Here is part two of Shawn’s trip last week. Thanks again Shawn! It almost feels like being there!
Wednesday – Burnt Timber
I know it gets a bad report, maybe deservedly so, but Burnt Timber is my favorite road up the mountain. It causes my tires to wear down a lot quicker than they should. Everyone that drives it is promised a flat at some point. There are parts where the bentonite-laden clay turn into a slip-and-slide if a few raindrops fall, which sometimes causes you to come down early to avoid getting stuck.
Yet somehow it is different from the other roads to me and feels like home. Crooked Creek takes you outside the range and takes about twice as long. Sykes, well, that is a great road for when you want to get your heart pumping on an adventure. I have never had as much luck with horses on Sykes, either. On Burnt Timber you can run across a horse throughout almost the whole run of it. In fact, the few places I have not seen a horse on BT have sign, so it is just a matter of time before I do see one in those spots.
I was pleased to see how dry the road was, and worked my way up the red canyon climb without much worry about the road conditions. My first group of mountain horses was on a hill behind the first water guzzler on the right. I am not sure of this one’s name. I was pretty sure it was Jackson on the left and the large group size almost assured it had to be him. At first I focused on the foals, because they would have changed more than the older horses since I had last seen them.
The first I found was Maelstrom. His really dark legs with the 1 white sock are really striking. I did notice Jasmine near him, and hoped that it meant Dancer was just with someone else, too. Next I moved down the ridge a little to where Moenkopi, Galena, Brumby and Moorcroft were feeding. I don’t know if they will last into next summer, but right now the dark wither bars on Moenkopi remind me so much of her father.
As I was trying to get just the right light and angle for some pictures of Moenkopi and Moorcroft together, Jackson whinnied and ran up the hill. At first I thought I had worn out my welcome, but he was interested in some of his mares which were working the other way. After clicking some shots of him as he ran, I turned my attention back to the foals. As Jackson and the rest moved towards us, he was paying close attention to a grulla mare, and every time he did Jasmine would run over and get close to them. I didn’t really connect things at the time, but it all made sense later. Despite Jasmine being a third wheel, Jackson did mount the mare and do his thing.
I left the group and moved up toward the wilderness lick area where I thought I had seen Cloud, or Echo (Killian). It turns out it was Cloud. Not that I want Damsel back with him as I hope she is with a non-related stallion, but I was still hoping that maybe she was there just to know she was safe. Inocentes was closest to me, so I moved well around her and up past Cloud to see the rest of his harem. Feldspar and Mica were in the open area above… and that was it. I watched a while and no one joined, so I went out through the trees on the other side of the hill and scoured through the brush.
Later that evening I saw Cloud down near the guzzler, and he still only had these 3 with him. After realizing Aztec was missing, it made sense to me who the grulla with Jackson was and why Jasmine kept getting close to her.
Aztec was the 10th member of Jackson’s band. That doesn’t explain where Baileys is, and it is another horse that I worry something has happened to at this point. I did not see her with anyone else on the trip.
From Cloud’s band, I continued up the road until my way was blocked at the start of Cheyenne Flats. Hernando, Inali and Hamlet were eating the road with Knight to the side. I don’t mean eating in the road, they are eating a good-sized hole of the red clay from the road. I watched them for a while, and since they weren’t moving I scanned Sykes to see if I could find any horses. I did locate a group of 6, then 2 more. I knew what I had to do on Thursday if the weather was nice.
After waiting a while, I went off the road and around the bachelors so that they could continue eating. The last group I found was Galaxy’s band just a little further up. I love his wavy hair, but I am not sure how he even sees some times. He looks like he may have been in a scrap, and was a little more statuesque and a little less bouncy than normal. Maybe that is part of going from an active challenger to becoming a stern band leader. It was also hard to believe that Maia was a foal this spring. She seems too big for that to be true.
While I did not see anyone else, at this late a date in November, I was still able to drive all the way to where I camp on the top without seeing hardly any snow. As I drove back to the horses, it was cloudy and the forecast called for snow. I decided to camp at the very bottom, so I would not have to worry about getting stuck in the already mentioned clay if it did snow. While it didn’t stick, I woke up about 10 to the sound of hard snow on my FJ, and I was glad that I didn’t have to worry about it and went back to sleep.
