Henceforth, I am going to call the Bob Marshall Wilderness “The Bob,” since the shortened version is what most use in referring to it.
We slept in the truck last night, next to the horses – me kept away by Raudi who every so often “talked” to other horses, neighing loudly. She settled down about dawn and I fell into a deep sleep. Then, for some odd reason, the truck started shaking, then stopped. Add to this, calves in a nearby pen started bawling. I sat up, dressed, and climbed out of the rear of the truck. All was still. Pete followed. I asked him if he felt the truck shake and he said “huh?”
Forest Service Packer coming back from supplying a trail crew.
We did morning chores, ate, and then drove the two miles over to the Butte Animal Hospital, parked adjacent to the parking area, put up the feed bags, and unloaded the horses who resumed eating their interrupted breakfast. We were to next drive to Helena, and so we thought, get our paperwork okayed by the feds. But alas, we were told that there had been a change in procedures since we last had the horses checked in Butte. Our paperwork now needed to be okayed by the powers that be, who were located in Boise, Idaho.
I was out grooming the horses when Pete, after emerging from the veterinary office, told me this. I monetarily ceased my routine as he spoke. I do what I call a tick check, with my hands checking for ticks, lumps, bumps, heat, lacerations, then go over them with my hand grooming gloves and brush. Then I clean their hooves. I just could not imagine us driving all the way back to Boise. My memories of the place were not that good – on the way down to American we’d gotten lost looking for the fairgrounds. And then we were told that no, they did not allow overnight livestock.
Pete went back inside and was inside for over an hour. When he emerged, he said that he and the veterinarian had arranged for the paperwork to be sent to Shelby, Montana – we’d pick it up there at the post office, general delivery, after our pack trip. I says to Pete “what if the paperwork is not there? Will we have to find a place to live in Shelby?” Pete said that the paperwork would be there. His statement left no room for further conversation.
We loaded up, drove off. Came to Fleishman Pass, 6000 plus feet, site of the Continental Divide Trail. It was so windy that we had to eat our lunch in the truck. Seeing the Divide signs and two hikers, I felt a pang of remorse. I so wished that I was riding the Divide by horseback – this so many years ago was my original plan.
We gave the horses water, and then we headed on to The Bob. We were pleased to discover a very horse friendly campground at Indian Meadows Trail Head. There were bunkers for feeding, trees for highlining, and a very clean stock tank, the water supply coming from an underground creek. As we were checking things out, a Forest Service Outfitter riding a horse and leading seven mules passed by. I got my camera and took his photo. He didn’t have time to talk but was very personable.
There was knee deep grass next to our campsite, which was why I suggested we hobble our three and let them graze. Oh oh, this proved to be a bad idea. Minutes later, outfitter, this one with approximately 12 mules and 4 mounted clients, came riding down the main trail. Raudi, now an expert in moving with hobbles, half cantered, half jumped and headed over to say hello.
I grabbed her and Pete came running with three leads in hand. He put the lead on her and I put leads on the other two. The outfitter, older than the other fellow, but as equally as calm, lead his entourage past us.
Quite obviously, we were going to have to restrain our horses when in The Bob. Lesson learned this time very easily.
I lost my Smoky Bear Hat in the tall grass, when attempting to restrain Raudi. Pete and I spent considerable time looking for it. He found it, much to my relief. I got this hat in Big Piney and had become quite fond of it. It is brown with Smoky’s face on it. Underneath it reads “Only You.” I like the fact it has an incomplete phrase. I’ve also been thinking that sometime, I want to write about the history of Smoky Bear, and the politics of fire prevention.
It was breezy, warm, but not uncomfortably so. We spent the late afternoon and evening packing up, in preparation for our 10 day pack trip in The Bob.
204. 7/26/19: First Day Packing in The Bob