February In The Pryors, Day 3: Searching

View of Turkey Flats, looking back towards Twin Red Hills.
View of Turkey Flats, looking back towards Twin Red Hills.

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.

Kimerlee and Anh watching the Greeters.
Kimerlee and Anh watching the Greeters.

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.

Hickok, February 16, 2014
Hickok, February 17, 2014
Seneca and Hightail
Seneca and Hightail
Seneca and Hightail, 2-16-14
Seneca and Hightail, 2-17-14
Hightail
Hightail
Hickok
Hickok
Hickok
Hickok
Hickok
Hickok

Wild in the Pryors

Hightail and Seneca
Hightail and Seneca
A view of where the Greeters were.
A wide-angle view of where the Greeters were.

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.

Wild in the Pryors
Sykes Ridge on the left.
Wild in the Pryors
2-17-14

Wild in the Pryors

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.

Wild in the Pryors

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 view from the hill.
My view from the hill.
Jesse James
Jesse James

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.

Turkey Flats
Turkey Flats
Turkey Flats
Turkey Flats

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.

Issaquah(?) and Jesse James. 2-16.14
Issaquah(?) and Jesse James. 2-17-14
Watching the boys.
Watching the boys.

Wild in the Pryors

Jesse James
Jesse James

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.

View of red hills with my telephoto lens.
View of red hills with my telephoto lens.

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.

Blanca
Blanca
Aztec and Cappuccino
Aztec and Cappuccino
Naara and Gabrielle
McKeahnie  and Gabrielle
Jasper and Grijala
Jasper and Grijala
Blanca
Blanca
McKeahnie and Gabrielle
McKeahnie and Gabrielle
Aztec
Aztec
Cappuccino
Cappuccino
Naara, Blanca and Jasmine
Naara, Blanca and Jasmine
Naara, Jasmine and Blanca
Naara, Jasmine and Blanca
Moenkopi
Moenkopi
Moenkopi
Moenkopi

 

Wild in the Pryors
A wide-angle view towards the horses.
Anh and Kimerlee
Anh and Kimerlee
Sandy and Kimerlee.  Photo taken by Anh.
Sandy and Kimerlee. Photo taken by Anh.
Another wide-angle shot of the Cappuccinos band over on the next ridge.
Another wide-angle shot of the Cappuccinos band over on the next ridge.
The horses and some people that love them.
The horses and some people that love them.
Wild in the Pryors
A wide-angle look the other way.
McKeahnie in the setting sun, February 16, 2014
McKeahnie in the setting sun, February 17, 2014

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.

2-17-14
2-17-14
My favorite rock along BT Road!!
My favorite rock along BT Road!!
BT Road
BT Road
2-17-14
2-17-14
Almost down.
Almost down.

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.

Sandy

Logo designed by Amber Bushnell
Logo designed by Amber Bushnell

September In The Pryors. Part 4. Dryhead/Lower Sykes

Fiero.  September 7, 2013
Fiero. September 7, 2013

The first afternoon and evening of my Pryor Trip, I spent in the Dryhead and Lower Sykes.  Within that time I was able to see:  Fools Crow and Band (from a distance).  Four bachelors: Hawk,  Issaquah, Kememerer, Joseph.  They were together.  Fiero and his band.  The last time I saw this band, it was from a distance, so it was good to see them up close.  Bakken certainly looked pregnant to me.   I hope if she is, she has her foal soon.  I also saw Blizzard and Cascade right along the road, drinking from a mud puddle that had formed from a recent rain.  Almost the same spot I saw him in early July.  But then he had Strawberry, Cascade and Sacajewa with him.

Strawberry and Sacajewa
Strawberry and Sacajewa
Fiero
Fiero
Bakken
Bakken
Bakken
Bakken
Bakken
Bakken
View from the Dryhead area.
View from the Dryhead area.
Cascade and Blizzard
Cascade and Blizzard
Blizzard
Blizzard
Blizzard
Blizzard
Blizzard
Blizzard
View of the Bay at the entrance of the range.
View of the Bay at the entrance of the range.

From there I wanted to go to Lower Sykes.  It was early evening, and I knew my chances would be greater to see some of these elusive horses as they went to drink at one of the water catchments.  My timing was right.

As I arrived, Bristol, Kitalpha and Nova were heading down a path right in front of me.  They had just finished  with their drink from one of the catchments.  They seemed more relaxed with me this time, and walked right towards me, instead of away from me. (Last month they saw me front about 1/4 mile away and left).  The light was perfect, making the land and especially the color of Nova show up beautifully in the early evening sun.

The last time I saw Kitalpha (in August), I thought she looked like she had put on some weight.  She does look a bit better, but she still looks like she could use some more.  She still has that pop-belly, just like when I saw her in March, 2012. Worms?  I wondered.  You can read about that post and learn more about her by clicking on Kitalpha.

