I just returned from 9 full days in the Pryors. I spent time on top of the mountain and in the Dryhead. I thought I would make one, maybe two posts, but after going through my photos and realizing that I was way over 200 photos and still had a few days left, I decided to break up the posts in several parts.
We arrived on the mountain top the afternoon of August 18. Not a horse was in sight on the top. Not too unusual, but that pattern would continue for the entire time we were there.
We were just done setting up camp, when I noticed some horses in the trees nearby. It was Galaxy and Teton’s band.
Both bands were the same and all looked really good. They moved on after about an hour.
We then decided to head down to Kreuger Pond. The only water source on top that still had water (besides the guzzler way up on top). I really dislike hanging out by the water source and waiting for horses to appear. But we would find that for this trip, it was some of the only times we would be able to see the horses.
The sun was about to set. There were several bands hanging down by the fence. I spent my time looking through my binoculars instead of taking photos.
We saw Baja, one of the bands that I expected to see a new foal with. But poor Washakie was still pregnant. I have a theory on why I think she is so late this year. Meadowlark was born late July 2012. When Washakie went into her foal heat, the gather was still happening, or had just finished. I feel the stress from that kept her from conceiving then. Putting her to conceive a month (or more) later than she should have. I really hope she foals soon. With every passing the day, the likelyhood of a foal going into winter so young is not good. The survival rate decreases. Because they lost Meadowlark last winter and also several from the removal, I would really like to see a healthy foal that lives this year.
The one band that we did spend some time with, just before it got dark, was Custers. I could not believe how much Nodin had grown in just a few short weeks.
The next day would start off watching a few bands graze down the hill from the pond.
From there we decided to take a long hike. I had been wanting to go up to Bigfoots valley (the empty meadow) again. It had been 2 years since I had hiked up there. That is where a water guzzler is with a lot of great forage. It still baffles me why the horses do not use it.
My plan was to hike up to the ledge and continue along the rim, looking for other Vision Quests (or Fasting Beds). I then was hoping to drop down to Kreguer Pond and catch the horses drinking there in the afternoon.
The air was heavy with smoke from several nearby fires in Yellowstone and some of it was even coming from fires in Idaho. Our view was not as clear and dramatic has I before.
After stopping and paying respect to what was left of Bigfoots remains, we continued hiking along the rim.
We continued to hike as far as we could along the rim. Then came to a thick woods area. I picked a small path to follow. The path lead us to a huge Vision Quest and a very apparent Fasting Bed. It was a very secluded spot, not something that someone would just stumble on. We did not stay long, it was a very sacred spot, that I felt I did not belong in.
By the time we arrived at the pond, several bands were coming to drink.
We went back to camp for some dinner and a short break, then came back down and spent sunset with the horses. There was not another human on the mountain that night. Just us. The horses were so relaxed and at peace. It was one of the more special times I have ever shared with them.
The days were getting shorter. Darkness was coming fast. We headed back to camp. Tired from our hike, but filled with a peacefulness that only a mountain empty of people, but full of wild horses, can bring to you.