain sections, especially the needs of miners. Most Western mining-towns are located upon a flat or in a gulch. The mines are rarely near the town, but are on the mountain-slopes above it. Out of town go a dozen roads or trails that extend to the mines, from one to five miles away, and much higher than the town. A miner does not mind walking down to the town, but he wants to ride back; or the prospector comes in and wants to take back a few supplies. The miner hires a return horse, rides it to the mine, and then turns the horse loose. It at once starts to return to the barn. If a horse meets a freight wagon coming up, it must hunt for a turnout if the road is narrow, and give the wagon the right of way. If the horse meets some one walking up, it must avoid being caught.

The San Juan mining section of southwestern Colorado has hundreds of these horses. Most of the mines are from one thousand to three thousand feet above the main supply-points, Ouray, Telluride, and Silverton. Ouray and Telluride are not far apart by trail, but they are separated by a rugged range that rises more than three thousand feet above them. Men often go by trail from one of these towns to the other, and in so doing usually ride a return horse to the top of the range, then walk down the other side.

"Be sure to turn Jim loose before you reach the summit; he won't come back if you ride him even a short distance on the other side," called a Telluride liveryman to me as I rode out of his barn. It seems that the most faithful return horse may not come back if ridden far down the slope away from home, but may stray down it rather than climb again to the summit to return home. The rider is warned also to "fasten up the reins and see that the cinches are tight" when he turns the horse loose. If the cinches are loose, the saddle may turn when the horse rolls; or if the reins are down, the horse may graze for hours. Either loose reins or loose cinches may cripple a horse by entangling his feet, or by catching on a snag in the woods. Once loose, the horse generally starts off home on a trot. But he is not always faithful. When a number of these horses are together, they will occasionally play too long on the way. A great liking for grass sometimes tempts them into a ditch, where they may eat grass even though the reins are up.

The lot of a return horse is generally a hard one. A usurper occasionally catches a horse and rides him far away. Then, too often, his owner blames him for the delay, and for a time gives him only half-feed to "teach him not to fool along." Generally the return horse must also be a good snow horse, able to flounder and willing to make his way through deep drifts. He may be thirsty on a warm day, but he must go all the way home before having a drink. Often, in winter, he is turned loose at night on some bleak height to go back over a lonely trail, a task which he does not like. Horses, like most animals and like man, are not at ease when alone. A fallen tree across the trail or deepened snow sometimes makes the horse's return journey a hard one. On rare occasions, cinch or bridle gets caught on a snag or around his legs, and cripples him or entangles him so that he falls a victim to the unpitying mountain lion or some other carnivorous animal.

I have never met a return horse without stopping to watch it as far as it could be seen. They always go along with such unconscious confidence and quiet alertness that they are a delight to behold. Many good days I have had in their company, and on more than one occasion their alertness, skill, and strength have saved me either from injury or from the clutches of that great white terror the snow-slide.

The February morning that I rode "Midget" out of Alma began what proved to be by far the most delightful association that I have ever had with a return horse, and one of the happiest experiences with nature and a dumb animal that has ever come into my life.

I was in government experiment work as "State Snow Observer," and wanted to make some observations on the summit peaks of the "Twelve-Mile" and other ranges. Midget was to carry me far up the side of these mountains to the summit of Hoosier Pass. A heavy snow had fallen a few days before I started out. The wind had drifted most of this out of the open and piled it deeply in the woods and gulches. Midget galloped merrily away over the wind-swept ground. We came to a gulch, I know not how deep, that was filled with snow, and here I began to appreciate Midget. Across this gulch it was necessary for us to go. The snow was so deep and so soft that I dismounted and put on my snowshoes and started to lead Midget across. She followed willingly. After a few steps, a flounder and a snort caused me to look back, and all I could see of Midget was her two little ears wriggling in the snow. When we reached the other side, Midget came out breathing heavily, and at once shook her head to dislodge the snow from her forehead and her ears. She was impatient to go on, and before I could take off my snowshoes and strap them on my back, she was pawing the ground impatiently, first with one little fore foot and then with the other. I leaped into the saddle and away we went again. We had a very pleasant morning of it.

About eleven o'clock I dismounted to take a picture of the snowy slope of Mt. Silverheels. Evidently Midget had never before seen a kodak. She watched with extraordinary interest the standing of the little three-legged affair upon the ground and the mounting of the small black box upon it. She pointed her ears at it; tilted her head to one side and moved her nose up and down. I moved away from her several feet to take the picture. She eyed the kodak with such intentness that I invited her to come over and have a look at it. She came at once, turning her head and neck to one side to prevent the bridle-reins, which I had thrown upon the ground, from entangling her feet. Once by me, she looked the kodak and tripod over with interest, smelled of them, but was careful not to strike the tripod with her feet or to overturn it and the kodak with her nose. She seemed so interested that I told her all about what I was doing,—what I was taking a picture of, why I was taking it, and how long an exposure I was going to give it; and finally I said to her: "To-morrow, Midget, when you are back in your stall in the barn at Alma, eating oats, I shall be on the other side of Mt. Silverheels, taking pictures there. Do you understand?" She pawed the ground with her right fore foot with such a satisfied look upon her face that I was sure she thought she understood all about it.

From time to time I took other pictures, and after the first experience Midget did not wait to be invited to come over and watch me, but always followed me to every new spot where I set the tripod and kodak down, and on each occasion I talked freely with her, and she seemed to understand and to be much interested.

Shortly after noon, when I was taking a picture, Midget managed to get her nose into my mammoth outside coat-pocket. There she found something to her liking. It was my habit to eat lightly when rambling about the mountains, often eating only once a day, and occasionally going two or three days without food. I had a few friends who were concerned about me, and who were afraid I might some time starve to death. So, partly as a joke and partly in earnest, they would mail me a package of something to eat, whenever they knew at what post-office I was likely to turn up. At Alma, the morning I hired Midget, the prize package which I drew from the post-office contained salted peanuts. I did not care for them, but put them into my pocket. It was past noon and Midget was hungry. I was chattering away to her about picture-taking when, feeling her rubbing me with her nose, I put my hand around to find that she was eating salted peanuts from my big coat-pocket. Midget enjoyed them so much that I allowed her to put her nose into my pocket and help herself, and from time to time, too, I gave her a handful of them until they were all gone.

Late in the afternoon, Midget and I arrived at the top of Hoosier Pass. I told her to look tired and I would take her picture. She dropped her head and neck a little, and there on the wind-swept pass, with the wind-swept peaks in the background, I photographed her. Then I told her it was time to go home, that it was sure to be after dark before she could get back. So I tightened the cinches, fastened up the bridle-rein over the horn of the saddle, and told her to go. She looked around at me, but did not move. Evidently she preferred to stay with me. So I spoke to her sternly and said, "Midget, you will have to go home!" Without even looking round, she kicked up her heels and trotted speedily down the mountain and disappeared. I did not imagine that we would meet again for some time.

I went on, and at timber-line on Mt. Lincoln I built a camp-fire and without bedding spent the night by it. The next day I climbed several peaks, took many photographs, measured many snowdrifts, and made many notes in my notebook. When night came on, I descended from the crags and snows into the woods, built a fire, and spent the night by it, sleeping for a little while at a time. Awakening with the cold, I would get up and revive my fire, and then lie down to sleep. The next day a severe storm came on, and I was compelled to huddle by my fire all day, for the wind was so fierce and the snow so blinding that it would have been extremely risky to try to cross the craggy and slippery mountain-summits. All that day I stayed by the fire, but that night, instead of trying to get a little sleep there, I crawled into a newly formed snowdrift, and in it slept soundly and quite comfortably until morning. Toward noon the storm ceased, but it had delayed me a day. I had brought with me only a pound of raisins, and had eaten these during the first two days. I felt rather hungry, and almost wished I had saved some of the salted peanuts that I had given Midget, but I felt fresh and vigorous, and joyfully I made my way over the snowy crest of the continent.

Late that night I came into the mining-town of Leadville. At the hotel I found letters and a telegram awaiting me. This telegram told me that it was important for me to come to the Pike's Peak National Forest at the earliest possible moment.

