After spending some time with the horses down in Britton Springs, Lori and I headed up Crooked Creek Road. I had not been up Crooked Creek for 2 years. Last year it was closed most of the time while they did some work on it. I could feel my heart starting to beat a little faster as I turned to go up it. I have a bit of a fear of heights, so this road really tests that fear.
They did do a good job improving the road. However, it could have been wider! HA I know that would be an almost impossible task to do, given the steep cliff side that the road is on. It is still a road that I would not like to meet anyone coming towards me from the opposite way. I still prefer Sage Creek Road over this one. Even Burnt Timber is better for me.
We made it up to the top and stopped and looked at the trap site. It was pretty quiet there. We decided to go to my camp site and set up our tents.
I was unloading my camp stuff when I saw something out of the corner of my eye. It must be a horse I thought, so I turned to look. Well, it was not a horse, but a bear. He was standing up on his hind legs looking at me, no more than 50 feet away. Perhaps I should have grabbed my bear spray, but instead I grabbed my camera. While I was fumbling with the camera, he stood up again and started to run off. He turned to look at us one more time. I snapped this photo of him right before he ran into the woods.
There are a lot of bears in the Pryors, especially this year. I have seen at least one every trip I have taken. This trip I would see 5. I also will add that all 5 were seen from my campsite. I keep a very clean camp. I used to cook some food at night, but this year I only eat cold food. The only time I use my camp stove is to boil water for coffee in the morning. I have never had a bear get in my stuff. I would like to think that is because of my clean camp. I hope everyone else that camps up here will be as careful. Lori and I decided that we would sleep in our vehicles instead of our tents. I am sure we would have been fine in our tents, but I believe we got more sleep by sleeping in our trucks.
We continued to set up camp. Custer’s band came over to watch us and then turned and headed towards the pond where the trap was set up. It would be the last time I would be able to photograph Leo in the wild.
The light was pretty bright, so the photos are not the best. But I like to take photos any time of day on the mountain. I don’t really care if the light is perfect, I just want the memories.
I thought Fiasco looked like she might be pregnant. I know she had Kaibab and Leo in August, so I am hoping she may have a foal yet this year.
We finished setting up camp and headed towards the pond. I wanted to see if Jared Bybee was there yet. I had sent him an email to thank him for ending Lakota’s suffering, but I wanted to thank him in person.
When we got to the trap site, we were surprised and disappointed to see Leo in there. Custer was driving his mares away from the trap. It was pretty painful to watch, so after talking with Jared for a few minutes we decided to leave.
Just before we left I saw Santa Fe.
As we headed down the road back to our camp, we saw Custer and his mares standing calmly. I learned over the few days that I watched the removal, that the horses would settle down pretty fast when they were away from the trap site. But when they were near by and hearing the whinnies of the horses, or the sound of the trailer, it could get pretty intense. But it was nice to know that once they were a distances from it that life seemed to go on. It was a small comfort. Life will be fine on the mountain.
I knew the next thing I needed to do was to go and see Lakota. I know I already told you a bit about his memorial in my post a few days ago. If you want to read that click on Lakota. There were a few things I wanted to add. The feather that I added to the rocks was one that I found. (it is not the most visible feather that you see, it is dropped down in the middle of the rocks and you can just see the very top of it). I was riding my horse Oreo in the mountains above our land on Monday, July 23, the day that Lakota died. I happened to look down and there laid a perfect feather from a Red Tail Hawk. I got off and picked it up. It was beautiful. I did not know what I would do with it, but later that week I realized it would be perfect for Lakota.
My hope is that those that knew Lakota will stop and add a rock or feather to his memorial. I also hope that those that pass, will not take his bones. I know some will disappear, but I hope that most will remain there.
A saw 3 horses off in the distances towards Penn’s Cabin. It was Garcia’s band. This is one band that I never seem to see very often. I drove over to see them.
We decided to take a break and sit in the shade, it had been a pretty emotional day. As we sat there, we heard something. It dawned on me what it was. I told Lori to grab her camera. The sound of thundering hoofs was coming our way. We could not see them yet, but I knew it would not be long before we did.
Once again, the light was way to bright for these photos above, but I wanted the memories. It would be the last time I would see many of these horses running together. I didn’t care about the light.
It was getting late and we decided to eat something. We had forgotten to eat lunch (something that seems to be pretty easy to do up here!) It seemed quiet and we wondered if they were done for the day. Some people stopped by to talk and wanted to know where they might see some horses. Shawn came by and said that they were still working the trap. Lori and I decide to head down there and see who they had removed.
It was almost 7 by now. Jared and Ryan were patiently working the trap. Despite what is said in other posts and blogs right now about this removal, I was here first hand watching and I was impressed with Jared and Ryan. They were patient, respectful and caring towards the horses.
Tonopah was whinning nearby. They had Jedediah in the trap.
All of the horses in the area were watching.
Grijala was very worked up. His whole band of “Special K’s”, minus Kalahari were in the trap. Quelle Colour was in it as well. Kalahari wanted to run away, but Grijala kept snaking her back and running around in a panic. I knew they weren’t going to keep all the K’s, Kindra and Kohl would be let out of the trap along with Quelle Colour. But Grijala did not have any way of knowing this. He would loss Katrina and Kachina that day. But as soon as they let QC, Kohl and Kindra out, he settled right down. I would see them the next day.
A few other bands came in to watch. Doc’s band remained calm. But Horizon, Fiesta and Juniper were constantly trying to stir things up.
Gringo and his band were pretty worked up as well. I knew that they had LaSalle.
When the trailer started to back up to the pens it seemed to trigger a memory for Baja. He came out of nowhere calling.
Custer’s band watched silently and Garciana and Jacinta called for their offspring.
Neither Lori or I wanted to stay any longer. It was very hard to see this. I did and still do support this removal. But that does not mean that I or anyone else who supports it, did not feel the pain.
I felt a lot pain that day. Pain for the removal of band members, pain for the loss of Lakota. Pain for the unrest that filled the air.
At day’s end July 30, 2012, six horses were removed. They were: Katrina and Kachina from Grijala’s band. LaSalle from Gringo’s band. Leo from Custer’s band. Kane from Blue Moon’s band and Jedediah from Duke’s band.
It had been a very long and emotional day. I did not sleep well that night.