Meeting Eli – an honest friend

We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.~Robert Louis Stevenson 

In April 2016, I was coming back from Los Angeles with the Mules, coming down San Emigdio Canyon at Wind Wolves Preserve in Bakersfield. I had hung my cartridge belt on the saddle horn. My cartridge belt carried my cell phone, camera, various devices and wallet. When I stopped to rest for the night and was unpacking the kids, I discovered that it was missing. It had come loose and fallen off.

I remembered where and when I stopped to take off my cartridge belt and hung it around the saddle horn, but I had no idea at which point it fell off. Did it get caught up in a tree branch or bush along the trail and fall off? For the next week, I walked back and forth along a 3-mile wide open stretch searching in San Emigdio Canyon along the creek trail and swept the tall grasses in the pasture to no avail and couldn’t find it. I notified the administrative office at Wind Wolves Preserve in case any hiker turned it in. I thought that I would never see it again.

Almost eleven months later, this past Monday evening, I received the following message from Eli Smith: “John, I was hiking at Wind Wolves Preserve and found something that belongs to you. Why don’t you message me and we can coordinate getting it back to you!”


This evening, Eli and his friends drove from Los Angeles to Bakersfield and very graciously returned everything to me. The Mules want to thank Eli for his honesty and taking the time to search for me and reconnect me with my belongings.

We appreciate all the good people we encounter in our ages old nomadic way of life. Each day we are reminded that we’re here: the outside, the web of life, the beautiful earth, a place like no other. We have come to this place, a place of golden sparkling light, a place for anybody and everybody. Give your faith, hope and energy to this place at which time you connect to it and receive the magic and endless possibility of infinity. As you walk in this place with these mules you spread the awareness that this beautiful earth, like no other, can only be protected by the way we live one day at a time.

Monk, Little Girl and Eli Smith
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