They stayed grazing around me for several minutes before moving on.  It was such a gift to spend so much time with this little family.

Bristol leads the way towards me.  September 7, 2013
Bristol leads the way towards me. September 7, 2013

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Kitalpha and Nova
Kitalpha and Nova
Bristol and Kitalpha
Bristol and Kitalpha
Bristol, Kitalpha and Nova
Bristol, Kitalpha and Nova

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Nova
Nova

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I will be going to the mountain again, sometime in October.  Depending on the weather.  The season of set dates has passed now.  Where did the summer go?  It passed so quickly.   I feel so lucky to have been able to spend so much time with these beautiful creatures.

Sandy

Logo designed by Amber Bushnell
Logo designed by Amber Bushnell

August In The Pryors. Part 6. Lower Sykes

I have been wanting to hike the “back way” to the Cottonwood Springs water area for a couple of years.  I decided that early on my first day in Lower Sykes was the day.  It was interesting to walk the dry river bed and look at all of the rocks and plants along the way.  That was the day I found what I thought was a Bear Canyon Agate.  I am pretty sure it was one and the next day I would come across a lot more of them.

We also discovered several of these interesting flowers along the way.  I am not sure what they are.

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When we reached the spring, we found it to be dry.  There were a lot of horse tracks around, but of course since it was dry, no horses.

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I decided to follow the plastic hose to the spring source to make sure it was okay.  I found it broke at the spring source.  There was only a trickle of water coming out, so even if it was connected, there would be no water coming out the other end.  I did email Jared to let him know.  Instead of me trying to explain what had happened to it, I thought I would just publish what Jared told wrote me:

Yes the spring box at Cottonwood Spring got washed out earlier this year.  The catch wall stayed intact and the pipeline was washed out a short ways.  The system worked as designed in order to prevent the entire thing from being destroyed.  The catch wall is the most important thing to keep intact.  We had planned to go back in to replace the box, however with the fire danger decided it was better to wait until a shift in the weather pattern.”

The sun was getting pretty hot by now, so we hiked back to the truck.   After discovering that Cottonwood Springs was dry, I wanted to check out the other two water sources for this area to see how they were doing.

They both still had some water in them and a lot of horse tracks were there as well.

Bad Pass seep.  August 24, 2013
Bad Pass seep. August 24, 2013
Concert Box at Little Sykes Spring.  August 24, 2013
Concrete Box at Little Sykes Spring. August 24, 2013

There was not a lot of water in either one , but for the end of August, it was not bad.   The Lower Sykes horses can make there way to the bay for water, if these dry up completely.  But, I am hoping for more rain to fill them.

By now it was much too hot to hike any more.  So we headed up the Dryhead.  I will post all my Dryhead photos on the next post.

The next morning, we returned to Lower Sykes, determined to find Kitalpha, Nova and Bristol.  We went to the water sources and did not see them.  I then parked and followed some fresh tracks down the road.  There were 3 separate tracks: 2 adults and 1 foal.    It had rained a little the night before, so the fresh tracks were easy to determine on top of the rain drop prints in the red dust.

We had not followed the tracks very long, when I hiked up a small hill and looked down.  Hundreds of Bear Canyon Agates lie glistening in the sun at my feet.  I then looked up and spotted Bristol and his girls high up on a hill.  Both of these sights were a rare treat for sure.

Kitalpha looked like she was putting on some well needed weight.  Nova looked strong and healthy.  I was happy Bristol had his band back.

Bristol and his band, August 25, 2013
Bristol and his band, August 25, 2013
Kitalpha and Nova
Kitalpha and Nova
Kitalpha, Nova and Bristol
Kitalpha, Nova and Bristol

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They spotted us right away.  We would not hike closer.  I could tell that Kitalpha already thought we were too close.   They headed away from us and over the hill.   So different from the mountain top horses.  These horses were so much more wild.  I hope they stay that way.

Sandy

Logo designed by Amber Bushnell
Logo designed by Amber Bushnell

The Afternoon of March 17, 2013. A Few horses And Some Crow History

This day started out with windy gusts up to 50 mph and snow.  We bravely tried to go out, but quickly realized that it was not a good idea.

By 3  in the afternoon, both Brigitte and I were getting cabin fever.  The wind seemed to be dying down a bit, so we decided to brave it and head up the Dryhead.  My biggest concern was the extra height the ATV added to the truck, so I added an extra strap to help with the strong wind gusts.  We quickly realized that the wind was much calmer than it had been.  We headed towards Bighorn Canyon.

Of course we were not disappointed.  Because no matter what the weather, the ever faithful Greeters were there to welcome us to the range.  I pulled over and we braved the wind and cold to snap a few quick shots of them and to thank them for being there.

