It was as the sun was setting on our rest day in the hills above the Klamath River, when three wild stallions came into our camp. We were unconcerned about their presence at first, knowing they were timid around people, and we had an electric fence to keep our animals in. As I was going to sleep, I noticed sounds of chaos moving through the camp, and arose to find my friends trying to drive off the aggressive wild horses.
More quickly than we could think, they came over and pawed at our fence, breaking it down without feeling the intended shock, allowing Fern, the mule to exit our pen. Quickly three of the wild stallions came and drove her away, while our two mustang mares fought them off.
We had to think quickly, so we grabbed the two mustangs and secured them in a garden with high fence, the stallions still trying to separate them from us. For over an hour, we tried in vein to isolate Fern and bring her into the garden, but with two of the stallions always at her side keeping us separated, our only option would have been to tranquilize them--something we weren't capable of doing.
Moreover, the stallions were getting more aggressive, threatening to run us over in their effort to take our mule away. So, we let her go.
In the morning, the two stallions and Fern returned at sunrise, but we knew that we couldn't get our mule back that day, and we didn't want to risk loosing our two mustangs as well, so we drove her off back into the hills.
I love the Klamath River, and in the 50 miles and 5 days we spent along it, I felt like a year had passed. But I had to be honest with what I now wanted. I came to this river because I had wanted to travel a distance on my horse, but I came to understand, that aspect wasn't what I wanted anymore.
In truth, what I now value are the relationships, the stories, and the music I can share, and with the burden of the horses I wasn't able to do that.
So the project will continue on, but it will be a different story that I thought. It's difficult to move forward knowing so much of what you thought wasn't what it became, but I must keep writing the Songs of the Klamath in spite of all of that.