I know I said that I was only going to post one post before I left for the adoption. I have a million things I probably should be doing. But I could not stop looking at my photos that I took and decided I might as well let everyone else see them too! So here you go.
The morning of day two of our trip was a pretty quiet morning. There were not many horses out. Teton’s band walked by us in the early morning. They were joined by Mescalero and his band. We saw these two bands together the rest of our trip. They would graze together and then when one group decided to move on, the other did as well.
Missoula really seemed to like this band and hung around them fairly close. They seemed to like him too. I thought Polaris looked better than I had seen her for a long time. She has put on some weight and looks good.
Not far behind were Topper, Topper Too and Chino. The Toppers seemed to pause a tiny bit longer this time. Were they starting to get used to me? Probably not.
After watching them head towards the pond, I decided to go check on Lakota. The memorial was still intact and I added another Red Tail Hawk feather that I had found.
Amber and I saw Blue Moon and Custer’s band not too far away, napping. Instead of going down to see them we decided to head for the pond and see who we might see there.
When we arrived at the pond, there were other people there, so we decided we would rather go back and see Blue Moon and Custer. So, we saw Blue Moon on a Blue Moon, it seemed fitting!
We hiked closer to them. Here were two more bands together. Custer and Blue Moon are full brothers. I had never seen these two bands together before. I always said that they were such opposites. Custer is a devoted band stallion and very caring towards his family. Blue Moon on the other hand seems to be the exact opposite. He is the “carefree” band stallion, leaving his band often to go goof off with whatever bachelors that might be near. However, this year I felt that maybe finely Blue Moon was starting to grow up and perhaps that is why his older brother Custer choose to be near him.
We watched them for a while. Then both bands decided it was time to head towards the pond.
We watched Custer follow Blue Moon until they were out of sight in the trees. I wanted to see what Mystic Pond looked like, so we continued down the road to see it. I knew it would probably be dried up, and I was right.
Amber and I spent a few hours hiking around. Most of the horses seemed to be in the trees. It was a pretty warm day. We hiked back to Krueger Pond. The people were still there, I wondered if they were planning on staying there all day. I hated the thought of them interfering with the horses drinking so long. We decided to hike to the other pond across the road. We saw White Cloud’s band in the trees on our way there. I wished I had taken a photo of the pond, but neither Amber or I did. It was really only a big mud puddle now. We sat above it for a while, but nothing came to drink from it. After stopping to take a couple photos of Mica and Feldspar, we headed back towards our camp.
The quiet morning continued into a quiet afternoon. We did not see the other people all day. We had most of the mountain to ourselves. They must have stayed at the pond. We decided to stay away from the pond, to give the horses more space to drink from their only water source. It did not seem right to make it any more crowded.
It was early evening before we saw more horses. It was Teton’s band and Mescalero’s band, still together, heading towards us. Little Missoula was really interacting with Mescalero and Mescalero was being very patient with him. Teton did not seem to mind the interaction and kept grazing. Half Moon was not concerned either.
Coronado Band was next to come by. This time they were without Baja and his band.
It was starting to rain and almost dark when I saw Garcia, Greta and Millicent. Little Millicent was pretty far behind them and it seemed they did not care. I was worried about her. As Garcia and Greta headed into the trees, I wondered if Millicent would find them. About an hour later in the dark we heard a very long shrill whinny. It sound like a foal. I got out of the truck to look and less than a minute later I saw Garcia, Greta and Millicent, walking together. This time Garcia was staying where he should have been an hour before, behind Millicent making sure she kept up. I was sure that they had been separated. Hopefully Garcia has learned his lesson and will be more attentive.
The wind and rain started to come down harder. I hoped that it would really pour. It did rain for a couple of hours, sometimes hard, but not enough to form mud puddles.
The next day our plan was to go down Burnt Timber, visit the horses at Britton Springs and then head back up Sykes.
I just got home yesterday from a wonderful trip to the Pryors with my daughter Amber. I wanted to get a post out while I unpack and repack. I will be leaving on Thursday to go to the adoption.
