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July 12, 2019: On the Lander Cut Off Trail

Another tough but revelatory day. As it turned out, we did not camp in the La Barge Meadows area, as we thought. Turns out it was further down road. It was perhaps the most incredible vista of the trip – a large, grassy area surrounded by rolling grassy hills and trees. It was so incredible that I had to stop and take a photo.

Alas, I who was riding dropped the dog’s leash. The horses were quietly grazing. This was, unbeknownst to me, just as a motorcyclist was coming up road. The dog lunged for his front tire. The motorcyclist then sped up. I had yet another flashback to my dog Digger, who in doing the same was nailed by a semi.

I yelled at the motorcyclist, but by then he was gone. Why, I continued to wonder, don’t these idiots slow down or stop? Well, I decided (after ruminating about this for another two hours) is just be extra vigilant and keep a very tight hold on the dog. We have worked with her on come and stay and wait, but she is a border collie, and like huskies who are hard wired to run, they are hard wired to give chase.

Like yesterday, today was a day in which we rode on trails that were not well maintained and lack signage.

When, finally, we moved on, we first stopped at the La Barge Guard Station, which was not as well maintained as the Snyder Guard Station. It did have a hitching post, a picnic table, and an outhouse, three prerequisites for lunch stops. I hitched Tyra to a horsey hitching post that read No PUBLIC CAMPING. I

The La Barge Meadow was a popular spot for immigrants. In the summer of 1859 (the Lander Cutoff first year), over 30,000 immigrants and 79,000 head of stock passed through.

The first of many repair jobs on the boots
The first of many repair jobs on the boots.

would have loved to have camped there – I really like staying in more developed spots, but agreed with Pete that because it was early, that we should keep going.

Adjacent to the guard house was a metal gate, one that horses and hikers could walk through, but ATVers could not. I ate my dehydrated fruit and watched as three motorists came to this gate, but after seeing that they could not go through, turned around and headed back uproad.

This, I said to Pete, makes my day, as we went through the gate, and then read the interpretative sign, which in part cautioned that the trail in places is steep and difficult to follow. Indeed, it was well maintained for 1 ½ miles, but after, it was overgrown, with no signage in sight.

We came to a creek with a muddy base – once again Hrimmi balked. There were, in this instance, no alternatives. She had to cross it. She had no choice. We spent the next hour attempting to get her across. Pete finally went downstream with the other horses. Unbeknownst to Pete, I released Hrimmi who raced up an embankment and ran along it, then caught her as she came down.

It was now time for drastic measures. Pete wrapped the highline rope around a tree, and I slapped her on the butt with a stick. This is something we have never before done, and I hope that we never have to do again. Hrimmi jumped across and after repacking the rope, we continued on. Hrimmi then willingly crossed several more difficult spots. I guess she had also decided that being balky was not worth the angst.

We hit several more dead ends. Come late afternoon, we tied the horses to trees adjacent to Elizabeth Brown’s gravesite (not to be confused with Elizabeth Paul), and Pete took off, in search of the Lander Cutoff Trail. It was then, as I was standing there, that I had an important revelation. Plain and simple, I need to be more flexible. Sure, this has not turned out to be the trip that I’d expected. I envisioned following a continuous and better maintained route. I also presumed that the dog would tire of chasing vehicles after a few days. I presumed wrong on both counts.

Quite obviously, there is the greater likelihood that things will go awry if I am not in the moment. And I’m not in the moment when I lose my temper. This is also really hard on Pete, who has been doing all he can to make this a good trip. I then vowed to do better. I’m going to focus on riding and not continue to fret about what has just happened. A major life lesson here. I’m Alys and I have a problem. Perhaps because I have now acknowledged it, it will be less of a problem.

Next:191. 7/13/19: The End of the Lander Cutoff Trail

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