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It pays to listen to engineers :)

Posted on May 27, 2012 at 3:15 AM Comments comments (0)

The day actually started out spitting snow. Really wild since a few days ago I was getting a sunburn and trying to keep Ursa and Sierra hydrated in 92 degrees!  I love thius type of weather as the three of us seem to function better in the cooler weather. Last night Darlene decided to take today off and ride along _ it was wonderful having such great company. Sierra even loved having Yatzee along (Darlene’s Morgan/Arab horse). Darlene is an endurance rider and it was fun talking about what those rides entail. It is something I thought about doing a few years back and just may give a go at, although I do believe long riding has entered my blood.  Todays route was a bit interesting. The frontage roads here in Montana I find amazing. They are roads that parallel the hwy and are barely used as most people actually ride the hwy. I was able to do a little scouting last night as the frontage road ended and once again I was told that I would have to ride the hwy. I saw a road that paralleled the railroad tracks which looked perfect.  I did have to make sure there were no fences which would keep us from exited onto rock creek and also stay on top of the fact that these are Very active tracks. The funny thing about that is that I stayed with RJ just before entering Missoula who was a retired railroad engineer. Whether he knew it or not, I gained some nice insight to railroad traffic which has turned out helpful. I never paid attention to the lights on the tracks, but listening to him talk I was able today to know from which direction to expect a train. I also started monitoring how often the trains went by. Last night I was told they were every hour and sometimes every 20 minutes.  Today it appeared they came every couple ioof hours.  We would have about 2 miles right next to the track today. The trains going by earlier today made Yatzee quite nervous and Sierra a bit guarded (she has been watching the trains for the past few days so has been getting more used to the long, loud, freakishly large caterpillar).  We were both relaxed, but still very aware of the potentials. As we approached Train track time ( I figured it was actually safer riding the track for 2 miles vs. the busy interstate for 8) I said, you know what would be perfect? If a train came from one direction and had to wait for the train from the other direction, then both move out just before we go. And wouldn’t you know it, within 10 minutes of saying that, that is exactly what happened! YAY!!! Now if the trains would stay on their 2 hour schedule (((fingers and toes crossed)))). I originally thought about walking it leading Sierra, but Darlene mentioned riding at a trot. I said let’s do it, you and Yatzee set the pace. It was perfect whether Sierra liked it or not (I believe it is safe to say she prefers to walk J. I ride my stirrups long as that saves my knees, but makes it really hard to post so I did a standing trot (3 point trot) for those 2 miles……am thinking I just may feel it tomorrow. We made it through no problem. I asked Darlene how Sierra looked and when she looked at Sis, Darlene started laughing as Sierra looked a bit “haggard” – one ear up, the other flopping. I think it is safe to say Sierra trotted longer than she ever has!  Now we were only a mile from where I would be staying tonight. Another amazing place! The Stagecoach Station.  This place used to be an old stage coach stop. I couldn’t believe it as I rode up and was greeted. They had lined someone up to help me move the rig before I even arrived! And they put me in a cabin that is  so cool!!  (Take a look at the photos! ).  I am staying in a log cabin, was treated to dinner and was told I am their special guest! It is crazy wild to me…it felt like it was my birthday!! They even sent me with a postcard to send them when I get to Delaware and some info on the station. And as if that was not enough, some of the dinners in the restaurant heard what I was doing. When I left, a fellow followed me out and said he had cancer and is 5 years and 2 months cancer free……all I could do was hug him!  The out pouring of generosity astounds me. And I once more stand in awe of those that I meet……. 

Sierra, Baby Kisser

Posted on May 27, 2012 at 3:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Last night, right after untacking Sierra and tucking her in with feed and water, Allen, RJ and I went to scout out the route I would be taking through Missoula. The Kim Williams trail starts a block down from Allens and h drove us around showing where it pops out etc. Then we had to figure out if I would have to leave the trail early or if I could continue to ride it to its end (yay, I could). We discovered where it popped out and where I would have to ride road until I found another bit of trail then under an over pass over a river and to Jeff and Darlenes I could go J.  When we returned I rode with RJ back to his place to pick up my rig and arrived back to Allens to find pizza cooking! Ursa got to sleep with me in a bedroom and we all woke early to get going. It worked out well in that I figured that on a Sunday everyone would be at church or not awake yet… how much trouble could I really get in????

