Mount Wheeler rises to 13,161 feet and is the highest point in New Mexico. Photo by Richard F. Fleck
We camped in Taos Valley on a cold
September night while Mini, my blond
cocker spaniel, danced around the tent
as we tried to get some needed sleep
before our tiring climb of Wheeler Peak.
At sunrise we fed ourselves and Mini and
perked some aromatic coffee on the fire
while tops of fir trees reddened, and mist
arose from Rio Hondo swirling over
submerged black-gray stones nearby.
Shouldering our packs, we and Mini
hit the trail lined with pearly everlasting
and bright pink fireweed. Mini dashed
ahead as Jonny and I trudged beneath
the lodgepole pines until we gained a
view so fine of the valley and the distant,
shining, dark-blue peaks of the Pecos.
Climbing over a long and rocky escarpment,
we, at last, reached the krummholz where
Mini chased tiny sparrows up and down
the tundra knolls with her little feet moving
as quickly as a harpsichordist plays the
notes of a Scarlatti sonata; she raced up
high and came back down to encourage her
tortoise companions to get a move on, and
wondered why we did not want to reach the
sky where bright yellow sunflowers awaited.
But it seemed we barely advanced at a sheer
angle on the browning tundra because we
paused so much for water and tasty trail mix.
At long last we rested atop a false summit
with Wheeler rising much higher, but where
was Mini? She pranced all over the summit
three hundred feet above, waiting, waiting
for two sluggish human beings to arrive
sky high and sit and stare at nearly all of
the turquoise mountains of New Mexico.