: The Deep Springs College Cowboy Lunch :

an excerpt by Bruce Fleming

The sun hasn’t risen yet in the Deep Springs Valley in the eastern Sierras. My jogging shoes, still placed deliberately as I try to walk silently past the circle of one-story buildings that constitutes Deep Springs College, raise only slight puffs in the pre-dawn dust. It’s dry here in the high desert; I pass a landscaping triangle at the base of the college circle, cacti and shards of rock from the mountains up on the Westgard Pass. A few steps more and I’m at the cattle guard, stepping carefully along its bars so I don’t twist my ankle. One of the two dogs that usually spends the night on the porch behind the dormitory to my right—home to all 25 of the all-male students of Deep Springs— stretches, trots over with a jingle of license plates, and nuzzles my hand.

Once over the cattle guard, I’m on the dirt road leading to the end of the ranch connecting to California Highway 168, the only asphalted road through this remote valley that, save for Deep Springs Ranch and College, is uninhabited—at least by people. We have livestock on the ranch, coyotes in the valley, countless snakes, and, according to report, at least a transient golden eagle, seen one day soaring high above the valley floor.