We met a three-legged sheep today and she guided us to the right path.
We had been walking off-trail for a while after leaving one abandoned trail that had been buried in a rockfall. We were moving ourselves up through a ravine, with just a hunch that there must be another way down, and while passing an old hunting shelter a carefully hidden cabin came in sight. This is always a good sign. A cabin needs a trail. A trail goes both ways. We just need to find the right one.
She stood right outside the cabin door. When we came closer she moved, if only just a few steps down on the other side of the cabin. I thought she was scared at first, but she had stopped. Like she was waiting. Standing on what looked like the only reasonable way down.
So we followed, slowly.
She kept doing a short jumping step with her hind legs and at first I only thought she walked funny. Then the serpent trail made her go the other way and I could see that her front right leg was gone.
I don’t know what she’s been through. Both her ears where missing so maybe dogs? Maybe an infection? She was alone and weathered, with no pack in sight. She fell once infront of us, and my heart stopped, but I couldn’t see anything that indicated that her wounds where recent.
She’d clearly been beaten hard by life, but she most definitely managed. And she was patient. She moved slowly, we moved slowly. When she stopped, we stopped. And when we stopped, she stopped. The whole time we kept a polite distance to each other while she patiently waited at every corner down the trail.
A trail that she could easily have left, either way, anytime she wanted. But she didn’t. She stayed. Waited. Guided. Right until the trail was big enough not to be mistaken for just a side track.
On that corner she stopped. For a while. She gave us a few seconds? A minute? Enough to take a photo? And then she strolled down to the left to disappear among the bushes.
I took a few steps and then the tears came.
I stayed. Sat down. In that moment. I saw it happen. I was there. A three-legged sheep had just shown us how to get down from the mountain.