I planned this trip a few weeks ago, hoping the weather would be good. But anyone that has ever been to the Pryors, or any other mountains, knows that things can change fast, especially this time of year. That would be the case for me on this trip.
The afternoon that I arrived, I met Lori at the Center. I wanted to see how Kaibab and Liesl were doing. They are doing wonderfully. I was able to pet both of them. Liesl is a little love bug and really seems to seek out attention.
After spending time with them we headed up the Dryhead. We saw only one horse that afternoon, Fiero. He was by himself. Remember in the last post when Strawberry had been seen with Seattle? You can read that post by clicking LORI.
Today Fiero was alone. We wondered where Cascade and Bakken were. Were they also with Seattle?
After spending some more time looking in the Dryhead, we decided to head up lower Sykes and look for Merlin. He had last been spotted in the Bad Pass Spring area a week ago.
As we were almost out of the range, heading for Sykes, we saw the Greeters far in the distance.
We spent a long time hiking the Bad Pass Spring area. We saw plenty of tracks, but no horses. I had really hoped to see him, but it was not to be. I hope he is okay and we will hear from soon from someone who has spotted him.
It was getting dark fast, so we decided we better head back to Lovell. We were looking forward to the next day when we would be going up the mountain.
The next morning we started out early. We decided at the last second to drive up the Dryhead first. It was a pretty chilly morning. I immediately spotted the Greeters. They were on the other side of the small bay. I had never seen them on that side. We stopped and took a few photos. A Magpie watched us closely while we spent some time with these four.
We continued to drive through the rest of the paved road. Along the way we saw Fiero, still alone. A couple of miles down the road we spotted Cascade and Bakken together with no one else in sight. It will be interesting to see what happens next with this band. It seems to be changing daily.
On our way out I spotted 2 horses off in the distance. We stopped and looked through our binoculars. It was Halo and Fresia. We then spotted Montana lying down not too far from them and several feet away was Hidalgo.
I was really looking forward to heading up the mountain one more time before winter set in. The weather forecast was for rain/snow, but it was just cloudy and we were hopeful.
Weather in the mountains can change from one minute to the next. The best thing is to keep a watch on the sky and be prepared for any changes.
We got to the bottom of Burnt Timber Road, unloaded my ATV and started up the road. It was just starting to mist a little rain. Still cloudy, but nothing too threatening.
As we began to head up the road we saw several fresh signs that there were horses around, but did not see anyone. We continued up the road, past the first water guzzler, still no horses. The rain started to come down harder. We stopped to put on our rain gear and kept heading up. Still no horses. Lori and I both thought they must be tucked in the trees staying out of the rain, that continued to come down on us. We stopped for a few minutes and stood under some trees to get out of it. There was a pretty low cloud forming on top of the mountain. I could not tell if it was rain or snow. We talked about turning around, but decided to continue.
A friend of mine who reads this blog sent me a token made of feathers to place on Lakota’s memorial. I really wanted to get up there and be able to place it there before the end of the season.
We were about 2 miles from the top when the rain (which was coming down even harder now), turned to snow. I continued another mile. The snow was sticking and the wind was starting to blow. Even though we were prepared with rain gear, the raining (pouring now) started to make its way to our skin. The temperature was 35 and we were starting to get a chill. We made the tough decision to turn around. It was hard to do that. Not seeing a single horse. But the chances of even seeing them if we reached the top were probably pretty slim. It was heartbreaking.
I think everyone, once in their life should drive down Burnt Timber road in the pouring rain in an ATV! It is a life time experience that will be well remembered….One of the questions that presented itself to us was: do we drive faster to get down and risk sliding on the wet rocks and possibly go off the side, or the second question was: do we go slower and risk getting colder and colder? I choose the second , go slower and get colder. Even in the slow speed the rain was hitting our faces so hard that we were not sure if it was the rain or the red mud flying up that was hitting us. We started to laugh. It seemed Burnt Timber Road had doubled it’s length since I had last gone down it in early September.
We made it down safely. We loaded up and headed to Lori’s nice wooded warmed home to dry out, disappointed that we had not seen a single horse.
Matt was up on Saturday, so I am really hoping he gives us a report soon. If he does, I will reblog it here.
I have heard from several people that Damsel may be missing. I am not giving up hope on her. Perhaps she had her foal and was picked up by one of the bachelors in the process. The horses are so spread out now (it is the season for that) that this could be the case. Hopefully someone can see her and let us know.
I had a small time frame for this trip. I had a meeting in Billings on Tuesday and I also was scheduled to pick up two Crow Reservation rescue dogs from Rez Dog Rescue in Billings that evening. In another post I will tell you about my meeting in Billings.
As often and as much as I go to the Pryors, a trip like this was bound to happen at some point. Hopefully, like getting a flat tire, I will be good for a while now and good weather and lots of horses will be in my future!
I did not see many horses, but I enjoyed my time with Lori and her husband Jimmy. They are both wonderful people. Lori and I had plenty of time to talk horses, so that became the highlight of this trip.
I probably will not be back for several months now. Winter is starting to come and the horses will be hard to find. I will spend those months working with Kiowa and Kootenai. I will be sure to post an update on them.
Stay safe wild ones and stay strong. I will see you again soon.