Wild Bronc or Just a Free Spirit?

Since my last entry didn’t take place in “Jimmy Country” I felt obligated to compensate.

Wild Horse by Agathla Needle by Gary Fillmore
Wild (?) horse by Agathla Needle (aka El Capitan) in Monument Valley, Arizona

I’m often amazed at what I find while browsing through my photo archives.  As it is with many aspects of life, I sometimes find hidden gems while looking for something else.

Yesterday, while searching for a five year old picture of Black Mesa, I “stumbled” across the image shown above.  It was taken in July 2011.  Shortly after snapping the photograph I returned home, downloaded it and forgot all about it.  Over three years later the photo not only appealed to me aesthetically, it brought back memories of an eventful little trip with my wife, Barbara.

For those of you who don’t know Agathla (which translates loosely into “much wool” because a lot of sheep shearing used to take place at the peak’s base -or so I’m told) marks the south end of Monument Valley.

The viewpoint in the photo is from the west, taken from a dirt road which I would not advise for anyone not thoroughly familiar with the area.  We were lost at the time, having left the old Oljeto Trading Post two hours earlier.

Oljeto Trading Post by Gary Fillmore
Oljeto Trading Post, Monument Valley July 2011. For “craps and giggles” you may wish to view my November 25, 2013 entry, “When Life Gives you Lemons…” to see how various artists portrayed the site in the early 20th Century.

Most locals would probably laugh out loud and wonder how anyone could get lost in the area, but the misadventure was worth it.  In addition to getting stuck in a sand bank (why do they put those things in the middle of the road anyway?) we were fortunate enough to catch a couple sheep dogs masterfully herding their flock without any human oversight.

It really was impressive to watch. The dogs knew exactly where they wanted to take the sheep and goats. As shown in the photos below they performed their duties flawlessly.


Everyone fall in formation
Fall in! Forward, March!
Hey Get back in line
Hey you! The white one without the bell. Get back in formation!


Single file through the opening in the fence
Single file through the opening in the fence. Double time, March!

Although I only had a vague idea of our whereabouts, Agathla Needle could be seen in the distance at all times. I knew if we kept heading for ancient volcano we’d eventually be OK. Once we reached Agathla finding the town of Kayenta would be a cinch -hopefully.  Barbara was remarkably patient during the “journey.”

Finally, about ten miles after our encounter with the dogs and their flock, we came across our only other sign of life (photo below.) I don’t know if they were wild or not. Since they couldn’t talk we weren’t able to find out.  They weren’t much help in pointing the way to Kayenta either.

The first sign of life in ten miles
The first sign of life in ten miles…

But it was OK. Agathla still loomed prominently on the horizon, getting closer all the time.  With plenty of daylight left we were able to make it back to Kayenta without further incident.


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