End of Mai a load of Snow got dumped on the mountains here in Montana, Wyoming and Colorado. We don't know if we can make it on the CDT. Getting up in the morning, we went to have breakfast in a local coffee and started riding our horses in the late morning, in lower areas south of Bute. Ahi got rid of Silvia, at the first encounter, but Silvia the pro she is, not faced, got him to loosen up and climbed back up, him not trying anything like this again. We rode up a steep incline and at the summit, there where beautiful bolders, so we stopped to take some pics. While we where on the tail, Peter our driver found a great place at a lake to camp and when we arrived a the designated place, after about 20 km, we drove to the campsite and put up our tent the first time.
Next morning we brake camp and drive to the next trailhead leading up to the CDT. It was difficult to find the right trail, but eventually we found it and followed it onto a beautiful crest, where we did some more filming. Descending form the mountain Peter was waiting for us at the trail head, and just a mile further up the other side we found a place to camp and enough feed for the horses. While the horses were still grazing a family came down the trail and spooked our horses. They took off, but we got them right away again, the family now trying to help. In the middle of the night, it had already rained for some time, a wind gust pulled out the stakes of our tent pols and the tent collapsed on both ends. Trying to get out to secure the tent again, i had a cramp and had to wait a long minute before i could mouve again. Finally the tent was up again and rocks were placed on the stakes to secure them.
4.6. We broke camp, Peter getting the job, of drying out our sleeping bags during the day, and us heading up the mountainside. The trail took us up onto several summits and the weather changed very fast. The temperatures dropped by 10 degrees and it started to rain and snow, with the occasional thunderstorm and hail. We where getting up to 2600 m and there was a lot of snow on the trail and also beetle kill, which made it difficult to ride. We crossed the second summit in snow reaching to the belly of the horses and them having to fight every step up the hill. We were happy to reach the summit and dismount, leading the horses down the trail, where we found a forest road. The tail though took us up another mountain side, this time with tons of snow and fallen trees every 20 m. After about a km we decided to go back to the forrest road and following it, we were getting back to the main road. With our inreach we where able to contact Peter letting him know of our changed route and he was able to pick us up 4 km before we hit the main road again. We were cold and wet, happy to see the trailer at the intersection. We decided to drive back up to Bute and give the horses and us a break.
We take the horses for a short stroll in the afternoon behind our Hosts Ranch. Next morning we drive down to Big Sky, where we park at a campground and trailhead. From there we ride up to Mirror Lake, running into deep snow just short 3 km before the lake. We have to turn back and go back to camp, where we meet Lew, who is scouting the area for his Back country horsemen. The two ladies go for a stroll in the evening, seeing a Moos and some Bisons back in the valley where we had driven through. All the country around us belongs to Ted Turner (turner media) and he has about 4000 Bisons on his Ranch.
In the morning we head up the trail, cutting into the medows where we had seen the Bisons and sure enough they where up at the road. We filmed and took pictures, when Lew arrived with his mule.
We decided to ride together up to the Spanish Waterfalls and later had coffee at our camp. It was great meeting this local guide and horseman. After two days of standing our trucks battery was so low, it would not start. We were hunting for a charger cable, when Mirjam met Scott, who was a volunteer for the BLM taking care of different campgrounds in the area. We finally found a jumper cable and where able to start our car again.
Lew and Scott recommended the next trail head at Big Buffalo Horn behind the 320 Ranch. We drove there after shopping at the gas station in Big Sky and tried to get a cabin. But they were all booked out and so we decided to camp in the trailer as we had done before, throwing the tarp across the roof, for the rain not to drip inside. We see the Ranch horses going up the trail, so we decide to follow them up the mountain. The trail still a little muddy, but much better than in big Sky. The Ranch horses had turned left on the trail, but we did not want to go there, so we decided to head up on the right side of the valley and climbing up into dryer territory. It was beautiful up there, except that again after reaching 2500 m the snow got so deep we had to return. In the evening we drive to the Riverside Ranch and have a great meal at the Restaurant.
Going up the same way, as yesterday i found the Ranch horses had returned yesterday from the left side of the valley, so we decided to give it a try and climbed up that side of the mountain. It was more open space than yesterday where we found our self mostly in the woods, but again here the snow had not melted yet.
But since we where out in the open, there where no fallen trees and so we decided to fight through the snow up to the summit. The Ranch horses had taken a different route, so we had to cut our own trail up the mountain, mainly riding in the little creek, because there was the least amount of snow to be found.
