Here is part two of Shawn’s trip last week. Thanks again Shawn! It almost feels like being there!
Wednesday – Burnt Timber
I know it gets a bad report, maybe deservedly so, but Burnt Timber is my favorite road up the mountain. It causes my tires to wear down a lot quicker than they should. Everyone that drives it is promised a flat at some point. There are parts where the bentonite-laden clay turn into a slip-and-slide if a few raindrops fall, which sometimes causes you to come down early to avoid getting stuck.
Yet somehow it is different from the other roads to me and feels like home. Crooked Creek takes you outside the range and takes about twice as long. Sykes, well, that is a great road for when you want to get your heart pumping on an adventure. I have never had as much luck with horses on Sykes, either. On Burnt Timber you can run across a horse throughout almost the whole run of it. In fact, the few places I have not seen a horse on BT have sign, so it is just a matter of time before I do see one in those spots.
I was pleased to see how dry the road was, and worked my way up the red canyon climb without much worry about the road conditions. My first group of mountain horses was on a hill behind the first water guzzler on the right. I am not sure of this one’s name. I was pretty sure it was Jackson on the left and the large group size almost assured it had to be him. At first I focused on the foals, because they would have changed more than the older horses since I had last seen them.
The first I found was Maelstrom. His really dark legs with the 1 white sock are really striking. I did notice Jasmine near him, and hoped that it meant Dancer was just with someone else, too. Next I moved down the ridge a little to where Moenkopi, Galena, Brumby and Moorcroft were feeding. I don’t know if they will last into next summer, but right now the dark wither bars on Moenkopi remind me so much of her father.
As I was trying to get just the right light and angle for some pictures of Moenkopi and Moorcroft together, Jackson whinnied and ran up the hill. At first I thought I had worn out my welcome, but he was interested in some of his mares which were working the other way. After clicking some shots of him as he ran, I turned my attention back to the foals. As Jackson and the rest moved towards us, he was paying close attention to a grulla mare, and every time he did Jasmine would run over and get close to them. I didn’t really connect things at the time, but it all made sense later. Despite Jasmine being a third wheel, Jackson did mount the mare and do his thing.
I left the group and moved up toward the wilderness lick area where I thought I had seen Cloud, or Echo (Killian). It turns out it was Cloud. Not that I want Damsel back with him as I hope she is with a non-related stallion, but I was still hoping that maybe she was there just to know she was safe. Inocentes was closest to me, so I moved well around her and up past Cloud to see the rest of his harem. Feldspar and Mica were in the open area above… and that was it. I watched a while and no one joined, so I went out through the trees on the other side of the hill and scoured through the brush.
Later that evening I saw Cloud down near the guzzler, and he still only had these 3 with him. After realizing Aztec was missing, it made sense to me who the grulla with Jackson was and why Jasmine kept getting close to her.
Aztec was the 10th member of Jackson’s band. That doesn’t explain where Baileys is, and it is another horse that I worry something has happened to at this point. I did not see her with anyone else on the trip.
From Cloud’s band, I continued up the road until my way was blocked at the start of Cheyenne Flats. Hernando, Inali and Hamlet were eating the road with Knight to the side. I don’t mean eating in the road, they are eating a good-sized hole of the red clay from the road. I watched them for a while, and since they weren’t moving I scanned Sykes to see if I could find any horses. I did locate a group of 6, then 2 more. I knew what I had to do on Thursday if the weather was nice.
After waiting a while, I went off the road and around the bachelors so that they could continue eating. The last group I found was Galaxy’s band just a little further up. I love his wavy hair, but I am not sure how he even sees some times. He looks like he may have been in a scrap, and was a little more statuesque and a little less bouncy than normal. Maybe that is part of going from an active challenger to becoming a stern band leader. It was also hard to believe that Maia was a foal this spring. She seems too big for that to be true.
While I did not see anyone else, at this late a date in November, I was still able to drive all the way to where I camp on the top without seeing hardly any snow. As I drove back to the horses, it was cloudy and the forecast called for snow. I decided to camp at the very bottom, so I would not have to worry about getting stuck in the already mentioned clay if it did snow. While it didn’t stick, I woke up about 10 to the sound of hard snow on my FJ, and I was glad that I didn’t have to worry about it and went back to sleep.