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Title: Wild Life on the Rockies
Author: Mills, Enos Abijah, 1870-1922
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Wild Life on the Rockies


Wild Life on the Rockies


Enos A. Mills

With Illustrations from Photographs

[Illustration: Publisher's Device]

Boston and New York

Houghton Mifflin Company

The Riverside Press Cambridge



_Published March 1909_


John Muir


This book contains the record of a few of the many happy days and
novel experiences which I have had in the wilds. For more than twenty
years it has been my good fortune to live most of the time with
nature, on the mountains of the West. I have made scores of long
exploring rambles over the mountains in every season of the year,
a nature-lover charmed with the birds and the trees. On my later
excursions I have gone alone and without firearms. During three
succeeding winters, in which I was a Government Experiment Officer
and called the "State Snow Observer," I scaled many of the higher
peaks of the Rockies and made many studies on the upper slopes of
these mountains.

"Colorado Snow Observer" was printed in part in _The Youth's
Companion_ for May 18, 1905, under the title of "In the Mountain
Snows"; "The Story of a Thousand-Year Pine" appeared in _The World's
Work_ for August, 1908; and "The Beaver and his Works" is reprinted
from _The World To-Day_ for December, 1908.

E. A. M.


  Colorado Snow Observer                  1

  The Story of a Thousand-Year Pine      29

  The Beaver and his Works               51

  The Wilds without Firearms             69

  A Watcher on the Heights               81

  Climbing Long's Peak                   97

  Midget, the Return Horse              113

  Faithful Scotch                       129

  Bob and Some Other Birds              149

  Kinnikinick                           169

  The Lodge-Pole Pine                   181

  Rocky Mountain Forests                197

  Besieged by Bears                     215

  Mountain Parks and Camp-Fires         231

  Index                                 259


  _Long's Peak from the East_             _Frontispiece_

  _A Man with a History_                              6

  _The Crest of the Continent in Winter,
   13,000 Feet above Sea-Level_                      16

  _A Snow-Slide Track_                               20

  _A Veteran Western Yellow Pine_                    32

  _A Beaver-House_                                   58

  _A Beaver-Dam in Winter_                           63

  _Lake Odessa_                                      76

  _On the Heights_                                   84

  _A Storm on the Rockies_                           94

  _Long's Peak from the Summit of Mt. Meeker_       100

  _On the Tip-Top of Long's Peak_                   110

  _A Miner on a Return Horse_                       116

  _Scotch near Timber-Line_                         132

  _The Cloud-Capped Continental Divide_             144

  _Ptarmigan_                                       158

  _Summer at an Altitude of 12,000 Feet_            178

  _A Typical Lodge-Pole Forest_                     184

  _Aspens_                                          204

  _A Grove of Silver Spruce_                        208

  _Ouray, Colorado, a Typical Mining Town_          218

  _Estes Park and the Big Thompson River from
   the Top of Mt. Olympus_                          238

  _In the Uncompahgre Mountains_                    244

  _A Grass-Plot among Engelmann Spruce_             250

Colorado Snow Observer

"Where are you going?" was the question asked me one snowy winter day.
After hearing that I was off on a camping-trip, to be gone several
days, and that the place where I intended to camp was in deep snow on
the upper slopes of the Rockies, the questioners laughed heartily.
Knowing me, some questioners realized that I was in earnest, and all
that they could say in the nature of argument or appeal was said to
cause me to "forego the folly." But I went, and in the romance of a
new world--on the Rockies in winter--I lived intensely through ten
strong days and nights, and gave to my life new and rare experiences.
Afterwards I made other winter excursions, all of which were stirring
and satisfactory. The recollection of these winter experiences is as
complete and exhilarating as any in the vista of my memory.

Some years after my first winter camping-trip, I found myself
holding a strange position,--that of the "State Snow Observer of
Colorado." I have never heard of another position like it. Professor
L. G. Carpenter, the celebrated irrigation engineer, was making some
original investigations concerning forests and the water-supply. He
persuaded me to take the position, and under his direction I worked
as a government experiment officer. For three successive winters I
traversed the upper slopes of the Rockies and explored the crest of
the continent, alone. While on this work, I was instructed to make
notes on "those things that are likely to be of interest or value
to the Department of Agriculture or the Weather Bureau,"--and to be
careful not to lose my life.

On these winter trips I carried with me a camera, thermometer,
barometer, compass, notebook, and folding axe. The food carried
usually was only raisins. I left all bedding behind. Notwithstanding
I was alone and in the wilds, I did not carry any kind of a gun.

The work made it necessary for me to ramble the wintry heights in
sunshine and storm. Often I was out, or rather up, in a blizzard, and
on more than one occasion I was out for two weeks on the snow-drifted
crest of the continent, without seeing any one. I went beyond the
trails and visited the silent places alone. I invaded gulches, eagerly
walked the splendid forest aisles, wandered in the dazzling glare on
dreary alpine moorlands, and scaled the peaks over mantles of ice and
snow. I had many experiences,--amusing, dangerous, and exciting. There
was abundance of life and fun in the work. On many an evening darkness
captured me and compelled me to spend the night in the wilds without
bedding, and often without food. During these nights I kept a
camp-fire blazing until daylight released me. When the night was mild,
I managed to sleep a little,--in installments,--rising from time to
time to give wood to the eager fire. Sometimes a scarcity of wood kept
me busy gathering it all night; and sometimes the night was so cold
that I did not risk going to sleep. During these nights I watched my
flaming fountain of fire brighten, fade, surge, and change, or shower
its spray of sparks upon the surrounding snow-flowers. Strange
reveries I have had by these winter camp-fires. On a few occasions
mountain lions interrupted my thoughts with their piercing, lonely
cries; and more than once a reverie was pleasantly changed by the
whisper of a chickadee in some near-by tree as a cold comrade snuggled
up to it. Even during the worst of nights, when I thought of my lot at
all. I considered it better than that of those who were sick in houses
or asleep in the stuffy, deadly air of the slums.

  "Believe me, 'tis something to be cast
  Face to face with thine own self at last."

[Illustration: A MAN WITH A HISTORY]

Not all nights were spent outdoors. Many a royal evening was passed in
the cabin of a miner or a prospector, or by the fireside of a family
who for some reason had left the old home behind and sought seclusion
in wild scenes, miles from neighbors. Among Colorado's mountains there
are an unusual number of strong characters who are trying again. They
are strong because broken plans, lost fortunes, or shattered health
elsewhere have not ended their efforts or changed their ideals. Many
are trying to restore health, some are trying again to prosper, others
are just making a start in life, but there are a few who, far from
the madding crowd, are living happily the simple life. Sincerity,
hope, and repose enrich the lives of those who live among the crags
and pines of mountain fastnesses. Many a happy evening I have had with
a family, or an old prospector, who gave me interesting scraps of
autobiography along with a lodging for the night.

The snow-fall on the mountains of Colorado is very unevenly
distributed, and is scattered through seven months of the year. Two
places only a few miles apart, and separated by a mountain-range, may
have very different climates, and one of these may have twice as much
snow-fall as the other. On the middle of the upper slopes of the
mountains the snow sometimes falls during seven months of the year.
At an altitude of eleven thousand feet the annual fall amounts to
eighteen feet. This is several times the amount that falls at an
altitude of six thousand feet. In a locality near Crested Butte the
annual fall is thirty feet, and during snowy winters even fifty feet.
Most winter days are clear, and the climate less severe than is
usually imagined.

One winter I walked on snowshoes on the upper slopes of the "snowy"
range of the Rockies, from the Wyoming line on the north to near the
New Mexico line on the south. This was a long walk, and it was full of
amusement and adventure. I walked most of the way on the crest of the
continent. The broken nature of the surface gave me ups and downs.
Sometimes I would descend to the level of seven thousand feet, and
occasionally I climbed some peak that was fourteen thousand feet above
the tides.

I had not been out many days on this trip when I was caught in a storm
on the heights above tree-line. I at once started downward for the
woods. The way among the crags and precipices was slippery; the wind
threatened every moment to hurl me over a cliff; the wind-blown snow
filled the air so that I could see only a few feet, and at times not
at all. But it was too cold to stop. For two hours I fought my way
downward through the storm, and so dark was it during the last
half-hour that I literally felt my way with my staff. Once in the
woods, I took off a snowshoe, dug a large hole in the snow down to
the earth, built a fire, and soon forgot the perilous descent. After
eating from my supply of raisins, I dozed a little, and woke to find
all calm and the moon shining in glory on a snowy mountain-world of
peaks and pines. I put on my snowshoes, climbed upward beneath the
moon, and from the summit of Lead Mountain, thirteen thousand feet
high, saw the sun rise in splendor on a world of white.

The tracks and records in the snow which I read in passing made
something of a daily newspaper for me. They told much of news of the
wilds. Sometimes I read of the games that the snowshoe rabbit had
played; of a starving time among the brave mountain sheep on the
heights; of the quiet content in the ptarmigan neighborhood; of the
dinner that the pines had given the grouse; of the amusements and
exercises on the deer's stamping-ground; of the cunning of foxes; of
the visits of magpies, the excursions of lynxes, and the red records
of mountain lions.

The mountain lion is something of a game-hog and an epicure. He
prefers warm blood for every meal, and is very wasteful. I have much
evidence against him; his worst one-day record that I have shows five
tragedies. In this time he killed a mountain sheep, a fawn, a grouse,
a rabbit, and a porcupine; and as if this were not enough, he was
about to kill another sheep when a dark object on snowshoes shot down
the slope near by and disturbed him. The instances where he has
attacked human beings are rare, but he will watch and follow one for
hours with the utmost caution and curiosity. One morning after a
night-journey through the wood, I turned back and doubled my trail.
After going a short distance I came to the track of a lion alongside
my own. I went back several miles and read the lion's movements. He
had watched me closely. At every place where I rested he had crept up
close, and at the place where I had sat down against a stump he had
crept up to the opposite side of the stump,--and I fear while I dozed!

One night during this expedition I had lodging in an old and isolated
prospector's cabin, with two young men who had very long hair. For
months they had been in seclusion, "gathering wonderful herbs,"
hunting out prescriptions for every human ill, and waiting for their
hair to grow long. I hope they prepared some helpful, or at least
harmless prescriptions, for, ere this, they have become picturesque,
and I fear prosperous, medicine-men on some populous street-corner.
One day I had dinner on the summit of Mt. Lincoln, fourteen thousand
feet above the ocean. I ate with some miners who were digging out
their fortune; and was "the only caller in five months."

But I was not always a welcome guest. At one of the big mining-camps
I stopped for mail and to rest for a day or so. I was all "rags and
tags," and had several broken strata of geology and charcoal on my
face in addition. Before I had got well into the town, from all
quarters came dogs, each of which seemed determined to make it
necessary for me to buy some clothes. As I had already determined to
do this, I kept the dogs at bay for a time, and then sought refuge in
a first-class hotel; from this the porter, stimulated by an excited
order from the clerk, promptly and literally kicked me out!

In the robings of winter how different the mountains than when
dressed in the bloom of summer! In no place did the change seem more
marked than on some terrace over which summer flung the lacy drapery
of a white cascade, or where a wild waterfall "leapt in glory." These
places in winter were glorified with the fine arts of ice,--"frozen
music," as some one has defined architecture,--for here winter had
constructed from water a wondrous array of columns, panels, filigree,
fretwork, relief-work, arches, giant icicles, and stalagmites as large
as, and in ways resembling, a big tree with a fluted full-length
mantle of ice.

Along the way were extensive areas covered with the ruins of
fire-killed trees. Most of the forest fires which had caused these
were the result of carelessness. The timber destroyed by these fires
had been needed by thousands of home-builders. The robes of beauty
which they had burned from the mountain-sides are a serious loss.
These fire ruins preyed upon me, and I resolved to do something to
save the remaining forests. The opportunity came shortly after the
resolution was made.

Two days before reaching the objective point, farthest south, my food
gave out, and I fasted. But as soon as I reached the end, I started
to descend the heights, and very naturally knocked at the door of the
first house I came to, and asked for something to eat. I supposed I
was at a pioneer's cabin. A handsome, neatly dressed young lady came
to the door, and when her eyes fell upon me she blushed and then
turned pale. I was sorry that my appearance had alarmed her, but I
repeated my request for something to eat. Just then, through the
half-open door behind the young lady, came the laughter of children,
and a glance into the room told me that I was before a mountain
schoolhouse. By this time the teacher, to whom I was talking, startled
me by inviting me in. As I sat eating a luncheon to which the teacher
and each one of the six school-children contributed, the teacher
explained to me that she was recently from the East, and that I so
well fitted her ideas of a Western desperado that she was frightened
at first. When I finished eating, I made my first after-dinner speech;
it was also my first attempt to make a forestry address. One point I
tried to bring out was concerning the destruction wrought by forest
fires. Among other things I said: "During the past few years in
Colorado, forest fires, which ought never to have been started, have
destroyed many million dollars' worth of timber, and the area
over which the fires have burned aggregates twenty-five thousand
square miles. This area of forest would put on the equator an
evergreen-forest belt one mile wide that would reach entirely around
the world. Along with this forest have perished many of the animals
and thousands of beautiful birds who had homes in it."

I finally bade all good-bye, went on my way rejoicing, and in due
course arrived at Denver, where a record of one of my longest winter
excursions was written.

In order to give an idea of one of my briefer winter walks, I close
this chapter with an account of a round-trip snowshoe journey from
Estes Park to Grand Lake, the most thrilling and adventurous that has
ever entertained me on the trail.

One February morning I set off alone on snowshoes to cross the
"range," for the purpose of making some snow-measurements. The nature
of my work for the State required the closest observation of the
character and extent of the snow in the mountains. I hoped to get to
Grand Lake for the night, but I was on the east side of the range, and
Grand Lake was on the west. Along the twenty-five miles of trail there
was only wilderness, without a single house. The trail was steep and
the snow very soft. Five hours were spent in gaining timber-line,
which was only six miles from my starting-place, but four thousand
feet above it. Rising in bold grandeur above me was the summit of
Long's Peak, and this, with the great hills of drifted snow, out of
which here and there a dwarfed and distorted tree thrust its top, made
timber-line seem weird and lonely.

From this point the trail wound for six miles across bleak heights
before it came down to timber on the other side of the range. I set
forward as rapidly as possible, for the northern sky looked stormy.
I must not only climb up fifteen hundred feet, but must also skirt
the icy edges of several precipices in order to gain the summit. My
friends had warned me that the trip was a foolhardy one even on a
clear, calm day, but I was fated to receive the fury of a snowstorm
while on the most broken portion of the trail.

The tempest came on with deadly cold and almost blinding violence. The
wind came with awful surges, and roared and boomed among the crags.
The clouds dashed and seethed along the surface, shutting out all
landmarks. I was every moment in fear of slipping or being blown over
a precipice, but there was no shelter; I was on the roof of the
continent, twelve thousand five hundred feet above sea-level, and to
stop in the bitter cold meant death.


It was still three miles to timber on the west slope, and I found it
impossible to keep the trail. Fearing to perish if I tried to follow
even the general course of the trail, I abandoned it altogether, and
started for the head of a gorge, down which I thought it would be
possible to climb to the nearest timber. Nothing definite could be
seen. The clouds on the snowy surface and the light electrified air
gave the eye only optical illusions. The outline of every object was
topsy-turvy and dim. The large stones that I thought to step on
were not there; and, when apparently passing others, I bumped into
them. Several times I fell headlong by stepping out for a drift and
finding a depression.

