Yondering Trails
Chapter 9: “Two Trails Find Trouble In Nevada”

In Phoenix, Jeremiah contacted the railroad by telegraph, to let them know they’d need a cattle car spotted at the Rio Verde refueling station, also passage for four to Carson City, Nevada.

He sent a message to Frenchy that they would be home in ten days or less.

At the courthouse the Trails stood with Charro and Rita as the judge married them. Then they went with them to have the County Recorder, record their marriage.

While they were at the courthouse, they stopped by Sheriff Mowry’s office, but he wasn’t in. They gave his deputy the map which the sheriff had asked to be returned, with a message for the him to contact Sheriff Oury in Pima County.

From the courthouse, they went to the photography studio Kellyanne had seen when they were here before. They had two pictures made together, then had two pictures made of Charro and Rita, before they had two made with the four of them together. They were told the pictures would be ready by noon the next day.

Before leaving Phoenix, Jeremiah bought another packhorse, and Charro helped him load the packsaddle with nothing but bales of fresh hay, from the livery on the edge of town. They carried four sacks of rolled oats on their other packhorse.

Five days later they were at the Southern Pacific refueling station waiting for a westbound. There was already a cattle car spotted at the loading ramp when they arrived. An eastbound came through two hours later and they were told there would be a westbound stopping here within the next hour.


Early on the third day of their train ride, they were unloading their horses into the cattle pens next to the railyard in Carson City. The packsaddles were no longer heavy, since they had fed most of the oats and hay.

Two miles north of Carson City, Jeremiah saw Gray Hawk riding toward them. He pointed to Gray Hawk and Kellyanne laughed. They didn’t stop as he turned his horse to ride between Jeremiah and Kellyanne.

“Gray Hawk, it’s good to see you. How did you know we would arrive today?” Kellyanne asked.

“Time you come home.”

Jeremiah spoke to him, “How is everything at the canyon, Gray Hawk?”

“Canyon good. Signs of trouble on trail.”

“Do you think it could be the three we set loose?”

“Yes, Indian pony, no shoe. Boot track low heel.”

“Are they close to the canyon?”

“No, at trading store by water.”

“So, we’re one day behind them?”

“Yes.”

“We’ll need to go up to White Pine and come back to the north pass into the canyon with all these horses, don’t you agree?”

“Yes. Good to see many horses come home. Like Dakota now.”

Later in the day, Jeremiah and Gray Hawk scouted ahead where they located a place beside the lake they knew was safe to bed down the horses for the night. The had seen many signs of the other riders along the way. Before they turned back, they saw where another four riders had come down from the north to join the first three. The seven riders have now turned north again. “Five riders now on Indian pony.” Gray Hawk pointed to the unshod tracks.

During the night, the three men rode in shifts around their horses. Kellyanne and Rita kept the coffee on the fire and took the men a tin cup of coffee as they kept watch. They didn’t expect trouble, but they were ready for it.

After talking it over, they agreed that Murdoch and Hayden had no way of knowing Jeremiah and Kellyanne had made a trip to Arizona, or returned.

When the sun came up on Washoe County, Gray Hawk was miles north of the herd. There were no fresh tracks on the trail. He knew the seven riders were still ahead of them.

Stopping on a rise in the trail, he looked north, then back south. To the south he could see Jeremiah as he rode ahead of the horses. He could see the Mexican and his woman as they rode at the rear. He spotted Kellyanne as she rode the Grulla mare beside the herd. They had the horses running at a slow lope as they moved them north.

Looking back to the north again, he could see the trail was clear far off into the distance.

Jeremiah rode up beside Gray Hawk and the Old Sioux was sitting with his right leg hooked over his saddlehorn, waiting, as he chewed his jerked beef.

“Any sign of the others?” Jeremiah asked.

“Five Indian ponies – two men E-van son bring – ride north day before.”

Before mid-day they skirted the White Pine community. They were taking no chances of being spotted by any of the men who may be at Frenchy’s Trading Post.

They walked their horses to rest them – they stopped at all the streams and creeks along the way to water them. Now, they were within an hour of entering the hidden north pass to Silver Moon Canyon, and they let the horses run.

Ahead of the others, in the shadows of the tall boulders near the trail, Gray Hawk left his horse and climbed the rocks to watch the trail ahead of the herd. Twice, he had seen movement in the large boulders which form the rim of Silver Moon Canyon on the north side, near the pine-log gate.

Using his spyglass, he lay on his belly, watching the spot where he’d seen the flash that appeared to be a shirt sleeve. He saw it again and now he knew, someone was hiding in the boulders ahead, watching the trail.

Looking to the north, he spotted Jeremiah as he rode ahead of the herd. Gray Hawk counted riders and saw they were all there. He stepped down from the boulder and dropped to the ground next to his horse. Still hidden from view to the south, he stepped out to wave at Jeremiah.

His keen eyes constantly shifting left to right, then to the trail ahead, Jeremiah saw Gray Hawk as he waved. Touching his heels to Outlaw’s flanks, they raced ahead to meet Gray Hawk.

“Indian hide in rocks,” he spoke, pointing to the large boulders up ahead, beside the trail.

