I just returned from 3 days in the Pryors. One of those days turned out to be very winter like with blowing snow and very cold temperatures, but two of those days were beautiful. Perfect fall days with a deep blue sky. I can’t think of many other places I would rather be on such glorious days. It truly is a place that is good for my soul.
I decided to rent a wide-angle lens for this trip. That was a huge mistake, because now I really want one of my own. It wasn’t the best for capturing images of the horses, but it was perfect to capture the landscape. I found that this lens was really able to captured the beauty and ruggedness of the land that these amazing horses call their home.
After watching the weather for several days start to look increasingly unsettled, I decided to leave way before daylight on Saturday so that I was able to have several hours on the mountain on what looked to be a beautiful day. I stopped in Livingston to pick up my friend Jeanne and we headed straight for the mountain. I was heading up Burnt Timber road on my ATV by 2 pm. The entire Burnt Timber road is in the state of Montana and this day was the opening season for general hunting in this state, so I needed to be alert for any hunters that might be on the range.
I traveled up the road slow, stopping in several places to look through my binoculars for horses. The mountain was quiet. We hiked to a couple of spots along the way that gave me a couple clear views over to Sykes. I spotted two dark horses, but could not make out who they were from that distance.
Continuing up the road, we finally saw some horses in the trees just ahead of us. It was Jackson and his band. But he seemed very uneasy. The were seeing or hearing something further up the road that we were not able to hear yet. About a minute later, I realized it was an ATV and 3 dirt bikes traveling too fast down the road towards us. I have found that the horses really dislike the sound of the dirt bikes. Especially Jackson’s band. They have a different pitch to their engines and of course, most of them that I have encountered on the mountain are going way too fast. The combination of both those things made Jackson snake his band down a hill and deep into the woods.
Below are the wide-angle shots I took of the Jacksons.
We only got to spend a few minutes with them. I was certainly not going to add any more pressure to them by following them into the woods, so after the dirt bikes past us, we made our way further up the road. We were about 7 miles up Burnt Timber at this time.
We traveled approximately 2 more miles before my high clearance ATV got stuck in about 3 feet of snow. I was glad that I had strapped on that snow shovel, because I needed it to dig the ATV out.
Here are some landscape shots I took on our way back down with the wide-angle.
We stopped to hike here and there and look for horses. The afternoon was quickly slipping away and we had not found any other horses. I stopped the ATV on the spot in the road where I had a good view of the lower guzzlers. I looked through the binoculars and spotted 10 horses at one of them! We made our way down the road, parked the ATV and hiked the path that the horses used to the guzzler. It was probably about a mile hike, maybe a little more, the landscape, rocks and hoof prints along the way has made this a favorite of mine.
As I came up the hill above guzzler I saw the horses. It was Jackson’s band again! They had come down the mountain 7 miles from where we had seen them earlier. It always amazes me how far and fast these horses travel during a day. This is even more apparent in the months where they are off the mountain top.
Jackson gave us a stern stare, so after a short while, we turned and hiked back to the road. I was happy to see that everyone looked good. Probably the most the band had changed was how much the yearlings, Moorcroft and Maelstorm had grown since I had last seen them, on September 10th.
The afternoon was quickly changing to evening. I took a few photos of the landscape before we started back down the road.
It had been a beautiful first day. I was disappointed I had not seen more horses. But I reminded myself that on my October 2012 trip up this road, I had not seen any and had to leave in a cold pouring rain. You can read that post by clicking on OCT. 2012
The next day was supposed to be equally as beautiful. I was hopeful we would see more horses then.
PS: This post is my 250th for this blog since the first one that I wrote in February 2012!