In the midst of these illusions I walked out on a snow-cornice that
overhung a precipice! Unable to see clearly, I had no realization of
my danger until I felt the snow giving way beneath me. I had seen the
precipice in summer, and knew it was more than a thousand feet to the
bottom! Down I tumbled, carrying a large fragment of the snow-cornice
with me. I could see nothing, and I was entirely helpless. Then, just
as the full comprehension of the awful thing that was happening swept
over me, the snow falling beneath me suddenly stopped. I plunged into
it, completely burying myself. Then I, too, no longer moved downward;
my mind gradually admitted the knowledge that my body, together with
a considerable mass of the snow, had fallen upon a narrow ledge and
caught there. More of the snow came tumbling after me, and it was a
matter of some minutes before I succeeded in extricating myself.

When I thrust my head out of the snow-mass and looked about me, I was
first appalled by a glance outward, which revealed the terrible height
of the precipice on the face of which I was hanging. Then I was
relieved by a glance upward, which showed me that I was only some
twenty feet from the top, and that a return thither would not be very
difficult. But if I had walked from the top a few feet farther back,
I should have fallen a quarter of a mile.

One of my snowshoes came off as I struggled out, so I took off the
other shoe and used it as a scoop to uncover the lost web. But it
proved very slow and dangerous work. With both shoes off I sank
chest-deep in the snow; if I ventured too near the edge of the ledge,
the snow would probably slip off and carry me to the bottom of the
precipice. It was only after two hours of effort that the shoe was

When I first struggled to the surface of the snow on the ledge, I
looked at once to find a way back to the top of the precipice. I
quickly saw that by following the ledge a few yards beneath the
unbroken snow-cornice I could climb to the top over some jagged
rocks. As soon as I had recovered the shoe, I started round the ledge.
When I had almost reached the jagged rocks, the snow-cornice caved
upon me, and not only buried me, but came perilously near knocking me
into the depths beneath. But at last I stood upon the top in safety.

A short walk from the top brought me out upon a high hill of snow that
sloped steeply down into the woods. The snow was soft, and I sat down
in it and slid "a blue streak"--my blue overalls recording the
streak--for a quarter of a mile, and then came to a sudden and
confusing stop; one of my webs had caught on a spine of one of the
dwarfed and almost buried trees at timber-line.

When I had traveled a short distance below timber-line, a fearful
crashing caused me to turn; I was in time to see fragments of snow
flying in all directions, and snow-dust boiling up in a great geyser
column. A snow-slide had swept down and struck a granite cliff. As I
stood there, another slide started on the heights above timber, and
with a far-off roar swept down in awful magnificence, with a
comet-like tail of snow-dust. Just at timber-line it struck a ledge
and glanced to one side, and at the same time shot up into the air so
high that for an instant I saw the treetops beneath it. But it came
back to earth with awful force, and I felt the ground tremble as it
crushed a wide way through the woods. It finally brought up at the
bottom of a gulch with a wreckage of hundreds of noble spruce trees
that it had crushed down and swept before it.

As I had left the trail on the heights, I was now far from it and in a
rugged and wholly unfrequented section, so that coming upon the fresh
tracks of a mountain lion did not surprise me. But I was not prepared
for what occurred soon afterward. Noticing a steamy vapor rising from
a hole in the snow by the protruding roots of an overturned tree, I
walked to the hole to learn the cause of it. One whiff of the vapor
stiffened my hair and limbered my legs. I shot down a steep slope,
dodging trees and rocks. The vapor was rank with the odor from a bear.

[Illustration: A SNOW-SLIDE TRACK]

At the bottom of the slope I found the frozen surface of a stream
much easier walking than the soft snow. All went well until I came to
some rapids, where, with no warning whatever, the thin ice dropped me
into the cold current among the boulders. I scrambled to my feet, with
the ice flying like broken glass. The water came only a little above
my knees, but as I had gone under the surface, and was completely
drenched, I made an enthusiastic move toward the bank. Now snowshoes
are not adapted for walking either in swift water or among boulders.
I realized this thoroughly after they had several times tripped me,
sprawling, into the liquid cold. Finally I sat down in the water, took
them off, and came out gracefully.

I gained the bank with chattering teeth and an icy armor. My pocket
thermometer showed two degrees above zero. Another storm was bearing
down upon me from the range, and the sun was sinking. But the worst of
it all was that there were several miles of rough and strange country
between me and Grand Lake that would have to be made in the dark. I
did not care to take any more chances on the ice, so I spent a hard
hour climbing out of the cañon. The climb warmed me and set my
clothes steaming.

My watch indicated six o'clock. A fine snow was falling, and it was
dark and cold. I had been exercising for twelve hours without rest,
and had eaten nothing since the previous day, as I never take
breakfast. I made a fire and lay down on a rock by it to relax, and
also to dry my clothes. In half an hour I started on again. Rocky and
forest-covered ridges lay between me and Grand Lake. In the darkness
I certainly took the worst way. I met with too much resistance in the
thickets and too little on the slippery places, so that when, at
eleven o'clock that night, I entered a Grand Lake Hotel, my appearance
was not prepossessing.

The next day, after a few snow-measurements, I set off to re-cross the
range. In order to avoid warm bear-dens and cold streams, I took a
different route. It was a much longer way than the one I had come by,
so I went to a hunter's deserted cabin for the night. The cabin had no
door, and I could see the stars through the roof. The old sheet-iron
stove was badly rusted and broken. Most of the night I spent chopping
wood, and I did not sleep at all. But I had a good rest by the stove,
where I read a little from a musty pamphlet on palmistry that I found
between the logs of the cabin. I always carry candles with me. When
the wind is blowing, the wood damp, and the fingers numb, they are of
inestimable value in kindling a fire. I do not carry firearms, and
during the night, when a lion gave a blood-freezing screech, I wished
he were somewhere else.

Daylight found me climbing toward the top of the range through the
Medicine Bow National Forest, among some of the noblest evergreens in
Colorado. When the sun came over the range, the silent forest vistas
became magnificent with bright lights and deep shadows. At timber-line
the bald rounded summit of the range, like a gigantic white turtle,
rose a thousand feet above me. The slope was steep and very icy; a
gusty wind whirled me about. Climbing to the top would be like going
up a steep ice-covered house-roof. It would be a dangerous and barely
possible undertaking. But as I did not have courage enough to
retreat, I threw off my snowshoes and started up. I cut a place in the
ice for every step. There was nothing to hold to, and a slip meant a
fatal slide.

With rushes from every quarter, the wind did its best to freeze or
overturn me. My ears froze, and my fingers grew so cold that they
could hardly hold the ice-axe. But after an hour of constant peril and
ever-increasing exhaustion, I got above the last ice and stood upon
the snow. The snow was solidly packed, and, leaving my snowshoes
strapped across my shoulders, I went scrambling up. Near the top of
the range a ledge of granite cropped out through the snow, and toward
this I hurried. Before making a final spurt to the ledge, I paused to
breathe. As I stopped, I was startled by sounds like the creaking of
wheels on a cold, snowy street. The snow beneath me was slipping! I
had started a snow-slide.

Almost instantly the slide started down the slope with me on it. The
direction in which it was going and the speed it was making would in
a few seconds carry it down two thousand feet of slope, where it would
leap over a precipice into the woods. I was on the very upper edge of
the snow that had started, and this was the tail-end of the slide. I
tried to stand up in the rushing snow, but its speed knocked my feet
from under me, and in an instant I was rolled beneath the surface.
Beneath the snow, I went tumbling on with it for what seemed like a
long time, but I know, of course, that it was for only a second or
two; then my feet struck against something solid. I was instantly
flung to the surface again, where I either was spilled off, or else
fell through, the end of the slide, and came to a stop on the scraped
and frozen ground, out of the grasp of the terrible snow.

I leaped to my feet and saw the slide sweep on in most impressive
magnificence. At the front end of the slide the snow piled higher
and higher, while following in its wake were splendid streamers and
scrolls of snow-dust. I lost no time in getting to the top, and set
off southward, where, after six miles, I should come to the trail that
led to my starting-place on the east side of the range. After I had
made about three miles, the cold clouds closed in, and everything was
fogged. A chilly half-hour's wait and the clouds broke up. I had lost
my ten-foot staff in the snow-slide, and feeling for precipices
without it would probably bring me out upon another snow-cornice, so
I took no chances.

I was twelve thousand five hundred feet above sea-level when the
clouds broke up, and from this great height I looked down upon what
seemed to be the margin of the polar world. It was intensely cold, but
the sun shone with dazzling glare, and the wilderness of snowy peaks
came out like a grand and jagged ice-field in the far south. Halos
and peculiarly luminous balls floated through the color-tinged and
electrical air. The horizon had a touch of cobalt blue, and on the
dome above, white flushes appeared and disappeared like faint auroras.
After five hours on these silent but imposing heights I struck my
first day's trail, and began a wild and merry coast down among the
rocks and trees to my starting-place.

I hope to have more winter excursions, but perhaps I have had my
share. At the bare thought of those winter experiences I am again
on an unsheltered peak struggling in a storm; or I am in a calm and
splendid forest upon whose snowy, peaceful aisles fall the purple
shadows of crags and pines.

The Story of a Thousand-Year Pine

The peculiar charm and fascination that trees exert over many people
I had always felt from childhood, but it was that great nature-lover,
John Muir, who first showed me how and where to learn their language.
Few trees, however, ever held for me such an attraction as did a
gigantic and venerable yellow pine which I discovered one autumn day
several years ago while exploring the southern Rockies. It grew within
sight of the Cliff-Dwellers' Mesa Verde, which stands at the corner
of four States, and as I came upon it one evening just as the sun
was setting over that mysterious tableland, its character and heroic
proportions made an impression upon me that I shall never forget, and
which familiar acquaintance only served to deepen while it yet lived
and before the axeman came. Many a time I returned to build my
camp-fire by it and have a day or a night in its solitary and noble
company. I learned afterwards that it had been given the name "Old
Pine," and it certainly had an impressiveness quite compatible with
the age and dignity which go with a thousand years of life.

When, one day, the sawmill-man at Mancos wrote, "Come, we are about to
log your old pine," I started at once, regretting that a thing which
seemed to me so human, as well as so noble, must be killed.


I went out with the axemen who were to cut the old pine down. A grand
and impressive tree he was. Never have I seen so much individuality,
so much character, in a tree. Although lightning had given him a bald
crown, he was still a healthy giant, and was waving evergreen banners
more than one hundred and fifteen feet above the earth. His massive
trunk, eight feet in diameter on a level with my breast, was covered
with a thick, rough, golden-brown bark which was broken into irregular
plates. Several of his arms were bent and broken. Altogether, he
presented a timeworn but heroic appearance.

It is almost a marvel that trees should live to become the oldest of
living things. Fastened in one place, their struggle is incessant and
severe. From the moment a baby tree is born--from the instant it casts
its tiny shadow upon the ground--until death, it is in danger from
insects and animals. It cannot move to avoid danger. It cannot run
away to escape enemies. Fixed in one spot, almost helpless, it must
endure flood and drought, fire and storm, insects and earthquakes,
or die.

Trees, like people, struggle for existence, and an aged tree, like an
aged person, has not only a striking appearance, but an interesting
biography. I have read the autobiographies of many century-old trees,
and have found their life-stories strange and impressive. The yearly
growth, or annual ring of wood with which trees envelop themselves, is
embossed with so many of their experiences that this annual ring of
growth literally forms an autobiographic diary of the tree's life.

I wanted to read Old Pine's autobiography. A veteran pine that had
stood on the southern Rockies and struggled and triumphed through the
changing seasons of hundreds of years must contain a rare life-story.
From his stand between the Mesa and the pine-plumed mountain, he had
seen the panorama of the seasons and many a strange pageant; he
had beheld what scenes of animal and human strife, what storms and
convulsions of nature! Many a wondrous secret he had locked within his
tree soul. Yet, although he had not recorded what he had _seen_,
I knew that he had kept a fairly accurate diary of his own personal
experience. This I knew the saw would reveal, and this I had
determined to see.

Nature matures a million conifer seeds for each one she chooses for
growth, so we can only speculate as to the selection of the seed from
which sprung this storied pine. It may be that the cone in which it
matured was crushed into the earth by the hoof of a passing deer. It
may have been hidden by a jay; or, as is more likely, it may have
grown from one of the uneaten cones which a Douglas squirrel had
buried for winter food. Douglas squirrels are the principal nurserymen
for all the Western pineries. Each autumn they harvest a heavy
percentage of the cone crop and bury it for winter. The seeds in the
uneaten cones germinate, and each year countless thousands of conifers
grow from the seeds planted by these squirrels. It may be that the
seed from which Old Pine burst had been planted by an ancient ancestor
of the protesting Douglas who was in possession, or this seed may have
been in a cone which simply bounded or blew into a hole, where the
seed found sufficient mould and moisture to give it a start in life.

       *       *       *       *       *

Two loggers swung their axes. At the first blow a Douglas squirrel
came out of a hole at the base of a dead limb near the top of the tree
and made an aggressive claim of ownership, setting up a vociferous
protest against the cutting. As his voice was unheeded, he came
scolding down the tree, jumped off one of the lower limbs, and took
refuge in a young pine that stood near by. From time to time he came
out on the top of the limb nearest to us, and, with a wry face, fierce
whiskers, and violent gestures, directed a torrent of abuse at the
axemen who were delivering death-blows to Old Pine.

The old pine's enormous weight caused him to fall heavily, and he came
to earth with tremendous force and struck on an elbow of one of his
stocky arms. The force of the fall not only broke the trunk in two,
but badly shattered it. The damage to the log was so general that the
sawmill-man said it would not pay to saw it into lumber and that it
could rot on the spot.

I had come a long distance for the express purpose of deciphering Old
Pine's diary as the scroll of his life should be laid open in the
sawmill. The abandonment of the shattered form compelled the adoption
of another way of getting at his story. Receiving permission to do as
I pleased with his remains, I at once began to cut and split both the
trunk and the limbs and to transcribe their strange records. Day after
day I worked. I dug up the roots and thoroughly dissected them, and
with the aid of a magnifier I studied the trunk, the roots, and the

I carefully examined the base of his stump, and in it I found 1047
rings of growth! He had lived through a thousand and forty-seven
memorable years. As he was cut down in 1903, his birth probably
occurred in 856.

In looking over the rings of growth, I found that a few of them were
much thicker than the others; and these thick rings, or coats of wood,
tell of favorable seasons. There were also a few extremely thin rings
of growth. In places two and even three of these were together. These
were the result of unfavorable seasons,--of drought or cold. The
rings of trees also show healed wounds, and tell of burns, bites,
and bruises, of torn bark and broken arms. Old Pine not only received
injuries in his early years, but from time to time throughout his
life. The somewhat kinked condition of several of the rings of growth,
beginning with the twentieth, shows that at the age of twenty he
sustained an injury which resulted in a severe curvature of the spine,
and that for some years he was somewhat stooped. I was unable to make
out from his diary whether this injury was the result of a tree or
some object falling upon him and pinning him down, or whether his back
had been overweighted and bent by wet, clinging snow. As I could not
find any scars or bruises, I think that snow must have been the cause
of the injury. However, after a few years he straightened up with
youthful vitality and seemed to outgrow and forget the experience.

A century of tranquil life followed, and during these years the rapid
growth tells of good seasons as well as good soil. This rapid growth
also shows that there could not have been any crowding neighbors to
share the sun and the soil. The tree had grown evenly in all quarters,
and the pith of the tree was in the centre. But had one tree grown
close, on that quarter the old pine would have grown slower than the
others and would have been thinner, and the pith would thus have been
away from the tree's centre.

