Brush is more than a anthem of the west, it might well be a scourge
of the west to cowboy or packer who has to loose herd stock through
it. Whatever it is, there is more than enough of it to go around.
From the high desert floor of Owens Valley well up the eastern
slopes of the Sierra Nevada Sage Brush seems to know no bounds.
I still recall the time five packers, including myself, pushed
stock from the Elder Ranch near Diaz Lake, just south of Lone
Pine, some thirty miles south to Sage Flat. (Sage Flat, and Olancha
Pass, was to be the trailhead for the Trail Riders of the Wilderness
this particular summer because the snow was still so deep on
the trail going over Mt. Whitney, we're talking about in late
August, that it was impassible to stock.) As we headed out of
the Elder Ranch down Lubken Canyon Road towards the Owen's Valley
Aqueduct, three things became apparently clear: 1. It was going
to be one long dust eatin' ride for whoever brought up the rear
(and sometimes that was me), 2. No amount of singin' in the saddle
was going to make this a pleasant trip, 3. We were all about
to gain a new appreciation for this plant called the Sage Brush.
We had never seen
so much Sage Brush in all of our lives, up close and personal.
Over that thirty miles of dry dusty trail, there must have been
100 varieties of Sage Brush, or so it seemed. Having on chaps
took on a whole new level of appreciation too! For those of us
who had them, they were "leg savers." I was so thankful
that Tommy and Barbara Jefferson had given me a wonderful pair
of rust colored deer chaps on my fifth anniversary of packing
for the outfit. I cherish them still to this day. Why Tommy never
trucked the stock to Sage Flat for this trip I'll never know.
When we all finally reached Sage Flat you'd have thought we were
related to coal miners. Only the whites of our eyes were showing
through all of the dust. But what a trip! Without that trail
drive there would be nothing to share with you.