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August 15, 2019: For Friends Far and Near, Distant and Dear

And so yes, what my sister Eleanor called the entourage is home. It’s hard to believe. In some ways it feels like we never left. However, the weeds and tall grass remind us that we spent the past three months on a horse pack trip, down in America.

We pulled into the yard Wednesday evening. I opened the trailer door and beckoned to Tyra to jump out. She needed no urging. I then responded to Hrimmi’s and Raudi’s stomping by opening their dividers. All three horses leapt out of trailer, into the yard. Raudi led the fray into the pen, at a dead run. All three took a few bitefuls of the weedy ground then raced out of the pen. Bucking and running, they raced around the perimeter of the property and refamiliarized themselves with the property.


Ryder and Pete walked up the cabin and greeted Abby, one of our two summer house-sitters. We did not, as we should have, call before we got home. No excuse, we just are sometimes lacking in all important social nuances. Those of you who know us well know of this nuance. Abby started gathering her things together – of course, Pete told her she was welcome to stay, but she opted to take off. She has a fall home.

Pete and I spent Wednesday evening and yesterday morning, pulling weeds out of the pen, with hands, a rake, and his scythe. One particular type of weed was long and thread like (knotweed) – we well knew that if we left it in place, and the horses ate it, that they might colic. As we worked, the horses grazed outside the pen. I tried not to think about the fact that they were munching down on fodder similar to what I was pulling.

Abby and Elisa did an excellent job house sitting. They left the place as we left it. And they somehow managed to water the peach trees and strawberries in the hoop house. The watering system is quite complicated, but today when I spoke to them about this, they seemed proud of the fact that they figured this out. I am so incredibly grateful to them. Orchards are low maintenance compared to conventional gardens, but they do need some care.

We came home to a bumper crop of raspberries, cherries, currants, and Saskatoons. The house sitters harvested the strawberries and froze some for us.

My thinking for the past 48 hours is that we are fortunate to own such a wonderful place – it is this way because we put so much work and time into it. I have since come to my senses and realize that we would not be so fortunate as to find anything as comparable or in our price range down in the Lower-48.

Of course, I remain torn. Our third and final pack trip was in the Bob Marshall Wilderness area, north of Helena, Montana. We spent ten days riding, packing, and camping on and alongside trails that have been designated exclusively for horse and hiker use. We saw no ATV or dirt bike traffic for ten days. We did meet up with hikers; one was a woman from South Korea who had never before petted a horse. Tyra thought the attention was quite wonderful.

We did meet up with several outfitters; one was Neal Eustace, who was taking his seven heavily laden Icelandic horses to his outfitter camp. We did an about face and followed him to his camp. Like our horses, his were in good spirits – the primary difference being that ours were carrying us, and very little gear. For instance, his pack horses carried 70 pounds on each side. By comparison, Hrimmi was when we met up with him, carrying a little over 70 pounds total.

Being in the Bob Marshall Wilderness area was like being in a differing world, one that was quiet, peaceful, and remote. The Scapegoat Mountain Wilderness was so vast that I felt small and inconsequential, a reminder that given our current political climate (and as well the actual climate) that we need to work to protect what is so valuable and precious. I am preaching to the choir, so that it sings even more loudly.

As I write this, Pete is at a faculty convocation. It’s hot here, so he wore a short sleeve shirt – one that I said made him look like a candy cane. I’m sure that there will be plenty of talk about the upcoming university budget cuts. Yes, we are worried about his job, and as importantly, what the financial slaughter is going to have on all state funded programs. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what is going on here – the slashing of funds is a move on the part of Republicans (who are pro development) to turn the state into a resource warehouse. Get rid of those who oppose this and you have free rein to do as you please.

So, on our part we’ll remain here and continue to put up the good fight.

The question that I’m considering is this: will we ever again do any more long treks? I just don’t know. I am not sure if I have it in me to do this again. You see, I love our horses dearly, and so I wonder if I want to take the risk. Horses are accidents waiting to happen, and yes, we did have a few close calls. Raudi got tangled up in her hobbles when hopping over a log and we had to cut her free. And Hrimmi side passed going over a boardwalk bridge, then jumped onto it and over the other side. I’m also not a big fan of high lining, which has its own set of dangers. Hrimmi got hung up on her rope early on and got a rope burn on her fetlock. Also, forage on the trail is variable. And trailering is no picnic, either.

But I do have plans for next summer. I’m going to do a bicycle/horseback ride/sea kayak trip, going from Fairbanks to Valdez, Alaska. This trip will be closer to home and be less strenuous on the horses, two things in its favor. If there are any takers for any portion of this trip, do let me know.

Next: 226. 8/16/19: Tinni’s Return

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