After the incredible day we had on Sykes the day before, it was going to be hard to top it. It was one of my best day ever on the range. Not because we saw all the horses that we did (that was fantastic of course), but it was which horses we saw. Many I had not seen for several months. It also was because I have come to love Sykes Ridge, especially this time of year. You can read that post by clicking on Sykes.
Today the weather was calling for a storm to move in late in the afternoon. We got an early start and were heading up Burnt Timber road by 7:30. This would be our third day on the range and we were yet to encounter another human. I like it that way.
We were up the road a couple miles when I spotted Cappuccino and his band to the left of us. We stopped for a quick couple shots and kept going.
There was no one at the first water catchment on the left. I kept driving. I wanted to get high enough on the road above this water catchment and also the other one (on the left) to be able to look through my binoculars.
At the water catchment on the left, I saw Cloud and his band. They had been in this same place two days ago. I wondered if they ever left. I thought maybe the reason that they were staying was because Feldspar was about a week from foaling. She had Mica last year around the 6th of May. I took a photo for my records and we moved on. We would hike back to that water catchment on our way down. With the possible storm coming later that day, I wanted to continue up the road and see some horses we had not seen yet.
Arriving on Cheyenne Flats, we saw no horses. We hiked down to the water guzzler. Still no horses.
I glassed over to Sykes Ridge and saw Blizzard and band and also Horizon, Juniper and Fiesta. After staying watching and listening for a while, we drove up further. Still no horses. I stopped and glassed around. Then took these photos so you could see the view and learn a bit more about the range.
I have never gone up Burnt Timber or Sykes Ridge with any one that knows where water guzzlers or spots where horses are. I have had to learn this all on my own and figure out where things are. In a way, I think it has been better that way. I have come to know the range with time, effort and determination. I had to earn the right to know it. I still have so much to learn.
I spent an entire winter a few years ago on Google Earth, mapping out where every water guzzler is on the range. That does not always translate to exactly where they are, but it does give you an idea on where. After that I have spent time hiking around to find them.
We continued going up the road until we ran into snow. I was not seeing any fresh signs of horses, so I figured it would not be worth trying to drive through the snow to go any further. I felt like they were not up this high yet. I was about to the old horse trap area.
It was lunch time already, so we stopped above Cheyenne Flats so we could watch while we grabbed a quick bite. The one band that I really wanted to see was Jacksons. I had not seen this band since February and I knew that Galena would be within days of having her foal. I really wanted to see a new Lakota grandson or daughter. We finished eating and started down the road.
Just around a bend, I saw Jacksons band AND Galena with a new foal! We stopped and took some quick photos. It was very clear that Galena (and Jackson) were not comfortable with us there.
I was pleased to see Jasmine there. She seemed to be fitting into the band nicely now. Firestorm also looked much better than some of the recent photos I had seen of her about a month ago. She is very close to foaling.
We slowly drove through them and went up the road several hundred feet and stopped again. I thought perhaps they would be more comfortable with us if we passed and stopped further away from them. That still did not help. Galena clearly let us know we were not wanted there either. Jackson looked and started walking towards us. We quickly left them to their peace.
Keeping with the Jackson band tradition of naming foals after towns or cities, we decided to call Galena’s new filly Nye. For Nye, Montana. Population 272. Click on Nye to see where in Montana it is. It is pronounced N-eye. Hopefully a nice simple name for us all to remember.
We continued down the road. We had not gone far when I spotted a dun to my right. Then I saw Chino and knew the dun was Topper Too. Just like her mother Topper (who we had seen way over on Sykes the day before), Topper Too started to leave the instant she saw us. I had never seen Chino this time of year before. I saw him and the Toppers in May last year. By then he had shed his winter coat. He still had some left right now and I thought it made him look old. He will be 20 this year. I really like Chino and the Toppers. It was good to see them. I only wished that Topper was with them. This band seemed very incomplete without her there too.
We continued down the road, stopping to listen and look. I saw Teton and Cloud bands at the water catchment, so we decided to hike back and see them. The wind was picking up and I knew by the look of the clouds, that the expected storm was going to materialize. I was not too worried, I only had a few miles to go down Burnt Timber at this point and knew I would be fine, even if it started to rain. We packed our rain gear and hiked to the guzzler.
I had been wondering how Teton was. On my last trip, I had been worried that Mescalero was trying to take his band. I was happy to be wrong about that. We walked over to the other side and sat out of the wind for a while, watching both bands.
While I was sitting there, I spotted some horses about two miles away, up the mountain. I snapped these photos and I have uploaded them full size, so if you click on them (then click again) you can view them in their largest size. My first thought was Galaxy, but that did not seem quite right, then I thought Gringo, but that did not seem quite right either. It could have been both bands by each other and I was unable to see all the horses. Let me know what you think. In one of the photos I could count a total of 8 horses. Gringo’s band has 5 horses and Galaxy’s band has 6 horses. The horses are just below the top of the ridge. Baja’s band also crossed my mind. One of them looked like it could possibly be a new foal (the one behind the bush with just their nose and part of their head showing).
Even though the storm was getting closer, I decided it would be worth a trip back up the road to see if we could find these horses. I looked for a marker to help us locate them (the dead tree that leans to the right). We hiked back to the ATV and headed up the road.
The temperature was quickly dropping and the wind was getting much stronger. I drove to where I thought they would be and could not find them. I hiked around and look through the binoculars. Nothing. We decided not to risk getting stuck in the storm this far up, so we headed down the mountain, loaded up the ATV and drove down the road, just as the first rain drop hit the windshield and a text came in from Lori asking if we were down yet.
I am told that Lovell does not get much rain. I did a little research on this and found out that Lovell only receives about 6.65 inches of rain a year. But it seems every time I am there, it rains at least one day. Lori’s husband has named me “Rainmaker”. I really made it work this time. As we sat enjoying dinner at the Branding Iron with Lori, Jimmy and Brianna, we watched it pour rain outside. I think they were getting about 2 inches of that 6.65 annual total. This would be good for the range. The next days plans were uncertain, but I was happy the range was getting much needed moisture.