It was great to be back in the Pryors. Anh and I arrived Saturday afternoon and made a quick trip up the Dryhead to see if we could find anyone. The road was covered with 4-5 inches of snow. The snow made the road slick, but it was helpful to be able to see the horse foots prints. We almost immediately saw the ever faithful Greeters, up on one of their favorite hill sides.
We drove the length of the range slowy. I wondered why they did not plow this road. We did not see a single horse or anymore prints. They were tucked away in the trees somewhere.
From there we stopped by the Center to meet Lori and Brianna along with Kiabab and Liesl. Liesl and Kiabab were not interested in posing for us, they were more interested in their food. Liesl’s wound looked good. They both looked good.
After a great dinner at Lori’s we headed back to get a good night sleep. We were both anxious to see more horses. My thoughts were with my October trip and I hoped I would have better luck this time. The weather was looking okay. 30% chance of snow, not bad. We would just keep our eye on the sky for any sudden changes coming our way.
We were heading towards Burnt Timber Road by 7:30 the next morning. When I turned off the paved road unto the dirt, I was surprised to see the amount of snow on the road. I wondered if Big Horn County owned any snow plows.
We drove through 5-8 inches of snow to the bottom of Burnt Timber. When I stepped out of the truck to unload the ATV, I realized that the depth of the snow was more like a foot. Would we even be able to drive the ATV up the road?
We were joined by a third person today, Monica. I was happy to have another person for the moral support. I have to admit, I was a bit stressed. Driving Burnt Timber on a good day is hard enough, adding a foot of snow was even more daunting.
We made it to the entrance of the range with very little problem. The wind had blown here, and made the snow quite a bit shallower. I was feeling encouraged that we would be able to make it further.
Just as we were about to cross the cattle guard onto the range, I looked up and saw Cappuccino and his band. Cappuccino and another horse ran over a ridge. I could not make out who the other horse was. We left the ATV and hiked the short way to get a better look at the remaining band members. We wanted to disturb them as little as possible and decided the best way would be to leave the ATV parked and hike closer.
A way off to the left, I saw Two Boots. It seems I always see him here in the winter months.
Further away on the same side as Two Boots, I saw Quelle Colour with Kohl. Grijala by them, but not close.
The first horses from Cappuccino’s band that I saw were Blanca and next to her was Galena’s filly, Moenkopi. Moenkopi had somehow gotten separated from Jackson’s band. I had learned of this from TCF newsletter. I was happy to see her, and she seemed to okay. Blanca seemed to be in charge of taking care of her. I think she is in good hands.
Gabrielle and McKeahnie were not to far from them.
Gabrielle looked pregnant to me. She also seemed a bit thin.
We stood quietly and watch them.
We would not have to wait long to find out where Cappuccino had been. I looked up the hill from were we stood and saw a blaze face looking down on me. It was a very round Jacinta. She did not look happy. Cappuccino had to work to keep her going closer to the rest of the band. Jacinta is from Gringo’s band.
I decided that the horses were used to us by now and would probably not be disturbed if we restarted the ATV and kept going up the road. I was right, we slipped right past them without them moving.
We traveled up the road for another mile before the snow got deep, really deep. I stopped the ATV and we all got off and unanimously decided we should not risk going another foot. We Monica dug out the tires (yes, we were stuck) and I backed up and turned around. We wanted it heading back down the hill so we did not have to deal with it later.
We put our backpacks on and started hiking…slowly. The snow was almost up to our knees and it was not a light fluffy snow, more like the constancy of too thick mash potatoes. At times it was up to our knees. I should have packed the snow shoes.
Our goal was to hike to the first guzzler on the left. We started to trudge up the road. It was pretty much all up hill.
The wind started to blow and we all silently hoped that all this effort would be rewarded when we reach our destination.
Finally, we reached the guzzler. From the road it looked like there were no horses there. But we walked closer and saw Jackson’s band tucked away against the blowing snow.
We sat down next to a bush away from the wind and snow and ate lunch. I was trying to count horse heads and see how many were there. I knew that Jasmine had been missing from his band just a few weeks ago. I thought I saw her there, but it was too hard to tell and I did not want to go closer until they got used to us being there.
After lunch the wind and blowing snow calmed down and we moved closer. Jackson kept a close eye on us, but other wise seemed unconcerned with us being there. It seemed his mares were staying very close to him, closer than I had ever seen. I wondered what the cause of it was, but decided it must be the weather.
Just as we moved closer something caught my eye to the right, up the hill. I turned and saw Cloud standing above us.
The rest of the band was not far behind him.
I worked my way slowly towards Jacksons band. They were beginning to come out and move around some.
I never know what to expect when I come to the mountain, so every horse that I see is a gift.
It took us a while to discover why Jackson’s band was so attentive to him. I kept seeing Galena and Moorcroft licking Jackson. I thought it was a bit odd. Then I saw the wound.
It explained what was going on. I found it very touching. I continued to watch this close family band. Still unsure if that was Jasmine lying behind him.
This peaceful setting was about to change as I watched Cloud and Aztec inching their way closer to Jackson and his band.
Hertiage was digging in the snow and moving away from Jackson a bit. Cloud took this opportunity to move in. Aztec wanted to be part of it, but Cloud quickly told her to go back. He approached Hertiage, who politely greeted him and told him she had the stallion she wanted and turned her back to him.
Despite his injury, Jackson approached Cloud and told him to back off. It was over in a minute. With a little posturing and a scream.
The peace returned and the bands went back to digging in the deep snow for any forage they could find, or taking a nap in the sun that had finally came out. I able to confirm that it was Jasmine once again in the band.
Brumby and Jackson’s son Moorcroft was quickly becoming a new favorite of mine.
Then Jackson decided it was time for the band to move on. I think he was tired of having Cloud’s eye on him. I hoped that Cloud would give Jackson a break and let him heal without causing any turmoil. Shortly after Jackson and his band moved on Cloud and his band moved into the nap spot.
Cloud stayed for only a short time in the napping area before he turned to watch Jackson. It was not long after that that both bands started to work themselves up the hill and over the ridge.
I tried not to worry to0 much about Jackson’s wound. He was moving a little stiffly, but otherwise seemed good. I tried not to worry that this was only the middle of February and there were still several months left before spring. I tired not to worry that Cloud was dogging Jackson and taking advantage of Jacksons small weakness.
The wind started to blow and the sky behind us was turning dark. We decided to start heading back down the mountain before the weather set in. And so we turned one last time to see the bands, then started trudging for an hour and a half back down the mountain in the deep snow and the blowing wind.
We were just about to exit the range when I saw a blaze face to my left. It was Jacinta again. But this time she was alone. She saw us and headed right towards us. I turned off the ATV and let her cross in front of us. She seemed to know where she was heading. I wondered if it was back to Gringo and the rest of her former band.
We watched her go and continued down the range. Looking forward to what the next day might bring.