Shawn made the trip to the Pryors late last week. Here is his update!
It is really good to see that Jackson’s wound is healing. If you compare Shawn’s photos of Jackson to mine in my post I made a couple weeks ago (Click HERE to go there) you can see that the swelling has gone down a lot.
Thanks Shawn for making the trip!
I finally had a weekend without a teacher day on Friday or a school activity Saturday, so I decided to run over to the range. Cass had reported that Jackson had been seen with his band, but I still wanted to see how everyone was doing since it had been a few months since I had visited.
I woke up early Friday and left the campground for Burnt Timber. I knew it was going to be a long hike so I wanted to get right to it and figured I could hit the dryhead and sykes on Saturday. The furthest I thought I would be able to drive is the kiosk, but unfortunately I didn’t even make it that far and had to park right at the turnoff from Crooked Creek. My original plan was to hike the road to the first guzzler on the right, but before I even reached the range I could see a lone black horse to the left on a ridge.
Once inside the range, I cut over to find Two Boots. He glanced at me across the canyon and went back to browsing. I did not want to disturb him, so I watched him a little across the canyon and then decided to just cut up the ridge I was on until I reached the big ridge that would allow me to catch the road.
As I worked my way there I found tracks cutting to and fro in the snow. Sometimes I would look and think one way was the “best” way to go, but the horse tracks would follow a different path. Guess which way was usually the best to go? I’ll give you a hint: it was not the biped’s first instinct that would have been right.
I followed the tracks, ridges and canyons until I got to the long, tall ridge. I could finally get on the road. A least that is what I thought, but then I noticed another dark horse by itself on the top of a knob. I scanned and saw 3 more horses on a ridge to the left. Not wanting to miss any horses, the best way to go seemed to be down canyon and then up a ridge to the horse on the right, and then move to the ones on the left. As Malaki and I made our way down through some deeper snow, I saw another horse with the one that I thought was alone and was glad I had chosen that route.
Coming around the back of the ridge the 2 horses were on, I ran right into Jackson, Galena and Aztec. Jackson was moving well, and his swelling did not seem too bad. Beyond them was the rest of Jackson’s current harem: Heritage, Jasmine, Moorcroft and Maelstrom in the brush, and up by herself was Brumby. I am not sure if she just happened to be eating there or if she wasn’t the happiest about Jasmine and Aztec. I seem to remember that last spring she was a little disgruntled when Jackson had some of Cloud’s.
I did not stay too long because I did not want to bother Jackson as he healed.
The next band I had viewed was Blue Moon’s. I was a little surprised to see him here, because last Spring I had to hike down the side of Burnt Timber and up an arm on Sykes to see him when Miocene was born. This is the first I think I have seen him on the BT side except up toward the top where they all cross back and forth to various water holes. At one point Isadora and Miocene must have felt that the others had moved too far from their side and they ran across the snow to “catch up” to Amethyst, who is currently back with Blue Moon. The last time I had visited the range, Malaki had been afraid of the horses and would stay right by my side as he watched them. He has lost that fear, and I was glad I put him on his leash whenever we got near horses because I have a feeling he would have joined in with them if he could.
Blue moon ignored them and kept eating in the direction they had just left, giving me my first clear view of him without shrubs in the way. There weren’t and cuts or scars, but the lines and nicks in his coat make me think that he has been active recently.
I continued over the hill to above the guzzler. From the top, I could see tracks going over ridges in all directions, but no horses. I finally spotted some horses across a canyon on a steeper side and though that one was either Cloud or Mariah. As I tried to determine the 2 horses with them I saw Teton and War Bonnet peaking over a ridge on my side of the canyon at me. For a little while I thought that maybe it was Phoenix and Half Moon on the other side, but when I finally hiked over to where Teton was I found his whole band with him and the others were still on the other side. I never got a good picture of it, but with the way the light was hitting it there were times where Missoula’s mane looked really blue in the middle with the red tips.
As Teton’s band made their way toward the guzzler, I went around them to the canyon edge to get a better view of the horses on the other side. I was fooled by the front one, because I thought I saw a thin blaze and that it was Dove. The rest of the time I watched that horse mostly had its side or butt to me as it ate. Thinking it had been Dove, I started thinking it was Coronado and wondered where everyone else was.
When I finally looked at my pictures later I found that I did have one good shot of the blaze and it was not thin and Dove, but that it was Feldspar. This really makes me think that I can’t go 2 months away from the range or my skills of i.d. start to go down; but it also makes me realize how weird it is for me to see Cloud with only 2 horses. I knew Mica was not with him now, but this is the first I have seen him with just Feldspar and Inocentes.
Another pair had left the area where Cloud was when I first got on the top to look over at him. They had moved off quickly up the canyon bottom and then up top closer to the guzzler. This was a change that I had not noticed in blogs, but seeing how quickly the horses moved away from camera range it made perfect sense to me when Sandy let me know that Chino only had 1 Topper with him now.
On my way out, I checked on Jackson’s group from up high one last time, made my way by Blue Moon and then hiked back out on the road in the ATV tracks from the park service. It was much easier hiking out than in, but by the time I got to the FJ I had decided I wasn’t going all the way back in on Saturday.
I made a horseless pass through the park. Having not seen any horses out in Turkey Flats from up top, I didn’t think it would be worth making a hike out there on Saturday, either. I stopped in to see Liesl and Kaibab, and was fortunate again this time to get there about 3 minutes before Lori came to feed them. I was able to talk to her for a while before heading to Cody to see some bighorn rams. I should be able to visit the horses again soon over spring break before hitting a track season that will keep me away longer than I wish.