When the old pine was just completing his one hundred and thirty-fifth
ring of growth, he met with an accident which I can account for only
by assuming that a large tree that grew several yards away blew over,
and in falling, stabbed him in the side with two dead limbs. His bark
was broken and torn, but this healed in due time. Short sections of
the dead limbs broke off, however, and were embedded in the old pine.
Twelve years' growth covered them, and they remained hidden from view
until my splitting revealed them. The other wounds started promptly to
heal and, with one exception, did so.

A year or two later some ants and borers began excavating their deadly
winding ways in the old pine. They probably started to work in one
of the places injured by the falling tree. They must have had some
advantage, or else something must have happened to the nuthatches and
chickadees that year, for, despite the vigilance of these birds, both
the borers and the ants succeeded in establishing colonies that
threatened injury and possibly death.

Fortunately relief came. One day the chief surgeon of all the
Southwestern pineries came along. This surgeon was the Texas
woodpecker. He probably did not long explore the ridges and little
furrows of the bark before he discovered the wound or heard these
hidden insects working. After a brief examination, holding his ear to
the bark for a moment to get the location of the tree's deadly foe
beneath, he was ready to act. He made two successful operations.
These not only required him to cut deeply into the old pine and take
out the borers, but he may also have had to come back from time to
time to dress the wounds by devouring the ant-colonies which may have
persisted in taking possession of them. The wounds finally healed, and
only the splitting of the affected parts revealed these records, all
filled with pitch and preserved for nearly nine hundred years.

Following this, an even tenor marked his life for nearly three
centuries. This quiet existence came to an end in the summer of 1301,
when a stroke of lightning tore a limb out of his round top and badly
shattered a shoulder. He had barely recovered from this injury when a
violent wind tore off several of his arms. During the summer of 1348
he lost two of his largest arms. These were large and sound, and were
more than a foot in diameter at the points of breakage. As these were
broken by a down-pressing weight or force, we may attribute these
breaks to accumulations of snow.

The oldest, largest portion of a tree is the short section
immediately above the ground, and, as this lower section is the most
exposed to accidents or to injuries from enemies, it generally bears
evidence of having suffered the most. Within its scroll are usually
found the most extensive and interesting autobiographical impressions.

It is doubtful if there is any portion of the earth upon which there
are so many deadly struggles as upon the earth around the trunk of a
tree. Upon this small arena there are battles fierce and wild; here
nature is "red in tooth and claw." When a tree is small and tender,
countless insects come to feed upon it. Birds come to it to devour
these insects. Around the tree are daily almost merciless fights for
existence. These death-struggles occur not only in the daytime, but in
the night. Mice, rats, and rabbits destroy millions of young trees.
These bold animals often flay baby trees in the daylight, and while at
their deadly feast many a time have they been surprised by hawks, and
then they are at a banquet where they themselves are eaten. The owl,
the faithful nightwatchman of trees, often swoops down at night, and
as a result some little tree is splashed with the blood of the very
animal that came to feed upon it.

The lower section of Old Pine's trunk contained records which I found
interesting. One of these in particular aroused my imagination. I was
sawing off a section of this lower portion when the saw, with a
buzz-z-z-z, suddenly jumped. The object struck was harder than the
saw. I wondered what it could be, and, cutting the wood carefully
away, laid bare a flint arrowhead. Close to this one I found another,
and then with care I counted the rings of growth to find out the year
that these had wounded Old Pine. The outer ring which these arrowheads
had pierced was the six hundred and thirtieth, so that the year of
this occurrence was 1486.

Had an Indian bent his bow and shot at a bear that had stood at bay
backed up against this tree? Or was there around this tree a battle
among Indian tribes? Is it possible that at this place some
Cliff-Dweller scouts encountered their advancing foe from the north
and opened hostilities? It may be that around Old Pine was fought the
battle that is said to have decided the fate of that mysterious race
the Cliff-Dwellers. The imagination insists on speculating with these
two arrowheads, though they form a fascinating clue that leads us
to no definite conclusion. But the fact remains that Old Pine was
wounded by two Indian arrowheads some time during his six hundred and
thirtieth summer.

The year that Columbus discovered America, Old Pine was a handsome
giant with a round head held more than one hundred feet above the
earth. He was six hundred and thirty-six years old, and with the
coming of the Spanish adventurers his lower trunk was given new events
to record. The year 1540 was a particularly memorable one for him.
This year brought the first horses and bearded men into the drama
which was played around him. This year, for the first time, he felt
the edge of steel and the tortures of fire. The old chronicles say
that the Spanish explorers found the cliff-houses in the year 1540.
I believe that during this year a Spanish exploring party may have
camped beneath Old Pine and built a fire against his instep, and that
some of the explorers hacked him with an axe. The old pine had
distinct records of axe and fire markings during the year 1540. It was
not common for the Indians of the West to burn or mutilate trees, and
as it was common for the Spaniards to do so, and as these hackings in
the tree seemed to have been made with some edged tool sharper than
any possessed by the Indians, it at least seems probable that they
were done by the Spaniards. At any rate, from the year 1540 until the
day of his death, Old Pine carried these scars on his instep.

As the average yearly growth of the old pine was about the same as in
trees similarly situated at the present time, I suppose that climatic
conditions in his early days must have been similar to the climatic
conditions of to-day. His records indicate periods of even tenor of
climate, a year of extremely poor conditions, occasionally a year
crowned with a bountiful wood harvest. From 1540 to 1762 I found
little of special interest. In 1762, however, the season was not
regular. After the ring was well started, something, perhaps a cold
wave, for a time checked its growth, and as a result the wood for
that one year resembled two years' growth, but yet the difference
between this double or false ring and a regular one was easily
detected. Old Pine's "hard times" experience seems to have been during
the years 1804 and 1805. I think it probable that these were years of
drought. During 1804 the layer of wood was the thinnest in his life,
and for 1805 the only wood I could find was a layer which only partly
covered the trunk of the tree, and this was exceedingly thin.

From time to time in the old pine's record, I came across what seemed
to be indications of an earthquake shock; but late in 1811 or early in
1812, I think there is no doubt that he experienced a violent shock,
for he made extensive records of it. This earthquake occurred after
the sap had ceased to flow in 1811, and before it began to flow in the
spring of 1812. In places the wood was checked and shattered. At one
point, some distance from the ground, there was a bad horizontal
break. Two big roots were broken in two, and that quarter of the tree
which faced the cliffs had suffered from a rock bombardment. I
suppose the violence of the quake displaced many rocks, and some of
these, as they came bounding down the mountain-side, collided with Old
Pine. One, of about five pounds' weight, struck him so violently in
the side that it remained embedded there. After some years the wound
was healed over, but this fragment remained in the tree until I
released it.

During 1859 some one made an axe-mark on the old pine that may have
been intended for a trail-blaze, and during the same year another fire
badly burned and scarred his ankle. I wonder if some prospectors came
this way in 1859 and made camp by him.

Another record of man's visits to the tree was made in the summer of
1881, when I think a hunting or outing party may have camped near here
and amused themselves by shooting at a mark on Old Pine's ankle.
Several modern rifle-bullets were found embedded in the wood around or
just beneath a blaze which was made on the tree the same year in which
the bullets had entered it. As both these marks were made during the
year 1881, it is at least possible that this year the old pine was
used as the background for a target during a shooting contest.

While I was working over the old pine, a Douglas squirrel who lived
near by used every day to stop in his busy harvesting of pine-cones to
look on and scold me. As I watched him placing his cones in a hole in
the ground under the pine-needles, I often wondered if one of his
buried cones would remain there uneaten to germinate and expand ever
green into the air, and become a noble giant to live as long and as
useful a life as Old Pine. I found myself trying to picture the scenes
in which this tree would stand when the birds came singing back from
the Southland in the springtime of the year 3000.

After I had finished my work of splitting, studying, and deciphering
the fragments of the old pine, I went to the sawmill and arranged for
the men to come over that evening after I had departed and burn every
piece and vestige of the venerable old tree. I told them I should
be gone by dark. Then I went back and piled into a pyramid every
fragment of root and trunk and broken branch. Seating myself upon this
pyramid, I spent some time that afternoon gazing through the autumn
sunglow at the hazy Mesa Verde, while my mind rebuilt and shifted the
scenes of the long, long drama in which Old Pine had played his part,
and of which he had given us but a few fragmentary records. I lingered
there dreaming until twilight. I thought of the cycles during which he
had stood patient in his appointed place, and my imagination busied
itself with the countless experiences that had been recorded, and the
scenes and pageants he had witnessed but of which he had made no
record. I wondered if he had enjoyed the changing of seasons. I knew
that he had often boomed or hymned in the storm or in the breeze. Many
a monumental robe of snow-flowers had he worn. More than a thousand
times he had beheld the earth burst into bloom amid the happy songs of
mating birds; hundreds of times in summer he had worn countless
crystal rain-jewels in the sunlight of the breaking storm, while the
brilliant rainbow came and vanished on the near-by mountain-side. Ten
thousand times he had stood silent in the lonely light of the white
and mystic moon.

Twilight was fading into darkness when I arose and started on a
night-journey for the Mesa Verde, where I intended next morning to
greet an old gnarled cedar which grew on its summit. When I arrived at
the top of the Mesa, I looked back and saw a pyramid of golden flame
standing out in the darkness.

The Beaver and his Works

I have never been able to decide which I love best, birds or trees,
but as these are really comrades it does not matter, for they can take
first place together. But when it comes to second place in my
affection for wild things, this, I am sure, is filled by the beaver.
The beaver has so many interesting ways, and is altogether so useful,
so thrifty, so busy, so skillful, and so picturesque, that I believe
his life and his deeds deserve a larger place in literature and a
better place in our hearts. His engineering works are of great value
to man. They not only help to distribute the waters and beneficially
control the flow of the streams, but they also catch and save from
loss enormous quantities of the earth's best plant-food. In helping to
do these two things,--governing the rivers and fixing the soil,--he
plays an important part, and if he and the forest had their way with
the water-supply, floods would be prevented, streams would never run
dry, and a comparatively even flow of water would be maintained in
the rivers every day of the year.

A number of beaver establishing a colony made one of the most
interesting exhibitions of constructive work that I have ever watched.
The work went on for several weeks, and I spent hours and days in
observing operations. My hiding-place on a granite crag allowed me a
good view of the work,--the cutting and transportation of the little
logs, the dam-building, and the house-raising. I was close to the
trees that were felled. Occasionally, during the construction work of
this colony, I saw several beaver at one time cutting trees near one
another. Upon one occasion, one was squatted on a fallen tree, another
on the limb of a live one, and a third upon a boulder, each busy
cutting down his tree. In every case, the tail was used for a
combination stool and brace. While cutting, the beaver sat upright and
clasped the willow with fore paws or put his hands against the tree,
usually tilting his head to one side. The average diameter of the
trees cut was about four inches, and a tree of this size was cut down
quickly and without a pause.

When the tree was almost cut off, the cutter usually thumped with his
tail, at which signal all other cutters near by scampered away. But
this warning signal was not always given, and in one instance an
unwarned cutter had a narrow escape from a tree falling perilously
close to him.

Before cutting a tree, a beaver usually paused and appeared to look at
its surroundings as if choosing a place to squat or sit while cutting
it down; but so far as I could tell, he gave no thought as to the
direction in which the tree was going to fall. This is true of every
beaver which I have seen begin cutting, and I have seen scores. But
beavers have individuality, and occasionally I noticed one with marked
skill or decision. It may be, therefore, that some beaver try to fell
trees on a particular place. In fact, I remember having seen in two
localities stumps which suggested that the beaver who cut down the
trees had planned just how they were to fall. In the first locality,
I could judge only from the record left by the stumps; but the quarter
on which the main notch had been made, together with the fact that the
notch had in two instances been made on a quarter of the tree where
it was inconvenient for the cutter to work, seemed to indicate a plan
to fell the tree in a particular direction. In the other locality,
I knew the attitude of the trees before they were cut, and in this
instance the evidence was so complete and conclusive that I must
believe the beaver that cut down these trees endeavored to get them to
fall in a definite direction. In each of these cases, however, judging
chiefly from the teeth-marks, I think the cuttings were done by the
same beaver. Many observations induce me to believe, however, that the
majority of beaver do not plan how the trees are to fall.

Once a large tree is on the ground, the limbs are trimmed off and the
trunk is cut into sections sufficiently small to be dragged, rolled,
or pushed to the water, where transportation is easy.

The young beaver that I have seen cutting trees have worked in
leisurely manner, in contrast with the work of the old ones. After
giving a few bites, they usually stop to eat a piece of the bark, or
to stare listlessly around for a time. As workers, young beaver appear
at their best and liveliest when taking a limb from the hillside to
the house in the pond. A young beaver will catch a limb by one end in
his teeth, and, throwing it over his shoulder in the attitude of a
puppy racing with a rope or a rag, make off to the pond. Once in the
water, he throws up his head and swims to the house or the dam with
the limb held trailing out over his back.

The typical beaver-house seen in the Rockies at the present time
stands in the upper edge of the pond which the beaver-dam has made,
near where the brook enters it. Its foundation is about eight feet
across, and it stands from five to ten feet in height, a rude cone in
form. Most houses are made of sticks and mud, and are apparently put
up with little thought for the living-room, which is later dug or
gnawed from the interior. The entrance to the house is below
water-level, and commonly on the bottom of the lake. Late each autumn,
the house is plastered on the outside with mud, and I am inclined to
believe that this plaster is not so much to increase the warmth of
the house as to give it, when the mud is frozen, a strong protective
armor, an armor which will prevent the winter enemies of the beaver
from breaking into the house.

Each autumn beaver pile up near by the house, a large brush-heap of
green trunks and limbs, mostly of aspen, willow, cottonwood, or alder.
This is their granary, and during the winter they feed upon the green
bark, supplementing this with the roots of water-plants, which they
drag from the bottom of the pond.

Along in May five baby beaver appear, and a little later these explore
the pond and race, wrestle, and splash water in it as merrily as boys.
Occasionally they sun themselves on a fallen log, or play together
there, trying to push one another off into the water. Often they
play in the canals that lead between ponds or from them, or on the
"slides." Toward the close of summer, they have their lessons in
cutting and dam-building.

[Illustration: A BEAVER-HOUSE

Supply of winter food piled on the right]

A beaver appears awkward as he works on land. In use of arms and hands
he reminds one of a monkey, while his clumsy and usually slow-moving
body will often suggest the hippopotamus. By using head, hands, teeth,
tail, and webbed feet the beaver accomplishes much. The tail of a
beaver is a useful and much-used appendage; it serves as a rudder, a
stool, and a ramming or signal club. The beaver _may_ use his tail
for a trowel, but I have never seen him so use it. His four front teeth
are excellent edge-tools for his logging and woodwork; his webbed feet
are most useful in his deep-waterway transportation, and his hands in
house-building and especially in dam-building. It is in dam-building
that the beaver shows his greatest skill and his best headwork; for I
confess to the belief that a beaver reasons. I have so often seen him
change his plans so wisely and meet emergencies so promptly and well
that I can think of him only as a reasoner.