“Ride back and stop the others. I’m going after him,” Jeremiah spoke, then stepped from Outlaw’s back, up to the first boulder.

Within seconds he was gone from sight, and Gray Hawk mounted to ride back toward the herd. The others had slowed the horses when they saw him riding hard back to meet them, waving his arm overhead. With Gray Hawk helping, they rode in front of the herd, slowing them to a walk, then stopped them.

“Is there trouble ahead, Gray Hawk?” Kellyanne asked.

“Indian hide in rocks.”

“Do you think they have found the hidden pass into the canyon?” she asked.

“No find pass. They wait for rider then follow.”

Jeremiah spotted the Indian, Gray Hawk told him was hiding in the rocks. He made his way across the boulders, staying hidden, to the back of where the Indian lay on the lee side of the tall rock.

There was another boulder next to the one the Indian was lying on, and when Jeremiah worked his way closer, he could tell the Indian was lying in the shade, down in the crevice between the two boulders. With the knife he’d taken when the half-breed, Mac McQuay was killed, Jeremiah dropped down onto the Indian with his knife ready. Before he could make a sound, Jeremiah had the knife buried to the hilt in the back of his neck.

He quickly searched him, taking his pistol belt and gun, with his knife scabbard attached. The Indian had a bow and a quiver of arrows on the boulder beside him and Jeremiah took these too before he made his way back to where Outlaw stood.

Sliding down the side of the large boulder, he spoke softly to his horse, before he dropped down onto the saddle. Outlaw remained calm as Jeremiah stepped to the ground and pulled him close. “Outlaw, I need you to stay. I’ll be back,” he whispered, then turned to run alongside the line of boulders at the edge of the trail.

He was no more than a half a mile from the hidden pass into the canyon and he wanted to make sure there were no more Indians watching the trail before the others brought the horses up.

Running easily, silently in his moccasins, Jeremiah made his way to the outcropping that hid the entrance to the pass. Stepping up onto a higher rock, he then made his way out to where he could kneel in the shadows on a flat ledge. From here, he could see the trail to the south and back to the north where the others were waiting.

He waited long and patiently to be sure. After seeing no movement, no signs of a horse or a man, he slid down to run back to where Outlaw stood. He slipped the bow over his arm, then pulled it up over his shoulder. He slipped the strap on the quiver over his other shoulder and mounted up.

“Here he comes!” Kellyanne told them as she sat on her horse, watching for his return.

“Did you see any more of them?” she asked as he rode up to stop beside her.

“No, just the one. I ran down to the entrance of the hidden pass and waited, but there was no sign of the others. They may have spread out, up and down this trail, hoping to spot any of us, or anyone who may know us. There’s no way they could know we ever left for Arizona or even that we are here on the trail now...

“We’ll turn the horses out into the brush here, then turn them south again. That way, if we keep your mare and Outlaw in front, they will never see the hoofprints of our shod horses. When we cut them back into the pass, Gray Hawk can wipe the pass where we enter. With the wild horse tracks and other animal tracks out here, they’ll have a hard time finding any sign we came through here.”

Entering the canyon, they let the mares and Shadow spread out to drink from the river and graze.

Here, the river which rises from the artesian well located on the south end of Silver Moon Canyon, makes its exit from the canyon floor, by once more taking a route beneath the earth’s surface. A large, swirling pool, filled with round stones defines the river’s exit from above ground, where it sinks underground and flows to lower elevations.

“This must be Heaven,” Rita commented as she looked around.

Charro added, “Yes, and I never thought I would make it! Thank you, Jeremiah and Kellyanne. I am now in Heaven with my wife, and I get paid to do what I love.”

As they rounded a bend in the pine grove, they saw where the builders had laid out large flat slabs of bedrock for the foundation of their home. There were pine logs cut and stacked on the four sides of the foundation. The fireplace had been built in the center of the foundation, with a double opening. The chimney had been started above the fireplace, with scaffolding built around it. There were stones piled nearby to finish the job, as the mortar sets.

“We’ll have them build your home across the sink from ours. We’ll have corrals and barns along both sides. We’ll let you decide the best place for the stables, you’re the expert with horses,” Jeremiah told Charro as they stood looking the place over.

Two days later, Gray Hawk, Evan and Jeremiah were riding along the base of the canyon wall, searching for any sign where someone may have breached their hidden premises.

“Here,” Gray Hawk said, stopping his horse.

He was pointing at the canyon wall where there was a freshly scuffed mark.

They dismounted and looked closely at the ground beneath the scuff mark.

“Here! You can see where someone brushed out their footprints,” Jeremiah said, pointing to the ground as he squatted.

“Here too,” Gray Hawk told them.

Evan asked, “What did they do, drop a rope down to come inside the canyon?”

Jeremiah told him, “That’s exactly what they did. That means one or more of them came here in the dark. They know where we are now and they’ll be back for sure.”

“What do you suggest we do?” Evan asked, looking from one to the other.

Gray Hawk answered, “Set trap.”

“I forgot about those traps we bought...

“Jeremiah, we bought a dozen large game traps when we first came here. There was a den of coyotes up at the north end and Gray Hawk trapped them within a week.”

