Chief Mountain Service
I got back late. I put my gear in the bunkhouse and then went over to Mike’s café and ate a hamburger and fries. That was a tasty treat
after spending a week in the mountains. Mike, the longhaired, six-gun toting gunslinger from Chicago, invited me up to his living quarters above the café for a cold beer. I sat down with him and his wife and had a farewell chat. I never knew until then how paranoid my next-door neighbors were. Actually, I was probably better off not knowing. It wasn’t hard to say good-bye.
Saying good-bye to the Power’s family wasn’t so easy. “Rugged” was the best word I could come up with to describe Tom. Before Montana, he had lived in Sheridan, Wyoming, a city on the edge of the Big Horn Mountains. He said, “The place just got too civilized for me, I had to leave.” Why he left Sheridan wasn’t surprising to me. But what he was about to say, over the breakfast table, was.
We were having our last meal together, so basically that was the time for our “good-byes.” Tom was in a pretty good mood when he asked me if I had enjoyed my stay in the mountains. I actually stayed longer than he expected me to. I told him “Yes, I was glad to be back, though.” Then he asked me if I got lonely up there. “Not really,” I replied, “After I got used to being alone, I enjoyed it.” Then Tom said, “Before I bought this place, I owned a cattle ranch and herded the cattle up under Chief Mountain. “Sometimes I would stay up there for a week at a time. It almost killed me. I couldn’t take the loneliness. It got so bad; I had to sell the ranch. That’s when I bought this place.”
I didn’t know what to say. Nobody contradicted Tom. Fortunately, I
didn’t have to respond. Everybody just kept eating breakfast as Tom stared at Chief Mountain out the window. After I had almost finished my eggs, he looked over at me and said, “But you know, when I die I want to be buried right up along side that mountain. I would like nothing better than that. She’s one hell of a mountain.” Iva handed me the eggs. I took a second helping. I guess what’s inside a man is mystery, sometimes even to the man himself.