I have often wondered if beaver make a preliminary survey of a place
before beginning to build a dam. I have seen them prowling
suggestively along brooks just prior to beaver-dam building operations
there, and circumstantial evidence would credit them with making
preliminary surveys. But of this there is no proof. I have noticed a
few things that seem to have been considered by beaver before
beginning dam-building,--the supply of food and of dam-building
material, for instance, and the location of the dam so as to require
the minimum amount of material and insure the creation of the largest
reservoir. In making the dam, the beaver usually takes advantage of
boulders, willow-clumps, and surface irregularities. But he often
makes errors of judgment. I have seen him abandon dams both before and
after completion. The apparent reasons were that the dam either had
failed or would fail to flood the area which he needed or desired
flooded. His endeavors are not always successful. About twenty years
ago, near Helena, Montana, a number of beaver made an audacious
attempt to dam the Missouri River. After long and persistent effort,
however, they gave it up. The beaver may be credited with errors,
failures, and successes. He has forethought. If a colony of beaver be
turned loose upon a three-mile tree-lined brook in the wilds and left
undisturbed for a season, or until they have had time to select a site
and locate themselves to best advantage, it is probable that the
location chosen will indicate that they have examined the entire
brook and then selected the best place.

As soon as the beaver's brush dam is completed, it begins to
accumulate trash and mud. In a little while, usually, it is covered
with a mass of soil, shrubs of willow begin to grow upon it, and after
a few years it is a strong, earthy, willow-covered dam. The dams vary
in length from a few feet to several hundred feet. I measured one on
the South Platte River that was eleven hundred feet long.

The influence of a beaver-dam is astounding. As soon as completed, it
becomes a highway for the folk of the wild. It is used day and night.
Mice and porcupines, bears and rabbits, lions and wolves, make a
bridge of it. From it, in the evening, the graceful deer cast their
reflections in the quiet pond. Over it dash pursuer and pursued; and
on it take place battles and courtships. It is often torn by hoof and
claw of animals locked in death-struggles, and often, very often, it
is stained with blood. Many a drama, picturesque, fierce, and wild, is
staged upon a beaver-dam.

An interesting and valuable book could be written concerning the
earth as modified and benefited by beaver action, and I have long
thought that the beaver deserved at least a chapter in Marsh's
masterly book, "The Earth as modified by Human Action." To "work like
a beaver" is an almost universal expression for energetic persistence,
but who realizes that the beaver has accomplished anything? Almost
unread of and unknown are his monumental works.

The instant a beaver-dam is completed, it has a decided influence on
the flow of the water, and especially on the quantity of sediment
which the passing water carries. The sediment, instead of going down
to fill the channel below, or to clog the river's mouth, fill the
harbor, and do damage a thousand miles away, is accumulated in the
pond behind the dam, and a level deposit is formed over the entire
area of the lake. By and by this deposit is so great that the lake is
filled with sediment, but before this happens, both lake and dam check
and delay so much flood-water that floods are diminished in volume,
and the water thus delayed is in part added to the flow of the
streams at the time of low water, the result being a more even
stream-flow at all times.

The regulation of stream-flow is important. There are only a few rainy
days each year, and all the water that flows down the rivers falls
on these few rainy days. The instant the water reaches the earth, it
is hurried away toward the sea, and unless some agency delays the
run-off, the rivers would naturally contain water only on the rainy
days and a little while after. The fact that some rivers contain water
at all times is but evidence that something has held in check a
portion of the water which fell during these rainy days.

[Illustration: A BEAVER-DAM IN WINTER]

Among the agencies which best perform this service of keeping the
streams ever-flowing, are the forests and the works of the beaver.
Rainfall accumulates in the brooks. The brooks conduct the water to
the rivers. If across a river there be a beaver-dam, the pond formed
by it will be a reservoir which will catch and retain some of the
water coming into it during rainy days, and will thus delay the
passage of all water which flows through it. Beaver-reservoirs are
leaky ones, and if they are stored full during rainy days, the
leaking helps to maintain the stream-flow in dry weather. A beaver-dam
thus tends to distribute to the streams below it a moderate quantity
of water each day. In other words, it spreads out or distributes the
water of the few rainy days through all the days of the year. A river
which flows steadily throughout the year is of inestimable value to
mankind. If floods sweep a river, they do damage. If low water comes,
the wheels of steamers and of manufactories cease to move, and damage
or death may result. In maintaining a medium between the extremes of
high and low water, the beaver's work is of profound importance. In
helping beneficially to control a river, the beaver would render
enormous service if allowed to construct his works at its source.
During times of heavy rainfall, the water-flow carries with it,
especially in unforested sections, great quantities of soil and
sediment. Beaver-dams catch much of the material eroded from the
hillsides above, and also prevent much erosion along the streams which
they govern. They thus catch and deposit in place much valuable soil,
the cream of the earth, that otherwise would be washed away and
lost,--washed away into the rivers and harbors, impeding navigation
and increasing river and harbor bills.

There is an old Indian legend which says that after the Creator
separated the land from the water he employed gigantic beavers to
smooth it down and prepare it for the abode of man. This is
appreciative and suggestive. Beaver-dams have had much to do with the
shaping and creating of a great deal of the richest agricultural land
in America. To-day there are many peaceful and productive valleys the
soil of which has been accumulated and fixed in place by ages of
engineering activities on the part of the beaver before the white man
came. On both mountain and plain you may still see much of this good
work accomplished by them. In the mountains, deep and almost useless
gulches have been filled by beaver-dams with sediment, and in course
of time changed to meadows. So far as I know, the upper course of
every river in the Rockies is through a number of beaver-meadows,
some of them acres in extent.

On the upper course of Grand River in Colorado, I once made an
extensive examination of some old beaver-works. Series of beaver-dams
had been extended along this stream for several miles, as many as
twenty dams to the mile. Each succeeding dam had backed water to the
one above it. These had accumulated soil and formed a series of
terraces, which, with the moderate slope of the valley, had in time
formed an extensive and comparatively level meadow for a great
distance along the river. The beaver settlement on this river was
long ago almost entirely destroyed, and the year before my arrival
a cloudburst had fallen upon the mountain-slope above, and the
down-rushing flood had, in places, eroded deeply into the deposits
formed by the beaver-works. At one place the water had cut down
twenty-two feet, and had brought to light the fact that the deposit
had been formed by a series of dams one above the other, a new dam
having been built or the old one increased in height when the deposit
of sediment had filled, or nearly filled, the pond. This is only one
instance. There are thousands of similar places in the Rockies where
beaver-dams have accumulated deposits of greater or less extent than
those on the Grand River.

Only a few beaver remain, and though much of their work will endure
to serve mankind, in many places their old work is gone or is going
to ruin for the want of attention. We are paying dearly for the
thoughtless and almost complete destruction of this animal. A live
beaver is far more valuable to us than a dead one. Soil is eroding
away, river-channels are filling, and most of the streams in the
United States fluctuate between flood and low water. A beaver colony
at the source of every stream would moderate these extremes and add to
the picturesqueness and beauty of many scenes that are now growing
ugly with erosion. We need to coöperate with the beaver. He would
assist the work of reclamation, and be of great service in maintaining
the deep-waterways. I trust he will be assisted in colonizing our
National Forests, and allowed to cut timber there without a permit.

The beaver is the Abou-ben-Adhem of the wild. May his tribe increase.

The Wilds without Firearms

Had I encountered the two gray wolves during my first unarmed
camping-trip into the wilds, the experience would hardly have
suggested to me that going without firearms is the best way to enjoy
wild nature. But I had made many unarmed excursions beyond the trail
before I had that adventure, and the habit of going without a gun was
so firmly fixed and so satisfactory that even a perilous wolf
encounter did not arouse any desire for firearms. The habit continued,
and to-day the only way I can enjoy the wilds is to leave guns behind.

On that autumn afternoon I was walking along slowly, reflectively, in
a deep forest. Not a breath of air moved, and even the aspen's golden
leaves stood still in the sunlight. All was calm and peaceful around
and within me, when I came to a little sunny frost-tanned grass-plot
surrounded by tall, crowding pines. I felt drawn to its warmth and
repose and stepped joyfully into it. Suddenly two gray wolves sprang
from almost beneath my feet and faced me defiantly. At a few feet
distance they made an impressive show of ferocity, standing ready
apparently to hurl themselves upon me.

Now the gray wolf is a powerful, savage beast, and directing his
strong jaws, tireless muscles, keen scent, and all-seeing eyes are
exceedingly nimble wits. He is well equipped to make the severe
struggle for existence which his present environment compels. In many
Western localities, despite the high price offered for his scalp, he
has managed not only to live, but to increase and multiply. I had seen
gray wolves pull down big game. On one occasion I had seen a vigorous
long-horned steer fall after a desperate struggle with two of these
fearfully fanged animals. Many times I had come across scattered bones
which told of their triumph; and altogether I was so impressed with
their deadliness that a glimpse of one of them usually gave me over
to a temporary dread.

The two wolves facing me seemed to have been asleep in the sun when
I disturbed them. I realized the danger and was alarmed, of course, but
my faculties were under control, were stimulated, indeed, to unusual
alertness, and I kept a bold front and faced them without flinching.
Their expression was one of mingled surprise and anger, together with
the apparent determination to sell their lives as dearly as possible.
I gave them all the attention which their appearance and their
reputation demanded. Not once did I take my eyes off them. I held them
at bay with my eyes. I still have a vivid picture of terribly gleaming
teeth, bristling backs, and bulging muscles in savage readiness.

They made no move to attack. I was afraid to attack and I dared not
run away. I remembered that some trees I could almost reach behind me
had limbs that stretched out toward me, yet I felt that to wheel,
spring for a limb, and swing up beyond their reach could not be done
quickly enough to escape those fierce jaws.

Both sides were of the same mind, ready to fight, but not at all eager
to do so. Under these conditions our nearness was embarrassing, and
we faced each other for what seemed, to me at least, a long time. My
mind working like lightning, I thought of several possible ways of
escaping, I considered each at length, found it faulty, and dismissed
it. Meanwhile, not a sound had been made. I had not moved, but
something had to be done. Slowly I worked the small folding axe from
its sheath, and with the slowest of movements placed it in my right
coat-pocket with the handle up, ready for instant use. I did this with
studied deliberation, lest a sudden movement should release the
springs that held the wolves back. I kept on staring. Statues, almost,
we must have appeared to the "camp-bird" whose call from a near-by
limb told me we were observed, and whose nearness gave me courage.
Then, looking the nearer of the two wolves squarely in the eye, I said
to him, "Well, why don't you move?" as though we were playing checkers
instead of the game of life. He made no reply, but the spell was
broken. I believe that both sides had been bluffing. In attempting to
use my kodak while continuing the bluff, I brought matters to a
focus. "What a picture you fellows will make," I said aloud, as my
right hand slowly worked the kodak out of the case which hung under my
left arm. Still keeping up a steady fire of looks, I brought the kodak
in front of me ready to focus, and then touched the spring that
released the folding front. When the kodak mysteriously, suddenly
opened before the wolves, they fled for their lives. In an instant
they had cleared the grassy space and vanished into the woods. I did
not get their picture.

With a gun, the wolf encounter could not have ended more happily. At
any rate, I have not for a moment cared for a gun since I returned
enthusiastic from my first delightful trip into the wilds without one.
Out in the wilds with nature is one of the safest and most sanitary of
places. Bears are not seeking to devour, and the death-list from
lions, wolves, snakes, and all other bugbears combined does not equal
the death-list from fire, automobiles, street-cars, or banquets. Being
afraid of nature or a rainstorm is like being afraid of the dark.

The time of that first excursion was spent among scenes that I had
visited before, but the discoveries I made and the deeper feelings
it stirred within me, led me to think it more worth while than any
previous trip among the same delightful scenes. The first day,
especially, was excitingly crowded with new sights and sounds and
fancies. I fear that during the earlier trips the rifle had obscured
most of the scenes in which it could not figure, and as a result I
missed fairyland and most of the sunsets.

[Illustration: LAKE ODESSA]

When I arrived at the alpine lake by which I was to camp, evening's
long rays and shadows were romantically robing the picturesque wild
border of the lake. The crags, the temples, the flower-edged
snowdrifts, and the grass-plots of this wild garden seemed
half-unreal, as over them the long lights and torn shadows grouped
and changed, lingered and vanished, in the last moments of the sun.
The deep purple of evening was over all, and the ruined crag with
the broken pine on the ridge-top was black against the evening's
golden glow, when I hastened to make camp by a pine temple while
the beautiful world of sunset's hour slowly faded into the night.

The camp-fire was a glory-burst in the darkness, and the small
many-spired evergreen temple before me shone an illuminated cathedral
in the night. All that evening I believed in fairies, and by watching
the changing camp-fire kept my fancies frolicking in realms of mystery
where all the world was young. I lay down without a gun, and while the
fire changed and faded to black and gray the coyotes began to howl.
But their voices did not seem as lonely or menacing as when I had had
a rifle by my side. As I lay listening to them, I thought I detected
merriment in their tones, and in a little while their shouts rang as
merrily as though they were boys at play. Never before had I realized
that coyotes too had enjoyments, and I listened to their shouts with
pleasure. At last the illumination faded from the cathedral grove and
its templed top stood in charcoal against the clear heavens as I fell
asleep beneath the peaceful stars.

The next morning I loitered here and there, getting acquainted with
the lake-shore, for without a gun all objects, or my eyes, were so
changed that I had only a dim recollection of having seen the place
before. From time to time, as I walked about, I stopped to try to win
the confidence of the small folk in fur and feathers. I found some
that trusted me, and at noon a chipmunk, a camp-bird, a chickadee, and
myself were several times busy with the same bit of luncheon at once.

Some years ago mountain sheep often came in flocks to lick the salty
soil in a ruined crater on Specimen Mountain. One day I climbed up and
hid myself in the crags to watch them. More than a hundred of them
came. After licking for a time, many lay down. Some of the rams posed
themselves on the rocks in heroic attitudes and looked serenely and
watchfully around. Young lambs ran about, and a few occasionally raced
up and down smooth, rocky steeps, seemingly without the slightest
regard for the laws of falling bodies. I was close to the flock, but
luckily they did not suspect my presence. After enjoying their fine
wild play for more than two hours, I slipped away and left them in
their home among the crags.

One spring day I paused in a whirl of mist and wet snow to look for
the trail. I could see only a few yards ahead. As I peered ahead, a
bear emerged from the gloom, heading straight for me. Behind her were
two cubs. I caught her impatient expression when she beheld me. She
stopped, and then, with a growl of anger, she wheeled and boxed cubs
right and left like an angry mother. The bears disappeared in the
direction from which they had come, the cubs urged on with spanks
from behind as all vanished in the falling snow.

The gray Douglas squirrel is one of the most active, audacious, and
outspoken of animals. He enjoys seclusion and claims to be monarch of
all he surveys, and no trespasser is too big to escape a scolding from
him. Many times he has given me a terrible tongue-lashing with a
desperate accompaniment of fierce facial expressions, bristling
whiskers, and emphatic gestures. I love this brave fellow creature;
but if he were only a few inches bigger, I should never risk my life
in his woods without a gun.

This is a beautiful world, and all who go out under the open sky will
feel the gentle, kindly influence of Nature and hear her good
tidings. The forests of the earth are the flags of Nature. They appeal
to all and awaken inspiring universal feelings. Enter the forest and
the boundaries of nations are forgotten. It may be that some time an
immortal pine will be the flag of a united and peaceful world.

A Watcher on the Heights

While on the sky-line as State Snow Observer, I had one adventure with
the elements that called for the longest special report that I have
ever written. Perhaps I cannot do better than quote this report
transmitted to Professor Carpenter, at Denver, on May 26, 1904.


The day before the Poudre flood, I traveled for eight hours
northwesterly along the top of the Continental Divide, all the time
being above timber-line and from eleven thousand to twelve thousand
feet above sea-level.

