Mountain Report

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?

Fiero, October 21, 2012
Fiero, October 21, 2012

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.

Jesse James
Seneca, October 22, 2012

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.

Hidalgo, Montana, Fresia and Halo, October 22, 2012

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.


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32 thoughts on “Mountain Report

  • Brrrr…..cold just reading this! I saw the weather and hoped that you guys would be missing it, bummer. But like you said, you’ve got the flat tire and bad weather out of the way now! 🙂 Cant wait to hear more about the new pups!

  • Thank you Sandy and Lori. It is sad for not be able to visit Lakota memorial.
    I am hoping Damsel and her foal are safe and all the horses too. May the rain and snow pour down on the Pryors so next Spring there will be green grass every where.

  • It’s dissapointing that you didn’t make it up, but at least you tried and got to see a few horses in the process. Hopefully Lori will be able to keep us in the loop with Fiero and his girls and Merlin will come out of hiding. And hopefully Matt will post a good update! I’m hoping all is well for Dancer and her foal and that if they are with another stallion it is one who will do a good job helping her take care of her late foal through winter. I’m also interested to see where Jasmine is. And like you said, at least the range is getting some moisture.

  • Thanks for the update. No one has mentioned seeing Hidatsa for quite a while — I believe when Brianna saw him, it was actually Johnston. As for Fiero, from all the different photos I have seen, and the two times I saw him myself, I never got the feeling that the ladies he was with were actually “his ladies”, more like they were just hanging out together. Has anyone seen him breeding any of them?

  • Great account of our trip Sandy! I got a big “chill” again just reading this! Thanks again and next time we will get to see some more of these beautiful horses.
    I will try to get out to the range this weekend and also give an update on Liesl & Kaibab.
    I really want to find Sitting Bull, Cecelia and Mato (who has a limp)and of course Merlin. I am concerned for them and want to find them both. Stay safe and heal Merlin & Mato!

    • Looking forward to your update on Liesl and Kaibab. I’m so thrilled they’re doing so well! And hopfully you will find both Merlin and Mato doing well 🙂

  • I have been thinking of you two gals and sending safe prayers for you and the horses as the storm moved into our Denver area. The rain and snow will be blessings for the horses, although I know you were very disappointed to end your trip. Thanks for the update you gave us.

    • Thank you for the prayers Laura, they were needed, and the Spirit Gods answered as we returned safe..wet and cold to the bones…but safe. The mountain can be very dangerous and unforgiving in the winter time and people have been known to freeze to death if caught on the mountains during the winter months. The winters are like this every year and so we will “hibernate” for awhile only to catch glimpses (when possible) of the horses until springtime.
      I am sure there will be some surprises come spring.

  • So someone has reported that Damsel does—for sure—have a foal? I must have missed that confirmation of what seemed to be only rumors in everything I read. I wonder what those “ladies” would think if they knew how interested and concerned we all are about their health and habits 🙂 It’s kind of like watching something like “The Young and The Restless”—but is actually happening 🙂 I hope if she does, that they do OK thru the winter, and they should if they’re with Cloud or Jackson, or any of the older, wiser stallions. Some of the younger, less experienced ones, I’m not so sure. But hopefully, they will follow the lead of the “oldsters”, too.

    I’m guessing your concern about Merlin contributed to you spending your first day in the lower elevations, and I sure appreciate your efforts. Do you know who spotted him at Bad Pass Spring, and what condition he was in? His thinness really scares me and I’d sure like to hear that he’s put on a little weight, even tho being lighter might be easier on his bad leg. Hopefully someone will see him—doing better—soon.

    I’m sure getting to cozy up to Liesl and Kaibab was a very enriching experience. I soooo envy you. I hope you gave her a pat and a hug for me. 🙂

    I also envy you that adventure on the mountain in the rain. I know you must have been very drenched and chilled, but I LOVE to take on Nature—to a point. 🙂 I guess you know that, tho, from my pure enjoyment of our somewhat challenging adventure up there in June. I LOVED every minute of it, and the snow made it absolutely the most memorable adventure I’ve EVER had! 🙂 🙂 🙂 However, being June, it was less likely to stay than a snowstorm near the end of October. I know you guys made the best decision, and I’m sure your time together was totally rewarding. I’m determined to get there to share another adventure with you and Lori in the new year. 🙂

    Thanks so much for the update and pics, once again. <3

    • Hi Linda! No, no one has been able to confirm that Damsel had a foal, that I know of. She certainly did look pregnant.
      A person from the NPS said that they saw Merlin at Bad Pass spring area. They said he looked thin and was limping, but was getting around. That is all I know. I will let everyone know if I hear more about him.
      Yes, our June adventure was a highlight of my trips up there this year. The snow was just an added bonus to it. They are some of my favorite photos from this year. I am really looking forward to having another trip with you this year Linda!

  • I agree that Damsel looked PG, but so did Seneca, and sadly, no foal there. We can hope that she and Cloud didn’t produce another likely victim of circumstances.

    Fiero certainly looks good, even tho a bit forlorn.

    The behavior of the mares IS VERY interesting. The first time I saw Strawberry, she was “hoofing it” at a pretty good pace along Bad Pass Highway from south to north, with Blizzard following behind sniffing where she walked and tossing his head a lot like he likes to do. She was definitely calling the shots and setting the pace. I think she’s pretty independent and not too concerned about which stallion is “guarding” her at any given time. 🙂 I’m sure Seattle is tickled pink to have her around. His preference is, after all, blacks and grullas/grulla roans.

    It would really be good to hear that Sitting Bull and Cecelia’s baby (Mato) is limping less in the near future. He is so darn cute—reminds me of Lewis. I’m optimistic. We have to remember that these horses overcome huge challenges.

    I try to apply that to Merlin, too, but then reality sets in and I know that he could limp around out there for quite a while, like Lakota did, and not recover. And as we all know, winter is not the time to be dangerously thin and unable to improve. Will be watching for posts from anyone who happens onto him out there in that beautiful but formidable wilderness.

    Will also be looking forward to your posts on the progress with all your new animal friends. I’m sure they will all be very happy animals in your care. 🙂

    • Thanks Linda. I always enjoy your stories about these horses, thanks so much for sharing them. I am hopeful that Mato only “tweeked” his hip a little, maybe in the mud and will heal quickly. Lori and I spent a little time looking for them too, but as you know they are not easily spotted. It was a gift for Lori to see them a couple days before. I sure hope someone does spot Merlin soon and has good news to tell us all.

  • I also look forward to spending some time with you Linda out on the range. I will have plenty of time to devote to that this year!
    I am planning on going out to the range this weekend sometime and hopefully can find Merlin and little Mato!
    I would also like to find Hidatsa and some of the other bachelor’s that I have not seen for quite some time! Hope I have some luck.

  • Do you know if anyone from the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center had spotted Dancer(Damsel) has had her foal and if she did, is she back with her father and their family

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