After crossing a snow bridge over the creek we got out onto the summit and we had a great view onto all the surrounding valleys. We ate our lunch up there and then led the horses down over a wide medows passing all the snow, that was still laying on the trail in the forest. Below 2300 m we were able to follow the trail again and ended up at Procupine Creek Trailhead, where we run into Scott. As we were talking with him, another local group of riders came out of the bush. There was a horse trailer at the park, and since we would have to ride along the road for about 22 km, i walked up to the owner and wanted to talk to him.
Yet he came towards us, and said, could it be that i know you, pointing at Mirjam. And indeed, she had trained his horse in Arizona, the year before, and he was waiting here for the AAA (ADAC USA) to arrive, cause he had looked his key inside the car. While we were talking the AAA arrived and the truck was opened. Roy offered to give us a ride back to the trailhead ad Big Buffalo horn and so we loaded up our horses, returning to camp. We invited him for a beer in the evening but he never showed up.
We decided to drive down the 45 km to Yellowstone west entrance, where i knew at Dimond P Ranch, we could corral up our horses. The Gallatin River, that road 191 followed was flooding the plains left and right and as we stood in line to enter the park, we were told that we had to turn around, cause the park was closed due to mudslides and road damages. We decided to stay another day in West entrance trying to find out if we could ev. enter, but when we heard, there was no chance till Saturday, we loaded the horses and drove down to Teton National park. It turned out to be the worst flood in centuries and we did not have a chance to enter till a week later. Each day we took a different trail up the mountains and even checked the CDT out one time, but there was still to much snow as soon as you reched more than 2600 müM. 8000 ft.
We talked to the ranger station at Jackson and it was the Rangers first day as a office clerk. He did not know the answer to any of our questions, but was determent to find it all out. And he did. He apologized for taking so long, but we just told him, we were grateful for him getting the info we needed, about where to camp with the horses etc. and that he needed to apologize to the people behind us standing in line.
We drove out of the park where the ranger had recommended and set up the fence and the tarp at a campsite on BLM land, hoping it would be respected, by anybody driving by. Just as we were leaving the family who's camper was standing next to our campsite came back and promised to keep an eye on it. They were from Florida and very nice.
We drove off to to ocean lakes trail head and parked there. Unloaded the horses and rode into the country side following the shore of the lake. It was a pleasant ride, on well maintained trails and even though it seamed that all the tourists had come down here, it was quiet and not a lot of people on the trail. On the way back we rode up a lookout mountain, and I let Rodeo do his thing, jogging up the mountain at about
10 km/h the other two horses following. It was a blast, and i had to lough at the gent who was cuddling up with his girlfriend in a hammock right next to the trail, as we blazed by him shouting out in surprise.
In the evening Nathan from Australia showed up parking his car on the campground next to us. He is a mountain climber and camera man for Redbull extreme sports movies and shared his life story with us. He brought some beer over and we invited him for supper. We eat some of our freeze dried soup with additional noodles and tomato sauce and some sausages. we had a great time.
Next day we drove to Jenny Lake and rode to Phleps Lake and back. A tour of about 36 km, and we enjoyed the view from the lookout point down to the lake. Following Phleps lake back to the trail to Jenny Lake we where suddenly turned away from the hiking trail and ended up going in the wrong direction the horse trail was taking us. We took a shortcut across a dried out swamp area to get back to the trail we needed to get back to the parking lot. Peter was patiently waiting for us.
Mirjam wanted to get up early at 5 am, to take pictures and film at the lake so we did 3 days in a row, except the last day, the weather did not turn out as we had hoped. We drove up north and rode out to Heritage point lake, where we run into two brown bears playing along. The horses where alert but calm, as we approached the bears. They seemed to be reading the bears and only when the bears came towards us, the where more apprehensive, when we asked of them to walk towards the bears, they in return became more alert and looked our way, turning around and putting a couple more feet between us and them.
It was a stunning area, with the lake in front and the Teton mountains in the background. We returned on a different trail and had tons of great video and pics with us. After 4 Nights at the campground, we decided to drive down to Colorado, the weather turning on us one more time.
We stayed at our ranch for a day and just did a short ride into the park at sundown. Next day we drove up to Harsel, and fencsed the horses on the grass above the well. The view from the tiny house was great and we found some nice trails at eleven mile lake and George canon. Two days later we returned to the Ranch, riding for a couple of hours in the early morning in the garden of Gods near Colorado Springs.
A month of riding the american way, came to an end, and with sadness we had to say good bye.
It was great riding with you Mirjam and Silvia and i hope we will do it again.