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Trip Dispatch #12, Monday, May 30. Eagle Ranch to Monte Vista: More Wind, More Grumbling

Today was our worst day by far. The wind picked up as we left the Rio Grande campsite, and then as we were heading downroad, it began gusting. I rode Siggi and Pete rode Raudi. We got past the ranch horses and cows okay. I got off Siggi, who was veering to the left, and began walking.

I became increasingly more grumpy and irritable as the day progressed. This, I told Pete, was not the trip that I’d signed on for. Pete began knocking at doors at midday, in hopes that someone, anyone, would offer us shelter from the storm. At one point we were told that there was a wildlife refuge up the way, but once we got to it (this was after a three-mile

Run in shed at Jeff's place
Run in shed at Jeff's place

detour) we discovered that it was unsuitable for camping. Lunch time—we hunkered behind a seed storage building, and let the horses graze on the very sparse grass. Pete went to get water, and he returned with just enough in hand for the three horses and Rainbow.

Rainbow, tail down, head down, tongue hanging out, was the most unhappy of the lot. Pete began hailing down cars, was finally told that there was a ranch four-miles up the road. We resumed walking.

At 6 p.m. Pete hailed down Billy Jo Dilly, who was ranch owner. I held the horses as Pete and he talked. He said that we’d most likely be welcome to stay in an empty corral at his neighbor’s place directly across the road from his place.

Jeff Rilling greeted with open arms. He let us put the horses in their backyard corral, and shortly thereafter, Billy appeared with a hay bale. We talked for a long time with Jeff (who is a building inspector) about a wide variety of topics—his house, built in the 1900s, San Luis Valley temperature extremes, area irrigation history, water rights issues, ditches. And we talked with his wife Rachel who works with wildlife and was involved in a lynx relocation program. She knows the area birds and is familiar with habitat issues.

Rachel’s mother Ellen recently moved in with the pair. I talked with her for a long time, mainly about her raising seven kids by herself, after her husband was struck by lightning while out golfing.

Funny, how things can change within a mere moment’s time. I apologized to Pete for being such an idiot. Once again, I’m glad we’re doing this trip. I just have to be more accepting of the fact that it won’t always be easy.

Next: Dispatch #13: Rest day at the Rillings