We had beautiful weather and had the mountain completely to ourselves for about 24 hours. I love when it ends up being that way. We were able to watch the horses in their most natural state. Without all of the disruptions of other people. I think they know me, so after a few looks, I feel they go back to doing what they would have been doing if I was not there.
We arrived early on Thursday. I am concerned with how dry the range looked. The forage at the top of hill by Krueger Pond was eaten down very short. The dust was thick. There was still plenty of water in the Pond. Mystic Pond is completely dried up. The other small pond is just a large mud puddle, so Krueger is the main water source for them now.
It rained one night while we were there. Not enough to make mud puddles, but enough to knock the dust back. The range needs more.
As we drove into the Range from the Sage Creek side, we saw some horses. It was White Cloud and some of his band heading down to the water. I was eager to see if Damsel had her foal. Last year she foaled on September 14, so I thought it may be a bit early. She was still very pregnant. Hopefully this year she will have a healthy foal. Last year the foal was born blind and deformed and only survived a few days.
Damsel is the daughter of White Cloud. For whatever reason, she remains with him. His other daughter, Jasmine, has been trying to leave. She was with Jackson’s band (again) when I saw her later on our first day. Brumby actually seemed to be accepting her now. At least her ears were not pinned back! Then a day later Jasmine was back with White Cloud. I hope she can make a permanent break soon.
Mica was really getting big. After a few minutes with them, we left to go set up our camp. I knew I would see them again.
We continued down the road to our camp site. On the right I saw Coronado’s Band and Baja’s band. It was interesting this time to see so many of the bands close by each other, actually forming a big group of 2. They would graze together and follow each other to the water. It was all very peaceful.
I was happy to see Dove and her foal, a beautiful filly. She seemed healthy. We watched her nurse and then run around and play.
Baja and Washakie’s filly Meadowlark, was beautiful. We spent a while watching these two bands together before they moved on.
After setting up our camp, Amber and I decided to head back down to the pond and see who was there. On our way we saw Teton and his band.
We heard thundering hoofs and turned to see Galaxy and his band galloping down the hill. I am always in awe when I see this beautiful stallion. He seems to be such a good band stallion already. Well, he is Lakota’s son after all.
We watched them go into the woods. I knew they were heading for the pond.
When we got there we saw that Galaxy had beaten us there and was wet from the water. Coronado and Baja and their bands were there too.
Duke and his band were above us.
We stood on top of the hill above the pond, next to some trees. I like to watch from up here. I feel if I am down right next to the pond, I would interfere with the natural behavior of the horses. This is the only water source for these horses now. I like to be as unobtrusive as possible.
The next band to come was Bolders. Baja and Bolder had a little discussion, but otherwise it was pretty quiet for a few minutes. Amber and I were concerned with their interaction, only because little Meadowlark was so close by. It ended in just a few seconds though.
Bolder’s band did not stay long and started to head up the hill towards us.
We heard someone in the trees above the pond and saw 3 bachelors walk out. Irial, Goldrush’s son London, and Jupiter. Jupiter had a wound on his right hip.
We watched these boys walk down to the pond and splash and drink. For whatever reason Bacardi decided she was very interested in them. Maybe she saw the wound on Jupiter and wanted to get a closer look. Baja ended that rather quickly.
All of the bands cleared out and we went back to our camp.
Heading towards us was Horizon, Fiesta and Juniper. I call them the Odd Couple. They have been this way for several months now. For a few weeks, Joviana and her colt were with them.
Juniper is one of three buckskins on the mountain.
A little while later, Jackson and his band came by us. The 3 foals had really grown since I saw them last. Jasmine was with them tonight.
I have said before, that if I am patient enough, all the bands seem to find me and go right past my camp. It certainly seemed to be true this trip. Amber and I would see every band walk by us several times in the days that we were there.
Just before dark we saw Knight, Inali and Hernando. Darkness came faster than the last time I was here. It was very dark now at 8:30. Amber and I watched the sunset and the almost full moon rise. This full moon is called a Blue Moon because it is the second full month in the month. I feel lucky that I was able to spend both of them here on top of the Pryors.