After a light supper and an hour's rest, I again tied on my snowshoes, and at midnight started to climb. The newly fallen snow on the steep mountain-side was soft and fluffy. I sank so deeply into it and made such slow progress that it was late in the afternoon of the next day before I reached timber-line on the other side. The London mine lay a little off my course, and knowing that miners frequently rode return horses up to it, I thought that by going to the mine I might secure a return horse to carry me back to Alma, which was about thirteen miles away. With this in mind, I started off in a hurry. In my haste I caught one of my webbed shoes on the top of a gnarly, storm-beaten tree that was buried and hidden in the snow. I fell, or rather dived, into the snow, and in so doing broke a snowshoe and lost my hat. This affair delayed me a little, and I gave up going to the mine, but concluded to go to the trail about a mile below it, and there intercept the first return horse that came down. Just before I reached the trail, I heard a horse coming.

As this trail was constantly used, the snow was packed down, while the untrampled snow on each side of it lay from two to four feet deep. Seeing that this pony was going to get past before I could reach the trail, I stopped, took a breath, and called out to it. When I said, "Hello, pony," the pony did not hello. Instead of slackening its pace, it seemed to increase it. Knowing that this trail was one that Midget had often to cover, I concluded as a forlorn hope to call her name, thinking that the pony might be Midget. So I called out, "Hello, Midget!" The pony at once stopped, looked all around, and gave a delighted little whinny. It was Midget! The instant she saw me, she tried to climb up out of the trail into the deep snow where I was, but I hastened to prevent her. Leaping down by her side, I put my arm around her neck, and told her that I was very glad to see her, and that I wanted to ride to Alma. Her nose found its way into my coat-pocket. "Well, Midget, it is too bad. Really, I was not expecting to see you, and I haven't a single salted peanut, but if you will just allow me to ride this long thirteen miles into Alma, I will give you all the salted peanuts that you will be allowed to eat. I am tired, and should very much like to have a ride. Will you take me?" She at once started to paw the snowy trail with a small fore foot, as much as to say, "Hurry up!" I took off my snowshoes, and without waiting to fasten them on my back, jumped into the saddle. In a surprisingly short time, and with loud stamping on the floor, Midget carried me into the livery barn at Alma.

When her owner saw a man in the saddle, he was angry, and reminded me that it was unfair and illegal to capture a return horse; but when he recognized me, he at once changed his tone, and he became friendly when I told him that Midget had invited me to ride. He said that as she had invited me to ride I should have to pay the damages to her. I told him that we had already agreed to this. "But how in thunder did you catch her?" he asked. "Yesterday Pat O'Brien tried that, and he is now in the hospital with two broken ribs. She kicked him."

I said good-bye to Midget, and went to my supper, leaving her contentedly eating salted peanuts.

Faithful Scotch

I carried little Scotch all day long in my overcoat pocket as I rode through the mountains on the way to my cabin. His cheerful, cunning face, his good behavior, and the clever way in which he poked his head out of my pocket, licked my hand, and looked at the scenery, completely won my heart before I had ridden an hour. That night he showed so strikingly the strong, faithful characteristics for which collies are noted that I resolved never to part with him. Since then we have had great years together. We have been hungry and happy together, and together we have played by the cabin, faced danger in the wilds, slept peacefully among the flowers, followed the trails by starlight, and cuddled down in winter's drifting snow.

On my way home through the mountains with puppy Scotch, I stopped for a night near a deserted ranch-house and shut him up in a small abandoned cabin. He at once objected and set up a terrible barking and howling, gnawing fiercely at the crack beneath the door and trying to tear his way out. Fearing he would break his little puppy teeth, or possibly die from frantic and persistent efforts to be free, I concluded to release him from the cabin. My fears that he would run away if left free were groundless. He made his way to my saddle, which lay on the ground near by, crawled under it, turned round beneath it, and thrust his little head from beneath the arch of the horn and lay down with a look of contentment, and also with an air which said, "I'll take care of this saddle. I'd like to see any one touch it."

And watch it he did. At midnight a cowboy came to my camp-fire. He had been thrown from his bronco and was making back to his outfit on foot. In approaching the fire his path lay close to my saddle, beneath which Scotch was lying. Tiny Scotch flew at him ferociously; never have I seen such faithful ferociousness in a dog so small and young. I took him in my hands and assured him that the visitor was welcome, and in a moment little Scotch and the cowboy were side by side gazing at the fire.

I suppose his bravery and watchful spirit may be instinct inherited from his famous forbears who lived so long and so cheerfully on Scotland's heaths and moors. But, with all due respect for inherited qualities, he also has a brain that does a little thinking and meets emergencies promptly and ably.

He took serious objection to the coyotes which howled, serenaded, and made merry in the edge of the meadow about a quarter of a mile from my cabin. Just back of their howling-ground was a thick forest of pines, in which were scores of broken rocky crags. Into the tangled forest the coyotes always retreated when Scotch gave chase, and into this retreat he dared not pursue them. So long as the coyotes sunned themselves, kept quiet, and played, Scotch simply watched them contentedly from afar; but the instant they began to howl and yelp, he at once raced over and chased them into the woods. They often yelped and taunted him from their safe retreat, but Scotch always took pains to lie down on the edge of the open and remain there until they became quiet or went away.

During the second winter that Scotch was with me and before he was two years of age, one of the wily coyotes showed a tantalizing spirit and some interesting cunning which put Scotch on his mettle. One day when Scotch was busy driving the main pack into the woods, one that trotted lame with the right fore leg emerged from behind a rocky crag at the edge of the open and less than fifty yards from Scotch. Hurrying to a willow clump about fifty yards in Scotch's rear, he set up a broken chorus of yelps and howls, seemingly with delight and to the great annoyance of Scotch, who at once raced back and chased the noisy taunter into the woods.

The very next time that Scotch was chasing the pack away, the crippled coyote again sneaked from behind the crag, took refuge behind the willow clump, and began delivering a perfect shower of broken yelps. Scotch at once turned back and gave chase. Immediately the entire pack wheeled from retreat and took up defiant attitudes in the open, but this did not seem to trouble Scotch; he flung himself upon them with great ferocity, and finally drove them all back into the woods. However, the third time that the cunning coyote had come to his rear, the entire pack stopped in the edge of the open and, for a time, defied him. He came back from this chase panting and tired and carrying every expression of worry. It seemed to prey upon him to such an extent that I became a little anxious about him.

One day, just after this affair, I went for the mail, and allowed Scotch to go with me. I usually left him at the cabin, and he stayed unchained and was faithful, though it was always evident that he was anxious to go with me and also that he was exceedingly lonely when left behind. But on this occasion he showed such eagerness to go that I allowed him the pleasure.

At the post-office he paid but little attention to the dogs which, with their masters, were assembled there, and held himself aloof from them, squatting on the ground with head erect and almost an air of contempt for them, but it was evident that he was watching their every move. When I started homeward, he showed great satisfaction by leaping and barking.

That night was wildly stormy, and I concluded to go out and enjoy the storm on some wind-swept crags. Scotch was missing and I called him, but he did not appear, so I went alone. After being tossed by the wind for more than an hour, I returned to the cabin, but Scotch was still away. This had never occurred before, so I concluded not to go to bed until he returned. He came home after daylight, and was accompanied by another dog,—a collie, which belonged to a rancher who lived about fifteen miles away. I remembered to have seen this dog at the post-office the day before. My first thought was to send the dog home, but I finally concluded to allow him to remain, to see what would come of his presence, for it was apparent that Scotch had gone for him. He appropriated Scotch's bed in the tub, to the evident satisfaction of Scotch. During the morning the two played together in the happiest possible manner for more than an hour. At noon I fed them together.

In the afternoon, while I was writing, I heard the varied voices of the coyote pack, and went out with my glass to watch proceedings, wondering how the visiting collie would play his part. There went Scotch, as I supposed, racing for the yelping pack, but the visiting collie was not to be seen. The pack beat the usual sullen, scattering retreat, and while the dog, which I supposed to be Scotch, was chasing the last slow tormenter into the woods, from behind the crag came the big limping coyote, hurrying toward the willow clump from behind which he was accustomed to yelp triumphantly in Scotch's rear. I raised the glass for a better look, all the time wondering where the visiting collie was keeping himself. I was unable to see him, yet I recollected he was with Scotch less than an hour before.

The lame coyote came round the willow clump as usual, and threw up his head as though to bay at the moon. Then the unexpected happened. On the instant, Scotch leaped into the air out of the willow clump, and came down upon the coyote's back! They rolled about for some time, when the coyote finally shook himself free and started at a lively limping pace for the woods, only to be grabbed again by the visiting collie, which had been chasing the pack, and which I had mistaken for Scotch. The pack beat a swift retreat. For a time both dogs fought the coyote fiercely, but he at last tore himself free, and escaped into the pines, badly wounded and bleeding. I never saw him again. That night the visiting collie went home. As Scotch was missing that night for a time, I think he may have accompanied him at least a part of the way.

