Tuesday, October 2, 2012
So sorry that it has been so long since my last posting, but anyone that followed the last trip or knows me, knows that I am not the biggest Wyoming fan. This trip is not doing much to change that opinion. As normal, I started out in Cokeville and Neil of Fish and Game was his usual superstar self, letting us stay in the F&G pasture in town and finding someone to help us out of Kemmerer, Mark also of Fish and Game. Then it was on to Rock Springs, where I sat, for 2 weeks, waiting for hauler after hauler to no show on me. Finally, after my last hope just blew me off, I headed out for Rawlins on foot, leading Strip for most of the distance each day first the 2 day trip to Point of Rocks, only 26 miles from Rock Springs, but you wander around in the desert trying to get around the highway and it adds miles. Then we headed out for Wamsutter, stopping in the former town of Table Rock, having Strip leap the cattle guard to get into a safe area to spend the night, neither of us having much to eat or drink, before getting up in the morning, hauling the gear over the cattle guard again and having her jump back out. Its a good thing her former career was as a jumper, or I might never have been able to get inside in the first place and would have not gotten any sleep, watching for wandering mustang stallions looking to add her to their herds. We had a long day to Wamsutter, about 30 miles, to stay over night in the park, letting her graze for hours before Highlining her in the trees overnight. This brings us to the worst day of the trip so far, the journey to Rawlins. For those of you without a Wyoming map, it is a 38 mile trek by highway and much farther through the desert. Having done it once before, I was up an hour before dawn, packed and on the road as soon as it started getting light. We headed down to the railroad access road. My intention was to follow it as far out as I could. Trains have a tendency to go straighter and have way less slopes to climb than trails or highways, so this seemed like the best option. I also figured on trotting as much as I could, she trots at about 15 mph so that would shorten our day considerably if we could manage it. It was cold and clear that morning, light winds coming from out of the west and we headed off with me leading, I walked as fast as I could for about an hour and a half, then with much worry, Strip's back has been sore since I switched saddles, I found a spot to get on from and swung aboard. Bringing her back to the road, I urged her into a trot and after a good 20 yards realized that this was not going to work. The saddle was a friends, and while I had ridden in it some since Idaho, I had mostly been on the ground walking or when in the saddle walking too and I hadn't realized just how uncomfortable it was. Trotting was involving many parts hitting the saddle in a rather uncomfortable fashion. I smiled slightly, its a good thing I'm not a guy or there would be a lot of high pitched screaming. I broke to the walk for a few minutes before my sense of urgency about the day took over and I drew a deep breath, tried to focus on other things and headed back to the trot. We were heading around a corner when sudden movement on the trail ahead caused Strip to abruptly stop. My yelp almost drown out the angry hiss of the very large badger ahead of us. He spun sideways, humped up and hissed again, then took off in the fast waddle I have ever seen, pausing every 15 feet to spin sideways, hump up and hiss, before disappearing into a large burrow. Strip and I walked past it during this show, kind of watching it half amused and half wary. Badgers can be very dangerous if provoked and have no problem attacking something much bigger then themselves, Strip just found it odd, didn't snort or spoke, just looked at it like it was a big cat. I wonder how bad she would have freaked if it charged us... After a few more minutes a the trot, winding back and forth on the road, we came up a hill and right into a tangle of discarding wire. I stopped her immediately, but not before she hooked a leg into the tangle. Bailing off ungracefully I unwound it from her leg, frowning at the small cut on her fetlock(ankle). One of the bigger problems with desert crossings is the trash. It seems that when a fence is replaced or a trash can is full, you just toss the old wire, cans, tires, etc. out into the desert for some unsuspecting woman riding across the country to contend with. A second inspection and I determined she was fine so I started off again on foot, up a hill and around the next bend, where the road disappeared. I stood for a few minutes, carefully scanning the surrounding terrain, before finally noticing that the sage brush in one area appeared to be growing in 3 nice rows, that was my road, striking off again. This is how the day went, me on foot, or in the saddle, riding down a road that would suddenly turn and disappear, I would then momentarily appear to be Tonto, scanning for tracks of the outlaws, quickly sighting where the road started again, sometimes 50 yards to our left, right, top, bottom... We followed the train tracks til about 2, when I decided