I let Ursa have the day off as going through the city may be a bit demanding. Sierra and I set off clomp clomping on an asphalt trail trying to be as quiet as possible. It was not too early, I left around 8:30 after Allen brought me out for a bite of breakfast. Let me also say here that Allen has some BEAUTIFUL Mules! There were 2 that really caught my eye, but alas no muley mule for me……. 

I did notice a few people do double takes out their windows and then there was a real test…..a woman and her child in a stroller…….. she loved it and asked if her child could pet Sierra. I thought, what is the worst thing that could happen and then thought, well I had better not think about it and said sure J. And there she was, my big red mare, Sassy Sierra turned baby kisser! Yay, off to a right foot in the city of Missoula!! Onward ho!!  A little later I passed the Share House and people there were enthralled with Sierra and this trek I am on. A cup of coffee was offered and gladly accepted and when asked if there was anything else they could do I thought – hey –restroom (I mean take advantage of a bathroom where you can, esp. in a bigger city. I doubt it would be good if a person just dropped trough in the middle of a trail, esp since they had the pick up after your pooch mutt mitts. Which when I saw I really wondered how many I would have to use if Sierra decided to grace the path with her presence. Probably too much info, but who I am I to deny you this little piece of info…. Sierra has started farting before she has to unload – very handy in this kind of situation! Gives a person a bit of time to find some tall grass off a trail J ).

After a bit of visiting we were on our way once again – onward, more people now appearing on the trail (mostly joggers) – and our trail brought us right past the university. We got mostly smies and someone said it was a fine morning to see a horse and rider and only a couple looks of – seriously?! Then Sierra locked up and wouldn’t budge……come on Sis….nothing…..sterner: lets go….nothing…… then I had to Laugh! She was staring at a statue of a Grizzly Bear! Ok, good to know she will not try to walk right past one, but I did need her to walk on. After pointing out that people were walking by and nothing was happening she moved forward. Under a couple of bridges later and just east of the school we happened onto a herd of people bird watching (ok, to me it seemed more as if they were trying to find birds to watch, but that is just my observation). As we happened up on them, a few people broke away and engaged us in conversation (evidently a big red mare in Missoula is rarer than some birds ;0 ).  A little girl asked if she could feed my horse carrots, to which I replied “you have carrots?” In my head I thought what are you doing with carrots out here (having forgotten this is a favorite kid snack and I was not out in the middle of nowhere). I said I am sure she would like that and her mother told her to lay her hand flat so the horse could take it off her palm and not confuse her finger for a carrot. I could not help myself after Sierra politely engaged in a little mid morning snack and said “ok, now count your fingers” Which she did……then she asked if another little girl (to whom she had not seemed to know) could also give Sierra a carrot. To which I replied “ I am sure Sierra would Love that”. I am pretty sure I may have just messed with a childs head because she handed this other little girl a carrot and told her to lay her hand flat and then proceeded to say “ and when you are done count your fingers”.  I didn’t have the heart to say that if they really lost a finger the last thing they would have to do is count fingers ….see I do know when to be quiet ;). After a bit longer we were once again on our way. We followed the trail until we could catch another little trail that went under a railroad trestle and the hwy. I do believe this was created for walkers or bikers. We were so close to that hwy bridge that I had to get off Sierra and I was afraid that if she spooked she would hit her head on the hwy! (I really am not exaggerating!!) Then onto a road, across a hwy and I was able to catch another walkway…..soon (for as soon as could be when walking 2 mph) we were coming under the over pass and there was Allen coming to pick me up with his friend so I could get my rig. I had another mile and a half to go which I ended up walking as we would be back tracking back out and thought I would save Sierra my weight in addition to the walk.

