Our third day we decided to spend hiking around Turkey Flats, with an early morning drive up the Dryhead first.
For the first time in a long time, I saw the Greeters in “proper” place. Just a short distance after we entered the range. Way up on a hillside. This day was starting out very cloudy and we hoped it would clear enough to give us some good light for photos.
I was really pleased to see Hightail looking so good. Born in 1990, Hightail will be 24 this year. Both Seneca and Hickok looked good too.
We continued driving down the road to look for more horses. I have never had much luck seeing horses in the Dryhead this time of year. But so far this trip I had seen 4.
I turned to go to the Devil’s Lookout area and was surprised to see the river completely frozen over below. The dark sky and the frozen water in the canyon made for some very forbidding photos. This was the first time I had my wide-angle lens with me and I loved the images I was able to capture. Like putting the canyon in my pocket and taking it home with me.
Seeing no other horses in this part of the range, we headed towards the Range entrance at Lower Sykes. Remembering what the road looked like the afternoon before, I wondered how it would be this morning. It was 28 right now, so I was hoping it had firmed up.
We loaded my UTV (Ophelia ) up with our camera gear and supplies and headed up the red dirt road. The beautiful of this area is breathtaking, no matter what time of year I come here.
I parked Ophelia a couple of miles up the road and we got out to go search for horses. I will admit, it seems that this time of year, I do not have much luck finding horses here. First, let me say: Turkey Flats is NOT flat. Sure, there are areas that are flatter than the tall hills that surround them, but for the most part, it is made of ravines that dip in and out of a vast landscape. I climbed a tall hill to look around with my binoculars. Quickly locating Jesse James on a far-away butte. I always snap a photo, just for record keeping, no matter the distance, just in case I am not able to locate them later if I am closer. The photo below of Jesses James is when I was a bit closer, but still taken at 310 mm.
My luck would be no different today. We hiked for hours. I scampered up several hills and did see 3 horses moving off. By the time I went back to get Anh and Kimerlee, they had vanished into the landscape. If I was to guess, I would say it was Mica, Inocentes and Feldspar and from the location that Ginger had given us of where she saw Cloud just a few days before, I could be right. But for the first time, I did not snap that photo and I will never really know for sure.
We continued hiking closer to Jesse James and I was pleased to see another horse with him, a black one. I could not make out if it was Issaquah or Joseph, but it was not Hawk. I am leaning towards thinking it was Issaquah, but not being able to see the legs to determine if there was a right hind sock (Joseph), I can’t be 100%.
It always amazes me how steep of terrain these horses can graze on. I hope these shots give you some feel of just how steep it really was.
It was almost 3 pm. We made a group decision to give up on Turkey Flats for the day and head up Burnt Timber road for the rest of the afternoon. We turned to hike back to the road. It was a bit late in the day to head up BT, but the sky was clear and I knew I would not be going up too far.
With some luck and a little extra persuasion, Ophelia was able to climb up the road past where we had gotten stuck in the snow the day before. My hope was to get to the mine area where I could have an excellent view of where there may be horses. As we climbed up, I saw Jackson and band making their way over a ridge further up. It was too late in the day to go up that far, so we stopped and turned our attention to what might lie below us.
I spotted 10 horses on a ridge far below us. It was getting late, so we decided to head down and try to locate them. We all mentally noted some landscape landmarks and hoped to be able locate them as we made our way back down the road. Several miles back down the road, I pulled over, hoping my guess would be right. I hiked up a ridge and there they were! It was Cappuccino and band along with two new members: Aztec and Jasmine. Grijala and Jasper were near by a bit further down the ridge.
It was a beautiful spot to stop, watch horses for a while and enjoy a sunset. I knew I could safely make it down the rest of the way (only about 2 miles) without a problem, even in the fading light. We had not seen many horses that day and wanted to just sit and soak up their beauty.
Everyone looked good. Gabrielle is definitely pregnant and appears to look better than she did last year at this same time. Cappuccino looked a bit thin, but Aztec was keeping him very busy breeding her.
It was time to head down the road towards the truck. We stopped several time to take photos of the beautiful landscape in the setting sun.
It had been a busy day of hiking and exploring the range. I felt good about the horses I had seen. There were areas where the snow was past our thighs, but also some bare areas where the horses were able to find forage. They all looked good and I hoped that winter would be kind to them for another couple months. Our plan for the next day would be to head up Burnt Timber once again.