It was a cold November day in Taos. The mountains had received a couple inches of snow. We thought it might be our last chance to ride the high country outside Red River, as the snows would soon be heavy. My daughter, then 13, and I headed out from the top of Bobcat Pass in wind and driving snow. Once we got into the trees, all was silent. The termination dust barely covered the downed aspen leaves.

We had her horse Buddy, who had won the trail event at Arabian youth nationals that year at the age of 21, and my half Arabian. (Buddy is part angel, if you define angels as creatures who change lives. He took her places she could only dream of—she is now in veterinary school at Colorado State University because of him.) We got to a lookout where you can see the entire upper valley, and the east and middle forks of the Red River converge in the distance. We wanted to have lunch but the wind was howling.

We headed down the trail a ways to a quiet aspen grove. The trees were bare but the ground was carpeted a foot thick with the leaves. We stopped, found a good log to sit on, and let the horses graze in the grasses remaining from summer.

We heard an elk call.  We looked up to see one about 50 yards away. Then there were three more, bugling to their mates to come see us.  Buddy the angel horse has a way of attracting eagles and elk to wherever we ride.  This day, we ended up being surrounded by at least 50 elk that made a circle around us, bugling back and forth.

What a moment that was, encapsulating all the splendor of the high country. By the time we finished our lunch, the herd moved on down the mountain, no doubt to seek more shelter from the impending storm. We mounted up and rode back to our trailer, barely making it before nightfall.  We shivered and got in the truck to have some hot chocolate. The memory still brings a tear of joy, because I know few people ever get to see such a wonder.

By Susan, Taos, NM