Jeff and Darlene had invited some great people over for dinner so we could all visit. It was a onderful meal and great conversation! Actually such great conversation that Jeff, Darlene and I stayed up until well after 12:30am chatting. Then in the morning we chatted until 1:00 pm. I looked at the clock and said: ok, I either need to leave now or plan on leaving tomorrow morning --- it was tomorrow morning……

Sierra, bridge walker

Posted on May 27, 2012 at 3:10 AM Comments comments (0)

You hear more often than not what you don’t want to do and most often you agree with it. You really don’t want to ride through the heart of Missoula, which I too was very sure about. Then you try to figure out what you will do instead. My alternative would be to ride the hwy (I-90…oh yea, interstate)The thing with Montana is the really wide shoulder. Maybe it is because it is the Big Sky state and they are trying to balance it out with the wide land mass on either side of the oil (I learned that in eastern wa – means asphalt). Although there is a lot of shoulder I have been in the mindset that I really want to avoid the 75 plus mph speed here….so what to do, what to do….. I had gone into Missoula the day before to try to find a sleeping bag to replace the one Ursa tried to burrow into but instead succeeded in creating a bit of a stuffing nest a result of the Lightening/thunder storm she withstood the day before. I also wanted to try to find internet to upload some pics.  There I had asked a woman if she knew the area well and another woman over heard and came to my rescue. She put her mind to it and helped find me a trail I could take……right through the  heart of Missoula. You know, this I was ok with so now I just need to get to Missoula….


Sierra and I left Huson (Ursa got a day off as I wanted both hands free since I would be walking into Missoula today and the back hwy would have a lot more traffic on it as I approached the city. And I have to admit I am really glad I made that decision…. It was a nice peaceful ride to start and I even had a car stop and a man asked if his daughter could pet my horse. So a brief stop then onward. Now we were passing a lot of horse farms. Fun, unless you have a horse that is used to having her own herd to boss around. Now it is actually kind of funny, but not so much when you have a bull headed horse that demands attention from other horses and doesn’t care if vehicles weighing more than her are barreling down a t speeds faster than she can run. So Sierra will continue walking if horses notice her (ok, more of a strut) and if horses ignore her she will actually stop, yell, prance, and continue to stare until she is looked at. It appears that I have a very vain horse…. So lets just say that a number of horses (on a road with many horses) chose to ignore her. Frustrated??? Who Me?????? (I would think it would be fair to say I was more frustrated than Sierra). This sttayed the case for pretty much 6 miles (doesn’t sound like far until you factor I that when Sierra is actually walking we average 2 – 2 ½ mph).


Finally we are out of asphalted (this is not the horse areas and heading for the denser population. I have to admit I was starting to wonder if I was going to get into trouble as I was getting into the outskirts of Missoula . I hopped on a trail that appeared to be a bike path that led me just to the city limits. Cars were flying by now. And I noticed RJ’s rig. He was keeping an eye on me J.  As I approached the end of the asphalt trail a dog started barking at me. Sierra was already a wee bit on edge so we stopped so she could compose herself. A very nice woman walked over and apologized. I told her it was not a problem at all.  After a bit of conversation she wished me safe travels and Sis and I continued on our way…….right into Missoula!  The road got a little tight so I hopped off and walked her about ¼ mile to the Walmart on the corner. I jumped back on and through the parking lot by the oil changes and around back we went. I did have to chuckle to myself as I thought, now what you see at walmart just might include a horse ;). (actually this is the second Walmart I have now ridden through ….the first was in Yelm, WA….funny the things you remember). As I rounded the far side of Walmart heading for the bridge I was going to have to cross, I am not sure who was more startled, me and Sierra or the 3 people and the 2 dogs sitting in the shade next to what looked like an electric box. Up the small incline to our bigger challenge. We needed to cross the Clark Fork to get to Allen’s place and to do it we were now on one of the busiest streets in Missoula- Reserve St.  Reserve is 4 lanes (two going either direction) with a walkway on either side for pedestrians. The width was just enough for Sierra and the saddlebags. The river was rolling (it was high) I decided to lead Sierra across this because there were just too many variable at play. Non stop traffic, a loud fast moving river, tight quarters…….oh yea, and a police car with his lights on on the opposite side with a stalled car…..


