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June 30, 2019: Group BCHA Ride

Indeed, we did do a group ride today. I tend to ride alone at home, so this is something that I’m not used to. So, I decided this would be a good thing to do. Pete, who is inherently social, decided that this would be a great thing to do.

We, as planned, we met up with five other riders at the Bottleneck Trailhead at 9 a.m. We knew we were in the right place when we saw the two gray stock trailers and the accompanying mules and horses.

We unloaded our horses. They’d spent the night tied to the trailer, so all, and Tyra in particular, were antsy. I walked up road with Tyra, and on the way I met up with a woman who was riding a large, athletic looking appaloosa. I was to learn that her name was Susan, and the horse’s name was Huckleberry. Tyra’s eyes grew wide when she saw this horse because she’d never before seen a horse with so many spots.

The pair moved at a very fast walk, I had to run and Tyra had to trot fast in order to keep up. We all joined the main group, introduced ourselves, saddled up, and headed up trail. We followed behind the other BCHA members. I ponied Ryder and rode Tyra. Pete rode Raudi and ponied Hrimmi.

The sun was soon obscured by the trees that bordered the trail – mature aspen and spruce. The ground was soft, and in places, boggy. A half mile in and we came to a truck, stuck in the mud.

Green Mountain Falls
Green Mountain Falls

Corky and his chainsaw pack saddle
Corky and his chainsaw pack saddle

Four passengers were sitting on the tailgate, and a fifth, the driver, was standing, looking at the wheels, which were knee deep in mud. We all passed quietly – and did not offer to give an assist because, really, there was nothing we could do.

The terrain (early on) consisted of creeks interspersed by bogs. We soon fell behind the others. This was Hrimmi’s doing. She chose to drink out of each and every creek – and balk at the bogs. We soon lost sight of everyone but Susan and Huck, who was all over the place. Quite obviously, moving in a straight line was not his forte.

The BCHA is a service organization, so not coincidently; we were accompanying a work party. A mile or so in and we all stopped. I watched as Corky Stevens, the President of the Continental Divide BCHA chapter, dismounted and slowly walked over to his pack mule. He’d constructed a wooden platform that rested on her pack saddle. On it was a chainsaw. Corky, tall, balding, paunchy, moved slowly but with considerable self-assurance.

The other riders got off their horses, tied them to nearby trees, and with gloved hands, cleared brush. I held on to Tyra while they worked, and let her graze, for my sense was that having too many individuals working within vicinity of the chainsaw was dangerous. Hikers passed, and I conversed with them. They appreciated the fact that the BCHA crew was trail clearing.

This was a routine that repeated itself several times that afternoon. The trail continued to be boggy – and in places there were narrow, slippery ledges. Our horses remained all business.

Finally, we arrived at our destination, Green Mountain Falls. I had presumed that by falls, Corky and company meant trickle of water. I presumed wrong. I heard it before we came to it – the sound of water crashing on rocks. We dismounted, tied up our horses, and walked the 1/4 mile to the falls, crossing a bridge that had been designated Hiker Only.

The water tumbled over a ledge, into the North Fork of the Encampment River. The more adventurous of us clambered over boulders, in order to get a better look. Pete took my photo with Ryder at my side. We all eventually retreated to the base of the bridge and together, ate lunch, this before heading back to the Bottleneck trailhead.

We rode back to the trailhead on an alternative route so that the group might do more trail clearing. This was fortuitous because it was less boggy.

We returned to our starting point, this time, our horses kept up with the others. There, Susan suggested to Pete and I that we stay at her place in Saratoga, which is located near Encampment. We didn’t need much urging – we hadn’t had showers since leaving Cheyenne, a few weeks before.

Next: 179. 7/1/19: The Importance of Stories

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