We had decided to hike it up along a trail toward another waterhole north of there, in hopes of finding more horses. It was a long hike, covering a mile or two, cresting one hill and continuing to the next, and then around the next bend, and the one after that. If we weren't scanning the area for mustangs, we spent a lot of time looking at the ground for trip hazards like the prolific lava rock all over the area. In one particular spot along the trail, there was a high number of obsidian chips, igneous glass chips, some with obvious indication of work by the Native Americans parts of arrowheads and such, who used to live in the area.
A brief distraction, as we hiked, but my mind was finding mustangs and discovering this new area. We got to the waterhole saw no horses but it was apparent it's been heavily used by livestock. We ran into a few of them, adorable with their long gentle and sweeping lashes. Somewhat disappointed we didn't find horses out in this area, we turned and headed back along the trail to make our way to the rigs. Busy yackin it up and not paying as much attention to what's up farther as we had just been there and it seemed at that time clear of horses. When we least expected it, all of a sudden out of the timber, busted band stallion Cortez, stopping momentarily to look at us. We all stopped with our jaws dropping to the desert dirt below. As soon as we got our senses back, we began clicking away photos and video. It was interesting that we didn't hear or notice them going through the trees on the way there, but they do travel fast and cover ground. But we sure did hear them breaking branches as they busted out of the junipers and onto the flat old rutted road.
Soon the rest of his band appeared out of the junipers too, crossing the trail in front of us, following their stallion to water. They didn't seem overly startled with us, though cautious, but they trusted Cortez, and if he was okay, they were okay with us there. It made me think they may have recognized this group of paparazzi, with Cortez's brief but mighty notable acknowledgement of us. The band thoroughly enjoyed the water, drank their fill and left.