As we walked up to the walkway (we are on a sidewalk and I am praying that she simply follows me. There was he big yellow drum that is filled with water (you know the ones for when cars crash into them) on our left and someone decided to dump a trash bag on our right side (guess which bothered her the most). We got past those and I could feel her anxiety (maybe some of it was mine…..actually I was waiting for the cop to tell us to pull over when we got to the other side but that never happened. There were 4 times when she locked up and I just kept praying she would move forward and not bolt away from me.  She kept eyeballing the river below (and I watched two ducks look like they were kayaking down the river) and I couldn’t wait to get to the grass!  Once on the other side I had to walk to Alan’s place just to allow my heart rate to decrease some! I am thinking this ride will do one of two things to my heart: make it stronger or put me in the ground sooner……


The first storm cell in MT

Posted on May 10, 2012 at 10:25 PM Comments comments (0)

No storm hit in the night which meant a full nights sleep. Ursa was still really sore today so decided to let her once again stay in the trailer. The temps were still dropping so all was good and today would include an extra 8 miles as a detour around the hwy. After an amazing breakfast and some wonderful conversation out to take up Ms Sassy Pants. And was she ready to go (it actually helped me feel less guilty about the detour around the interstate). Montana has some amazing frontage roads and they are a dream to ride on when it comes to riding roads. Yes the speed limit is 45-50, but there are not many vehicles on it as Montana residents judge distance by time rather than mileage (so I have been told). The only con to it is that you hear the hwy traffic so it can be difficult for me to hear cars coming on the frontage road, so I try to ride the side facing traffic.  Today took me right through Alberton and past the Side Track café. Once out of town I caught a dirt road up to the old hwy and road through some beautiful country (woods with a view ;) ). You could see the old rail line off to the left and we came up on the old trestle bridge supports. Here in Montana they sold the right of way to individuals so there is no access like there was in WA. 


As I rode up to 8 mile road I saw the steakhouse roadhouse and there were some people there. I thought, maybe they would know a way to access the other side of the frontage road without having to take the extra 8 miles, so tied Sierra up and went inside. Turns out they had just bought the place and were getting ready to reopen it. I was offered pizza and soda (now that Was a treat!!). The downside ~ the only option was the 8 mile road. Ah well, I had planned on it so, onward ho, up the road we go. This is a quiet little road, well until horses  decided to join you….. I have gotten used to Sierra attracting horses to her as we ride by. And we haqd already gotten the attention of a few. Then I noticed a couple of horses really excited, then joined by two more and they were running for the drive. I look ahead and thought I don’t see it, but surely there is a gate there……….and as we got closer….no gate…..and now surrounded by 4 horses and a lot of excitement. Some snorting and a little kicking started so I hopped off.  I tried to send them back into their drive (I think it was their drive), but to no avail. They kept following us, then when I shooed them (ok, you don’t really shoo a horse, it is more like a HA, Get!!) they turned to a pasture that had a fence between us and they didn’t think of turning back around as there looked to be some tasty grass in there. As a couple cars went by I flagged them down to see if they lived on the road, but no one did…….well heck. I knew there was a forest service up ahead as I had talked with them about possibly staying there, and they have quite a few head, so maybe they were theirs????


As I got closer to the forest service station (what a place – an office, visitor center, fire dept., tack building – and they is just what I saw in my brief encounter) I looked over and saw some nasty clouds a ways off coming in. I grabbed my camera and took a picture. Something spooked Sierra and my camera flew out of my hand. I jumped off Sis, grabbed the camera and by the time I stood up the rain started. Dang weather moves REALLY FAST here! By the time I got my rain jacket on the rain drops were so big I actually thought it was hailing. And did I mention the lightening and thunder?!  Good thing my crowns are glued in! This storm cell went right over head! I was thinking, yay, ther are some trees taller then me here…..but I am still going to walk. Am really glad Sierra has seen some nasty weather as she was just a bit jumpy now. This started just a few yards from the forest center. I walked in, tied Sierra to a tree, walked to where I saw people and asked how long something like this would go on for here in Montana – they said about a half an hour. Really?! Cool!! (as in Wa plan on half a day! And I was already making plans in my head as to what to do next). I walked over to the office where I met Laura who told me it was another 7-8 miles to Huson. That was my plan now…..keep moving. The lightening had moved off to the distance and the rain was letting up some, so off I went down 6 mile road.


