The Journey Begins
We all rode bareback with only a light blanket between us and the horses. Yes, really! Joseph was right. The horses had a unique ability to keep inexperienced riders from falling off. So I rode Pegasus with ease, Sipporah easily rode Pleiades, and Joseph rode on another horse with us until we reached the first canyon in the mountain range. “This is as far as I can go with you,” he said, pulling back slightly on the reins of his stallion. “Ahead is a path that you can follow.”
He took out his old wrinkled map and handed it to me carefully. “You will find the old abandoned mine in the Mountain of Destiny,” he said, pointing to a mountain peak that he had marked many years ago. “Where the Creator will lead you beyond that point, I cannot say, but know that I go with you in spirit. What you do, we do, and we will all rejoice together when you return.”
“Thank-you for taking us this far,” I said gratefully. “We have enjoyed your company. Now it is time for us to go alone and to see where Destiny will bring us.”
With that, we parted. Joseph returned to the village, and Sipporah and I set our faces toward the Mountain of Destiny, following the small stream that flowed toward us from its timeless source. Sippore flew ahead, scouting our path and guiding us in the way we should go.
Pegasus was a beautiful, intelligent, and strong stallion, and I had no difficulty riding him. He seemed to know his way and needed no guidance from me. In fact, I got the impression that he was guiding me. Pleiades, the mare that Sipporah rode, was equal to Pegasus in every way, though she was a handbreadth shorter. She bonded to my wife immediately, and they rode as one.
Late in the afternoon, as the sun began to set behind the mountain peaks, we found a grassy place near the stream and decided to make camp for the night. I gathered some sticks, and built a fire while Sipporah decided what to cook. After a day of trail mix and beef jerky, a cooked meal sounded very good. The horses grazed peacefully in the lush grass nearby and drank deeply from the clear stream.
The evening was cool and restful. The tall pines towering over us were comforting as well, gracing us with their sweet fragrance and untamed energy. All was at peace, and we talked about our new adventure until darkness covered our camp like an unseen canopy.
Sippore suddenly flew back into the light and landed once again on my wife’s right shoulder. “We have a visitor,” Sipporah said quietly. “He does not seem to be a threat, but he is studying us to learn our motive in being here.”
“Well, then, perhaps we ought to be friendly,” I said. Raising my voice, I called out into the darkness, “We have food and water for all friends who want to join us!”
Presently, a tall man, dressed in buckskin, stepped out from the darkness and walked slowly to us. “Your eyes and ears are keen,” he said. “No one has ever caught me when I wanted to remain hidden.”
“The eyes of the Creator are with us,” said Sipporah, “and our ears hear the words of the dove. You cannot hide from her, for she knows many secrets and reveals them to us when we need them.”
“You speak with doves?” he asked incredulously.
“We speak all languages when needed,” I informed him. “You are welcome to share our meal,” I added. “We brought food and drink with us so that we would not take that which others need. I am Anava, and this is my wife, Sipporah. What is your name?”
“Gushgalu,” 6 he said.
“Well, then, Gushgalu,” I replied, “we bless you in the name of the Creator of All. We also bless you on behalf of Chief Hiamovi, who has sent us on this journey.”
“You know the Chief?” Gushgalu asked.
“Yes, he is our friend,” I said, extending my hand toward our new friend. He took my hand, but instead of shaking it, he turned it to inspect the gold ring that I was wearing.
“This is the Chief’s signet ring!” he said with surprise and growing respect.
“Yes, we are honorary members of the Zaphnath tribe,” I told him. “My father, Thomas, was adopted as a tribal member many years ago. He used to explore these mountains with his friend Joseph, who was from the Yaqui tribe. My father called him Yaqui Joe.”
“I remember seeing both of them when I was a child,” Gushgalu said. “I recall that it was their mission to seek that which is lost.”
“My father told me many stories about his adventures,” I said. “I believed them all as a child, but when I grew up, I wondered how much was true and how much was just his imagination. Some of his stories were amazing and somewhat far-fetched. He was an interesting story-teller, but I could never be sure that everything he said was true.”
“Well,” Gushgalu responded, “now that you are here, perhaps you will find out if the stories were true or not.”
“We will discover all that the Creator wants us to know. We are supposed to find the Mountain of Destiny,” I said. “Once we have reached that mountain, then we will know what to do. There is also an abandoned gold and silver mine there—or near there. It seems that for some reason we are to locate it as well.”
“I know the place that you seek. I will take you there tomorrow.”
“We would greatly appreciate your guidance, my friend,” I said. “I sense that our mission is very important, but until we reach the Mountain of Destiny, we will not know where the path will lead us.”
We talked further into the evening and then crawled into our sleeping bags. Gushgalu returned to the darkness and soon returned with a blanket. We all found a comfortable place by the fire, and soon we were resting peacefully under the starry tent as babes in the arms of our loving Creator.
- Gushgalu means “hidden” in Cherokee.