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Pathways: A Story of Trails and Men (1968), by John W. Bingaman


CHAPTER X

My Last Patrol

There is something in me and, no doubt, in many of us that longs ungovernably for the wild and savage in Nature. I was most fortunate in spending most of my life fulfilling that longing.

A brilliant after-glow flushed the snow on Kuna Crest to a vivid rose and burned on Mt. Gibbs and Dana in a strange, deep, rusty red. Lying snugly rolled that night in my blankets, I noticed the sky, which was clear of clouds, filled with a greater myriad of stars than I ever observed before. The strange color of the mountain as we saw it from camp was now explained. Both Dana and Gibbs are entirely different in formation from other peaks; they are not built of granite but of metamorphic slates, red, green, and purple in color, often in multi-colors. The sun had shown hot that day, and the water had run merrily in a myriad of streams under the rocks.

A small lake, now officially named “Bingaman Lake” at 11,000 feet elevation, fed by snowbanks lies high on Kuna Crest, and here blows an eternal wind. I feel a solemnity in this vast mountain summit. John Muir said, “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.” So the love of nature and God’s creation had opened up to me a new wonderful future. “Narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Math. 7: 14)

Here grows a great variety of flowers in this lovely alpine meadow; here are columbines of yellow and rose; pentstemons, crimson, pink, and blue; and the red and yellow mimulus, most unique of all the Sierra flowers.

The evening clouds are remarkably beautiful, rose, greys, purples and yellow that cast a spell over the area, and here one may dream of things long ago. It is a nostalgic feeling, but a pleasant one, as the end of my career draws near. There will be memories, again and again, of these pictures in my mind.

Out over the canyon meadows comes the sound of the bell on my trusty saddle horse, which gives a peaceful song that all is serene, and that tomorrow will be the last patrol. As I sit by the last campfire, in pleasant review I pass the experiences of many years, living among friends and with nature. The mysteriously vanished exultations, the solemn glories of sunrise and sunset, the communion with stately trees, the roaring of rivers, the starlight peaks in solemn awe; and over the Range of Light there comes a . . . shadow. The twilight is near. Memory is one of beauty through tears and smiles of yesterday. My dreams of yesteryear have gone. Almost all were fulfilled. Memories of the past flash before me, beauty in its many manifestations, smiles as life dealt the cards, troubles and trials, and joys and happiness.

So, tomorrow on my last patrol, I want you to know that when I cross the last summit, and ride down the Path of Life, my last conscious thoughts will be the love of this great heritage, The Sierras, The Range of Light, and The Service.

Farewell O Ranger.


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Online Library: Title Author California Geology History Indians Muir Mountaineering Nature Management

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