One day a young lady from Michigan came along and wanted to climb Long's Peak all alone, without a guide. I agreed to consent to this if first she would climb one of the lesser peaks unaided, on a stormy day. This the young lady did, and by so doing convinced me that she had a keen sense of direction and an abundance of strength, for the day on which she climbed was a stormy one, and the peak was completely befogged with clouds. After this, there was nothing for me to do but allow her to climb Long's Peak alone.

Just as she was starting, that cool September morning, I thought to provide for an emergency by sending Scotch with her. He knew the trail well and would, of course, lead her the right way, providing she lost the trail. "Scotch," said I, "go with this young lady, take good care of her, and stay with her till she returns. Don't you desert her." He gave a few barks of satisfaction and started with her up the trail, carrying himself in a manner which indicated that he was both honored and pleased. I felt that the strength and alertness of the young lady, when combined with the faithfulness and watchfulness of Scotch, would make the journey a success, so I went about my affairs as usual. When darkness came on that evening, the young lady had not returned.

She climbed swiftly until she reached the rocky alpine moorlands above timber-line. Here she lingered long to enjoy the magnificent scenery and the brilliant flowers. It was late in the afternoon when she arrived at the summit of the peak. After she had spent a little time there resting and absorbing the beauty and grandeur of the scene, she started to return. She had not proceeded far when clouds and darkness came on, and on a slope of slide-rock she lost the trail.

Scotch had minded his own affairs and enjoyed himself in his own way all day long. Most of the time he followed her closely, apparently indifferent to what happened, but when she, in the darkness, left the trail and started off in the wrong direction, he at once came forward, and took the lead with an alert, aggressive air. The way in which he did this should have suggested to the young lady that he knew what he was about, but she did not appreciate this fact. She thought he had become weary and wanted to run away from her, so she called him back. Again she started in the wrong direction; this time Scotch got in front of her and refused to move. She pushed him out of the way. Once more he started off in the right direction, and this time she scolded him and reminded him that his master had told him not to desert her. Scotch dropped his ears and sheepishly fell in behind her and followed meekly along. He had obeyed orders.

After traveling a short distance, the young lady realized that she had lost her way, but it never occurred to her that she had only to trust Scotch and he would lead her directly home. However, she had the good sense to stop where she was, and there, among the crags, by the stained remnants of winter's snow, thirteen thousand feet above sea-level, she was to spend the night. The cold wind blew a gale, roaring and booming among the crags, the alpine brooklet turned to ice, while, in the lee of the crag, shivering with cold, hugging shaggy Scotch in her arms, she lay down for the night.

I had given my word not to go in search of her if she failed to return. However, I sent out four guides to look for her. They suffered much from cold as they vainly searched among the crags through the dark hours of the windy night. Just at sunrise one of them found her, almost exhausted, but, with slightly frost-bitten fingers, still hugging Scotch in her arms. He gave her food and drink and additional wraps, and without delay started with her down the trail. As soon as she was taken in charge by the guide, patient Scotch left her and hurried home. He had saved her life.

Scotch's hair is long and silky, black with a touch of tawny about the head and a little bar of white on the nose. He has the most expressive and pleasing dog's face I have ever seen. There is nothing he enjoys so well as to have some one kick the football for him. For an hour at a time he will chase it and try to get hold of it, giving an occasional eager, happy bark. He has good eyes, and these, with his willingness to be of service, have occasionally made him useful to me in finding articles which I, or some one else, had forgotten or lost on the trail. Generally it is difficult to make him understand just what has been lost or where he is to look for it, but when once he understands, he keeps up the search, sometimes for hours if he does not find the article before. He is always faithful in guarding any object that I ask him to take care of. I have but to throw down a coat and point at it, and he will at once lie down near by, there to remain until I come to dismiss him. He will allow no one else to touch it. His attitude never fails to convey the impression that he would die in defense of the thing intrusted to him, but desert it or give it up, never!

One February day I took Scotch and started up Long's Peak, hoping to gain its wintry summit. Scotch easily followed in my snowshoe-tracks. At an altitude of thirteen thousand feet on the wind-swept steeps there was but little snow, and it was necessary to leave snowshoes behind. After climbing a short distance on these icy slopes, I became alarmed for the safety of Scotch. By and by I had to cut steps in the ice. This made the climb too perilous for him, as he could not realize the danger he was in should he miss a step. There were places where slipping from these steps meant death, so I told Scotch to go back. I did not, however, tell him to watch my snowshoes, for so dangerous was the climb that I did not know that I should ever get back to them myself. However, he went to the snowshoes, and with them he remained for eight cold hours until I came back by the light of the stars.

On a few occasions I allowed Scotch to go with me on short winter excursions. He enjoyed these immensely, although he had a hard time of it and but very little to eat. When we camped among the spruces in the snow, he seemed to enjoy sitting by my side and silently watching the evening fire, and he contentedly cuddled with me to keep warm at night.

One cold day we were returning from a four days' excursion when, a little above timber-line, I stopped to take some photographs. To do this it was necessary for me to take off my sheepskin mittens, which I placed in my coat-pocket, but not securely, as it proved. From time to time, as I climbed to the summit of the Continental Divide, I stopped to take photographs, but on the summit the cold pierced my silk gloves and I felt for my mittens, to find that one of them was lost. I stooped, put an arm around Scotch, and told him I had lost a mitten, and that I wanted him to go down for it to save me the trouble. "It won't take you very long, but it will be a hard trip for me. Go and fetch it to me." Instead of starting off hurriedly, willingly, as he had invariably done before in obedience to my commands, he stood still. His alert, eager ears drooped, but no other move did he make. I repeated the command in my most kindly tones. At this, instead of starting down the mountain for the mitten, he slunk slowly away toward home. It was clear that he did not want to climb down the steep icy slope of a mile to timber-line, more than a thousand feet below. I thought he had misunderstood me, so I called him back, patted him, and then, pointing down the slope, said, "Go for the mitten, Scotch; I will wait here for you." He started for it, but went unwillingly. He had always served me so cheerfully that I could not understand, and it was not until late the next afternoon that I realized that he had not understood me, but that he had loyally, and at the risk of his life, tried to obey me.

The summit of the Continental Divide, where I stood when I sent him back, was a very rough and lonely region. On every hand were broken snowy peaks and rugged canons. My cabin, eighteen miles away, was the nearest house to it, and the region was utterly wild. I waited a reasonable time for Scotch to return, but he did not come back. Thinking he might have gone by without my seeing him, I walked some distance along the summit, first in one direction and then in the other, but, seeing neither him nor his tracks, I knew that he had not yet come back. As it was late in the afternoon, and growing colder, I decided to go slowly on toward my cabin. I started along a route that I felt sure he would follow, and I reasoned that he would overtake me. Darkness came on and still no Scotch, but I kept going forward. For the remainder of the way I told myself that he might have got by me in the darkness.

When, at midnight, I arrived at the cabin, I expected to be greeted by him, but he was not there. I felt that something was wrong and feared that he had met with an accident. I slept two hours and rose, but still he was missing, so I concluded to tie on my snowshoes and go to meet him. The thermometer showed fourteen below zero.

I started at three o'clock in the morning, feeling that I should meet him without going far. I kept going on and on, and when, at noon, I arrived at the place on the summit from which I had sent him back, Scotch was not there to cheer the wintry, silent scene.

I slowly made my way down the slope, and at two in the afternoon, twenty-four hours after I had sent Scotch back, I paused on a crag and looked below. There in the snowy world of white he lay by the mitten in the snow. He had misunderstood me, and had gone back to guard the mitten instead of to get it. He could hardly contain himself for joy when he saw me. He leaped into the air, barked, jumped, rolled over, licked my hand, whined, grabbed the mitten, raced round and round me, and did everything that an alert, affectionate, faithful dog could do to show that he appreciated my appreciation of his supremely faithful services.

After waiting for him to eat a luncheon, we started merrily towards home, where we arrived at one o'clock in the morning. Had I not returned, I suppose Scotch would have died beside the mitten. In a region cold, cheerless, oppressive, without food, and perhaps to die, he lay down by the mitten because he understood that I had told him to. In the annals of dog heroism, I know of no greater deed.