Further down I had a dog, a very cute dog) come out to see us. Ok, well not just see us…this dog fell into pace with us as if she had been riding with us all along. I thought wow, this is crazy!  I kept trying to get her to go home. LOL, at one point my phone had answered itself and I was saying going home, then I heard “hello”,, I would say again “go home” then I would hear “hello” ……dang they have some great dogs out here I thought! It was RJ, who was hosting me that night checking on me J.  I hopped off and forced the dog to turn and go home……then back down the road we went. Rj drove up to see where I was, we talked a bit, I was able to walk a bit (that helps dry out the seat of your pants after wet saddle crotch ;)  (definitely not a comfort thing). 


As I rode into Huson I was stopped by a fellow who had seen me riding the past couple days and up past the forest service. Turns out he is the head wrangler up there.  I asked if he knew any routes around the hwy or any possible contacts and he mentioned a few names. After we said our good byes, I was only two houses away from RJ’s. There are things you do not expect and when I saw Lee pull in with my rig, I did not expect it as I figured I still needed to get ‘er done. What a NICE Surprise as I had a full day and was tired! Ursa was still in the back of the trailer and I had my concerns when that lightening and thunder went through as she is so scared of them. When I opened the trailer door she came out so happy to see me and as I looked into the trailer I couldn’t even begin to get upset knowing how a storm like that affects her (I am really glad she was not riding with us, because she checks out completely). My sleeping bag had become stuffing, hay was one big nest in the bag, well lets just say it was very disheveled……..but, the storm had passed and we were all together again J

A wee bit of ingenuity if I do say so myself

Posted on May 10, 2012 at 10:20 PM Comments comments (0)

A little bit of ingenuity can go a long way!

What a day!!! I woke and fed Ursa and Sierra, made coffee on my 1 burner stove and meandered up to the house of my hosts where I saw at least 15 white tail deer and at least 25 elk!  Alta and Doug met me and said they wanted to drive the route so I could see what I was in for and we could double check the way the forest service told me I could get around the hwy and over the river and through the woods, as well as drop off my rig at my next stop in Alberton.  They surprised me by pulling into the side track café and treated me to breakfast! I was introduced to a few people and some names were given to me as potential contacts down the trail, then it was drop off the rig (Ursa stayed in the trailer for the day as she was extremely sore from the previous 2 days), drive my route (they showed me where I would come out so I would recognize some of the spots) then take me to my steed (who was thinking she was getting the day off). The bonus to driving it…well, think of back in the day when scouts would go out to check trail before others would go – It ios So helpful (esp. in a vehicle!). Where I would get into some woods we were able to find the perfect route (a nice little road) vs. going straight up an embankment simply by going an extra ¼ - ½ mile.  Getting into the woods was a blessing as that is where I am the most relaxed. It was over the hill and through the woods until we popped out onto a road which paralleled the interstate and it actually ran parallel to the Chicago-Milwaukie rail (which I rode in eastern Washington). It made more sense to saty on the road which was only traveled by a couple of people and really did feel remote. It was Great! You know what you see the most of in Montana’s ditches at this point? Deer carcass or bones. There was one ravine that ran next to the road that looked like an animal grave yard. It made sense too as I looked at the area, if a predator would push its quarry through it would be an easy ambush……… Oh, and on this same road further down what to my wondering eyes  do I see, but a Yellow Submarine ---- really! It was up on a hill and it said experimental submarine. Looking at it made me think of Jacques Cousteau. Funny what pops into your head at different moments…….