The Greeters, March 17, 2013
The Greeters, March 17, 2013

We continued to drive down the paved road of the range.  This area was great right now.  The high mountains protected it from the gail force winds.  It was good to be outside.

I had seen this trail that was being built, many times last summer.  But it was closed while under construction and when it was open, I did not bother to stop.  To busy in my quest to find horses.  I did not even know what the trail was about.  Somehow it seemed out of place and I avoided it.  I was very wrong to do that.

Today offered the perfect opportunity to stop.  We had seen no horses, and I doubted we would, given the time of year and the weather.  So I changed my lens and we started down the trail.  Click on the photo to view a larger size and be sure to read the words.

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Can you see the Tipi ring in the upper portion of this photo?  Once you spot it, you will quickly be able to spot the others.
Can you see the Tipi ring in the upper portion of this photo? Once you spot it, you will quickly be able to spot the others.

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After we left this site, we headed down the road.  We were about half way through the range when we spotted Johnston and Hidatsa.  It had been a while since I had seen these two.  We spent a few minutes with them before they decided to head off.

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We left Bighorn Canyon and decided to give lower Sykes a try.  We drove back past the big red hills and spent some time hiking around.  We did not see any horses, but we did see some incredible scenery.

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The end of the day was so different from the beginning.  It showed us promise for a good day tomorrow.

Sandy

Logo designed by Amber Bushnell
Logo designed by Amber Bushnell

Dryhead and Lower Sykes Report from Lori

On Saturday December 1, Brianna and I headed out to the Lower Sykes Area and hiked all over. We found Hidatsa and Johnston. They were busy eating whatever they could find and did not seem to mind us taking lots of photos of them.

December 1, 2012
December 1, 2012

 

They both look to be in good shape and so that is a good thing as we are now going into the hardest months for the horses. I do love these pictures though as you can see the vastness of the range in this area. Unfortunately, we spent so much time hiking all around here that we did not get to go up Burnt Timber road. We are supposed to get some bad weather and so I don’t think I will be able to get up there for a while now. I also don’t want to go that road alone and it is difficult to find others who want to venture up into the Pryor’s. Wish you were here Sandy, I know you would go with me!

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We then went out to Mustang Flats where we saw Issaquah, Hawk and Chief Joseph (I think) They were so far out that I could not tell for sure. Then we drove right by some deer and one posed just for me.

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Wednesday seemed to be the lucky day for me for finding some of the horses that I have not seen in a while. Especially Merlin!

Merlin, December 5, 2012
Merlin, December 5, 2012

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But the other group that I love to see was Seattle and his harem. Seattle does not like to be seen and always snakes his harem away from sight. This day was no different and I snapped these photos as Seattle & Co. were heading off to another hiding place.

 

Seattle and band, December 5, 2012
Seattle and band, December 5, 2012

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As they were heading out into the vastness of the Flats, Kemmerer turned and posed for me! I just love him, and am so happy that he is still on the range!

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Kemmerer, December 5, 2012
Kemmerer, December 5, 2012

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I also thought I would include some updated photos of Liesl, Kaibab and Exhilaration that I took on December 1.

Lori

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Thank you Lori for the photos and report!  I wish I had been there too.  Liesl and Kiabab look like they are thriving under your care!  Liesl is getting so big!

Sandy

Logo designed by Amber Bushnell
Logo designed by Amber Bushnell

 

Some Dryhead News: Report from Lori

I drove out to the Dry Head yesterday morning and had no luck finding Merlin, or Sitting Bull, Cecelia & Mato.

I just keep on going out there hoping to find one or the other, or both.

I also have not seen Fiero or Seattle on my last two trips.
Let’s keep up hope that they are all ok.

The weather has been good, with very little rain or snow. That is all supposed to change later this week with the weather calling for very cold temperatures and rain/snow showers.

If that does happen, I doubt that I will be able to get out to the lower Sykes area of the range for quite some time. We will just have to wait and see how the weather is.

I did see Hidalgo with his harem. They were quite a ways off and I hiked out towards them just to get these photos.

November, 2012
November 2012

 

Montana and Hidalgo July 2012

I did not see Halo at first, but then she appeared from behind a bush. I was happy to see her. I think Montana was near Hidalgo, and the “girls” were together a short distance from them.

Hidalgo seems to be a very strong and devoted stallion, and I do hope he can keep them all together through the winter and into spring.

I am happy to see him taking such good care of his family. I have watched him a few times as he got right behind Montana to make sure he kept up with the rest. He will not leave Montana behind, and that is a significant quality for a stallion to have. It will be interesting to see if he will have his own offspring next year.

I found a new lookout spot along the Dry Head road and from there I saw the “Greeters” and two black stallions with a grullo.

November 5, 2012 Three of the Greeters.