I will make more posts about this trip once I get back from the adoption.
The afternoon was just as wonderful as the morning. What made it more special was that my good friend Lori was going to join us for a few hours and along with her was a new friend Chris. They met us shortly after I had seen Lakota.
The four of us were the only ones on the mountain so far that day. As we headed up the road after checking on Lakota I saw two horses to my left napping in the sun. It was Santa Fe and Judith! If you don’t remember Santa Fe and Judith, you can read about them by clicking; SANTA FE. I had seen them in May and at that time Santa Fe was having a hard time keeping Judith around. It seemed like she had finally settled in to being with him.
As I followed the road towards Penn’s Cabin, I was able to get closer to them.
The next band that we encountered was Cloud’s band again. But this time Mica saw me. I only stayed for a few minutes and moved on. He was getting way to close to me and I did not want it to become a habit.
Mica is the only foal that I have ever met that deliberately walks right towards me. It does make me feel pretty special, but I do not encourage it in any way.
I left and went down the road and parked. I walked over and peered over the cliff above Mystic Pond. This is what I saw:
Jackson’s band had a new member since I last saw them. Kaycee had a beautiful little filly.
The snow above Mystic was a fraction of what it was a month ago when I saw it last. It was also much smaller than last year, when I saw it the end of July. I am sure it will be gone in the next week.
We spent a long time watching all of the bands. It was really interesting to see some of the interaction. It was not as quiet and peaceful as it had been when I was watching everyone nap a few hours ago. If you missed that post, click HORSES, and it will take you to that post.
I am going to share several photos with you of what I saw.
Judith and Santa Fe had come down to join the bands.
Garay came walking up and caused some commotion. Nothing too bad, but very interesting to watch. Garay was a lone. I wondered where London was. I would see London the next day.
Garay and Grijala used to hang out together before Grijala got his band last summer. I was interested to see how this meeting would go.
The meeting went just fine. There was even a little mutual grooming.
There were so many horses around, it was hard to watch everything. I looked up over to the left and saw Galaxy moving his band down to the water.
I looked to the right and saw Duke’s band heading for water.
I then turned and saw Grijala and Santa Fe having a discussion. Each time I turned my head I saw something happening some where. It was an amazing sight to witness!
Grijala then realized that Santa Fe meant business and left to return to his band. Only to encounter a very grumby Jackson who did not allow anyone to step over an imaginary line that he had drawn in the snow. When they crossed that line, he would let them know!
I wasn’t prepared for how many photos I took down here. My camera chip was down to my last 20 shots and I had to hike back to the ATV to get more. On my way up I saw Coronado and his band.
And then my chip was full. I did see this band again the next day, so you will see more photos of them when I do that post.
I was then told by my hungry visitors that I would have to stop and eat lunch. I reluctantly agreed. We went up to Penn’s and ate.
On our way back up the road I saw two black horses coming my way. It was Two Boots and Jasper. Two Boots looked great! I can’t believe he is 24 this year. I thought it was great that the young Jasper was with him. He was learning from one of the best.
I then saw Tecumseh. He headed up to greet them. It wasn’t long before Two Boots decided he would rather not continue this greeting.
After saying good bye to Lori and Chis we went to check on Lakota. Then headed back towards Penn’s cabin. The first horse I saw was on of Jackson’s mares, Kiowa.
I was hoping to spend some up close time with Jackson’s band and I would not be disappointed.
I like to sit and watch the horses. I find it really interesting to watch how they each interact with each other. I never get tired of it.
I turned and saw Baja’s band.
We decided to head back to the campsite for a while. I saw a car driving towards us. It was Shawn Ivie and his daughter. It was really great to finally meet him. He mentioned that he thought he saw Prince on his way up. I had not seen Prince up close for some time. The last time I had seen him was in May and it was from a long way. I hurried down Burnt Timber road to find him.
It was Prince and he did not look good. Very thin. Prince is 19 this year.
We checked on Lakota one more time. It looked like a storm was coming, so we headed back to our campsite and called it a day. A good day!
All photos are available for purchase. Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.