We reached the river just in time. We’d almost lost daylight. The horses were tired from packing gear. The cowboys welcomed night.
Old Mose, the cook, pulled out some steaks, then peeled the spuds to fry. He sliced up all the onions, and I swear he didn’t cry.
The smell of all that campfire grub was floating down the trail. Three hungry hikers smelled the food and showed up mighty frail.
They had some food they said they’d trade. Mose said, “Let’s take a look.” Each had a bag of fruits and nuts. Not much, to our trail cook.
Mose fixed a plate for each of them. They gobbled down their meal, then ate their berries, fruits and nuts. It all seemed so surreal.
We asked the hikers, “Are you lost?” They said, “We’re not real sure. We haven’t found our campsite for a day or even more.”
The boss stepped up and said, “You’re lost. You’ll stay here for the night. Tomorrow after breakfast we’ll get you headed right.”
That night we sat around the fire and listened to them talk. The hikers said they’d smoked some weed, then set out for a walk.
They said that they were following a light up in the sky. One cowboy said, “I’m not surprised. You were stoned and feeling high.”
We threw some blankets at the boys, then turned in for the night. The full moon kept his watch on us. The stars were shining bright.
Sometime, just after midnight, I heard one hiker scream. I wondered what the problem was and hoped I’d had a dream.
I crawled on out, then muttered, “For goodness sakes, now what!” I saw one hiker taking air, then landing on his butt.
They tried to steal old Applejack, a pack horse you can’t ride. He’d pack your gear and never shy. But ride him? Suicide!
By now the show had drawn a crowd. The cowboys cheered them on. Three hikers all lay on the ground. Their luck had come and gone.
They never even said goodbye, just set out on a run. It sure was nice of those three boys to show us all that fun.
The hikers seemed to disappear. We asked of everyone. But the night we spent with those clueless dudes has yet to be outdone.