Bob and Some Other Birds

Birds are plentiful on the Rockies, and the accumulating information concerning them may, in a few years, accredit Colorado with having more kinds of birds than any other State. The mountains and plains of Colorado carry a wide range of geographic conditions,—a variety of life-zones,—and in many places there is an abundance of bird-food of many kinds. These conditions naturally produce a large variety of birds throughout the State.

Notwithstanding this array of feathered inhabitants, most tourists who visit the West complain of a scarcity of birds. But birds the Rockies have, and any bird-student could tell why more of them are not seen by tourists. The loud manners of most tourists who invade the Rockies simply put the birds to flight. When I hear the approach of tourists in the wilds, I feel instinctively that I should fly for safety myself. "Our little brothers of the air" the world over dislike the crowd, and will linger only for those who come with deliberation and quiet.

This entire mountain-section, from foothills to mountain-summits, is enlivened in nesting-time with scores of species of birds. Low down on the foothills one will find Bullock's oriole, the red-headed woodpecker, the Arkansas kingbird, and one will often see, and more often hear, the clear, strong notes of the Western meadowlark ringing over the hills and meadows. The wise, and rather murderous, magpie goes chattering about. Here and there the quiet bluebird is seen. The kingfisher is in his appointed place. Long-crested jays, Clarke's crows, and pigmy nuthatches are plentiful, and the wild note of the chickadee is heard on every hand. Above the altitude of eight thousand feet you may hear, in June, the marvelous melody of Audubon's hermit thrush.

Along the brooks and streams lives the water-ouzel. This is one of the most interesting and self-reliant of Rocky Mountain birds. It loves the swift, cool mountain-streams. It feeds in them, nests within reach of the splash of their spray, closely follows their bent and sinuous course in flight, and from an islanded boulder mingles its liquid song with the music of the moving waters. There is much in the life of the ouzel that is refreshing and inspiring. I wish it were better known.

Around timber-line in summer one may hear the happy song of the white-throated sparrow. Here and above lives the leucosticte. Far above the vanguard of the brave pines, where the brilliant flowers fringe the soiled remnants of winter's drifted snow, where sometimes the bees hum and the painted butterflies sail on easy wings, the broad-tailed hummingbird may occasionally be seen, while still higher the eagles soar in the quiet bending blue. On the heights, sometimes nesting at an altitude of thirteen thousand feet, is found the ptarmigan, which, like the Eskimo, seems supremely contented in the land of crags and snows.

Of all the birds on the Rockies, the one most marvelously eloquent is the solitaire. I have often felt that everything stood still and that every beast and bird listened while the matchless solitaire sang. The hermit thrush seems to suppress one, to give one a touch of reflective loneliness; but the solitaire stirs one to be up and doing, gives one the spirit of youth. In the solitaire's song one feels all the freshness and the promise of spring. The song seems to be born of ages of freedom beneath peaceful skies, of the rhythm of the universe, of a mingling of the melody of winds and waters and of all rhythmic sounds that murmur and echo out of doors and of every song that Nature sings in the wild gardens of the world. I am sure I have never been more thoroughly wide awake and hopeful than when listening to the solitaire's song. The world is flushed with a diviner atmosphere, every object carries a fresher significance, there are new thoughts and clear, calm hopes sure to be realized on the enchanted fields of the future. I was camping alone one evening in the deep solitude of the Rockies. The slanting sun-rays were glowing on St. Vrain's crag-crowned hills and everything was at peace, when, from a near-by treetop came the triumphant, hopeful song of a solitaire, and I forgot all except that the world was young. One believes in fairies when the solitaire sings. Some of my friends have predicted that I shall some time meet with an accident and perish in the solitudes alone. If their prediction should come true, I shall hope it will be in the summer-time, while the flowers are at their best, and that during my last conscious moments I shall hear the melody of the solitaire singing as I die with the dying day.

I sat for hours in the woods one day, watching a pair of chickadees feeding their young ones. There were nine of these hungry midgets, and, like nine small boys, they not only were always hungry, but were capable of digesting everything. They ate spiders and flies, green worms, ants, millers, dirty brown worms, insect-eggs by the dozen, devil's-darning-needles, woodlice, bits of lichen, grasshoppers, and I know not how many other things. I could not help thinking that when one family of birds destroyed such numbers of injurious insects, if all the birds were to stop eating, the insects would soon destroy every green tree and plant on earth.

One of the places where I used to camp to enjoy the flowers, the trees, and the birds was on the shore of a glacier lake. Near the lake were eternal snows, rugged gorges, and forests primeval. To its shore, especially in autumn, came many bird callers. I often screened myself in a dense clump of fir trees on the north shore to study the manners of birds which came near. To help attract and detain them, I scattered feed on the shore, and I spent interesting hours and days in my hiding-place enjoying the etiquette of birds at feast and frolic.

I was lying in the sun, one afternoon, just outside my fir clump, gazing out across the lake, when a large black bird alighted on the shore some distance around the lake. "Surely," I said to myself, "that is a crow." A crow I had not seen or heard of in that part of the country. I wanted to call to him that he was welcome to eat at my free-lunch counter, when it occurred to me that I was in plain sight. Before I could move, the bird rose in the air and started flying leisurely toward me. I hoped he would see, or smell, the feed and tarry for a time; but he rose as he advanced, and as he appeared to be looking ahead, I had begun to fear he would go by without stopping, when he suddenly wheeled and at the same instant said "Hurrah," as distinctly as I have ever heard it spoken, and dropped to the feed. The clearness, energy, and unexpectedness of his "Hurrah" startled me. He alighted and began to eat, evidently without suspecting my presence, notwithstanding the fact that I lay only a few feet away. Some days before, a mountain lion had killed a mountain sheep; a part of this carcass I had dragged to my bird table. Upon this the crow, for such he was, alighted and fed ravenously for some time. Then he paused, straightened up, and took a look about. His eye fell on me, and instantly he squatted as if to hurl himself in hurried flight, but he hesitated, then appeared as if starting to burst out with "Caw" or some such exclamation, but changed his mind and repressed it. Finally he straightened and fixed himself for another good look at me. I did not move, and my clothes must have been a good shade of protective coloring, for he seemed to conclude that I was not worth considering. He looked straight at me for a few seconds, uttered another "Hurrah," which he emphasized with a defiant gesture, and went on energetically eating. In the midst of this, something alarmed him, and he flew swiftly away and did not come back. Was this crow a pet that had concluded to strike out for himself? Or had his mimicry or his habit of laying hold of whatever pleased him caused him to appropriate this word from bigger folk?

Go where you will over the Rockies and the birds will be with you. One day I spent several hours on the summit of Long's Peak, and while there twelve species of birds alighted or passed near enough for me to identify them. One of these birds was an eagle, another a hummingbird.

On a June day, while the heights were more than half covered with winter's snow, I came across the nest of a ptarmigan near a drift and at an altitude of thirteen thousand feet above sea-level. The ptarmigan, with their home above tree-line, amid eternal snows, are wonderfully self-reliant and self-contained. The ouzel, too, is self-poised, indifferent to all the world but his brook, and showing an appreciation for water greater, I think, than that of any other landsman. These birds, the ptarmigan and the ouzel, along with the willow thrush, who sings out his melody amid the shadows of the pines, who puts his woods into song,—these birds of the mountains are with me when memory takes me back a solitary visitor to the lonely places of the Rockies.

The birds of the Rockies, as well as the bigger folk who live there, have ways of their own which distinguish them from their kind in the East. They sing with more enthusiasm, but with the same subtle tone that everywhere tells that all is right with the world, and makes all to the manner born glad to be alive.

Nothing delights me more than to come across a person who is interested in trees; and I have long thought that any one who appreciates trees or birds is one who is either good or great, or both. I consider it an honor to converse with one who knows the birds and the trees, and have more than once gone out of my way to meet one of those favored mortals. I remember one cold morning I came down off the mountains and went into a house to get warm. Rather I went in to scrape an acquaintance with whomsoever could be living there who remembered the birds while snow and cold prevailed,—when Nature forgot. To get warm was a palpable excuse. I was not cold; I had no need to stop; I simply wanted to meet the people who had, on this day at least, put out food and warm water for the birds; but I have ever since been glad that I went in, for the house shielded from the cold a family whom it is good to know, and, besides making their acquaintance, I met "Bob" and heard her story.