From  this road I had permission to enter private property and connect onto the old rail trail. He told me there was a gate that I had to go through and if it was locked just cut the wire (yes, I am carrying a fencing tool with me). I got up to it and sure enough a latch and lock. I tied Sierra up as I could see the tunnel that I would have to go through, but it had fencing in front of it. So before doing anything I wanted to make sure I could get around the tunnel. From where I was standing it looked very iffy. I crawled through the barb wire and as I approached the tunnel I could see a trail off to the right – Bingo! Now for that blasted gate……the idea of cutting the wire was killing me so I studied the latch and wood upright it was holding dearly. Hmmmmmm, push in wood, latch gives an inch…….hmmmmm (I don’t think they anticipated having a saw on their saddle J). I cut the upright even with the latch……push on wood, left latch, woo hoo, pull wood, open gate , walk Sierra through, replace wood and set latch……looks just like I found it, except 4 inches shorter.  I had to check out the tunnel, according to a marker it is tunnel 18 from the rail line. I took some pictures of the marker info if you feel so inclined to read it. I did learn a local piece of history too. There was a fire burning on the mountain and a farmer drove his tractor into the tunnel to try to save it, instead the tunnel acted as more of a back draft and, well bye bye tractor.  The other side of this trail seemed to have many hikers on it. There were markers explaining the trail, etc. I got to ride up above the hwy and had managed to avoid crossing the clark foot on the hwy which I am sure was to every ones amazement. I was not far from where I was staying now, I could almost see it (or the ridge above where I would be)……then to my surprise was another gate. This was a long forest service type gate and on the other side of it was the walk through for hikers. An opening about 2 ½ feet apart with a third pole positioned in the middle of the two about 2 ½ foot away. Dang! I got off Sierra and judged the width, it was going to be tight, but…………tried to lead her thru – no dice…….tried again……boogers…….hmmmmm. I tied her up and explored the far side of the fence --- tied into the mountain – seriously?! And the opposite side tied to the fence of the hwy…….hmmmmm…I really don’t want to cut anything…….then looked at the gate. I have had to replace enough of them that I went and looked at the hinge side……Bingo! They did a bad job of setting the hinges……..if I hit here and here (which I did with the fencing tool) ….wala! Come this way Ms Sierra………Then back onto the hinges the gate went J.  Yes, having a farm has paid off! It was a simple ride from there out, Ursa was So Happy to see us! Dinner was waiting for me (WOW!) and then Lee helped me look at the next leg of my journey – first on google maps then we decided to drive it. By the time we got done it was dark and I was ready for bed. They had a room for me, but I heard there may be thunder storms again so opted to sleep in the trailer with Ursa just in case…….little did I know the storm would hit the next day

Burr Head......worst than bed head

Posted on May 10, 2012 at 10:15 PM Comments comments (0)

I have said it before and I doubt I will stop saying it, but people amaze me. Their desire to jump in and help me out, to make sure that I am successful on each leg of this journey is astounding. Charlie drove me yesterday so I could see the route and introduced me to the fellow where I was going to stay, but ended up three miles short and led me to the fellow where Sierra spent the night. She also took me to Tarkio to show me the route and introduce me to my hosts there as well AND helped me move my rig! When I got the ride back to St. Regis Lisa said, why don’t you just stay here instead of driving back out to where I was going to camp and this saved me some time as well, plus a little more comfyJ.  A thunder storm came in the middle of the night, which Ursa does not do well in, so I was up for about an hour and a half with her trying to calm her down, needless to say the sunrise came a bit too early for a woman who does best on 7 hours sleep. Ursa and I went to meet uyp with Sierra. She was in a huge pasture over night. I learned about the burrs the night before when I brushed Sierra’s halter against a plant….holy ho hos ~ her halter was covered in them (they reminded me in a way of jumping cactus). When I hollered for Sister (Sierra), she started over and as she got closer I thought what is going on with her mane – I even teased her saying she had bed head. Then she was next to me and I saw it – BURRS all over her forelock and upper mane! BOOGERS!!! Her mane looked like a big dreadlock! As my patience dwindled in plucking burr after burr and my courage mounted, I began just pulling on them with my fingers (who knew they would be soft?!) After I got her hair style back to the old design we set off (with 3 extra miles from stopping short the day before). Today was a bit cooler which helped us all out. We rode into Superior….Ursa on leash on the sidewalk and Sierra and I on the road (I was so Proud of Ursa remembering how to do that!). The forest service is in Superior, by not making it the day before I had the opportunity to stop in and ask if they knew of any ways around the interstate ---SCORE!! That was a Great hour long stop!!  The next day would entail riding the interstate to cross the Clark Fork, well not anymore!  I also was more hypersensitive to water, as if I was walking thru desert – when I saw water (even a pipe or faucet that was accessible) we stopped. Ursa started out in her swamp cooler coat (wet) which worked unbelievably well. The other cool thing (no pun intended) about it is that it is light in cooler so serves well for road travel as people can see her more easily. Compared to the stress of the day before, we had a nice ride. It is funny how easily you return to what to do when riding a road with curves and hills.


