I am jarred out of a relaxing sleep by a voice yelling my name in a loud whisper, and a light burning through my eyelids. Groggily, I open my eyes to see my father standing in the doorway to my messy room. He tells me that I need to get going, that it is 3:00 a.m., and I’m burning daylight. I find my clothes and get dressed. The whole time I wonder why I get up this early to visit the rugged outdoors. I want to go back to bed, but I know my dad will be back in to make sure I am getting ready, in a little bit. Instead, I put my boots and my wide-brimmed, black cowboy hat on, and walked out to catch the horses. The horses are all excited because it is dark and they are not that cooperative. My dad and I get them saddled and in the trailer, and go back into the house to get our lunch, water, and a cup of coffee. Now, we can head for the high country.
It is still dark when we get there, so our horses are still very alert; they keep moving around and snorting with eyes wide and nostrils flared. I strap my pistol to my hips and tie the tip of the holster to my leg so it doesn’t flop. We are ready to go, so I take a deep breath of the sharp, clean, mountain air and step into the saddle. As we ride along in the dark, I begin to relax. Man, I love the smell of cool mountain air; there is nothing in the world quite like it. It is so refreshing for me.
As the sky begins to brighten to a gray, and the stars that were so brilliant just seconds ago begin to grow dim, my imagination starts to picture things moving that are really nothing but shadows in the trees. It is as if the shadows are racing around trying to find their owners before the sun peeks its gleaming face up over the horizon. A deer jumps from its bed, scaring the horses and pumping a quart of adrenaline through my system, as my pistol jumps to my hand. Once I realize it is just a deer, I put my pistol back in its holster.
In the last seconds before the sun rises, the sky turns a soft blue. The sun breaks the horizon and begins to shine its warmth down on me; I can see more of the beauty that is all around me. I can see beams of light perfectly outlining the ragged mountains, as I look across the valley. As the sun floats higher in the pure blue sky, it reveals more and more of the beauty that the land holds. In every direction my eyes take in the trees, cattle grazing on a side hill, and elk moving through the aspen trees. Sometimes, when I am here, I will see a coyote appear and then vanish like the wind.
Each time I visit this place I get the same relaxing feeling, yet in a way it is new. When I look upon the beauty of nature, I know that these places were created knowing there would be people like me on earth to enjoy them.