Every one in the house was fond of pets. Rex, a huge St. Bernard, greeted me at the door, and with a show of satisfaction accompanied me to a chair near the stove. In going to the chair some forlorn snowbirds, "that Sarah had found nearly frozen while out feeding the birds this morning," hopped out of my way. As I sat down, I noticed an old sack on the floor against the wall before me. All at once this sack came to life, had an idea, or was bewitched, I thought. Anyway it became so active that it held my attention for several seconds, and gave me a little alarm. I was relieved when out of it tumbled an aggressive rooster, which advanced a few steps, flapped, and crowed lustily. "He was brought in to get thawed out; I suppose you will next be wondering where we keep the pig," said my hostess as she advanced to stir the fire, after which she examined "two little cripples," birds in a box behind the stove.

I moved to a cooler seat, by a door which led into an adjoining room. After I had sat down, "Bob," a pet quail, came from somewhere, and advanced with the most serene and dignified air to greet me. After pausing to eye me for a moment, with a look of mingled curiosity and satisfaction, she went under my chair and squatted confidingly on the floor. Bob was the first pet quail I had ever seen, and my questions concerning her brought from my hostess the following story:—

"One day last fall a flock of quail became frightened, and in their excited flight one struck against a neighbor's window and was badly stunned. My husband, who chanced to be near at the time, picked up the injured one and brought it home. My three daughters, who at times had had pet horses, snakes, turtles, and rats, welcomed this shy little stranger and at once set about caring for her injuries. Just before "Bob" had fully recovered, there came a heavy fall of snow, which was followed by such a succession of storms that we concluded to keep her with us, provided she was willing to stay. We gave her the freedom of the house. For some time she was wild and shy; under a chair or the lounge she would scurry if any one approached her. Plainly, she did not feel welcome or safe in our house, and I gave up the idea of taming her. One day, however, we had lettuce for dinner, and while we were at the table Sarah, my eldest daughter, who has a gift for taming and handling wild creatures, declared that Bob should eat out of her hand before night. All that afternoon she tempted her with bits of lettuce, and when evening came, had succeeded so well that never after was Bob afraid of us. Whenever we sat down for a meal, Bob would come running and quietly go in turn to each with coaxing sounds and pleading looks, wanting to be fed. It was against the rules to feed her at meals, but first one, then another, would slip something to her under the table, trying at the same time to appear innocent. The girls have always maintained that their mother, who made the rule, was the first one to break it. No one could resist Bob's pretty, dainty, coaxing ways.

"She is particularly fond of pie-crust, and many a time I have found the edge picked off the pie I had intended for dinner. Bob never fails to find a pie, if one is left uncovered. I think it is the shortening in the pie-crust that gives it the delicious flavor, for lard she prefers above all of her many foods. She cares least of all for grain. My daughters say that Bob's fondness for graham gems accounts for the frequency of their recent appearances on our table.

"After trying many places, Bob at last found a roosting-place that suited her. This was in a leather collar-box on the bureau, where she could nestle up close to her own image in the mirror. Since discovering this place she has never failed to occupy it at night. She is intelligent, and in so many ways pleasing that we are greatly attached to her."

Here I had to leave Bob and her good friends behind; but some months afterward my hostess of that winter day told me the concluding chapters of Bob's life.

"Bob disliked to be handled; though pleasing and irresistibly winsome, she was not in the least affectionate, and always maintained a dignified, ladylike reserve. But with the appearance of spring she showed signs of lonesomeness. With none of her kind to love, she turned to Rex and on him lavished all of her affection. When Rex was admitted to the house of a morning, she ran to meet him with a joyful cackle,—an utterance she did not use on any other occasion,—and with soft cooing sounds she followed him about the house. If Rex appeared bored with her attentions and walked away, she followed after, and persisted in tones that were surely scolding until he would lie down. Whenever he lay with his huge head between his paws, she would nestle down close to his face and remain content so long as he was quiet. Sometimes when he was lying down she would climb slowly over him; at each step she would put her foot down daintily, and as each foot touched him there was a slight movement of her head and a look of satisfaction. These climbs usually ended by her scratching in the long hair of his tail, and then nestling down into it.

"One day I was surprised to see her kiss Rex. When I told my family of this, they laughed heartily and were unable to believe me. Later, we all witnessed this pretty sight many times. She seemed to prefer to kiss him when he was lying down, with his head raised a little above the floor. Finding him in this position, she would walk beside him, reach up and kiss his face again and again, all the time cooing softly to him.

"Toward spring Bob's feathers became dull and somewhat ragged, and with the warm days came our decision to let her go outside. She was delighted to scratch in the loose earth around the rosebushes, and eagerly fed on the insects she found there. Her plumage soon took on its natural trimness and freshness. She did not show any inclination to leave, and with Rex by her or near her, we felt that she was safe from cats, so we soon allowed her to remain out all day long.

"Passers-by often stopped to watch Bob and Rex playing together. Sometimes he would go lumbering across the yard while she, plainly displeased at the fast pace, hurried after with an incessant scolding chatter as much as to say: 'Don't go so fast, old fellow. How do you expect me to keep up?' Sometimes, when Rex was lying down eating a bone, she would stand on one of his fore legs and quietly pick away at the bone.

"The girls frequently went out to call her, and did so by whistling 'Bob White.' She never failed to answer promptly, and her response sounded like chee chos, chee chos, which she uttered before hurrying to them.

"One summer morning I found her at the kitchen door waiting to be let out. I opened the door and watched her go tripping down the steps. When she started across the yard I cautioned her to 'be a little lady, and don't get too far away.' Rex was away that morning, and soon one of the girls went out to call her. Repeated calls brought no answer. We all started searching. We wondered if the cat had caught her, or if she had been lured away by the winning calls of her kind. Beneath a cherry tree near the kitchen door, just as Rex came home, we found her, bloody and dead. Rex, after pushing her body tenderly about with his nose, as if trying to help her to rise, looked up and appealed piteously to us. We buried her beneath the rosebush near which she and Rex had played."


The kinnikinick is a plant pioneer. Often it is the first plant to make a settlement or establish a colony on a barren or burned-over area. It is hardy, and is able to make a start and thrive in places so inhospitable as to afford most plants not the slightest foothold. In such places the kinnikinick's activities make changes which alter conditions so beneficially that in a little while plants less hardy come to join the first settler. The pioneer work done by the kinnikinick on a barren and rocky realm has often resulted in the establishment of a flourishing forest there.

The kinnikinick, or Arctostaphylos Uva-Ursi, as the botanists name it, may be called a ground-loving vine. Though always attractive, it is in winter that it is at its best. Then its bright green leaves and red berries shine among the snow-flowers in a quiet way that is strikingly beautiful.

Since it is beautiful as well as useful, I had long admired this ever-cheerful, ever-spreading vine before I appreciated the good though humble work it is constantly doing. I had often stopped to greet it,—the only green thing upon a rock ledge or a sandy stretch,—had walked over it in forest avenues beneath tall and stately pines, and had slept comfortably upon its spicy, elastic rugs, liking it from the first. But on one of my winter tramps I fell in love with this beautiful evergreen.

The day was a cold one, and the high, gusty wind was tossing and playing with the last snow-fall. I had been snowshoeing through the forest, and had come out upon an unsheltered ridge that was a part of a barren area which repeated fires had changed from a forested condition to desert. The snow lay several feet deep in the woods, but as the gravelly distance before me was bare, I took off my snowshoes. I went walking, and at times blowing, along the bleak ridge, scarcely able to see through the snow-filled air. But during a lull the air cleared of snow-dust and I paused to look about me. The wind still roared in the distance, and against the blue eastern sky it had a column of snow whirling that was dazzling white in the afternoon sun. On my left a mountain rose with easy slope to crag-crowned heights, and for miles swept away before me with seared side barren and dull. A few cloudlets of snowdrifts and a scattering of mere tufts of snow stood out distinctly on this big, bare slope.

I wondered what could be holding these few spots of snow on this wind-swept slope. I finally went up to examine one of them. Thrust out and lifted just above the snow of the tuft before me was the jeweled hand of a kinnikinick; and every snow-deposit on the slope was held in place by the green arms of this plant. Here was this beautiful vinelike shrub gladly growing on a slope that had been forsaken by all other plants.

To state the situation fairly, all had been burned off by fire and Kinnikinick was the first to come back, and so completely had fires consumed the plant-food that many plants would be unable to live here until better conditions prevailed and the struggle for existence was made less severe. Kinnikinick was making the needed changes; in time it would prepare the way, and other plants, and the pines too, would come back to carpet and plume the slope and prevent wind and water from tearing and scarring the earth.