to head towards the highway. Opened another pass through and just cut straight across the desert, through 5 ravines, up 4 ridges and past the Emerald city. Dropping down off the last ridge, I found . . .A pipeline road! It was going straight in the direction I needed it so we followed it. After 2 or 3 miles it went over a ridge and turned around and headed the opposite direction, so I became Tonto again, hmmmm Kemosabe, new road over there, bad guys go that a way, and off we went, through the desert, picking our way around sagebrush and tiny cactuses or is it cacti? This went on for hours, me wandering around like a total drunk,searching for nearly invisible roads, watching the sun slowly dropping towards the horizon. Strip sensing me urgency, kept trotting, even when I really didn't want to and we pushed on, zigging and zagging through the desert, switching roads, climbing ridges, opening wire pass throughs, cutting my hands on the barbed wire. We crested yet another ridge, when I cried out loud, I saw the truck stop on the other side of the highway signifying we only had 2 miles before we reached the beginning of Rawlins. Strip looked around at me and I reached down to pet her, she had carried me almost the whole way, and my gear and I knew she was sore, but there would have been no way we would have reached here before dark if she hadn't. As we stopped and opened the last pass through, the sun dropped below the horizon and I looked back at the desert. It had been a difficult day, wandering the desert like Moses, playing a rousing game of "Where's Waldo" with the pipeline roads....
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
It has been sometime since my last entry and it would take too much time to catch you all up, so I am not going to try. I had to take some time off in Holbrook, with the Eliasons, to let my blistered feet heel up enough to get moving again. So after a few days, during which Kristy took me to see the new temple in Brigham City (forgive me on spelling please) and to the Tremonton fair, and of course over fed me . . . . Strip and I got to Malad, where I need to find a farrier to replace her worn shoes. One of the back shoes had been replaced by a reluctantly kind man, Jesse, while I was at the Eliason's, so now I needed 3 more done. I had a few numbers to call and was awaiting responses, when a group of cowboys showed up at the fair grounds to buck some horses. They kindly offered to reshoe her after they were done and I gratefully accepted, calls were mad to ones Dad to bring tools and shoes and I sat down to watch them get bucked off several horses. As the sun dropped down below the horizon, they loaded up the horses and circled the trucks. The shoes were brought out, tools appeared and a box of nails were produced, all covered in rust. It had been some time since the Dad had used any of them, but the young men were determined to make it all work out and they got down to business. The first foot #1 cowboy rasped the nails and pulled the shoe, there was some discussion about trimming, but it had only been 4 weeks since our last shoeing so it was decided to just smooth out the foot and set the shoe. Cowboy #2 grabbed the rasp, and attempted to smooth the foot, apparently the rasp was extremely dull, so this took some time. He was handed a shoe that he held to the foot, it needed shaping. Cowboy #3 took the shoe and sledge hammer and used the fence to widen it a bit, then he nailed it on, remarking that the rust on the nails would make them stick better, several grins followed this statement. Cowboy #2 rasped the nails off the second front foot, and tried to pull it, Cowboy #4 took over the pulling, then looked at the foot and the rasp and laughed, Dad offered a second rasp, without as much rust on it and he took it and shaped the foot a little, he was handed the shoe, the general opinion was that it fit, so he started to nail it on. The hammer broke. Dad grabbed a fencing tool and took over nailing the first 2 nails in(he was cowboy #5), Cowboy #3 finished nailing it on and then cowboy #2 cut off the nails and clinched it. One foot left, cowboy #4 rasped it and pulled the shoe, it was at this time that one of the young men, all about 25, asked where I had come up with the name Strip. Now I could have told them it was from her registered name, Sunset Strip, but I chose not to. Instead I told them, many years ago, when I was younger and much thinner, I used to be a stripper and she was in my act. This information was absorbed in silence and suddenly everyone was sitting up a little straighter, one of the men breathed a soft "wow", and cowboy# 6 jumped in to finished nailing on her last shoe. The Dads were both laughing very hard, they realized I was kidding, I am sure they told their sons that I was.... maybe. Either way, it takes 6 cowboys to shoe 3 feet on 1 horse. Not a bad job, though you can tell that 3 different people clinched the nails as none of the feet look the same that way, but they were good to my girl, entertaining and all wanted to shake my hand before they left, I don't think it has anything to do with the image of me and Strip swinging on a pole...