The place we stayed at was a slice of heaven! She broke colts from all over the country, but presently only have their own horses as she suffered an injury that has not allowed her to mount up again (yet). And some beautiful horses indeed they have! Sierra got her own corral and Ursa and I hunkered down in the horse trailer for the night. We were going to sleep in the barn, but they were talking about lightening and thunder so if we did that I would have to shut us in a stall. It just seemed like a better idea to sleep in the back of the trailer. What was nice was that I got there with enough daylight that I could rig out the back for our comfort. All hay to the divider, then I hung a tarp on the inside of the trailer as the roof leaks and sweats, which would prevent any sort of water torture (in Teko I had water dripping in my ear). Ursa’s bed was my cot with enough room for her too, then off to dreamland we went……..  

Seriously....92 degrees out of the gate

Posted on May 4, 2012 at 10:25 AM Comments comments (0)


Good night ~ I started feeling like a whimp today.  It felt absolutely GREAT to be tacking up Sierra and Ursa and heading out to pick up where we left off. And to start back out by riding up a mountain, well, that felt like home. I had a pocket of sunflower seeds, the sun was shining and Ursa and Sierra were ready to go, what more could I ask for?!  (((well, the answer to that would come a little later))). From the mountain we went to road riding. This road was hardly used and actually it was from the road that I saw my first White Tail deer. (In WA we have black tail). And it was their tails that I noticed first. I did not realize just how big and fluffy their tails are. Ursa could have cared less, but Sierra did notice the big white flags ;).  On we went, and with moving forward so did the temperature. I had found a few mud puddles that Sierra drank some from and Ursa laid down in, but now on the road there was not anything. From the paved road we connected to a dirt road that paralleled railroad tracks. These were close enough to the hwy that it was like riding the shoulder of the hwy except there was some field fence between us. Now it was getting downright hot! I kept thinking Wow, I so need to get used to 70 degrees and dang Sierra is sweating a lot……..she got out of shape fast”Then there was Ursa the Black Dog….. she went through all her water and I started giving her mine. She tends to pant a lot anyway, but her panting began to increase and then you start to notice more saliva. We had been walking where there was no shade, but just a bit further up there was a small cluster of trees _ it was time to pull over and give a rest. We sat under that shade for about an hour. There are things you really begin to weigh out in these situations. The longer you sit the hotter it gets as mid day approaches, but then you also evaluate the condition of everyone. This was a situation where it was more important to rest and let Ursa cool off and letting her breathing come back to normal. Earlier I did not put her swamp cooler coat on as it was nice and cool out. Now was the time, but I did not have the water to spare to drench the coat as there was only about 2 inches left in 1 of my water bottles……ok, time to find some water. So off we all went. Another mile down the road Lisa and Dick drove by on their way to Superior. They stopped and I asked if they had water for Ursa’a coat. It is nice when people know the area as another ¼ mile was a boat ramp. This is another situation you weigh out in a trip like this… it worth the ½ mile? In this case __ OH YEA!!  So off we went. Sierra got a good drink in and Ursa got to drink and splash around (this made a world of difference!). I drank the rest of the water in my bottle and then filled them with the river water. I wanted the water for Ursa, so there it is. That coat helped a lot! I had to get it wet again a few times. I could tell when it was needed by her panting.  Then out of water again. It is funny how certain needs outride shyness. And I was getting really thirsty (a sign of dehydration)…..and there was a house…… I tied up and went and knocked on the door… answer……knock again….no answer……BOOGERS!!! Hmmmmm……..yep, I walked to the back of the house and saw a faucetand yes, I used it. I filled and rinsed my bottles a couple of times then drank.  In the back of my mind I knew there was a potential for giardia  but really didn’t care (It would have come from the river water that was in the bottle previously, and if I had had the patience to let the bottle dry out before adding and rinsing the bottle it would have taken care of the issue, and more than likely they were dry enough) that water was soooo cold and wonderful to taste – Ursa thought so too! And a refill on her coat happened! Now on we went. Charlie was going to help me move the rig and when  she was off work she found us on the road, still 3 miles from where we were to stay that night. She passed us and then made a call. When she came back around she said they (she and Lisa) found a plan B. Right above the road we were on, we could rest Sierra for the night. Did I have to think long or hard on this?! Hell no, Let’s do it!  Ursa jumped in her van and Sierra and I followed that ¼ mile and Sierra was in a huge pasture with water – nice cool refreshing water!!

