I am just going to say it right away. I did not find Lakota.
It is easier for me to be strong when I am on the mountain. I try to tell myself up there that these are wild horses. Things happen. Sometimes I can’t quite remember that and burst into tears up there, but most of the time I am strong.
I was this time. Then I got in the truck and started heading down the mountain towards home. I was still okay. Then I plugged in my ipod and it started playing. You know what I mean, some song that you downloaded started playing. One of those “tug at your heart” kind of songs. That is what happened yesterday morning as I headed down the mountain towards Bridger. I started to cry, hard. Luckily, I knew the road well and I could only drive about 10 miles an hour, so no one was in any danger. Why was it that the ipod would not quit playing those songs? The tears would not stop and by the time I got to Bridger my eyes looked like I had been in a fight. We stopped to have breakfast there, and I am sure the waitress felt very sorry for me, because she seemed to be extra nice.
Let me back up a bit and tell you about my search for Lakota. I arrived on the mountain early afternoon of the 7th. After changing a flat tire on the truck and setting up camp, I went down Burnt Timber Road to try to find Lakota. And that was pretty much what I did for the next 3 1/2 days. Search for Lakota. I did spend some time off and on with the other bands, but a lot of the time I was hiking around looking for Lakota.
The last time someone saw him was on July the 2nd. I thought for sure I knew where he would be. It is so dry up there right now, that water is very limited. I thought Lakota might be getting water from a little ice cave not far from where he was last seen. Either that or at the red mud hole that Shawn had shown me 2 weeks ago.
The mud hole was dried up. I saw a big black bear there, but no horses. At the ice cave were 6 tents. It was a group of people who were spending time mapping out the ice cave. I know nothing about that. They were nice enough people, but I was concerned that they may have driven Lakota off with all the activity around there. I left them my card (with the image of Lakota on the front and back) and asked them to call or text me if they saw him. I hiked to the ice cave just in case they had missed seeing his tracks. Nothing. The were there for a couple of days and I asked each day if they had seen Lakota.
I stopped everyone coming up Burnt Timber or heading down, gave them my card and asked them to watch for him.
I tried to think about where he might go for water. It not only was dry up there, but hot and I knew that he would need to go for water.
The next water hole was off towards the fence line, more than a mile away or more away. A hard mile. Especially for a horse with a hurt leg. It was down a steep hill over a huge meadow and down another hill. I hiked it and looked around the water hole. I then hiked up the next hill above the water hole and sat for over an hour watching and looking through the binoculars. Nothing.
And so went the days, hiking and driving looking for Lakota. I did not find him.
I really did not want to leave without finding him. It was a very hard thing to do. I will be back in a few weeks. I am hoping that someone can find him before then. I will let you know if hear anything.
Stay strong Lakota and heal…