Sunday, August 5, 2012
So once again, a long time has passed since my last posting. I have been trekking through non service and internet area for over a week now. Strip and I climbed a few peeks, and as said in the last entry, met up with some great friends made on the first trip. After my last post, we headed down into eastern Oregon, Unity, Ironside, Brogan, missing Vale and ending up in Nyssa. I was on my way riding and walking into Vale, Strip has been rather sore in her knee since her last shoeing and then aggravated when a driver cut incredibly close to us causing her to spook hard on it. So I was walking her at least half the distance each day, slowly working my way to Cindy's in Nyssa, hoping to take a break there. That was also the place where I would be losing Jessica and the car. It has been nice having them both in their own ways. The car, carries all our gear and keeps Strip from having to work as hard, as well as carry extra feed for her. Jessica brings us water in the day and when I am exhausted and Strip is tired, walks her for a bit to give us both a break. While I appreciate these things, I also really enjoy the solitary portions of the trip and with the convenience of the car I have not gotten into what I was looking for on this trip. So it is with mixed emotions that I say goodbye to both. I think Jessica has had some fun with us, learned a lot about her state and gotten exposed to places, people and situations she never would have. Strip and I are hanging one more day at Cindy's before heading off for Adrian, then Idaho and who knows what else. As some of you might have suspected I am not sure where this trip is taking me, so far I am following my old footsteps, happily reuniting with friends made on the last journey, but I don't know how long that will last. The last year and a half have been hard on me. Returning from the last trip and trying to pick up the pieces of my life was a total disaster. I have come to the conclusion that I need a major change. So Strip and I are off and walking, for now me on the ground mostly. I need to lose weight, and she doesn't need to be caring all my gear and me, and I am not in a hurry. I am savoring my time out here. Appreciating the good and bad, laughter and pain. Hopefully I will come up with a plan, if not, then I wing it. And in case you were wondering, when I stop to answer natures call, so does my horse, that whole girls going in pairs thing seems to cross species, go figure.
Friday, July 27, 2012
So a lot has happened since the last post. We got clear of the mountain and headed off across central Oregon. Visited old haunts and found some new ones. I had a painful journey through Solo's last day. I shed many tears and tried to find some peace with that part of my life. I was very happy to reunite with Jody Foss. She is a warm and nurturing woman that just makes you feel welcome no matter who you are. Now she and her friend Fran had already made plans for the evening, so Jess and I would be left to our own devises. The farrier came and put new shoes on my girl and much to my surprise, charged me a very steep $90 for straight shoes. This may not seem to bad to my valley dwelling friends, but in the area I am, its about 30 to 40 dollars above average. I don't know if that was his regular rate, or he just charged me it because he knew I was from the valley, I hope it was the first. Like some shores, he spent the entire time tearing down the job my farrier and long time friend had done previously, even after I told him that I loved my normal farrier and he did excellent work. I wouldn't have minded the tear down as much if he hadn't taken it upon himself to straighten my slightly toe in mares feet. I saw him trim them that way and when I mentioned it, his response," we are fixing that right up." Knowing she would be sore, I was hoping it wouldn't be to bad to hold us up. After the shoer left, Jody and Fran got us fed and then they too headed off. Jess and I had been sitting out by the car talking in the shade, when I decided to head over to get Strip more hay and water and check on her. Finding her happily munching I went back to the car to find Jess sitting in the back on top of the ice chest. Not an easy feat since there was only a foot and a half of space above it. She was extremely upset and after having her repeat herself several times, I finally got that there was a snake near us. I turned and spotted a young rattle snake, about 3 feet long, I shook the empty water jug and it slithered a bit further away. It took several minutes for me to convince Jess to come out of the car and head for the house until it passed by. After she vaulted out of the car and ran for cover, I shut the car doors to prevent any snaky stow aways and followed her, smiling at the pretty snake calmly slithering along a few feet away. The rest of the visit was snake free and after a huge breakfast the next morning it was off to Dayville. Long day for Strip, with sore feet. I had been proven right, she was moving short and her feet were obviously tender. Taking the borium shoes off her did ease her discomfort a bit, I just wished her feet hadn't been so severely reshaped. We arrived in Dayville in the afternoon, found our place and made camp. It was a quiet afternoon and the only bumps to our stay there were several