The seeds of Kinnikinick are scattered by birds, chipmunks, wind, and water. I do not know by what agency the seeds had come to this slope, but here were the plants, and on this dry, fire-ruined, sun-scorched, wind-beaten slope they must have endured many hardships. Many must have perished before these living ones had made a secure start in life.

Once Kinnikinick has made a start, it is constantly assisted to succeed by its own growing success. Its arms catch and hold snow, and this gives a supply of much-needed water. This water is snugly stored beneath the plant, where but little can be reached or taken by the sun or the thirsty winds. The winds, too, which were so unfriendly while it was trying to make a start, now become helpful to the brave, persistent plant. Every wind that blows brings something to it,—dust, powdered earth, trash, the remains of dead insects; some of this material is carried for miles. All goes to form new soil, or to fertilize or mulch the old. This supplies Kinnikinick's great needs. The plant grows rich from the constant tribute of the winds. The soil-bed grows deeper and richer and is also constantly outbuilding and enlarging, and Kinnikinick steadily increases its size.

In a few years a small oasis is formed in, or rather on, the barren. This becomes a place of refuge for seed wanderers,—in fact, a nursery. Up the slope I saw a young pine standing in a kinnikinick snow-cover. In the edge of the snow-tuft by me, covered with a robe of snow, I found a tiny tree, a mere baby pine. Where did this pine come from? There were no seed-bearing pines within miles. How did a pine seed find its way to this cosy nursery? Perhaps the following is its story: The seed of this little pine, together with a score or more of others, grew in a cone out near the end of the pine-tree limb. This pine was on a mountain several miles from the fire-ruined slope, when one windy autumn day some time after the seeds were ripe, the cone began to open its fingers and the seeds came dropping out. The seed of this baby tree was one of these, and when it tumbled out of the cone the wind caught it, and away it went over trees, rocks, and gulches, whirling and dancing in the autumn sunlight. After tumbling a few miles in this wild flight, it came down among some boulders. Here it lay until, one very windy day, it was caught up and whirled away again. Before long it was dashed against a granite cliff and fell to the ground; but in a moment, the wind found it and drove it, with a shower of trash and dust, bounding and leaping across a barren slope, plump into this kinnikinick nest. From this shelter the wind could not drive it. Here the little seed might have said, "This is just the place I was looking for; here is shelter from the wind and sun; the soil is rich and damp; I am so tired, I think I'll take a sleep." When the little seed awoke, it wore the green dress of the pine family. The kinnikinick's nursery had given it a start in life.

Under favorable conditions Kinnikinick is a comparatively rapid grower. Its numerous vinelike limbs—little arms—spread or reach outward from the central root, take a new hold upon the earth, and prepare to reach again. The ground beneath it in a little while is completely hidden by its closely crowding leafy arms. In places these soft, pliable rugs unite and form extensive carpets. Strip off these carpets and often all that remains is a barren exposure of sand or gravel on bald or broken rocks, whose surfaces and edges have been draped or buried by its green leaves and red berries.

In May kinnikinick rugs become flower-beds. Each flower is a narrow-throated, pink-lipped, creamy-white jug, and is filled with a drop of exquisitely flavored honey. The jugs in a short time change to smooth purple berries, and in autumn they take on their winter dress of scarlet. When ripe the berries taste like mealy crab-apples. I have often seen chipmunks eating the berries, or apples, sitting up with the fruit in both their deft little hands, and eating it with such evident relish that I frequently found myself thinking of these berries as chipmunk's apples.

Kinnikinick is widely distributed over the earth, and is most often found on gravelly slopes or sandy stretches. Frequently you will find it among scattered pines, trying to carpet their cathedral floor. Many a summer day I have lain down and rested on these flat and fluffy forest rugs, while between the tangled tops of the pines I looked at the blue of the sky or watched the white clouds so serenely floating there. Many a summer night upon these elastic spreads I have lain and gazed at the thick-sown stars, or watched the ebbing, fading camp-fire, at last to fall asleep and to rest as sweetly and serenely as ever did the Scotchman upon his heathered Highlands. Many a morning I have awakened late after a sleep so long that I had settled into the yielding mass and Kinnikinick had put up an arm, either to shield my face with its hand, or to show me, when I should awaken, its pretty red berries and bright green leaves.

One morning, while visiting in a Blackfoot Indian camp, I saw the men smoking kinnikinick leaves, and I asked if they had any legend concerning the shrub. I felt sure they must have a fascinating story of it which told of the Great Spirit's love for Kinnikinick, but they had none. One of them said he had heard the Piute Indians tell why the Great Spirit had made it, but he could not remember the account. I inquired among many Indians, feeling that I should at last learn a happy legend concerning it, but in vain. One night, however, by my camp-fire, I dreamed that some Alaska Indians told me this legend:—

Long, long ago, Kinnikinick was a small tree with brown berries and broad leaves which dropped to the ground in autumn. One year a great snow came while the leaves were still on, and all trees were flattened upon the ground by the weight of the clinging snow. All broad-leaved trees except Kinnikinick died. When the snow melted, Kinnikinick was still alive, but pressed out upon the ground, crushed so that it could not rise. It started to grow, however, and spread out its limbs on the surface very like a root growth. The Great Spirit was so pleased with Kinnikinick's efforts that he decided to let it live on in its new form, and also that he would send it to colonize many places where it had never been. He changed its berries from brown to red, so that the birds could see its fruit and scatter its seeds far and wide. Its leaves were reduced in size and made permanently green, so that Kinnikinick, like the pines it loves and helps, could wear green all the time.

Whenever I see a place that has been made barren and ugly by the thoughtlessness of man, I like to think of Kinnikinick, for I know it will beautify these places if given a chance to do so. There are on earth millions of acres now almost desert that may some time be changed and beautified by this cheerful, modest plant. Some time many bald and barren places in the Rockies will be plumed with pines, bannered with flowers, have brooks, butterflies, and singing birds,—all of these, and homes, too, around which children will play,—because of the reclaiming work which will be done by charming Kinnikinick.

The Lodge-Pole Pine

The trappers gave the Lodge-Pole Pine (Pinus contorta, var. Murrayana) its popular name on account of its general use by Indians of the West for lodge or wigwam poles. It is a tree with an unusually interesting life-story, and is worth knowing for the triumphant struggle which it makes for existence, and also for the commercial importance which, at an early date, it seems destined to have. Perhaps its most interesting and advantageous characteristic is its habit of holding or hoarding its seed-harvests.

Lodge-pole is also variously called Tamarack, Murray, and Two-leaved Pine. Its yellow-green needles are in twos, and are from one to three inches in length. Its cones are about one inch in diameter at the base and from one to two inches long. Its light-gray or cinnamon-gray bark is thin and scaly.

In a typical lodge-pole forest the trees, or poles, stand closely together and all are of the same age and of even size. Seedlings and saplings are not seen in an old forest. This forest covers the mountains for miles, growing in moist, dry, and stony places, claims all slopes, has an altitudinal range of four thousand feet, and almost entirely excludes all other species from its borders.

The hoarding habit of this tree, the service rendered it by forest fires, the lightness of the seeds and the readiness with which they germinate on dry or burned-over areas, its ability to grow in a variety of soils and climates, together with its capacity to thrive in the full glare of the sun,—all these are factors which make this tree interesting, and which enable it, despite the most dangerous forest enemy, fire, to increase and multiply and extend its domains.

During the last fifty years this aggressive, indomitable tree has enormously extended its area, and John Muir is of the opinion that, "as fires are multiplied and the mountains become drier, this wonderful lodge-pole pine bids fair to obtain possession of nearly all the forest ground in the West." Its geographical range is along the Rocky Mountains from Alaska to New Mexico, and on the Pacific coast forests of it are, in places, found from sea-level to an altitude of eleven thousand feet. On the Rockies it flourishes between the altitudes of seven thousand and ten thousand feet. It is largely represented in the forests of Colorado, Utah, Idaho, and Montana, and it has extensive areas in Oregon and Washington. It is the most numerous tree in Wyoming, occupying in Yellowstone Park a larger area than all other trees combined, while in California it forms the bulk of the alpine forests.

The lodge-pole readily adapts itself to the most diverse soil and conditions, but it thrives best where there is considerable moisture. The roots accommodate themselves to shallow soil, and thrive in it.