“Gray Hawk, will the traps hold a man?”

“Hard for man to hold trap open and get foot out with no stick.”

“My guess would be, they’ll come back to this place, since they were able to climb over the boulders up there, and come down the canyon wall. We’ll let you set the traps and sweep the tracks...

“Evan, I’ll tie some brush behind both our horses and we’ll ride slow around the canyon wall checking for more sign.

“Gray Hawk, we’ll meet you back at the cliff-dwelling.”

As they rode, Evan asked, “Jeremiah, do you think we’ll ever rid ourselves of the scourge who come here, looking for a treasure they know nothing about?”

“We’ll rid ourselves of this next seven, then that should be the end ... unless they’ve told others, which in no way fits those two countrymen of yours.”

“They may be Irish, but they’re no countrymen of mine. They are the scourge of Ireland, and they’ll die as fools if they think they can take what we have here.”

They ate an early supper. The men were planning to walk back over to where they had found signs of someone scaling the wall.

They had been trespassed, and they were going to put an end to it.

Charro spoke up as they ate, “Jeremiah, I am a good with a rifle, if you have an extra one.”

Evan told him, “I have a Winchester like the ones Jeremiah and Kellyanne carry. You can use it since we have plenty of .44 caliber ammunition.”

Kellyanne spoke then, “Jeremiah, I’d like to go with you.”

“We knew you would, Kellyanne. But we need you to stay here at the cliff-dwelling. I’d hate for them to send a man here and catch everyone unaware.”

“Then I’ll stay. I’ll move a chair out to the top of the slope and sit in the dark with my rifle, just hoping one of them is fool enough to come here!”

“That’s my girl. We’ll call out to you when we return, so you won’t shoot us,” Evan told her.

The sun was now sinking below the peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. As the shadows of darkness began shading the walls of the canyon, the men made their move. The half moon tonight would be in the first quarter, and rising early. They wanted to be in place and they had to get there before full darkness, so Gray Hawk could show them where not to go.

“A good night for hunting, I’d say. Only a few small clouds drifting off the Sierra Nevada,” Jeremiah spoke, looking toward the west as they made their way across the canyon floor, behind Gray Hawk.

“Men will come again. Look high on wall. Men will come down rope. Wait to see four-five, then Kill them, none leave. When shooting stop, Gray Hawk make owl call.”

“What if we see a man caught in a trap?” Charro asked.

“Kill him. He kill you if he can,” Gray Hawk told him.

“I hear coyotes howling up there,” Evan said.

“That not coyote,” Gray Hawk told him.

He placed Evan and Charro fifty feet out, and directly in front of where the men had descended the wall before. Jeremiah was out away from the wall and to the south. Gray Hawk was out away from the wall to the north. They were told to keep their fire aimed at the canyon wall, if and when they saw movement.

“Moon behind you – you see good. Man at wall – look at moon.” Gray Hawk told each of them.

As the light of the moon began fading the shadows, details of the canyon wall became more visible. Evan and Charro were the first to spot the Indians as they slowly slid down the rope to the canyon floor. The first two stood looking up as two more slid down the rope and dropped to stand at the base of the canyon wall.

Each of them had rifles across their backs, secured by a rope sling. The Indians were standing together as they whispered and pointed. Evan was the first to shoot, followed immediately by Charro. The Indians yelled as all four dropped to the ground. The bullets kept raining on them from all directions until finally the shooting stopped.

All was quiet for over a minute, then they heard the sound of an owl. The owl called out once more before Gray Hawk spoke loudly from behind them, “No shoot!”

One of the Indians had tried to crawl away after being shot. His right hand was caught in one steel trap, his left foot was caught in another. That was the way he died from his gunshot wounds.

They were gathered around the dead Indians when they heard two rifle shots come from the cliff-dwelling.

“Come with me, Evan,” Jeremiah shouted. He was already running along the canyon wall in the direction of the cliff-dwelling.

At the base of the incline to the dwelling, Jeremiah stopped and called out to Kellyanne. “Kellyanne, are you there?”

“YES! I killed one man as he was sneaking up the incline.”

“We’re coming up, hold your fire.”

Before Evan and Jeremiah reached the top, Eulie was standing near the dead Indian with a lantern held high.

Kellyanne asked them, “How many were there? We heard shooting just before this one came into the moonlight.”

“We killed four back there and from the trail sign we’ve seen, that leaves only Murdoch and Hayden. They heard the shooting I’m sure, and when their Indians don’t return, they’ll know we’ve killed or captured them.”

Evan asked him, “Do you think they will be fools enough to come down into the canyon now?”

“I doubt they would try now, after all the shooting, and since they haven’t heard from their Indians. My guess would be, they will get on their horses and run ... although they could try to hide out in hopes of capturing one of us to hold for ransom.”

“Are we going after them?” Kellyanne asked.

“Here comes Gray Hawk and Charro, let’s get our horses saddled...

“Charro, I need you to stay here to help Evan and the women defend the cliff-dwelling, just in case they do try to come here...

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Story tagged with:
Western / First / Slow /