smelly ones that appeared around 1:30am in the form of 5 plus skunks wandering around our campsite. The next morning up an off early to avoid the heat, I started the day by walking about 5 miles. I knew it was going to be long and Strip's feet were still sore, so I planned on walking a minimum of 10 miles that day, spacing the rest of it out so she would get regular breaks. By the time I got to Mt Vernon, she was tired and her soreness had spread up to her knee, the one she injured at the beginning of the trip. I don't know if it was the distance we traveled or the change in her foot position, but the knee was really bothering her. I decided that I would walk her the rest of the way to our destination that evening. Jess spelled me a few miles, while I went in and signed the paperwork for us to be on the fair grounds and it was back out in the heat, walking in my baby. We settled her in, food and water in large amounts, rinsed her off to cool her down and let her go in the paddock. After a good dinner it was to bed for us, another early day to beat the heat, or so I thought. I got up at 5 am and checked on Strip and she was off. Her knee very sore and that meant we would be sitting for a day or two. I made a trip to the vet for some anti-inflamatories and iced the leg. She seems much better now, but I think I will sit at least one extra day to make sure. She is a lot like me, just deals with the discomfort, and I don't want her to have to do that, so we wait, until I am convinced she is good to go.
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Those of us that ride all know that our horsey companions are wonderful, we would do anything for them and they for us. The bond formed between horse and rider grows strong through the years and we become a part of each other, loving them more each day, although, even the most wonderful of them has their moment of bovine behavior. At some time, during a ride our steady true trail master does something odd, crazy or just plain stupid. You could be riding down the trail, having just come over a pass in let's say, Mt Hood, jumped onto the old Barlow Rd and wound down miles of twisting, rutted dirt roads, crossed rickety bridges, carefully cleared tangled brush piles and then it happens. The amazing partner suddenly decides that the chipmunk running across the road is actually a fire breathing dragon, cleverly disguised as a cute furry critter. That calm, dependable champion of your safety, decides that spinning around on a 10 inch section of trail, with, of course, a 45 foot drop to the river below you, is the only recourse it has. Scrambling backwards, the bank crumbling under her formerly sure feet. You hall on the reins, trying to regain calm and solid ground. Raising your voice, while trying not to freak her out further, shouting words of encouragement, like "easy now," and "its ok, just a chipmunk." Your stomach drops as you feel her slide sideways off the path and with a momentous effort, you wrench her head around, kick her hard in the side and bellow "KNOCK IT OFF YOU COW!" It has happened, you have played the "cow" card. For some reason that particular word has the amazing effect making your cow, er, horse, regain her senses. I don't know what it is about it, maybe its the affront to their sensibilities. Possibly the fear that some other horse will hear them referred to by that term and mock them. I don't know, but it works. Now I hate to admit it, but my dear and beautiful girl has been christened with that term more times than I can count and usually after she regains her senses is rather offended. She sulks for a while, reluctantly forgiving me while giving me woeful looks. I feel bad, maybe I over reacted, I don't know. This trip has revealed some interesting facts about my dear loved horse. First, I turned her out in a pasture with 4 other horses and 14 yearling steer. Who did she choose to hang out with, the steer, interesting. Second, while riding to the Canby fairgrounds, we passed a field with 3 young calves all of whom ran after us, mooing at Strip like they would their mother (this seemed to offend her greatly). The third occurrence came as a total surprise to me. My shimmering example of horseyosity has always acted like she didn't like cows, wanted nothing to do with them, even "spooking" at them. Then, one day, riding away from the Mountain, I came upon a field full of cattle, easily 200 of them. Strip tossed her head up, snorted and blew. The first of the cattle looked up and stopped eating. One by one the whole field followed suit until eventually our progress towards them was being intently watched by hundreds of eyes. I tried not to tense up, wondering if I was in for a monster spook. Then it happened. As we started passing them they started calling, bellowing more like and one by one they began to follow us. I just stared at them, the pack growing steadily all bellowing at Strip. The Princess of Purity was looking around, I think searching for other horses, and snorting angrily at the cattle, "hush up, shhhh" Her secret was out. My perfect example of equine beauty, was the Queen of the Cows. Honestly I am not really surprised and now when she does something extremely silly I no longer tell her that her "Arab" is showing, I say "Oops was that an udder dropping?" So much more satisfying!
