"Holy Moley" I said, or heck or something like that, when a sudden gust of wind picked the hat off my head and hurled it over the cliff and down out of site.
"We have to go find my hat" I told my three border collies - Bud, Cody, and Boogie. It seemed as if they understood, as borders often do when their owners talk, as all three started angling down the cliff in front of me.
When we got to the bottom Boogie raced off into the spruce, out of site, in the direction my hat fell. Before I even got around to the front of the cliff, he came running back, with my hat in his mouth.
This dog has grown up loving a good game of fetch, which usually means he grabs something he knows I will want, like a glove or a sock, or even a fish I have lying next to the fire ready to cook, and takes off with it. The game is that I try to catch him, which I can never do. The only way I get my things back is to wait till he is bored with the game, and leaves my stuff somewhere, or, the other way is to lie down on my back and wait for him to come and investigate, then try to grab his collar. (does this sound like it is me doing the fetching?)
So Boogie seemed to understand we needed to find my hat, and went and got it for me. He stopped five feet away, with joy and the devil in his eyes, and dared me to try to get it from him.
I recall another trip when Boogie and me and Bud and Cody were trying to find some rocks close enough together to cross a deep stream in the middle of a wide mountain meadow. Cody started running away from the stream, way out into the meadow. I wondered what the heck he was doing and called to him. He came running back at full speed and leaped into the air and cleared that stream in one jump, then waited on the other side for us slowpokes to find a way across. You should have seen it - this white border collie racing across the grass meadow then flying through the air over the stream - I had never seen a dog do such a thing before. Cody wagged his tail and greeted us all when we finally rock-hopped over to his side. Bud and Boogie returned his affection - I think they were impressed. I know I was.
Its a shame how things change - just a few years ago, us four wandered around Colorado and Wyoming mountains for days, backpacking in the most splendid country I have ever seen. Bud has passed on, a year ago, and I still grieve for losing a dog like him. Cody and Boogie have moved away with my exwife, and I never see them anymore. I am not sure, but I have a feeling their mountain journey days are over, since I have not heard that anyone takes them backpacking or camping much - In fact I am told that they spend most of their time locked in a dog run in the yard.
I don't expect that any of these smart dogs will ever forget their good friend and the adventures we had, or the restful nights we spent in the comfort of my backpack tent, listening to the sounds of a wilderness night, or our sunny and high-spirited mornings, anticipating a day of exploring forested valleys and alpine ridges.
The way I see it though, such companionship and love of the freedom and wildness and mystery of high mountains will not be denied, and who is to say that all of us four will not be reunited again, on some unknown high path.