Well I checked my calendar and today is actually the day I pulled out of CA a year ago. As my friend Chris said, its amazing what a year can do.
When paying for my hay with dad’s credit card, I talked with Larry & Scott about why I am doing this trip and the questions that they had. One said to me Well I guess you’re gonna find an ol cowboy now. I actually had been thinking lately that I would be open to that finally. They helped me load my hay into the truck and we pulled out at 10:30. Larry had given me a run down of the drive ahead of me. He said it was steeper than Loveland Pass but not as long, just go slow getting into the downgrade into Ten Sleep so it doesn’t get away from me. The climb was long and high but my truck had no trouble and the downgrade was not bad at all. The lanes were wide and the switch back curves were not tight at all. Nothing like Pig’s Trail. So far that has been my worst. The switchbacks were so tight I could not stay in my lane at all.
The Big Horn mountains loomed in front of us for a long ways, they looked so high I was a little worried, but the pass was well done by the highway builders. The scenery was amazing, what I could see of it. And not much snow on top either as I had heard. Larry had said his friend’s camp here had closed on the 12th due to the snow. They must be very high up I guess.
The owner’s here are very friendly as I had heard. They offered up riding with me, using a stock trailer to go somewhere else to ride. The mares have nice sized dirt pens next to each other. There is a shower/bath house that I haven’t investigated yet, and we have full hook up altho I just am using the electric now. There is only one other horse trailer here, but a lot of rvs. The highway 16 that took us thru the mountain pass is the same road the camp is on so there is the noise of vehicles passing. That and a strange water noise that turned out to be some kind of water treatment area on the other side of the football field next to us.
The little pop up next to us is a young couple with a 3 month old daughter. They are here rock climbing…the baby was in one of those Jolly Jumpers attached to their awning brace. It reminded me of how much my babies loved jumping in a similar contraption. They are from Quebec and had heavy French accents. The baby is adorable. I could just sit around watching her all day. They said they wanted to go to Bishop, CA to climb there. I told them to go up to Aspendell, a 20 minute drive up the mountain to 4,000’. Jan has a place there and I have been there with her a couple of times. Its a gorgeous area and much cooler temps than Bishop. We went up in a group for Mule Days one year and had so much fun.
Bonnie came knocking at my door to go ride, so I unhitched the truck and hitched up her stock trailer, booted and saddled Wildflower (as Dreamy pitched a fit about being left behind) and off we went back towards the pass I hauled in thru. We parked near a National Forest Camping site (non-horsey) and we rode up to a pristine lake at 10,000’. Wildflower did great. I hate to recount what she did wrong, she wasn’t perfect but she had no trouble with the rocks, mud or leaving Dreamy so I won’t complain. (But I did spend a couple hours back in camp trying to fix 2 boots that she ripped the gators off of.) We had a nice easy conversation, we were out about 3 hours I think. Bonnie and her husband will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary soon. That is something to be proud of. They have 1 great grandchild already too. They have been in Ten Sleep for 20 years now and love it here. I would too. The scenery is not to be believed in that pass. And the town is a super tiny country town. Real estate prices have gone up recently and its hard to find land, most of it is owned by the government. Ranchers lease grazing rights from the feds. They have a short mild winter that is dry and not too much snow. And the riding is spectacular, pine forests, meadows, creeks, lakes, high mountain peaks…there is no way I could of found my way without her, the trail is not always clear. We saw a lot of elk droppings, but no elk.
While we rode, Liza hiked with Tommy. She went over to the camp and talked to the camp host who warned her about the moose. If the dog goes for a moose, the moose will go after the dog, the dog will retreat to you and the moose will end up running towards you. That sounds scary. We didn’t see any moose either. It is bow hunting season and we did come across a few hunters camps out there. One was a beautiful canvas tent shaped like a small house with a chimney. Pretty cool. I asked Bonnie if she ever saw horse campers out here. She said not any more but she used to. Its free to camp anywhere like that and you can come in on horseback. Most of the hunters drive in or use 4 wheelers to bring in their gear.
We went out to a “saloon” for dinner tonight. We walked there, its very close by. While we were eating we overheard a conversation going on at another table. 2 couples and 2 adolescent kids. Well I never got a dui before I came here…some crude language thrown in…further elaboration about getting pulled over for dui’s and the kids were just sitting there. It is a school night too.
I am hauling somewhere else at 8:30 am with Bonnie so I guess I should get some sleep, I am super tired. It is thunder and lightening off in the distance, it sprinkled a tiny bit but it stopped. It is starting to cool off too.
Oh, I found out the young couple next door (baby, rock climbers, Quebec) well the guy is an artist and has had solo shows. He is young too! I was so impressed.
Bonnie, Liza, Tommy & I trailered to a different trailhead this morning. Liza hiked with Tommy and saw some beautiful waterfalls, but I don’t have any photos of them, her camera was not cooperating with her it seems. Tommy got a good work out and was very laid back for a while. Seems there were many chipmunks that needed chasing.
I have a bunch of shots from my ride in another direction. At times we were in the trees, climbing, or picking our way around rocks, thru streams, across meadows, around lakes…it was diverse and breathtakingly beautiful. Dreamy was stupendous. Not one bad step, up over 10,000’ and back down, jumping streams, stepping between big rocks into mud, steep downgrades, everything that used to give her trouble. She had boots on all feet and none of them budged, (she has a perfect shaped hoof now for the easy boot glove). Man, I love this horse! We were out for about 4 hours I think. Extra huge thanks to Bonnie for guiding me while I was here. I would of never found my way around. I would love to live here and get to know the trails like she does. Some folks on FB said its always windy in Wyoming, but its not windy in Ten Sleep at all, it was at the higher elevations but not bad. Others on FB said the winters are severe, but Bonnie says that down here they are not bad at all, and pretty short. Need to investigate this further. Another camper told me he saw an ad for a 3 bedroom on 10 acres here for $300,000. I wouldn’t call that expensive. I don’t know if I’ll be able to afford even that but its possible and gives me hope.
I spent the rest of the day looking for the rope and halter I had left hanging on the stock trailer before we left here (I found the rope, not the halter but I have an extra one), buying and loading weed free hay for Montana’s camp, starting the SD painting (but not getting much done), chatting with other campers (especially the young Canadian couple whom I adore), and going thru my photos from my rides (they don’t do the scenery justice, but I love looking at them and remembering the rides). I was having so much fun here I forgot to book my overnight for tomorrow (major slip up, I must be getting relaxed? A kind of foreign thing for me, lol). And I forgot to get my health certificates done again (they expire tomorrow, ugh). So we may not pull out tomorrow if I don’t get any return calls in the am about this stuff. Oh well…(I am definitely getting relaxed).
We went to the saloon in town for supper again. I had great bbq ribs that Bonnie had said were great (they were). We found out that Dirty Sally’s (a popular local store/ice cream parlor) is for sale, so is the saloon. Seems an oil field is around here and drilling may start soon. Some old timers don’t want to be here for that. I hope they don’t ruin this area, it’s so beautiful.
. . . Want to read the whole story?
There’s a book! It’s called SHLEP: Finding Healing on Horseback in the Lower 48 and it’s on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/SHLEP-Finding-Healing-Horseback-Lower/dp/1093965185