Monday, July 16, 2012
Now I realized when I started this trip, that of this pair, I would not be the one getting all the compliments. My girl is a lovely horse, if you like Arabs she is stunning and if you don't, she is stunning. So it came as no surprise to me when I was riding along, on my way to the Canby fairgrounds that people would stop, and tell me what a beautiful horse I had. It was an easy ride to the fairgrounds. Only about 15 miles from the pasture I had kept the girls in the night before, provided to us by our savior, Chia, after being refused entrance into Champoeg park. I was thrown for a loop there, having never been refused entrance into a state park before, but they were adamant that livestock(even lovely livestock) was not allowed inside the park. But we were rescued by our new friend, Chia, and after a restful night, Strip in a 40 acre pasture and us at Chia's house, it was on the road to Canby. I had gone about 9 miles when I was off walking for a bit and a bicyclist, who obviously didn't find Strip pretty, made some remark about it not being safe for me to walk along side a 55mph road. Being the ever so shy person that I am, I remarked that people were more likely to hit her, since they generally liked me and my horse and that "livestock"(lovely or otherwise) holds the right of way on the road. For some odd reason, she found that offensive and rode off in a snit. Reaching Canby with no other negative encounters, just loads of complements on my horse, I headed down an even busier road, Highway 99, into town. I had been riding about 3 blocks when Strip suddenly nickered. I leaned down and patted her neck softly, told her she was a good girl and then went back to watching traffic. A few minutes later, she did it again, I soothed her and looked around to see if she was worried about something I hadn't noticed and found nothing amiss. A third nicker and a slight look right and I began to worry myself. I looked right and saw nothing but an empty store front and I started watching her carefully. The next time she nickered and looked right I looked immediately, and saw our reflection. She was nickering at her own reflection in the windows as we passed them. I guess she must really be a beautiful horse to impress herself, since she has always been picky about what horsey company she keeps. Now I was heading towards the fairgrounds, to meet up with Jessica, she had tried to find us a place there, but 4H was having their annual horse fair and the lady running it, lets call her Schmanice, had told her everything was full but if she could find a place we were welcome to stay. She sent her around with her assistant to check out some possible spots, all unsuitable. So Jess was waiting for me out front. I arrived to find her not feeling well and to be greeted by one of the fair ground staff. The staffer was excited to have us there, she called her supervisor and after a call back it was decided to put us in the bone yard, not normally open to rental so not within the 4h woman's jurisdiction. We set up, Jess getting sicker by the minute and I ran to the store and returned just as she got sick. I think it was from the heat and the stress of trying to find a place. We were sitting there when Schmanice came zipping over in her golf cart, snapping at us sharply, demanding to know who gave us permission to be there. I told her who, just as the staffer arrived to back me up. Another staffer arrived, apparently Schmanice had been raising a stink with the fair grounds management about us being where we were, having not approved our existence herself, and the new staffer told us they were relocating us to behind the rodeo arena, once again a place not open to be rented. This seemed to annoy the poor representative of all that 4h stands for even more and she took off in her golf cart again. We pulled our camp, moved to the new digs, where they kindly set up a pen for Strip, and proceeded to plan our next few days. The next morning I was off to try and get some errands done and hadn't been gone 20 minutes when Jess called me. She had been given a heads up by one of the staff, someone, you guess who, had told the Fair manager that we had a rescue horse and it was obviously diseased and they were sending over a vet to check it out and see if we had papers for it. That was it for me. I turned