The morning was cloudless and hot. The western sky was marvelously
clear. Eastward, a thin, dark haze overspread everything below ten
thousand feet. By 9.30 A. M. this haze had ascended higher than where
I was. At nine o'clock the snow on which I walked, though it had been
frozen hard during the night, was soggy and wet.

About 9.30 a calm that had prevailed all the morning gave way before
an easy intermittent warm breeze from the southeast.

At 10.10 the first cloud appeared in the north, just above Hague's
Peak. It was a heavy cumulus cloud, but I do not know from what
direction it came. It rose high in the air, drifted slowly toward the
west, and then seemed to dissolve. At any rate, it vanished. About
10.30 several heavy clouds rose from behind Long's Peak, moving toward
the northwest, rising higher into the sky as they advanced.

[Illustration: ON THE HEIGHTS]

The wind, at first in fitful dashes from the southeast, began to come
more steadily and swiftly after eleven o'clock, and was so warm that
the snow softened to a sloppy state. The air carried a tinge of haze,
and conditions were oppressive. It was labor to breathe. Never, except
one deadly hot July day in New York City, have I felt so overcome with
heat and choking air. Perspiration simply streamed from me. These
oppressive conditions continued for two hours,--until about one
o'clock. While they lasted, my eyes pained, ached, and twitched. There
was no glare, but only by keeping my eyes closed could I stand the
half-burning pain. Finally I came to some crags and lay down for a
time in the shade. I was up eleven thousand five hundred feet and the
time was 12.20. As I lay on the snow gazing upward, I became aware
that there were several flotillas of clouds of from seven to twenty
each, and these were moving toward every point of the compass. Each
seemed on a different stratum of air, and each moved through space a
considerable distance above or below the others. The clouds moving
eastward were the highest. Most of the lower clouds were those moving
westward. The haze and sunlight gave color to every cloud, and this
color varied from smoky red to orange.

At two o'clock the haze came in from the east almost as dense as a
fog-bank, crossed the ridge before me, and spread out as dark and
foreboding as the smoke of Vesuvius. Behind me the haze rolled upward
when it struck the ridge, and I had clear glimpses whenever I looked
to the southwest. This heavy, muddy haze prevailed for a little more
than half an hour, and as it cleared, the clouds began to disappear,
but a gauzy haze still continued in the air. The feeling in the air
was not agreeable, and for the first time in my life I felt alarmed
by the shifting, rioting clouds and the weird haze.

I arrived at timber-line south of Poudre Lakes about 4.30 P. M., and
for more than half an hour the sky, except in the east over the
foothills, was clear, and the sunlight struck a glare from the snow.
With the cleared air there came to me an easier feeling. The
oppressiveness ceased. I descended a short distance into the woods
and relaxed on a fallen tree that lay above the snow.

I had been there but a little while, when--snap! buzz! buzz! buzz!
ziz! ziz! and electricity began to pull my hair and hum around my
ears. The electricity passed off shortly, but in a little while it
caught me again by the hair for a brief time, and this time my right
arm momentarily cramped and my heart seemed to give several lurches. I
arose and tramped on and downward, but every little while I was in for
shocking treatment. The electrical waves came from the southwest and
moved northeast. They were separated by periods of from one to several
minutes in length, and were about two seconds in passing. During
their presence they made it lively for me, with hair-pulling,
heart-palpitation, and muscular cramps. I tried moving speedily with
the wave, also standing still and lying down, hoping that the wave
would pass me by; but in each and every case it gave me the same
stirring treatment. Once I stood erect and rigid as the wave came
on, but it intensified suddenly the rigidity of every muscle to a
seemingly rupturing extent, and I did not try that plan again. The
effect of each wave on me seemed to be slightly weakened whenever
I lay down and fully relaxed my muscles.

I was on a northerly slope, in spruce timber, tramping over five feet
of snow. During these electrical waves, the points of dry twigs were
tipped with a smoky blue flame, and sometimes bands of this bluish
flame encircled green trees just below their lower limbs. I looked at
the compass a few times, and though the needle occasionally swayed a
little, it was not affected in any marked manner.

The effect of the electrical waves on me became less as I descended,
but whether from my getting below the electrical stratum, or from a
cessation of the current, I cannot say.

But I did not descend much below eleven thousand feet, and at the
lowest point I crossed the South Poudre, at the outlet of Poudre
Lakes. In crossing I broke through the ice and received a wetting,
with the exception of my right side above the hip. Once across, I
walked about two hundred yards through an opening, then again entered
the woods, on the southeasterly slope of Specimen Mountain. I had
climbed only a short distance up this slope when another electrical
wave struck me. The effect of this was similar to that of the
preceding ones. There was, however, a marked difference in the
intensity with which the electricity affected the wet and the dry
portions of my body. The effect on my right side and shoulder, which
had escaped wetting when I broke through the ice, was noticeably
stronger than on the rest of my body. Climbing soon dried my clothes
sufficiently to make this difference no longer noticeable. The waves
became more frequent than at first, but not so strong. I made a clumsy
climb of about five hundred feet, my muscles being "muscle-bound" all
the time with rigidity from electricity. But this climb brought me
almost to timber-line on Specimen Mountain, and also under the shadow
of the south peak of it. At this place the electrical effects almost
ceased. Nor did I again seriously feel the current until I found
myself out in the sunlight which came between the two peaks of
Specimen. While I continued in the sunlight I felt the electrical
wave, but, strange to say, when I again entered the shadow I almost
wholly escaped it.

When I started on the last slope toward the top of North Specimen, I
came out into the sunlight again, and I also passed into an electrical
sea. The slope was free from snow, and as the electrical waves swept
in close succession, about thirty seconds apart, they snapped, hummed,
and buzzed in such a manner that their advance and retreat could be
plainly heard. In passing by me, the noise was more of a crackling and
humming nature, while a million faint sparks flashed from the stones
(porphyry and rhyolite) as the wave passed over. But the effect on me
became constant. Every muscle was almost immovable. I could climb only
a few steps without weakening to the stopping-point. I breathed only
by gasps, and my heart became violent and feeble by turns. I felt as
if cinched in a steel corset. After I had spent ten long minutes and
was only half-way up a slope, the entire length of which I had more
than once climbed in a few minutes and in fine shape, I turned to
retreat, but as there was no cessation of the electrical colic, I
faced about and started up again. I reached the top a few minutes
before 6.30 P. M., and shortly afterward the sun disappeared behind
clouds and peaks.

I regret that I failed to notice whether the electrical effects
ceased with the setting of the sun, but it was not long after the
disappearance of the sun before I was at ease, enjoying the
magnificent mountain-range of clouds that had formed above the
foothills and stood up glorious in the sunlight.

Shortly before five o'clock the clouds had begun to pile up in the
east, and their gigantic forms, flowing outlines, and glorious
lighting were the only things that caused the electrical effects to be
forgotten even momentarily. The clouds formed into a long, solid,
rounded range that rose to great height and was miles in length. The
southern end of this range was in the haze, and I could not make out
its outline further south than a point about opposite Loveland,
Colorado, nor could I see the northern end beyond a few miles north of
Cheyenne, where it was cut off by a dozen strata of low clouds that
moved steadily at a right angle to the east. Sixty miles of length was
visible. Its height, like that of the real mountains which it
paralleled, diminished toward the north. The place of greatest
altitude was about twenty-five miles distant from me. From my
location, the clouds presented a long and smoothly terraced slope, the
top of which was at least five thousand feet and may have been fifteen
thousand feet above me. The clouds seemed compact; at times they
surged upwards; then they would settle with a long, undulating swell,
as if some unseen power were trying to force them further up the
mountains, while they were afraid to try it. Finally a series of low,
conical peaks rose on the summit of the cloud-range, and the peaks and
the upper cloud-slope resembled the upper portion of a circus-tent.
There were no rough places or angles.

When darkness came on, the surface of this cloud-range was at times
splendidly illuminated by electricity beneath; and, when the darkness
deepened, the electrical play beneath often caused the surface to
shine momentarily like incandescent glass, and occasionally sinuous
rivers of gold ran over the slopes. Several times I thought that the
course of these golden rivers of electrical fire was from the bottom
upward, but so brilliant and dazzling were they that I could not
positively decide on the direction of their movement. Never have I
seen such enormous cloud-forms or such brilliant electrical effects.

The summit of Specimen Mountain, from which I watched the clouds and
electrical flashes, is about twelve thousand five hundred feet above
sea-level. A calm prevailed while I remained on top. It was about
8.30 P. M. when I left the summit, on snowshoes, and swept down the
steep northern slope into the woods. This hurry caused no unusual
heart or muscle action.

The next morning was cloudy as low down as ten thousand five hundred
feet, and, for all I know, lower still. The night had been warm, and
the morning had the oppressive feeling that dominated the morning
before. The clouds broke up before nine o'clock, and the air, with
haze in it, seemed yellow. About 10.30, haze and, soon after, clouds
came in from the southeast (at this time I was high up on the
southerly slope of Mt. Richthofen), and by eleven o'clock the sky was
cloudy. Up to this time the air, when my snow-glasses were off, burned
and twitched my eyes in the same manner as on the previous morning.

Early in the afternoon I left Grand Ditch Camp and started down to
Chambers Lake. I had not gone far when drops of rain began to fall
from time to time, and shortly after this my muscles began to twitch
occasionally under electrical ticklings. At times slight muscular
rigidity was noticeable. Just before two o'clock the clouds began to
burst through between the trees. I was at an altitude of about eleven
thousand feet and a short distance from the head of Trap Creek. Rain,
hail, and snow fell in turn, and the lightning began frequently to
strike the rocks. With the beginning of the lightning my muscles
ceased to be troubled with either twitching or rigidity. For the two
hours between 2 and 4 P. M. the crash and roll of thunder was
incessant. I counted twenty-three times that the lightning struck the
rocks, but I did not see it strike a tree. The clouds were low, and
the wind came from the east and the northeast, then from the west.

[Illustration: A STORM ON THE ROCKIES]

About four o'clock, I broke through the snow, tumbled into Trap Creek,
and had to swim a little. This stream was really very swift, and ran
in a narrow gulch, but it was blocked by snow and by tree-limbs swept
down by the flood, and a pond had been formed. It was crowded with a
deep deposit of snow which rested on a shelf of ice. This covering was
shattered and uplifted by the swollen stream, and I had slipped on the
top of the gulch and tumbled in. Once in, the swift water tugged at
me to pull me under; the cakes of snow and ice hampered me, and my
snowshoes were entangled with brush and limbs. The combination seemed
determined to drown me. For a few seconds I put forth all my efforts
to get at my pocket-knife. This accomplished, the fastenings of my
snowshoes were cut, and unhampered by these, I escaped the waters.

       *       *       *       *       *

Since I have felt no ill results, the effect of the entire experience
may have been beneficial. The clouds, glorious as they had been in
formation and coloring, resulted in a terrible cloudburst. Enormous
quantities of water were poured out, and this, falling upon the
treeless foothills, rushed away to do more than a million dollars'
damage in the rich and beautiful Poudre Valley.

Climbing Long's Peak

Among the best days that I have had outdoors are the two hundred and
fifty-seven that were spent as a guide on Long's Peak. One day was
required from the starting-place near my cabin for each round trip to
the summit of the peak. Something of interest occurred to enliven each
one of these climbs: a storm, an accident, the wit of some one or the
enthusiasm of all the climbers. But the climb I remember with greatest
satisfaction is the one on which I guided Harriet Peters, an
eight-year-old girl, to the top.

It was a cold morning when we started for the top, but it was this day
or wait until next season, for Harriet was to start for her Southern
home in a day or two and could not wait for a more favorable morning.
Harriet had spent the two preceding summers near my cabin, and around
it had played with the chipmunks and ridden the burros, and she had
made a few climbs with me up through the woods. We often talked of
going to the top of Long's Peak when she should become strong enough
to do so. This time came just after her eighth birthday. As I was as
eager to have her make the climb as she was to make it, we started up
the next morning after her aunt had given permission for her to go.
She was happy when I lifted her at last into the saddle, away up on
old "Top's" back. She was so small that I still wonder how she managed
to stay on, but she did so easily.

Long's Peak is not only one of the most scenic of the peaks in the
Rocky Mountains, but it is probably the most rugged. From our
starting-place it was seven miles to the top; five of these miles may
be ridden, but the last two are so steep and craggy that one must go
on foot and climb.


After riding a little more than a mile, we came to a clear, cold brook
that is ever coming down in a great hurry over a steep mountain-side,
splashing, jumping, and falling over the boulders of one of nature's
stony stairways and forming white cascades which throw their spray
among the tall, dark pines. I had told Harriet that ouzels lived by
this brook; she was eager to see one, and we stopped at a promising
place by the brook to watch. In less than a minute one came flying
down the cascades, and so near to the surface of the water that he
seemed to be tumbling and sliding down with it. He alighted on a
boulder near us, made two or three pleasant curtsies, and started to
sing one of his low, sweet songs. He was doing the very thing of which
I had so often told Harriet. We watched and listened with breathless
interest. In the midst of the song he dived into the brook; in a
moment he came up with a water-bug in his bill, settled on the boulder
again, gave his nods, and resumed his song, seemingly at the point
where he left off. After a few low, sweet notes he broke off again and
plunged into the water. This time he came up quickly and alighted on
the spot he had just left, and went on with his song without any
preliminaries and as if there had been no interruption.

The water-ouzel is found by the alpine lakes and brooks on the
mountains of the West. It is a modest-appearing bird, about the size
of a thrush, and wears a plain dress of slaty blue. This dress is
finished with a tail-piece somewhat like that of the wren, though it
is not upturned so much. The bird seems to love cascades, and often
nests by one. It also shows its fondness for water by often flying
along the brook, following every bend and break made by the stream,
keeping close to the water all the time and frequently touching it.
Over the quiet reaches it goes skimming; it plunges over the
waterfalls, alights on rocks in the rapids, goes dashing through the
spray, its every movement showing the ecstasies of eager life and joy
in the hurrying water. Our ouzel was quietly feeding on the edge of
the brook, when Harriet said good-bye as our ponies started up the

Harriet had never been in school, but she could read, write, and sing.
She had good health, and a brighter, cheerier little girl I have never
seen. As we rode up the trail through the woods, the gray Douglas
squirrels were busy with the harvest. They were cutting off and
storing cones for winter food. In the treetops these squirrels seemed
to be bouncing and darting in all directions. One would cut off a
cone, then dart to the next, and so swiftly that cones were
constantly dropping. Frequently the cones struck limbs and bounded as
they fell, often coming to the ground to bounce and roll some distance
over the forest floor. An occasional one went rolling and bouncing
down the steep mountain-side with two or three happy chipmunks in
jolly pursuit.

We watched one squirrel stow cones under trash and in holes in the
thick beds of needles. These cones were buried near a tree, in a
dead limb of which the squirrel had a hole and a home. Harriet asked
many questions concerning the cones,--why they were buried, how the
squirrel found them when they were buried in the snow, and what became
of those which were left buried. I told her that during the winter the
squirrel came down and dug through the snow to the cones and then fed
upon the nuts. I also told her that squirrels usually buried more
cones than were eaten. The uneaten cones, being left in the ground,
were in a way planted, and the nuts in them in time sprouted, and
young trees came peeping up among the fallen leaves. The squirrel's
way of observing Arbor Day makes him a useful forester. Harriet said
she would tell all her boy and girl friends what she knew of this
squirrel's tree-planting ways, and would ask her uncle not to shoot
the little tree-planter.

