Friday, March 11, 2011

Checking The Back Trail

March 11, 2011

Got up this morning and noodled an idea I've had for some time. I call this "Checking The Back Trail":

When the young Mickey Free was being trained as an Apache warrior, one of the techniques he was taught is to check the back trail often and memorize the landmarks as you leave one valley going into another. This is insurance in new country for the ride back where the landscape looks very different than it did going the other way.

In our story (Paul Andrew Hutton and myself), Mickey is taken under the wing of the White Mountain Apache leader Nayundiie, who takes him out on long walks, pausing here and there to question young Mickey about the back trail. How far back was the bison boulder? Where was the arroyo bend in relation to the side canyon they are in? Which side of the arroyo were the two big cottonwoods? Did the wagon road go south of the trees, or north? These were the mental exercises impressed upon young Apaches that made them so formidable in the field when it came to a running fight.

"If you are idle, be not solitary. If you are solitary, be not idle."
—Samuel Johnson

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