around and headed back. Upon returning, I called the OSU Extension for 4H and asked if I was breaking any of their rules by being there. The kind lady on the phone said no and told me she would have the head of Oregon contact me. I then called the manager of the Fair Grounds to apologize for all the trouble I had brought her and to tell her that my horse, who I have had for 16 years was fully papered, health cert and coggins and I would be happy to get them copies. Then I explained to her what I was doing and why and told her that I would of course relocate, to which she said no, I was welcome to stay another day. I thanked her profusely and as I was hanging up the call from Doug rang through, I missed switching to it, new phone and all, and called him right back. He missed my call and soon recalled me. He was a very kind man, I explained my situation to him, telling him exactly what I was doing and wanted to make sure I wasn't violating any rules by being there. We had a long talk, about 4H and what they stand for, helping young people learn about animals and care and so much more, I was really quite surprised at the hostility I was receiving from this particular Schmanice person. He assured me there was no reason for my not being there and if the Fair grounds had placed me somewhere not related to the horse fair, then he couldn't see what the big problem was, laughing, he said maybe she was just over stressed with the fair. Personally, I think she was just lording it over her little kingdom and was mad because I went around her, but she might be in for a bit of surprise, since Doug was planning on having a talk with her. Either way, to call my horse a diseased rescue horse was a nasty low thing, I mean, look at how pretty she is.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
And moving once again, after sitting for a week allowing my horse to heal enough to move again. The vet prescribed one week of rest to allow the leg to mend enough to walk on, then she said walking on the road is pretty much the same as walking in a pasture. So one week later, leg looking nearly fully healed, and after a tense few days of Strip peeing what looked like blood and turned out to be a reaction to the sulfa drugs given by the vet that stitched her up, we got back under way. The original plan was to ride to the coast in short hops of 12 to 15 miles, but after a visit with the folks that run Flying M Ranch I discovered that the forest service has shut down all the roads between there and the coast. So we decided to just head for the ranch on the 4th of July. Strip and I headed out around 12:30, moving out in our usual 5 mph walk. I rode the first 3 miles before hopping off for the next 3, she just doesn't seem to understand why I get off and walk, and proceeded to nudge me every few dozen yards or so. After I got back on, she resumed our normal moving walk and we made short work of the rest of the distance on the pavement, turning off onto the Old RailGrade road. We had gone about a mile when we came to a wooden bridge, long and made of rail ties and 2 by 6's, I hopped of and we walked across without incident. I was just reaching the other side when little girl in the river below called out "Look Daddy a pretty horsey" and he not responding immediately caused her to scream "look look look" over and over, that freaked my up until this time calm horse and replaced her with an Arab. I swung back up, she spun and started to take off up the road. I slammed her to a halt and told her to walk, she decided to jig . . . for 3 miles . . . that action not only beat my bad knee to pieces, but also made my tender tailbone unhappy. By the time we reached the camp site, and Jessica, Strip was lathered and finally walking and I was soaked with sweat and still fuming. We both calmed down, somewhat, and the camp was set up and eventually we all got some rest. The next morning it was back to Alexis and James', making it all but the last few miles before my horse became the evil Arab again. I sit on the front porch of A&J's new house and watch my girl sleeping in the shade below and I just want to poke her, that little creep. Tomorrow we are off to go through Newberg on our way to Champooie (sorry no Idea how to spell that right now), hopefully it will be with no evil jigging horse behavior, my back side couldn't take it.