As we followed the trail up through the woods, I told Harriet many
things concerning the trees, and the forces which influenced their
distribution and growth. While we were traveling westward in the
bottom of a gulch, I pointed out to her that the trees on the mountain
that rose on the right and sloped toward the south were of a different
kind from those on the mountain-side which rose on our left and sloped
toward the north. After traveling four miles and climbing up two
thousand feet above our starting-place, and, after from time to time
coming to and passing kinds of trees which did not grow lower down the
slopes, we at last came to timber-line, above which trees did not grow
at all.

In North America between timber-line on the Rockies, at an altitude of
about eleven thousand feet, and sea-level on the Florida coast, there
are about six hundred and twenty kinds of trees and shrubs growing.
Each kind usually grows in the soil and clime that is best suited to
its requirements; in other words, most trees are growing where they
can do the best, or where they can do better than any other kind. Some
trees do the best at the moist seashore; some thrive in swamps; others
live only on the desert's edge; some live on the edge of a river; and
still others manage to endure the storms of bleak heights.

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

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

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 cañons. 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

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

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.

[Illustration: PTARMIGAN]

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.

[Illustration: SUMMER AT AN ALTITUDE OF 12,000 FEET]

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

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

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.

[Illustration: ASPENS]

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

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.

Edwinia, with its attractive waxy white flowers, and potentilla, with
bloom of gold, are shrubs which lend a charm to much of the
mountain-section. Black birch and alder trim many of the streams,
and the mountain maple is thinly scattered from the foothills to nine
thousand feet altitude. Wild roses are frequently found near the
maple, and gooseberry bushes fringe many a brook. Huckleberries
flourish on the timbered slopes, and kinnikinick gladdens many a
gravelly stretch or slope.


Between the altitudes of eight thousand and ten thousand feet there
are extensive forests of the indomitable lodge-pole pine. This borders
even more extensive forests of Engelmann spruce. Lodge-pole touches
timber-line in a few places, and Engelmann spruce climbs up to it in
every cañon or moist depression. Along with these, at timber-line, are
_flexilis_ pine, balsam fir, arctic willow, dwarf black birch, and the
restless little aspen. All timber-line trees are dwarfed and most
of them distorted. Conditions at timber-line are severe, but the
presence, in places, of young trees farthest up the slopes suggests
that these severe conditions may be developing hardier trees than any
that now are growing on this forest frontier. If this be true, then
timber-line on the Rockies is yet to gain a higher limit.

Since the day of "Pike's Peak or bust," fires have swept over more
than half of the primeval forest area in Colorado. Some years ago,
while making special efforts to prevent forest fires from starting, I
endeavored to find out the cause of these fires. I regretfully found
that most of them were the result of carelessness, and I also made a
note to the effect that there are few worse things to be guilty of
than carelessly setting fire to a forest. Most of these forest fires
had their origin from camp-fires which the departing campers had left
unextinguished. There were sixteen fires in one summer, which I
attributed to the following causes: campers, nine; cigar, one;
lightning, one; locomotive, one; stockmen, two; sheep-herders, one;
and sawmill, one.

Fires have made the Rocky Mountains still more rocky. In many places
the fires burn their way to solid rock. In other places the humus, or
vegetable mould, is partly consumed by fire, and the remainder is in a
short time blown away by wind or washed away by water. Fires often
leave only blackened granite rock behind, so that in many places they
have not only consumed the forests, but also the food upon which the
new forests might have fed. Many areas where splendid forests grew,
after being fire-swept, show only barren granite. As some of the
granite on the Rockies disintegrates slowly, it will probably require
several hundred years for Nature to resoil and reforest some of these
fire-scarred places. However, upon thousands of acres of the Rockies
millions of young trees are just beginning to grow, and if these trees
be protected from fire, a forest will early result.

I never see a little tree bursting from the earth, peeping confidently
up among the withered leaves, without wondering how long it will live
or what trials or triumphs it will have. I always hope that it will
find life worth living, and that it will live long to better and to
beautify the earth. I hope it will love the blue sky and the white
clouds passing by. I trust it will welcome all seasons and ever join
merrily in the music, the motion, and the movement of the elemental
dance with the winds. I hope it will live with rapture in the
flower-opening days of spring and also enjoy the quiet summer rain.
I hope it will be a home for the birds and hear their low, sweet
mating-songs. I trust that when comes the golden peace of autumn days,
it will be ready with fruited boughs for the life to come. I never
fail to hope that if this tree is cut down, it may be used for a
flagpole to keep our glorious banner in the blue above, or that it may
be built into a cottage where love will abide; or if it must be burnt,
that it will blaze on the hearthstone in a home where children play
in the firelight on the floor.

In many places the Rockies rise more than three thousand feet above
the heights where live the highest struggling trees at timber-line,
but these steep alpine slopes are not bare. The rocks are tinted with
lichens. In places are miles of grassy slopes and miniature meadows,
covered with coarse sedges and bright tender flowers. Among the
shrubs the _Betula glandulosa_ is probably commonest, while _Dasiphora
fruticosa_ and _Salix chlorophylla_ are next in prominence. Here and
there you will see the golden gaillardia, the silver and blue
columbines, splendid arrays of sedum, many marsh-marigolds, lungworts,
paint-brushes of red and white and yellow green, beds of purple
primroses, sprinklings of alpine gentians, many clusters of
live-forever, bunches of honey-smelling valerian, with here and there
standing the tall stalks of fraseria, or monument-plant. There are
hundreds of other varieties of plants, and the region above
timber-line holds many treasures that are dear to those who love
flowers and who appreciate them especially where cold and snow keep
them tiny.

Above timber-line are many bright blossoms that are familiar to us,
but dwarfed to small size. One needs to get down and lie upon the
ground and search carefully with a magnifying-glass, or he will
overlook many of these brave bright but tiny flowers. Here are blue
gentians less than half an inch in height, bell-flowers only a trifle
higher, and alpine willows so tiny that their catkins touch the
ground. One of the most attractive and beautiful of these alpine
flowers is the blue honeysuckle or polemonium, about an inch in
height. I have found it on mountain-tops, in its fresh, clear
coloring, at an altitude of fourteen thousand feet, as serene as
the sky above it.

A climb up the Rockies will develop a love for nature, strengthen
one's appreciation of the beautiful world outdoors, and put one in
tune with the Infinite. It will inspire one with the feeling that the
Rockies have a rare mountain wealth of their own. They are not to be
compared with the Selkirks or the Alps or any other unlike range of
mountains. The Rockies are not a type, but an individuality,
singularly rich in mountain scenes which stir one's blood and which
strengthen and sweeten life.

Besieged by Bears

Two old prospectors, Sullivan and Jason, once took me in for the
night, and after supper they related a number of interesting
experiences. Among these tales was one of the best bear-stories I have
ever heard. The story was told in the graphic, earnest, realistic
style so often possessed by those who have lived strong, stirring
lives among crags and pines. Although twenty years had gone by, these
prospectors still had a vivid recollection of that lively night when
they were besieged by three bears, and in recounting the experience
they mingled many good word-pictures of bear behavior with their
exciting and amusing story. "This happened to us," said Sullivan, "in
spite of the fact that we were minding our own business and had never
hunted bears."

The siege occurred at their log cabin during the spring of 1884. They
were prospecting in Geneva Park, where they had been all winter,
driving a tunnel. They were so nearly out of supplies that they could
not wait for snowdrifts to melt out of the trail. Provisions must be
had, and Sullivan thought that, by allowing twice the usual time, he
could make his way down through the drifts and get back to the cabin
with them. So one morning, after telling Jason that he would be back
the next evening, he took their burro and set off down the mountain.
On the way home next day Sullivan had much difficulty in getting the
loaded burro through the snowdrifts, and when within a mile of the
cabin, they stuck fast. Sullivan unpacked and rolled the burro out of
the snow, and was busily repacking, when the animal's uneasiness made
him look round.

[Illustration: OURAY, COLORADO

A typical mining town]

In the edge of the woods, only a short distance away, were three
bears, apparently a mother and her two well-grown children. They were
sniffing the air eagerly and appeared somewhat excited. The old bear
would rise on her hind paws, sniff the air, then drop back to the
ground. She kept her nose pointed toward Sullivan, but did not appear
to look at him. The smaller bears moved restlessly about; they
would walk a few steps in advance, stand erect, draw their fore paws
close to their breasts, and sniff, sniff, sniff the air, upward and
in all directions before them. Then they would slowly back up to the
old bear. They all seemed very good-natured.

When Sullivan was unpacking the burro, the wrapping had come off two
hams which were among the supplies, and the wind had carried the
delicious aroma to the bears, who were just out of their winter dens
after weeks of fasting. Of course, sugar-cured hams smelled good to
them. Sullivan repacked the burro and went on. The bears quietly eyed
him for some distance. At a turn in the trail he looked back and saw
the bears clawing and smelling the snow on which the provisions had
lain while he was getting the burro out of the snowdrift. He went on
to the cabin, had supper, and forgot the bears.

The log cabin in which he and Jason lived was a small one; it had a
door in the side and a small window in one end. The roof was made of
a layer of poles thickly covered with earth. A large shepherd-dog often
shared the cabin with the prospectors. He was a playful fellow, and
Sullivan often romped with him. Near their cabin were some vacant
cabins of other prospectors, who had "gone out for the winter" and
were not yet back for summer prospecting.

The evening was mild, and as soon as supper was over Sullivan filled
his pipe, opened the door, and sat down on the edge of the bed for a
smoke, while Jason washed the dishes. He had taken only a few pulls at
his pipe when there was a rattling at the window. Thinking the dog was
outside, Sullivan called, "Why don't you go round to the door?" This
invitation was followed by a momentary silence, then smash! a piece of
sash and fragments of window-glass flew past Sullivan and rattled on
the floor. He jumped to his feet. In the dim candle-light he saw a
bear's head coming in through the window. He threw his pipe of burning
tobacco into the bear's face and eyes, and then grabbed for some steel
drills which lay in the corner on the floor. The earth roof had
leaked, and the drills were ice-covered and frozen fast to the floor.

While Sullivan was dislodging the drills, Jason began to bombard the
bear vigorously with plates from the table. The bear backed out; she
was looking for food, not clean plates. However, the instant she was
outside, she accepted Sullivan's invitation and went round to the
door! And she came for it with a rush! Both Sullivan and Jason jumped
to close the door. They were not quick enough, and instead of one bear
there were three! The entire family had accepted the invitation, and
all were trying to come in at once!

When Sullivan and Jason threw their weight against the door it slammed
against the big bear's nose,--a very sensitive spot. She gave a savage
growl. Apparently she blamed the two other bears either for hurting
her nose or for being in the way. At any rate, a row started; halfway
in the door the bears began to fight; for a few seconds it seemed as
if all the bears would roll inside. Sullivan and Jason pushed against
the door with all their might, trying to close it. During the struggle
the bears rolled outside and the door went shut with a bang. The heavy
securing cross-bar was quickly put into place; but not a moment too
soon, for an instant later the old bear gave a furious growl and flung
herself against the door, making it fairly crack; it seemed as if the
door would be broken in. Sullivan and Jason hurriedly knocked their
slab bed to pieces and used the slats and heavy sides to prop and
strengthen the door. The bears kept surging and clawing at the door,
and while the prospectors were spiking the braces against it and
giving their entire attention to it, they suddenly felt the cabin
shake and heard the logs strain and give. They started back, to see
the big bear struggling in the window. Only the smallness of the
window had prevented the bear from getting in unnoticed, and
surprising them while they were bracing the door. The window was so
small that the bear in trying to get in had almost wedged fast. With
hind paws on the ground, fore paws on the window-sill, and shoulders
against the log over the window, the big bear was in a position to
exert all her enormous strength. Her efforts to get in sprung the logs
and gave the cabin the shake which warned.

Sullivan grabbed one of the steel drills and dealt the bear a terrible
blow on the head. She gave a growl of mingled pain and fury as she
freed herself from the window. Outside she backed off growling.

For a little while things were calmer. Sullivan and Jason, drills in
hand, stood guard at the window. After some snarling in front of the
window the bears went round to the door. They clawed the door a few
times and then began to dig under it. "They are tunneling in for us,"
said Sullivan. "They want those hams; but they won't get them."

After a time the bears quit digging and started away, occasionally
stopping to look hesitatingly back. It was almost eleven o'clock, and
the full moon shone splendidly through the pines. The prospectors
hoped that the bears were gone for good. There was an old rifle in
the cabin, but there were no cartridges, for Sullivan and Jason never
hunted and rarely had occasion to fire a gun. But, fearing that the
animals might return, Sullivan concluded to go to one of the vacant
cabins for a loaded Winchester which he knew to be there.

As soon as the bears disappeared, he crawled out of the window and
looked cautiously around; then he made a run for the vacant cabin.
The bears heard him running, and when he had nearly reached the cabin,
they came round the corner of it to see what was the matter. He was up
a pine tree in an instant. After a few growls the bears moved off and
disappeared behind a vacant cabin. As they had gone behind the cabin
which contained the loaded gun, Sullivan thought it would be dangerous
to try to make the cabin, for if the door should be swelled fast, the
bears would surely get him. Waiting until he thought it safe to
return, he dropped to the ground and made a dash for his own cabin.
The bears heard him and again gave chase, with the evident intention
of getting even for all their annoyances. It was only a short distance
to his cabin, but the bears were at his heels when he dived in through
the broken window.

A bundle of old newspapers was then set on fire and thrown among the
bears, to scare them away. There was some snarling, until one of the
young bears with a stroke of a fore paw scattered the blazing papers
in all directions; then the bears walked round the cabin-corner out
of sight and remained quiet for several minutes.

Just as Jason was saying, "I hope they are gone for good," there came
a thump on the roof which told the prospectors that the bears were
still intent on the hams. The bears began to claw the earth off the
roof. If they were allowed to continue, they would soon clear off the
earth and would then have a chance to tear out the poles. With a few
poles torn out, the bears would tumble into the cabin, or perhaps
their combined weight might cause the roof to give way and drop them
into the cabin. Something had to be done to stop their clawing and if
possible get them off the roof. Bundles of hay were taken out of the
bed mattress. From time to time Sullivan would set fire to one of
these bundles, lean far out through the window, and throw the blazing
hay upon the roof among the bears. So long as he kept these fireworks
going, the bears did not dig; but they stayed on the roof and became
furiously angry. The supply of hay did not last long, and as soon as
the annoyance from the bundles of fire ceased, the bears attacked the
roof again with renewed vigor.

Then it was decided to prod the bears with red-hot drills thrust up
between the poles of the roof. As there was no firewood in the cabin,
and as fuel was necessary in order to heat the drills, a part of the
floor was torn up for that purpose.

The young bears soon found hot drills too warm for them and scrambled
or fell off the roof. But the old one persisted. In a little while she
had clawed off a large patch of earth and was tearing the poles with
her teeth.

The hams had been hung up on the wall in the end of the cabin; the old
bear was tearing just above them. Jason threw the hams on the floor
and wanted to throw them out of the window. He thought that the bears
would leave contented if they had them. Sullivan thought differently;
he said that it would take six hams apiece to satisfy the bears, and
that two hams would be only a taste which would make the bears more
reckless than ever. The hams stayed in the cabin.

The old bear had torn some of the poles in two and was madly tearing
and biting at others. Sullivan was short and so were the drills. To
get within easier reach, he placed the table almost under the gnawing
bear, sprang upon it, and called to Jason for a red-hot drill. Jason
was about to hand him one when he noticed a small bear climbing in at
the window, and, taking the drill with him, he sprang over to beat
the bear back. Sullivan jumped down to the fire for a drill, and in
climbing back on the table he looked up at the gnawed hole and
received a shower of dirt in his face and eyes. This made him flinch
and he lost his balance and upset the table. He quickly straightened
the table and sprang upon it, drill in hand. The old bear had a paw
and arm thrust down through the hole between the poles. With a blind
stroke she struck the drill and flung it and Sullivan from the table.
He shouted to Jason for help, but Jason, with both young bears trying
to get in at the window at once, was striking right and left. He had
bears and troubles of his own and did not heed Sullivan's call. The
old bear thrust her head down through the hole and seemed about to
fall in, when Sullivan in desperation grabbed both hams and threw them
out of the window.