I believe it was Hawk, Issaquah and maybe Hidatsa. Hickok had to run over to check them out and let them know that they were to stay away from his harem. I don’t think there was any serious fighting going on, but from where I was I could hear some horse noises. I believe he was giving them a warning.  Jesse James stayed behind with Hightail and Seneca, although they were curious as to what was going on.

November 2012
November, 2012

After that I drove out to lower Sykes and only found Inniq. He looks to be in good shape going into the winter and was just grazing alone. He does have some battle scars and I wondered who he had been fighting with.

Inniq, November 2012
Inniq
Inniq

I decided to leave him to his peacefulness and drove back to the Center to visit with Liesl and Kaibab.

They were happy to see me and I spent some time with them. As you can tell they both look real good, especially Liesl who has put on some much-needed weight.

Kaibab
Liesl, November 5, 2012
Liesl, July 2012
Kiabab and Liesl, November 5, 2012
Kiabab and Liesl, November 5, 2012

I hope my next trip to the range will be just as good as this one, and maybe if Brianna joins me we will see more horses as she is my “good luck charm”, but I was happy to have seen some of the horses.

Lori

Logo designed by Amber Bushnell

Thanks Lori for the update.  You never know who you will see when you go.  That is part of the beauty of it!

Liesl looks so good.  I decided to post the photo of her from July so we could all see how amazing she looks now.  Of course Kaibab looks great too, but Liesl has had the biggest changes!  It is all because of your great care. (and Diane’s too!)

Yes, winter is scheduled to make a grand appearance in the next couple days.  We have a winter storm warning out for 10- 14 inches in the mountains over here in Western Montana.  We will probably see about half of that where I live at 4,500 feet.  It will make for some great winter photos of the horses.

I am glad that it warmed up again in the Pryors, after the recent snow and rain.  Hopefully it was enough to regenerate some forage for the upcoming winter months.

Thanks again Lori!

Sandy

Dryhead and Lower Sykes Update,July 29, 2012. A Day of Firsts.

I thought with all of the sad news of the removals that we all needed to read a good post.  So I decided to take the time tonight and update everyone on my day.

I arrived in Lovell, Wyoming early this afternoon. I was eager to head up the Dryhead.  I had not seen these horses since May.

The first horses I saw were Hidatsa, Issaquah and Hawk.  They were way off in the distance on Mustang Flats.  I drove just a short way and saw one horse that I had never seen before, Hidalgo.  Just this past week he lost his band (Cascade and Lewis) to the stallion Blizzard.

Hidalgo was with another bachelor, Jemez.  I had not seen Jemez since last fall.  It was good to see them both.

Hidalgo, July 29, 2012
Jemez, July 29, 2012
Jemez and Hidalgo, July 29, 2012
Jemez, July 29, 2012

After a couple hours in the Dryhead, I received a text message.  It was from Shawn.  He was in lower Sykes and had found Sitting Bull and Cecelia.  Theses were two more horses that I had never seen.  It seems not many people see them.  My friend Linda had told me where she had seen them in June. (thanks Linda!!) So I had emailed Shawn the details on where to possibly find them.  There are so many dips and gully’s on lower Sykes (and all over the whole range actually), that it was hard to locate any horses here, let alone the two most elusive.   Shawn was very lucky!   I also knew that Cecelia was very close to having her foal.

I left the Dryhead and headed towards Sykes.  I was a couple miles away when I received another text from Shawn. Cecelia and Sitting Bull were starting to move!  Oh no!!  I was afraid they would disappear over a ridge and I would not see them.  I hurried (as hurried as you can be up Sykes, which is not very!!)  I saw Shawn and pulled over and parked.  We hiked in the direction that Shawn had said they had gone.  We came over a ridge and were rewarded.

There they were!  Poor Cecelia is huge and looks very uncomfortable.  I am sure it will be very soon.  We hoped it would be while we watch.  We stayed there for a couple hours, then decided to leave them be.  I headed back to Lovell.  Shawn is staying nearby and is going to keep an eye on them.  Hopefully he will be rewarded with a new foal!  If that is the case, I know where I will be in the first light of the day tomorrow!

I can now say that I have seen every horse on the range!!  Well, there are a couple new foals that I have not seen, but otherwise I have seen everyone!  I feel so blessed to have been able to see them all!  They each leave their own memory for me.

Sitting Bull and Cecelia, July 29, 2012
Sitting Bull and Cecelia, July 29, 2012
Sitting Bull and Cecelia!
Sitting Bull and Cecelia, July 29, 2012

 

 

Tomorrow morning and I am going to take an early ride up the Dryhead (or Sykes!!!) and then meet Lori at Britton Springs.  Our plan is to head up the mountain for a few days!

It was a good first day and a great way to forget everything else!

Sandy

Logo designed by Amber Bushnell