This tree begins to bear fruit at an early age, sometimes when only eight years old, and usually produces large quantities of cones annually. The cones sometimes open and liberate the seeds as soon as they are ripe, but commonly they remain on the tree for years, with their seeds carefully sealed and protected beneath the scales. So far as I have observed, the trees on the driest soil cling longest to their seeds. For an old lodge-pole to have on its limbs twenty crops of unopened cones is not uncommon. Neither is it uncommon to see an extensive lodge-pole forest each tree of which has upon it several hundred, and many of the trees a few thousand, cones, and in each cone a few mature seeds. Most of these seeds will never have a chance to make a start in life except they be liberated by fire. In fact, most lodge-pole seeds are liberated by fire. The reproduction of this pine is so interwoven with the effects of the forest fires that one may safely say that most of the lodge-pole forests and the increasing lodge-pole areas are the result of forest fires.

Every lodge-pole forest is a fire-trap. The thin, scaly, pitchy bark and the live resiny needles on the tree, as well as those on the ground, are very inflammable, and fires probably sweep a lodge-pole forest more frequently than any other in America. When this forest is in a sapling stage, it is very likely to be burned to ashes. If, however, the trees are beyond the sapling stage, the fire probably will consume the needles, burn some of the bark away, and leave the tree, together with its numerous seed-filled cones, unconsumed. As a rule, the fire so heats the cones that most of them open and release their seeds a few hours, or a few days, after the fire. If the area burned over is a large one, the fire loosens the clasp of the cone-scales and millions of lodge-pole seeds are released to be sown by the great eternal seed-sower, the wind. These seeds are thickly scattered, and as they germinate readily in the mineral soil, enormous numbers of them sprout and begin to struggle for existence. I once counted 84,322 young trees on an acre.

The trees often stand as thick as wheat in a field and exclude all other species. Their growth is slow and mostly upright. They early become delicate miniature poles, and often, at the age of twenty-five or thirty years, good fishing-poles. In their crowded condition, the competition is deadly. Hundreds annually perish, but this tree clings tenaciously to life, and starving it to death is not easy. In the summer of 1895 I counted 24,271 thirty-year-old lodge-poles upon an acre. Ten years later, 19,040 of these were alive. It is possible that eighty thousand, or even one hundred thousand, seedlings started upon this acre. Sometimes more than half a century is required for the making of good poles.

On the Grand River in Colorado I once measured a number of poles that averaged two inches in diameter at the ground and one and one half inches fifteen feet above it. These poles averaged forty feet high and were sixty-seven years of age. Others of my notes read: "9728 trees upon an acre. They were one hundred and three years of age, two to six inches in diameter, four and a half feet from the ground, and from thirty to sixty feet high, at an altitude of 8700 feet. Soil and moisture conditions were excellent. On another acre there were 4126 trees one hundred and fifty-four years old, together with eleven young Engelmann spruces and one Pinus flexilis and eight Douglas firs. The accumulation of duff, mostly needles, averaged eight inches deep, and, with the exception of one bunch of kinnikinick, there was neither grass nor weed, and only tiny, thinly scattered sun-gold reached the brown matted floor."

After self-thinning has gone on for a hundred years or so, the ranks have been so thinned that there are openings sufficiently large to allow other species a chance to come in. By this time, too, there is sufficient humus on the floor to allow the seeds of many other species to germinate. Lodge-pole thus colonizes barren places, holds them for a time, and so changes them that the very species dispossessed by fire may regain the lost territory. Roughly, the lodge-pole will hold the ground exclusively from seventy-five to one hundred and fifty years, then the invading trees will come triumphantly in and, during the next century and a half, will so increase and multiply that they will almost exclude the lodge-pole. Thus Engelmann spruce and Douglas fir are now growing where lodge-pole flourished, but let fire destroy this forest and lodge-pole will again claim the territory, hold it against all comers for a century or two, and then slowly give way to or be displaced by the spruces and firs.

The interesting characteristic of holding its cones and hoarding seeds often results in the cones being overgrown and embedded in the trunk or the limbs of the trees. As the cones hug closely the trunk or the limbs, it is not uncommon for the saw, when laying open a log at the mill, to reveal a number of cones embedded there. I have in my cabin a sixteen-foot plank that is two inches in diameter and six inches wide, which came out of a lodge-pole tree. Embedded in this are more than a score of cones. Probably most of these cones were of the first crop which the tree produced, for they clung along the trunk of the tree and grew there when it was about an inch and a quarter in diameter. The section upon which these cones grew was between fifteen and twenty-five feet from the ground.

The seeds of most conifers need vegetable mould, litter, or vegetation cover of some kind in which to germinate, and then shade for a time in which to grow. These requirements so needed by other conifer seeds and seedlings are detrimental to the lodge-pole. If its seeds fall on areas lightly covered with low huckleberry vines, but few of them will germinate. A lodge-pole seed that germinates in the shade is doomed. It must have sunlight or die. In the ashes of a forest fire, in the full glare of the sun, the seeds of the lodge-pole germinate, grow, and flourish.

Wind is the chief agency which enables the seeds to migrate. The seeds are light, and I know of one instance where an isolated tree on a plateau managed to scatter its seeds by the aid of the wind over a circular area fifty acres in extent, though a few acres is all that is reached by the average tree. Sometimes the wind scatters the seeds unevenly. If most of the seeds are released in one day, and the wind this day prevails from the same quarter, the seeds will take but one course from the tree; while changing winds may scatter them quite evenly all around the tree.

A camping party built a fire against a lone lodge-pole. The tree was killed and suffered a loss of its needles from the fire. Four years later, a long green pennant, tattered at the end and formed of lodge-pole seedlings, showed on the mountain-side. This pennant began at the tree and streamed out more than seven hundred feet. Its width varied from ten to fifty feet.

The action of a fire in a lodge-pole forest is varied. If the forest be an old one, even with much rubbish on the ground the heat is not so intense as in a young growth. Where trees are scattered the flames crawl from tree to tree, the needles of which ignite like flash-powder and make beautiful rose-purple flames. At night fires of this kind furnish rare fireworks. Each tree makes a fountain of flame, after which, for a moment, every needle shines like incandescent silver, while exquisite light columns of ashen green smoke float above. The hottest fire I ever experienced was made by the burning of a thirty-eight-year lodge-pole forest. In this forest the poles stood more than thirty feet high, and were about fifteen thousand to an acre. They stood among masses of fallen trees, the remains of a spruce forest that had been killed by the same fire which had given this lodge-pole forest a chance to spring up. Several thousand acres were burned, and for a brief time the fire traveled swiftly. I saw it roll blazing over one mountain-side at a speed of more than sixty miles an hour. It was intensely hot, and in a surprisingly short time the flames had burned every log, stump, and tree to ashes. Several hundred acres were swept absolutely bare of trees, living and dead, and the roots too were burned far into the ground.

Several beetles prey upon the lodge-pole, and in some localities the porcupine feeds off its inner bark. It is also made use of by man. The wood is light, not strong, with a straight, rather coarse grain. It is of a light yellow to nearly white, or pinkish white, soft, and easily worked. In the West it is extensively used for lumber, fencing, fuel, and log houses, and millions of lodge-pole railroad-ties are annually put to use.

Most lodge-poles grow in crowded ranks, and slow growth is the result, but it is naturally a comparatively rapid grower. In good, moist soil, uncrowded, it rapidly builds upward and outward. I have more than a score of records that show that it has made a quarter of an inch diameter growth annually, together with an upright growth of more than twelve inches, and also several notes which show where trees standing in favorable conditions have made half an inch diameter growth annually. This fact of its rapid growth, together with other valuable characteristics and qualities of the tree, may lead it to be selected by the government for the reforestation of millions of acres of denuded areas in the West. In many places on the Rockies it would, if given a chance, make commercial timber in from thirty to sixty years.

I examined a lodge-pole in the Medicine Bow Mountains that was scarred by fire. It was two hundred and fourteen years of age. It took one hundred and seventy-eight years for it to make five inches of diameter growth. In the one hundred and seventy-eighth ring of annual growth there was a fire-scar, and during the next thirty-six years it put on five more inches of growth. It is probable, therefore, that the fire destroyed the neighboring trees, which had dwarfed and starved it and thus held it in check. I know of scores of cases where lodge-poles grew much more rapidly, though badly fire-scarred, after fires had removed their hampering competitors.

There are millions of acres of young lodge-pole forests in the West. They are almost as impenetrable as canebrakes. It would greatly increase the rate of growth if these trees were thinned, but it is probable that this will not be done for many years. Meantime, if these forests be protected from fire, they will be excellent water-conservers. When the snows or the rains fall into the lodge-pole thickets, they are beyond the reach of the extra dry winds. If they are protected, the water-supply of the West will be protected; and if they are destroyed, the winds will evaporate most of the precipitation that falls upon their areas.

