“Bandi! Bucx!” Lloyd Warr’s call drifted through a curtain of fog tangled in the sagebrush, shrouding the morning sun. Obviously, his mules had bolted. I had met Lloyd the previous day, when he arrived at Lake Creek Camp. He said he lived in Rupert and he and his companions from Buhl belonged to the Idaho Draft Horse and Mule Association.
I had always thought mules were untrustworthy, but Lloyd explained that breeders select mares and jacks for temperament. Anyway, it was too early to rise, as my four friends and I on this trip into Copper Basin, in the Salmon-Challis National Forest, had talked well past our bedtime. The campfire, which had sealed us in from the cold night, had burned out, and none of my rough-and-tough storytellers had emerged to start the fire. “Bandi, Bucx …” receded as Lloyd made his way along the Copper Basin Loop Road.
“Bandi, Bucx … hay, oats.” Pulling on my boots, I decided to help. Ron had just begun to prepare coffee and Quint was kindling the fire. I called, “Breakfast can wait,” and gunned my off-road vehicle (ORV) towards the voice. To the west, Standhope Peak and Big Black Dome, both rearing nearly 3,500 feet above the basin floor, were pink and red in the morning glow of lifting fog. Driving up alongside Lloyd, I asked, “Can I help?”
Lloyd, about my age, seventy something, replied, “Damn mules, they’ve never bolted.”
I knew we could drive cross-country and, with luck, catch the feckless mules. “Hop on.”
Lloyd hesitated. “I’ve never been on one of these contraptions.”
“Well, this ain’t an ordinary ORV. It’s equipped with a passenger seat.” Continue reading →