Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July gifts: riding in the Bighorn mountains

I'm only now finally getting around to posting some things from this summer... 

Eighteen or nineteen summers ago I first came to the Bighorns Mountains in northern Wyoming and hiked the forest roads and trails going over Rt 14 and 14A, awed by the great open vistas and the carpets of wildflowers. I saw a forest ranger riding a horse, and vowed that someday I’d come back not just to hike but to ride these great broad swaths of meadow between mountains crags and fragrant spruce forests. 

652. That 18 year long dream to ride in the Bighorn Mountains is finally fulfilled! 
 The ride this morning made me joyful beyond measure, not only riding here finally at last, but with my whole family. B. rode Tuffy, I road Tia, Blaze rode Strike, Dreamer on Spring, and Starlet and Serious took turns riding Rebel with the other riding behind someone else.

653. Saving a nest of baby birds
Yesterday on our drive up from Laramie, we stopped at Sanford’s in Casper for lunch, and B. discovered that there was nest of baby birds up underneath the trailer hitch. We’d taken them away from their parents! The girls were all kinds of worried about the little birds and spent hours catching grasshoppers and grubs feeding the baby birds with a pair of tweezers. 

654. Perfect camping/riding spot
It took us a couple tries, but we found a beautiful spot with water and grass for the horses  (and trees to "high line" them; the safest way to tie horses) AND a beautiful view for us: Forest road 145 (off of 15)

655. Building a forest fort
 The girls right away found a makeshift “fort” that some other kids must have built in among the trees, and they started industriously fixing it up and adding to it

656. Discovering a stream
After riding the horses up to the top of the bald hill, right up close to a tremendous cliff, we went back to camp and then explored the forest trails behind our meadow. After just a few hundred yards we found a little stream and which is a relief as our trailer’s tank leaked out yesterday during travel. All the horses except Tia (who is spooked by running water) had a long drink. Strike gave Blaze and Starlet a scare while they were riding him.  He got stuck in the mud along the stream and actually went down on his knees for a moment but recovered quickly without freaking out (good horse!) 

657. Horses loose grazing in a mountain meadow
As I am typing this under a spruce tree at the edge of the meadow, with my magnificent view of the mountains, three of our horses are grazing near me (loose on their lead ropes) – we figure they won’t go too far from the other two horses that are still tied up. (hopefully).

658. Porcupine Falls
This was too far away to ride too, but worth the half hour drive to visit, and the steep mile hike down into a deep canyon. I have never seen a falls like this before, where a small stream breaks off from the main falls and goes through a tunnel before it comes out again!

659.  Acting like a granny
Starlet amused us by imitating "Granny" from the movie Ice Age: Continental Drift.

660. Wildflowers and sage
My poor camera doesn't do the great vistas justice, or the close up details of all the wildflowers - especially the pools of purple lupine. Even the sage is beautiful. B. grew up in Wyoming, so sagebrush is common like a weed to him, but I love it, the silver leaves and the wonderful "western" smell of crushed leaves

661. History watching over us
B. said there is a lot of history in these mountains - Indians and fur trappers and mountain men. He felt like the forest was haunted, but not in a bad way: not ghosts – more like history is watching over us.

662. Twin fawns, moose, elk
Just some of the larger animals we got to see on this trip!

663. Crossing a stream on our horses
On our second day we took another trail ride, down in a valley with a big winding stream at the bottom. The stream made so many loops the girls fancied it spelled "M O M". Of course the girls wanted to make the horses cross the stream as many times as possible... and of course I was riding the one horse (Tia) who doesn't like crossing streams! I had to get off and let B. get on her to "convince" her to finally cross, but after the first crossing she did just fine. Here's a picture I took from Tia's back as we approached the "scary" stream.

664. Horse hugs
My beloved old horse Rebel giving Serious a "horse hug" (nuzzle). Serious never leaves Rebel’s side for more than a few minutes and she has “taken over” feeding him taking care of him on this trip, though mostly he just leads him around to where she thinks he should go. 

665. My handsome man and his handsome horse (Tuffy)

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