I do not know of any tree that better adjusts itself to circumstances, or that struggles more bravely or successfully. I am hopeful that before many years the school-children of America will be well acquainted with the Lodge-Pole Pine, and I feel that its interesting ways, its struggles, and its importance will, before long, be appreciated and win a larger place in our literature and also in our hearts.

Rocky Mountain Forests

It is stirring to stand at the feet of the Rocky Mountains and look upward and far away over the broken strata that pile and terrace higher and higher, until, at a distance of twenty-five or thirty miles, they stand a shattered and snowy horizon against the blue. The view is an inspiring one from the base, but it gives no idea that this mountain array is a magnificent wild hanging-garden. Across the terraced and verdure-plumed garden the eternal snows send their clear and constant streams, to leap in white cascades between crowning crags and pines. Upon the upper slopes of this garden are many mirrored lakes, ferny, flowery glens, purple forests, and crag-piled meadows.

If any one were to start at the foothills in Colorado, where one of the clear streams comes sweeping out of the mountains to go quietly across the wide, wide plains, and from this starting-place climb to the crest of this terraced land of crags, pines, ferns, and flowers, he would, in so doing, go through many life-zones and see numerous standing and moving life-forms, all struggling, yet seemingly all contented with life and the scenes wherein they live and struggle.

The broad-leaf cottonwood, which has accompanied the streams across the plains, stops at the foothills, and along the river in the foothills the narrow-leaf cottonwood (Populus angustifolia) crowds the water's edge, here and there mingling with red-fruited hawthorns and wild plums (Prunus Americana). A short distance from the stream the sumac stands brilliant in the autumn, and a little farther away are clumps of greasewood and sagebrush and an occasional spread of juniper. Here and there are some forlorn-looking red cedars and a widely scattered sprinkling of stunted yellow pines (Pinus scopulorum).

At an altitude of six thousand feet the yellow pine acquires true tree dignity and begins to mass itself into forests. When seen from a distance its appearance suggests the oak. It seems a trifle rigid, appears ready to meet emergencies, has a look of the heroic, and carries more character than any other tree on the Rockies. Though a slender and small-limbed tree in youth, after forty or fifty years it changes slowly and becomes stocky, strong-limbed, and rounded at the top. Lightning, wind, and snow break or distort its upper limbs so that most of these veteran pines show a picturesquely broken top, with a towering dead limb or two among the green ones. Its needles are in bundles of both twos and threes, and they vary from three to eight inches in length. The tree is rich in resin, and a walk through its groves on an autumn day, when the sun shines bright on its clean golden columns and brings out its aroma, is a walk full of contentment and charm. The bark is fluted and blackish-gray in youth, and it breaks up into irregular plates, which on old trees frequently are five inches or more in thickness. This bark gives the tree excellent fire-protection.

The yellow pine is one of the best fire-fighters and lives long. I have seen many of the pines that were from sixty to ninety feet high, with a diameter of from three to five feet. They were aged from two hundred and fifty to six hundred years. Most of the old ones have lived through several fires. I dissected a fallen veteran that grew on the St. Vrain watershed, at an altitude of eight thousand feet, that was eighty-five feet high and fifty-one inches in diameter five feet from the ground. It showed six hundred and seventy-nine annual rings. During the first three hundred years of its life it averaged an inch of diameter growth every ten years. It had been through many forest fires and showed large fire-scars. One of these it received at the age of three hundred and thirty-nine years. It carried another scar which it received two hundred and sixteen years before its death; another which it received in 1830; and a fourth which it received fourteen years before it blew over in the autumn of 1892. All of these fire-scars were on the same quarter of the tree. All were on that part of the tree which overlooked the down-sloping hillside.

Forest fires, where there is opportunity, sweep up the mountain-side against the lower side of the trees. The lower side is thus often scarred while the opposite side is scarcely injured; but wind blowing down the gulch at the time of each fire may have directed the flames against the lower side of this tree. In many places clusters of young trees were growing close to the lower side of the old trees, and were enabled to grow there by light that came in from the side. It may be that the heat from one of the blazing clusters scarred this old pine; then another young cluster may have grown, to be in time also consumed. But these scars may have resulted, wholly or in part, from other causes.

Yellow pine claims the major portion of the well-drained slopes, except those that are northerly, in the middle mountain-zone up to the lower lodge-pole margin. A few groves are found higher than nine thousand feet. Douglas spruce covers many of the northerly slopes that lie between six thousand and nine thousand feet.

The regularity of tree-distribution over the mountains is to me a never-failing source of interest. Though the various species of trees appear to be growing almost at random, yet each species shows a decided preference for peculiar altitude, soil, temperature, and moisture conditions. It is an interesting demonstration of tree adaptability to follow a stream which comes out of the west, in the middle mountain-zone, and observe how unlike the trees are which thrive on opposite sides. On the southerly slopes that come down to the water is an open forest of yellow pine, and on the opposite side, the south bank, a dense forest of Douglas spruce. If one be told the altitude, the slope, and the moisture conditions of a place on the Rockies, he should, if acquainted with the Rockies, be able to name the kinds of trees growing there. Some trees grow only in moist places, others only in dry places, some never below or above a certain altitude. Indeed, so regular is the tree-distribution over the Rockies that I feel certain, if I were to awaken from a Rip Van Winkle sleep in the forests on the middle or upper slopes of these mountains, I could, after examining a few of the trees around me, tell the points of the compass, the altitude above sea-level, and the season of the year.

At an altitude of about sixty-five hundred feet cottonwood, which has accompanied the streams from the foothills, begins to be displaced by aspen. The aspen (Populus tremuloides) is found growing in groups and groves from this altitude up to timber-line, usually in the moister places. To me the aspen is almost a classic tree, and I have met it in so many places that I regard it almost as an old friend. It probably rivals the juniper in being the most widely distributed tree on the North American continent. It also vies with the lodge-pole pine in quickness of taking possession of burned-over areas. Let a moist place be burned over and the aspen will quickly take possession, and soon establish conditions which will allow conifers to return. This the conifers do, and in a very short time smother the aspens that made it possible for them to start in life. The good nursery work of aspens is restricted pretty closely to damp places.

Besides being a useful tree, the bare-legged little aspen with its restless and childlike ways is a tree that it is good to know. When alone, these little trees seem lonely and sometimes to tremble as though just a little afraid in this big strange world. But generally the aspen is not alone. Usually you find a number of little aspens playing together, with their leaves shaking, jostling, and jumping,—moving all the time. If you go near a group and stop to watch them, they may, for an instant, pause to glance at you, then turn to romp more merrily than before. And they have other childlike ways besides bare legs and activity. On some summer day, if you wish to find these little trees, look for them where you would for your own child,—wading the muddiest place to be found. They like to play in the swamps, and may often be seen in a line alongside a brook with toes in the water, as though looking for the deepest place before wading in.

One day I came across a party of merry little aspens who were in a circle around a grand old pine, as though using the pine for a maypole to dance around. It was in autumn, and each little aspen wore its gayest colors. Some were in gowns of new-made cloth-of-gold. The grizzled old pine, like an old man in the autumn of his life, looked down as though honored and pleased with the happy little ones who seemed so full of joy. I watched them for a time and went on across the mountains; but I have long believed in fairies, so the next day I went back to see this fairyland and found the dear little aspens still shaking their golden leaves, while the old pine stood still in the sunlight.

Along the streams, between the altitudes of sixty-five hundred and eighty-five hundred feet, one finds the Colorado blue or silver spruce. This tree grows in twos or threes, occasionally forming a small grove. Usually it is found growing near a river or brook, standing closely to a golden-lichened crag, in surroundings which emphasize its beauty of form and color. With its fluffy silver-tipped robe and its garlands of cones it is the handsomest tree on the Rockies. It is the queen of these wild gardens. Beginning at the altitude where the silver spruce ceases is the beautiful balsam fir (Abies lasiocarpa). The balsam fir is generally found in company with the alders or the silver spruce near a brook. It is strikingly symmetrical and often forms a perfect slender cone. The balsam fir and the silver spruce are the evergreen poems of the wild. They get into one's heart like the hollyhock. Several years ago the school-children of Colorado selected by vote a State flower and a State tree. Although more than fifty flowers received votes, two thirds of all the votes went to the Rocky Mountain columbine. When it came to selecting a tree, every vote was cast for the silver spruce.

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