The young bears at once set up a row over the hams, and the old bear,
hearing the fight, jumped off the roof and soon had a ham in her

While the bears were fighting and eating, Sullivan and Jason tore up
the remainder of the floor and barricaded the window. With both door
and window closed, they could give their attention to the roof. All
the drills were heated, and both stood ready to make it hot for the
bears when they should again climb on the roof. But the bears did not
return to the roof. After eating the last morsel of the hams they
walked round to the cabin door, scratched it gently, and then became
quiet. They had lain down by the door.

It was two o'clock in the morning. The inside of the cabin was in
utter confusion. The floor was strewn with wreckage; bedding, drills,
broken boards, broken plates, and hay were scattered about. Sullivan
gazed at the chaos and remarked that it looked like poor housekeeping.
But he was tired, and, asking Jason to keep watch for a while, he lay
down on the blankets and was soon asleep.

Toward daylight the bears got up and walked a few times round the
cabin. On each round they clawed at the door, as though to tell
Sullivan that they were there, ready for his hospitality. They whined
a little, half good-naturedly, but no one admitted them, and finally,
just before sunrise, they took their departure and went leisurely
smelling their way down the trail.

Mountain Parks and Camp-Fires

The Rockies of Colorado cross the State from north to south in two
ranges that are roughly parallel and from thirty to one hundred miles
apart. There are a number of secondary ranges in the State that are
just as marked, as high, and as interesting as the main ranges, and
that are in every way comparable with them except in area. The bases
of most of these ranges are from ten to sixty miles across. The
lowlands from which these mountains rise are from five to six thousand
feet above sea-level, and the mountain-summits are from eleven
thousand to thirteen thousand feet above the tides. In the entire
mountain area of the State there are more than fifty peaks that are
upward of fourteen thousand feet in height. Some of these mountains
are rounded, undulating, or table-topped, but for the most part the
higher slopes and culminating summits are broken and angular.
Altogether, the Rocky Mountain area in Colorado presents a delightful
diversity of parks, peaks, forests, lakes, streams, cañons, slopes,
crags, and glades.

On all of the higher summits are records of the ice age. In many
places glaciated rocks still retain the polish given them by the Ice
King. Such rocks, as well as gigantic moraines in an excellent state
of preservation, extend from altitudes of twelve or thirteen thousand
feet down to eight thousand, and in places as low as seven thousand
feet. Some of the moraines are but enormous embankments a few hundred
feet high and a mile or so in length. Many of these are so raw, bold,
and bare, they look as if they had been completed or uncovered within
the last year. Most of these moraines, however, especially those below
timber-line, are well forested. No one knows just how old they are,
but, geologically speaking, they are new, and in all probability were
made during the last great ice epoch, or since that time. Among the
impressive records of the ages that are carried by these mountains,
those made by the Ice King probably stand first in appealing
strangely and strongly to the imagination.

All the Rocky Mountain lakes are glacier lakes. There are more than a
thousand of these. The basins of the majority of them were excavated
by ice from solid rock. Only a few of them have more than forty acres
of area, and, with the exception of a very small number, they are
situated well up on the shoulders of the mountains and between the
altitudes of eleven thousand and twelve thousand feet. The lower and
middle slopes of the Rockies are without lakes.

The lower third of the mountains, that is, the foothill section, is
only tree-dotted. But the middle portion, that part which lies between
the altitudes of eight thousand and eleven thousand feet, is covered
by a heavy forest in which lodge-pole pine, Engelmann spruce, and
Douglas spruce predominate. Fire has made ruinous inroads into the
primeval forest which grew here.

A large portion of the summit-slopes of the mountains is made up of
almost barren rock, in old moraines, glaciated slopes, or broken
crags, granite predominating. These rocks are well tinted with
lichen, but they present a barren appearance. In places above the
altitude of eleven thousand feet the mountains are covered with a
profuse array of alpine vegetation. This is especially true of the
wet meadows or soil-covered sections that are continually watered by
melting snows.

In the neighborhood of a snowdrift, at an altitude of twelve thousand
feet, I one day gathered in a small area one hundred and forty-two
varieties of plants. Areas of "eternal snows," though numerous, are
small, and with few exceptions, above twelve thousand feet. Here and
there above timber-line are many small areas of moorland, which, both
in appearance and in vegetation, seem to belong in the tundras of

While these mountains carry nearly one hundred varieties of trees and
shrubs, the more abundant kinds of trees number less than a score.
These are scattered over the mountains between the altitudes of six
thousand and twelve thousand feet, while, charming and enlivening the
entire mountain-section, are more than a thousand varieties of wild

Bird-life is abundant on the Rockies. No State east of the Mississippi
can show as great a variety as Colorado. Many species of birds well
known in the East are found there, though, generally, they are in some
way slightly modified. Most Rocky Mountain birds sound their notes a
trifle more loudly than their Eastern relatives. Some of them are a
little larger, and many of them have their colors slightly

Many of the larger animals thrive on the slopes of the Rockies. Deer
are frequently seen. Bobcats, mountain lions, and foxes leave many
records. In September bears find the choke-cherry bushes and, standing
on their hind legs, feed eagerly on the cherries, leaves, and
good-sized sections of the twigs. The ground-hog apparently manages to
live well, for he seems always fat. There is that wise little fellow
the coyote. He probably knows more than he is given credit for
knowing, and I am glad to say for him that I believe he does man more
good than harm. He is a great destroyer of meadow mice. He digs out
gophers. Sometimes his meal is made upon rabbits or grasshoppers,
and I have seen him feeding upon wild plums.

There are hundreds of ruins of the beaver's engineering works.
Countless dams and fillings he has made. On the upper St. Vrain he
still maintains his picturesque rustic home. Most of the present
beaver homes are in high, secluded places, some of them at an altitude
of eleven thousand feet. In midsummer, near most beaver homes one
finds columbines, fringed blue gentians, orchids, and lupines
blooming, while many of the ponds are green and yellow with


During years of rambling I have visited and enjoyed all the celebrated
parks of the Rockies, but one, which shall be nameless, is to me the
loveliest of them all. The first view of it never fails to arouse the
dullest traveler. From the entrance one looks down upon an irregular
depression, several miles in length, a small undulating and beautiful
mountain valley, framed in peaks with purple forested sides and
bristling snowy grandeur. This valley is delightfully open, and
has a picturesque sprinkling of pines over it, together with a few
well-placed cliffs and crags. Its swift, clear, and winding brooks are
fringed with birch and willow. A river crosses it with many a slow
and splendid fold of silver.

Not only is the park enchanting from the distance, but every one of
its lakes and meadows, forests and wild gardens, has a charm and a
grandeur of its own. There are lakes of many kinds. One named for the
painter, now dead, who many times sketched and dreamed on its shores,
is a beautiful ellipse; and its entire edge carries a purple shadow
matting of the crowding forest. Its placid surface reflects peak and
snow, cloud and sky, and mingling with these are the green and gold of
pond-lily glory. Another lake is stowed away in an utterly wild place.
It is in a rent between three granite peaks. Three thousand feet of
precipice bristle above it. Its shores are strewn with wreckage from
the cliffs and crags above, and this is here and there cemented
together with winter's drifted snow. Miniature icebergs float upon its
surface. Around it are mossy spaces, beds of sedge, and scattered
alpine flowers, which soften a little the fierce aspect of this
impressive scene.

On the western margin of the park is a third lake. This lake and its
surroundings are of the highest alpine order. Snow-line and tree-line
are just above it. Several broken and snowy peaks look down into it,
and splendid spruces spire about its shores. Down to it from the
heights and snows above come waters leaping in white glory. It is the
centre of a scene of wild grandeur that stirs in one strange depths of
elemental feeling and wonderment. Up between the domes of one of the
mountains is Gem Lake. It is only a little crystal pool set in ruddy
granite with a few evergreens adorning its rocky shore. So far as I
know, it is the smallest area of water in the world that bears the
name of lake; and it is also one of the rarest gems of the lakelet

The tree-distribution is most pleasing, and the groves and forests are
a delight. Aged Western yellow pines are sprinkled over the open areas
of the park. They have genuine character, marked individuality. Stocky
and strong-limbed, their golden-brown bark broken into deep fissures
and plateaus, scarred with storm and fire, they make one think and
dream more than any other tree on the Rockies. By the brooks the clean
and childlike aspens mingle with the willow and the alder or the
handsome silver spruce. Some slopes are spread with the green fleece
of massed young lodge-pole pines, and here and there are groves of
Douglas spruce, far from their better home "where rolls the Oregon."
The splendid and spiry Engelmann spruces climb the stern slopes eleven
thousand feet above the ocean, where weird timber-line with its
dwarfed and distorted trees shows the incessant line of battle between
the woods and the weather.

Every season nearly one thousand varieties of beautiful wild flowers
come to perfume the air and open their "bannered bosoms to the sun."
Many of these are of brightest color. They crowd the streams, wave on
the hills, shine in the woodland vistas, and color the snow-edge.
Daisies, orchids, tiger lilies, fringed gentians, wild red roses,
mariposas, Rocky Mountain columbines, harebells, and forget-me-nots
adorn every space and nook.

While only a few birds stay in the park the year round, there are
scores of summer visitors who come here to bring up the babies, and
to enliven the air with song. Eagles soar the blue, and ptarmigan,
pipits, and sparrows live on the alpine moorlands. Thrushes fill the
forest aisles with melody, and by the brooks the ever-joyful
water-ouzel mingles its music with the song of ever-hurrying,
ever-flowing waters. Among the many common birds are owls,
meadowlarks, robins, wrens, magpies, bluebirds, chickadees,
nuthatches, and several members of the useful woodpecker family,
together with the white-throated sparrow and the willow thrush.

Speckled and rainbow trout dart in the streams. Mountain sheep climb
and pose on the crags; bear, deer, and mountain lions are still
occasionally seen prowling the woods or hurrying across the meadows.
The wise coyote is also seen darting under cover, and is frequently
heard during the night. Here among the evergreens is found that small
and audacious bit of intensely interesting and animated life, the
Douglas squirrel, and also one of the dearest of all small animals,
the merry chipmunk. Along the brooks are a few small beaver colonies,
a straggling remnant of a once numerous population. It is to be hoped
that this picturesque and useful race will be allowed to extend its

The park has also a glacier, a small but genuine chip of the old
block, the Ice King. The glacier is well worth visiting, especially
late in summer, when the winter mantle is gone from its crevasses,
leaving revealed its blue-green ice and its many grottoes. It is every
inch a glacier. There are other small glaciers above the Park, but
these glacial remnants, though interesting, are not as imposing as the
glacial records, the old works which were deposited by the Ice King.
The many kinds of moraines here display his former occupation and
activities. There are glaciated walls, polished surfaces, eroded
basins, and numerous lateral moraines. One of the moraines is probably
the largest and certainly one of the most interesting in the Rockies.
It occupies about ten square miles on the eastern slope of the
mountain. Above timber-line this and other moraines seem surprisingly
fresh and new, as though they had been formed only a few years, but
below tree-line they are forested, and the accumulation of humus upon
them shows that they have long been bearers of trees.

The rugged Peak looks down over all this wild garden, and is a
perpetual challenge to those who go up to the sky on mountains. It is
a grand old granite peak. There are not many mountains that require
more effort from the climber, and few indeed can reward him with such
a far-spreading and magnificent view.


One of the most interesting and impressive localities in the Rockies
lies around Mt. Wetterhorn, Mt. Coxcomb, and Uncompahgre Peak. Here I
have found the birds confiding, and most wild animals so tame that it
was a joy to be with them. But this was years ago, and now most of the
wild animals are wilder and the birds have found that man will not
bear acquaintance. Most of this region was recently embraced in the
Uncompahgre National Forest. It has much for the scientist and
nature-lover: the mountain-climber will find peaks to conquer and
cañons to explore; the geologist will find many valuable stone
manuscripts; the forester who interviews the trees will have from
their tongues a story worth while; and here, too, are some of Nature's
best pictures for those who revel only in the lovely and the wild.
It is a strikingly picturesque by-world, where there are many
illuminated and splendid fragments of Nature's story. He who visits
this section will first be attracted by an array of rock-formations,
and, wander where he will, grotesque and beautiful shapes in stone
will frequently attract and interest his attention.

The rock-formation is made up of mixtures of very unequally tempered
rock metal, which weathers in strange, weird, and impressive shapes.
Much of this statuary is gigantic and uncouth, but some of it is
beautiful. There are minarets, monoliths, domes, spires, and shapeless
fragments. In places there are, seemingly, restive forms not entirely
free from earth. Most of these figures are found upon the crests of
the mountains, and many of the mountain-ridges, with their numerous
spikes and gigantic monoliths, some of which are tilted perilously
from the perpendicular, give one a feeling of awe. Some of the
monoliths appear like broken, knotty tree-trunks. Others stand
straight and suggest the Egyptian obelisks. They hold rude natural
hieroglyphics in relief. One mountain, which is known as Turret-Top,
is crowned with what from a distance seems to be a gigantic
picket-fence. This fence is formed by a row of monolithic stones.

One of the most remarkable things connected with this strange locality
is that its impressive landscapes may be overturned or blotted out, or
new scenes may be brought forth, in a day. The mountains do not stand
a storm well. A hard rain will dissolve ridges, lay bare new strata,
undermine and overturn cliffs. It seems almost a land of enchantment,
where old landmarks may disappear in a single storm, or an impressive
landscape come forth in a night. Here the god of erosion works
incessantly and rapidly, dissecting the earth and the rocks. During
a single storm a hilltop may dissolve, a mountain-side be fluted with
slides, a grove be overturned and swept away by an avalanche, or a
lake be buried forever. This rapid erosion of slopes and summits
causes many changes and much upbuilding upon their bases. Gulches are
filled, water-courses invaded, rivers bent far to one side, and groves
slowly buried alive.

One night, while I was in camp on the slope of Mt. Coxcomb, a
prolonged drought was broken by a very heavy rain. Within an hour
after the rain started, a large crag near the top of the peak fell and
came crashing and rumbling down the slope. During the next two hours
I counted the rumbling crash of forty others. I know not how many small
avalanches may have slipped during this time that I did not hear. The
next day I went about looking at the new landscapes and the strata
laid bare by erosion and landslide, and up near the top of this peak
I found a large glaciated lava boulder. A lava boulder that has been
shaped by the ice and has for a time found a resting-place in a
sedentary formation, then been uplifted to near a mountain-top, has a
wonder-story of its own. One day I came across a member of the United
States Geological Survey who had lost his way. At my camp-fire that
evening I asked him to hug facts and tell me a possible story of the
glaciated lava boulder. The following is his account:--

The shaping of that boulder must have antedated by ages the shaping of
the Sphinx, and its story, if acceptably told, would seem more like
fancy than fact. If the boulder were to relate, briefly, its
experiences, it might say: "I helped burn forests and strange cities
as I came red-hot from a volcano's throat, and I was scarcely cool
when disintegration brought flowers to cover my dead form. By and by a
long, long winter came, and toward the close of it I was sheared off,
ground, pushed, rolled, and rounded beneath the ice. 'Why are you
grinding me up?' I asked the glacier. 'To make food for the trees and
the flowers during the earth's next temperate epoch,' it answered. One
day a river swept me out of its delta and I rolled to the bottom of
the sea. Here I lay for I know not how long, with sand and boulders
piling upon me. Here heat, weight, and water fixed me in a stratum
of materials that had accumulated below and above me. My stratum was
displaced before it was thoroughly solidified, and I felt myself
slowly raised until I could look out over the surface of the sea. The
waves at once began to wear me, and they jumped up and tore at me
until I was lifted above their reach. At last, when I was many
thousand feet above the waves, I came to a standstill. Then my
mountain-top was much higher than at present. For a long time I looked
down upon a tropical world. I am now wondering if the Ice King will
come for me again."

