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2022 06 Montana Wyoming Colorado

2022 Montana Wyoming Colorado

28.5.022

Silvia, Mirjam and Peter all arrived in the evening from Europe. Starting June 1, we drove 1200 km north, arriving in Bute Montana at 11pm, stabling the horses at an overnight spot and landing on the deck of the owner's house. At the end of May, a load of snow was dumped on the mountains here in Montana, Wyoming and Colorado. We don't know if we'll make it on the CDT. When we got up in the morning, we went to a local coffee shop for breakfast and started riding our horses in lower elevation areas south of Bute in the late morning. Ahi got Silvia loose on the first encounter but Silvia, being the professional that she is, didn't get him to loosen up and climbed back up without trying anything like that again. We drove up a steep climb and there were beautiful rock faces at the top, so we stopped to take some photos. While we were at the rear, Peter, our driver, found a great spot by a lake to camp and when we arrived at the designated spot after about 20 km, we drove to the campsite and set up our tent for the first time. The next morning we broke camp and drove to the next trailhead leading to the CDT. It was difficult to find the right trail, but eventually we found it and followed it up a beautiful ridge where we took more pictures. Coming down the mountain, Peter was waiting for us at the trailhead, and just a mile up the other side we found a place to camp and enough food for the horses. While the horses were still grazing, a family came down the trail and spooked our horses. They ran off, but we caught them again immediately and the family is now trying to help. In the middle of the night it had been raining for some time, a gust of wind tore out the poles of our tent and it collapsed at both ends. When I tried to get out to secure the tent again, I got a cramp and had to wait a long minute before I could move again. Eventually the tent was put back up and stones were placed on the poles to secure it.

