Buck had trekked three miles uphill since the Triple Nut Bridge. As he started he was again given the peace of the forest cathedral as it closed in around him on the trail.
Sugar Pines and the occasional Ponderosa of massive girth set the table for his emotions. He knew of the Creator by His works and wondered that so very many poo-poo’d this belief. He supposed it was their loss because he saw the love and critical thought that went into all he could see surrounding him. The complexity and interdependence of one species on another was in no way a monumental accident or an accident of evolutionary intent. Or, so Buck reckoned.
With a sigh of reverence he trudged on up the trail. This trail was not on any topo map. What Buck had done was to spend the time on his hikes following game trails to see if any were sufficiently long enough or wide enough to allow his passage. It was what a person with no deadlines can do and he did it with a religious fervor. Eventually, he had found connections enough to find his way through on his own trail. A trail unknown to all but the animals which used them. In one way he had considered it a safety measure in that he couldn’t get lost if he had an intimate knowledge of where he was; even off the main trail. He had done this with map and compass over many months, and numerous dead ends, which required retracing and then finding a new access. It hadn’t been too long until he wove a short cut of game trails which took time off his march. In fact, he had discovered before he lost his watch, it cut almost a full hour off his trek although it did require stepping or climbing over falls and snags the foresters never had knowledge of.
Buck was headed, eventually, to Markleeville. Well, not to Markleeville proper but to the Herndon ranch about 4 miles out of town, west. He had known Geoff Herndon and his wife Sylvia since before he made his exit from society. They had been friends for some 25 years and had purchased this plot of 250 acres shortly after Buck had met them. He supposed now that their purchase of the land might be the genesis of his conception of his getting the hell out of Dodge. At any rate, Sylvia and Geoff were salt of the earth people and Buck came here specifically to help out around the place. In return he got their friendship and a place to stay and, more importantly, a shower and shave and a great, home cooked meal. It worked well for all parties and neither took anything for granted. It was all about friendship.