The Engelmann spruce forest here is an exceptionally fine one, and the
geologist and I discussed it and trees in general. Some of the Indian
tribes of the Rockies have traditions of a "Big Fire" about four
centuries ago. There is some evidence of a general fire over the
Rockies about the time that the Indian's tradition places it, but in
this forest there were no indications that there had ever been a fire.
Trees were in all stages of growth and decay. Humus was deep. Here I
found a stump of a Douglas spruce that was eleven feet high and about
nine feet in diameter. It was so decayed that I could not decipher the
rings of growth. This tree probably required at least a thousand years
to reach maturity, and many years must have elapsed for its wood to
come to the present state of decay. Over this stump was spread the
limbs of a live tree that was four hundred years of age.

Trees have tongues, and in this forest I interviewed many patriarchs,
had stories from saplings, examined the mouldy, musty records of many
a family tree, and dug up some buried history. The geologist wanted in
story form a synopsis of what the records said and what the trees told
me, so I gave him this account:--

"We climbed in here some time after the retreat of the last Ice King
and found aspen and lodge-pole pine in possession. These trees fought
us for several generations, but we finally drove them out. For ages
the Engelmann spruce family has had undisputed possession of this
slope. We stand amid three generations of mouldering ancestors, and
beneath these is the sacred mould of older generations still.


"One spring, when most of the present grown-up trees were very young,
the robins, as they flew north, were heard talking of strange men who
were exploring the West Indies. A few years later came the big fire
over the Rockies, which for months choked the sky with smoke. Fire did
not get into our gulch, but from birds and bears which crowded into it
we learned that straggling trees and a few groves on the Rockies were
all that had escaped with their lives. Since we had been spared, we
all sent out our seed for tree-colonies as rapidly as we could, and in
so doing we received much help from the birds, the squirrels, and the
bears, so that it was not long before we again had our plumes waving
everywhere over the Rockies. About a hundred and sixty years ago, an
earthquake shook many of us down and wounded thousands of others with
the rock bombardment from the cliffs. The drought a century ago was
hard on us, and many perished for water. Not long after the drought we
began to see the trappers, but they never did us any harm. Most of
them were as careful of our temples as were the Indians. While the
trappers still roamed, there came a very snowy winter, and snow-slides
mowed us down by thousands. Many of us were long buried beneath the
snow. The old trees became dreadfully alarmed, and they feared that
the Ice King was returning. For weeks they talked of nothing else, but
in the spring, when the mountain-sides began to warm and peel off in
earth-avalanches, we had a real danger to discuss.

"Shortly after the snowy winter, the gold-seekers came with their
fire havoc. For fifty years we have done our best to hold our ground,
but beyond our gulch relentless fire and flashing steel, together with
the floods with which outraged Nature seeks to revenge herself, have
slain the grand majority, and much, even, of the precious dust of our
ancestors has been washed away."

With the exception of the night I had the geologist, my days and
nights in this locality were spent entirely alone. The blaze of the
camp-fire, moonlight, the music and movement of the winds, light and
shade, and the eloquence of silence all impressed me more deeply here
than anywhere else I have ever been. Every day there was a delightful
play of light and shade, and this was especially effective on the
summits; the ever-changing light upon the serrated mountain-crests
kept constantly altering their tone and outline. Black and white they
stood in midday glare, but a new grandeur was born when these tattered
crags appeared above storm-clouds. Fleeting glimpses of the crests
through a surging storm arouse strange feelings, and one is at bay,
as though having just awakened amid the vast and vague on another
planet. But when the long, white evening light streams from the west
between the minarets, and the black buttressed crags wear the alpine
glow, one's feelings are too deep for words.

The wind sometimes flowed like a torrent across the ridges, surging
and ripping between the minarets, then bearing down like an avalanche
upon the purple sylvan ocean, where it tossed the trees with boom,
roar, and wild commotion. I usually camped where it showed the most
enthusiasm. Here I often enjoyed the songs or the fierce activities
of the wind. The absence and the presence of wind ever stirred me
strongly. Weird and strange are the feelings that flow as the winds
sweep and sound through the trees. The Storm King has a bugle at his
lips, and a deep, elemental hymn is sung while the blast surges wild
through the pines. Mother Nature is quietly singing, singing soft and
low while the breezes pause and play in the pines. From the past one
has been ever coming, with the future destined ever to go when, with
centuries of worshipful silence, one waits for the winds in the pines.
Ever the good old world grows better both with songs and with silence
in the pines.

Here the energy and eloquence of silence was at its best. That
all-pervading presence called silence has its happy home within the
forest. Silence sounds rhythmic to all, and attunes all minds to the
strange message, the rhapsody of the universe. Silence is almost as
kind to mortals as its sweet sister sleep.

A primeval spruce forest crowds all the mountain-slopes of the
Uncompahgre region from an altitude of eight thousand feet to
timber-line. So dense is this forest that only straggling bits of
sun-fire ever fall to the ground. Beneath these spiry, crowding trees
one has only "the twilight of the forest noon." This forest, when seen
from near-by mountain-tops, seems to be a great ragged, purple robe
hanging in folds from the snow-fields, while down through it the white
streams rush. A few crags pierce it, sun-filled grass-plots dot its
expanse at intervals, and here and there it is rent with a vertical
avalanche lane.

Many a happy journey and delightful climb I have had in the mountains
all alone by moonlight, and in the Uncompahgre district I had many a
moonlight ramble. I know what it is to be alone on high peaks with the
moon, and I have felt the spell that holds the lonely wanderer when,
on a still night, he feels the wistful, tender touch of the summer
air, while the leaves whisper and listen in the moonlight, and the
moon-toned etchings of the pines fall upon the magic forest floor.

One of the best moonlit times that I have had in this region was
during my last visit to it. One October night I camped in a grass-plot
in the depths of a spruce forest. The white moon rose grandly from
behind the minareted mountain, hesitated for a moment among the
tree-spires, then tranquilly floated up into space. It was a still
night. There was silence in the treetops. The river near by faintly
murmured in repose. Everything was at rest. The grass-plot was full
of romantic light, and on its eastern margin was an etching of spiry
spruce. A dead and broken tree on the edge of the grass-plot looked
like a weird prowler just out of the woods, and seemed half-inclined
to come out into the light and speak to me. All was still. The moonlit
mist clung fantastically to the mossy festoons of the fir trees.
I was miles from the nearest human soul, and as I stood in the
enchanting scene, amid the beautiful mellow light, I seemed to have
been wafted back into the legend-weaving age. The silence was softly
invaded by zephyrs whispering in the treetops, and a few moonlit
clouds that showed shadow centre-boards came lazily drifting along the
bases of the minarets, as though they were looking for some place in
particular, although in no hurry to find it. Heavier cloud-flotillas
followed, and these floated on the forest sea, touching the treetops
with the gentleness of a lover's hand. I lay down by my camp-fire to
let my fancy frolic, and fairest dreams came on.

It was while camping once on the slope of Mt. Coxcomb that I felt most
strongly the spell of the camp-fire. I wish every one could have a
night by a camp-fire,--by Mother Nature's old hearthstone. When one
sits in the forest within the camp-fire's magic tent of light, amid
the silent, sculptured trees, there go thrilling through one's blood
all the trials and triumphs of our race. The blazing wood, the ragged
and changing flame, the storms and calms, the mingling smoke and
blaze, the shadow-figures that dance against the trees, the scenes and
figures in the fire,--with these, though all are new and strange, yet
you feel at home once more in the woods. A camp-fire in the forest is
the most enchanting place on life's highway by which to have a lodging
for the night.


  Alma, 119, 127.

  _Arctostaphylos Uva-Ursi_. _See_ Kinnikinick.

  Aspen, 204-206, 208.

  Bears, vapor from a bear, 20;
    a bear and her cubs, 79;
    prospectors besieged by, 217-229;
    feeding on choke-cherries, 237.

  Beaver, 238, 242;
    usefulness of, 53;
    cutting trees, 54-56;
    young, 56-58;
    houses of, 57;
    granary of, 58;
    tools of, 58, 59;
    dam-building, 59, 60;
    growth of a dam, 61;
    the dam a highway, 61;
    influence of dams on stream-flow, 61-64;
    dams catching and holding soil, 64-67;
    value of, 67.

  Birds, Rocky Mountain, abundance of, 151, 152, 237;
    various species of, 152-159;
    song of, 159;
    a pet quail, 160-167;
    of a mountain park, 241, 242.

  Boulder, a lava, 247-249.

  Cabin, a night in a deserted, 22, 23.

  Camp-fires, 5, 6, 77;
    the spell of the camp-fire, 256, 257.

  Camping outfit, 4.

  Carpenter, Prof. L. G., 4, 83.

  Chambers Lake, 93.

  Chickadee, 155.

  Chipmunk, 242.

  Columbine, 208.

  Cottonwood, broad-leaf, 200.

  Cottonwood, narrow-leaf, 200.

  Coyotes, 77, 242;
    Scotch and the, 133-138;
    usefulness of, 237.

  Crested Butte, 7.

  Crow, 156-158.

  Deer, 9.

  Dog, the story of a collie, 131-147;
    a St. Bernard and a pet quail, 160, 164-167.

  Edwinia, 208.

  Electrical phenomena, in winter, 26;
    before the Poudre flood, 83-95.

  Fir, balsam (_Abies lasiocarpa_), 207, 208.

  Fir, Douglas. _See_ Spruce, Douglas.

  Fires, forest, 12, 14;
    and the lodge-pole pine, 186, 187, 191, 192;
    causes of, 209;
    effects of, 209, 210;
    Indian tradition of a "Big Fire," 249, 250.

  Flowers, above timber-line, 211-213;
    of a mountain park, 241.

  Forestry, an address on, 13, 14.

  Gem Lake, 240.

  Geneva Park, 217.

  Geologist, a night with a, 247-252.

  Girl, climbing Long's Peak with an eight-year-old, 99-111.

  Glaciation, 234, 235, 243.

  Glaciers, 243.

  Grand Ditch Camp, 93.

  Grand Lake, 14, 15, 22.

  Ground-hog, 110, 237.

  Grouse, 9.

  Hague's Peak, 84.

  Hoosier Pass, 119, 123.

  Horses, return, 115-118;
    Midget, 119-128.

  Hotel, ejected from a, 11.

  Ice, fine arts of, 12.

  Kinnikinick, a plant pioneer, 171-175;
    its nursery for trees, 175, 176;
    growth of, 176, 177;
    flowers and fruit of, 177;
    as a bed, 177, 178;
    a legend of, 178, 179;
    reclaiming work of, 180.

  Lakes, 235, 239, 240.

  Lead Mountain, 9.

  Leadville, 125.

  Lion, mountain, 6, 20, 23;
    an epicure, 9, 10;
    tracked by a, 10.

  Long's Peak, 15, 84;
    a climb up, with a little girl, 99-111;
    summit of, 109, 110;
    Scotch and the young lady on, 138-141;
    a winter climb with Scotch, 142-147;
    birds on summit of, 158.

  Loveland, 91.

  Mammals, 237.

  Medicine Bow National Forest, 23.

  Medicine-men, 10, 11.

  Mesa Verde, 31, 48, 49.

  Moonlight, the mountains by, 254-256.

  Mt. Coxcomb, 244;
    camping on the slope of, 246-254, 256.

  Mt. Lincoln, 11, 123.

  Mt. Richthofen, 93.

  Mt. Silverheels, 120, 121.

  Mt. Wetterhorn, 244.

  Ouzel, water, 100-102, 152, 153, 158, 159.

  Park, a Rocky Mountain, 238-244.

  Pine, nursed by kinnikinick, 175, 176.

  Pine, lodge-pole, its names, 183;
    description of, 183;
    its habit of growth, 183, 184;
    its aggressive character, 184;
    distribution of, 184, 185, 208;
    its method of dispersing its seeds, 185-187, 191;
    growth of, 187, 188, 193, 194;
    as a colonist and pioneer, 189;
    cones embedded in, 189, 190;
    sunlight necessary to, 190;
    fire in a forest of, 191, 192;
    enemies of, 193;
    uses of, 193;
    value of, 193-195.

  Pine, Western yellow, a thousand-year-old, 31-50;
    habits of the, 200-204;
    character of the, 240.

  _Pinus flexilis_, 188, 208.

  Plants, of the summit-slopes, 235, 236.

  Potentilla, 208.

  Poudre Lakes, 86.

  Poudre Valley, flood in, 83, 95.

  Ptarmigan, 9, 107, 153, 158.

  Quail, a pet, 161-167.

  Rabbit, snowshoe, 9.

  Rex, a St. Bernard dog, 160, 164-167.

  Rock, easily eroded, 246.

  Rock-formations, grotesque and beautiful, 245, 246.

  Rocky Mountains, individuality of, 213;
    character of, 233, 234.

  Schoolhouse, a mountain, 13.

  Sheep, mountain, 9;
    a flock of, 78.

  Silence, 254.

  Snow, tracks in, 9.

  Snow-cornice, breaking through a, 17.

  Snow-fall, 7.

  Snow-slides, 19, 20;
    an adventure with a snow-slide, 24, 25.

  Snowstorm, a, 8.

  Solitaire, 153-155.

  Specimen Mountain, electrical phenomena on, 88-92.

  Spruce, Colorado blue or silver, 207, 208.

  Spruce, Douglas, or Douglas fir, 188, 189, 203, 204;
    a large stump, 249.

  Spruce, Engelmann, 188, 189, 208, 241, 249;
    the story of a forest of, 250-252.

  Squirrel, Douglas, 242;
    as a nurseryman, 34, 35;
    and the old pine, 35, 47;
    character of, 79;
    cutting off and storing cones, 102-104.

  Thrush, Audubon's hermit, 152, 154.

  Timber-line, 104-107, 208, 209.

  Trap Creek, 94, 95.

  Trees, of the Rocky Mountains, 199-211, 236. _See also individual

  Turret-Top, 245.

  Uncompahgre National Forest, 244.

  Uncompahgre Peak, 244.

  Uncompahgre region, wonders of the, 244-256.

  Wind, 253.

  Wolves, an adventure with, 71-75.

  Woodpecker, Texas, 39, 40.

The Riverside Press


U . S . A

Transcriber's Note

Variant and inconsistent spellings in the original text have been
retained in this ebook (for instance: kodak, cosy, halfway and
half-way; kinnikinick and Kinnikinick).

Some illustrations have been moved from their original locations to
paragraph breaks, so as to be nearer to their corresponding text, or
for ease of document navigation.

Duplicate chapter titles have been removed in the text version and
hidden in the HTML version of this ebook.

The following typographical corrections have been made to this text:

   Page xi: Changed 64 to 63, to account for illustration repositioning

   Page 27: Changed spendid to splendid (calm and splendid forest)

  Page 202: Changed eight to eighty (eighty-five feet high)

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