4.6. We broke camp, Peter was given the task of drying out our sleeping bags during the day, and we set off up the mountainside. The path took us to several peaks and the weather changed very quickly. Temperatures dropped by 10 degrees and it started to rain and snow, with occasional thunderstorms and hail. We reached an altitude of 2600 m and there was a lot of snow on the route and also beetle mortality, which made driving difficult. We crossed the second summit in snow that was up to the horses' bellies and they had to fight every step up the hill. We were glad when we reached the top, dismounted and led the horses down the trail where we hit a forest road. However, the tail led us up another hillside, this time with tons of snow and fallen trees every 20m. After about a kilometer, we decided to return to the forest road and following it, we got back to the main road. With our inreach, we were able to contact Peter and tell him our changed route, and he was able to pick us up 4 km before we got back on the main road. We were cold and wet and were pleased to see the trailer at the junction. We decided to head back to Bute and give the horses and ourselves a break. In the afternoon we take the horses for a short walk behind our hosts' ranch. The next morning we drive down to Big Sky, where we park at a campsite and trailhead. From there we drive up to Mirror Lake and hit deep snow just 3 km before the lake. We have to turn around and return to camp, where we meet Lew who is searching the area for his backcountry riders. The two ladies go for a walk in the evening and see a moss and some bison in the valley we have been riding through. All the land around us belongs to Ted Turner (Turner Media) and he has about 4000 bison on his ranch. In the morning we set off up the road and cut into the meadows where we had seen the bison and sure enough, there they were at the top of the road. We were filming and taking pictures when Lew arrived with his mule. We decided to drive to the Spanish Falls together and have coffee at our camp later. It was great to meet this local guide and rider. After two days of standing still, our truck's battery was so weak that it wouldn't start. We were looking for a charging cable when Mirjam met Scott, who was volunteering for the BLM looking after various campsites in the area. We finally found a jumper cable and were able to restart our car. Lew and Scott recommended the next trailhead 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 up, so we decided to camp in the trailer like before and throw the tarp over the roof so the rain wouldn't drip inside. We see the ranch horses walking up the path and decide to follow them up the mountain. The trail is still a little muddy, but much better than in the big sky. The ranch horses had turned left on the trail, but we didn't want to go there, so we decided to go up the right side of the valley and head up into drier territory. It was beautiful up there, except that the snow got so deep again after reaching 2500 m that we had to turn back. In the evening we drive to Riverside Ranch and have a great meal in the restaurant. We went up the same way as yesterday as I noticed the ranch horses had returned from the left side of the valley yesterday, so we decided to give it a go and climbed up that side of the mountain. It was more open space than yesterday, where we were mostly in the woods, but again, the snow hadn't melted yet. However, since we were in the open, there were no fallen trees, so we decided to fight our way through the snow to the top. The ranch horses had taken a different route, so we had to make our own way up the mountain, mainly riding through the small creek as it had the least snow. After crossing a snow bridge over the creek, we made it to the top and had a great view of all the surrounding valleys. We ate our lunch up there and then led the horses down across a wide floodplain, past all the snow that was still on the path in the forest. Below 2300m we were able to follow the trail again and ended up at the Procupine Creek trailhead where we met Scott. While we were chatting with him, another local group of riders came out of the bush. There was a horse trailer in the park, and since we had about 22 km down the road to ride, I approached the owner and wanted to talk to him. But he came up to us and said, "Could it be that I know you" and pointed to Mirjam. And sure enough, she had trained his horse in Arizona the year before and he was here waiting for the AAA (ADAC USA) to arrive because he had seen his key in the car. While we were talking, the AAA arrived and the truck was opened. Roy offered to ride us back to the Big Buffalo Horn trailhead, so we loaded our horses and returned to camp. We invited him for a beer in the evening, but he never showed up. We decided to drive the 45 km down to the west entrance of Yellowstone, where I knew we could stable our horses at the Dimond P Ranch. The Gallatin River, which Road 191 followed, was flooding the plains left and right and as we stood in line to enter the park, we were told we had to turn around as the park was closed due to mudslides and road damage. We decided to stay another day at the west entrance and find out if we could even make it. Enter we did, but when we heard there was no chance until Saturday, we loaded up the horses and headed down to Teton National Park. It turned out to be the worst flooding in centuries, and we didn't have a chance to enter until a week later. Every day we took a different route up into the mountains and even checked the CDT once, but once you got above 2600 meters there was still too much snow. 8000 feet. We talked to the ranger station in Jackson and it was the rangers first day as office staff. He didn't know the answer to any of our questions, but was determined to find out everything. And he did. He apologized for taking so long, but we just told him we were grateful he got the information we needed, like where to camp with the horses, etc. and that he needed to apologize to the people behind us who were in line. We left the park where the ranger had recommended and set up the fence and tarp at a campground on BLM land, hoping this would be respected by anyone driving by. Just as we were leaving, the family whose RV was next to our campsite came back and promised to keep an eye on it. They were from Florida and were very nice. We drove to the Ocean Lakes trail head and parked there. I unloaded the horses and rode out into the countryside, following the shore of the lake. It was a pleasant ride on well-maintained trails, and although it seemed like all the tourists had come here, it was quiet and there weren't many people on the trail. On the way back, we rode up a scenic mountain, and I let Rodeo do his thing and jog up the mountain at about 30 minutes 10 mph, with the other two horses following. It was great fun, and I had to laugh at the gentleman cuddling with his girlfriend in a hammock right next to the path as we ran past him and shouted in surprise. In the evening, Nathan showed up from Australia and parked his car at the campsite next to us. He is a mountaineer and cameraman for Redbull extreme sports films and shared his life story with us. He brought some beer and we invited him for dinner. We eat some of our freeze dried soup with extra pasta and tomato sauce and some sausages. we had a great time. The next day we went to Jenny Lake and drove to Phleps Lake and back. A tour of about 36 km and we enjoyed the view from the viewpoint down to the lake. We followed Phleps Lake back to the trail to Jenny Lake and suddenly turned off the trail and ended up going in the wrong direction from the horse trail. We took a shortcut across a dry marsh to get back on the trail we needed to get back to the parking lot. Peter waited patiently for us. Mirjam wanted to get up early at 5am to take photos and videos at the lake, so we did that three days in a row, except for the last day when the weather wasn't what we'd hoped for. We drove north and to Heritage Point Lake, where we encountered two brown bears playing. The horses were alert but calm as we approached the bears. They seemed to recognize the bears and only when the bears approached us, all the more anxious when we asked them to walk towards the bears, did they become more alert in return and looked in our direction, turned around and put a few 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 by a different route and had lots of great videos and pictures with us. After four nights at the campground, we decided to head to Colorado as the weather threw a wrench in our plans again. We stayed at our ranch for a day and took a short trip into the park at sunset. The next day we drove to Harsel and stabled the horses in the grass above the fountain. The view from the Tiny House was great and we found some nice hiking trails at Eleven Mile Lake and George Canon. Two days later we returned to the ranch and rode a couple hours early in the morning in the Garden of the Gods near Colorado Springs. A month on the American trail came to an end and we were sad to say goodbye. It was great riding with you, Mirjam and Silvia, and I hope we do it again.

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