Arrived in St. Regis, Montana

Posted on April 27, 2012 at 2:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Today we (Sierra, Ursa and I) pulled into St. Regis, Mt to pick up where we left off in November. I drove to the Dog House Tavern where we marked the trail and went in to see if Lisa was working. She is my contact in St. Regis and what a help she has been! She wasn't there, so went over to her place (I knew where it was because Sierra spent the night next door when I was here last). Lisa saw me and said pull on in, you can put her in my round pen! She jumped right in to help get Sierra settled! After throughing some feed and setting up water I  noticed the Sierra's reaar left shoe seemed to not be set quite right..... Am pretty sure she twisted it in the trailer when we were leaving my place. I thought I would be able to straighten the nail and resink it, but the nail cam out and the shoe actually had a twist to it. Lisa made a call to a farrier down the road and he asaid bring her on over. I got her there and he straightened and reset the shoe for her no charge! What a Guy!! Now Sierra was taken care of. Funny thing for me coming into St Regis ~ it fellt like coming home. People are so friendly and kind! There was a birthday party for a woman in town to which Lisa and Dave brought me along and Charlie (another St. Regis angel) came to say hi.  Lisa set me up in her horse trailer where there was a bed, even brought out a light for me! Lisa and dave made dinner of fried chicken, which was delicious. Earlier she mentioned a sorting compittion in Missuola to benefit breast cancer and suggested I come along as I could make some contacts for help down the trail --ok, twist my arm :).  

The next morning Lisa, Charlie, Dick and I headed down toward the Bitterroots for the event. I met some very nice people and it was a lot of fun to see the event, as on my side of the country I am more apt to see barrel racing not cow cutting. i have to admit that my brain was put on overload as idea after idea was tossed out for a poential route down to and through Missoula. There was a moment where I actually thought my head might burst! The plane was to head out the next day, but now with all the options.....dang! Sunday Charlie picked me and Ursa  up to show me a good route to Superior and introduce me to where I would be staying.  OOO, and I met the CUTEST Mule! A blue Roan out of Charlies mare ......yes, i was drooling ;).  By the time we got back to Lisa's it was around 2:00 pm, I would have to wait one more day to head out.......

On The Trail Again -- Whoop Whoop!

Posted on April 22, 2012 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Yes, thasat is right ~ I have made my way back to Montana where I left off and in my mind there is no turing back until I reach Delaware! I spent the winter chomping at the bit to get going again and unfortunately was reminded that it was not yet time to head out. After the holidays I styarted to watch and wait, about the time I thought to hell with it, I am going to head out, a foot of snow fell at my home and I found the first horse I ever owned (although we both know, she owned me!) down and she never got back up. That was more intense then anything I have done on this ride so far...a coulp[e weeks later I thought maybe I would have to fly down to Arizona, but Thankfully I didn't have to (would rather make that a fun trip !) then again getting ready to head out and one morning early March I went out to feed and found Rosie down, cast in a fence..... I got her cut out,  treated her for shock and when it appeared safe we slung her and tried to help her stand. She collapsed and died immediately. That too was one of the saddest days I have had. So now Rosie and Skye lay side by side tho there souls ride on.  These were a few hard knocks for me. I did all the wondering of why, what if, etc.  

All of this had me thinking about the winter, why I had to mark trail, why I ended up back at home, etc. I am a firm believer everythjing happens for a reason and I am pretty sure I do not need to know the reason but I can tell you I am Thankfull that I was home. To be able to be with both Skye and Rosie as they transitioned out of this life was a gift . They say the two biggest gifts a person can have is being at someones birth and being at someones death.......and I am grateful.....

So nmow, the tides have turned and this go around I have Ursa and Sierra with me. We stopped in Eastern Wa for an evening on our way to Montana. As I pulled into the drive I could hear the native drums being played. The three of us were blessed for the journey, and so our journey continues.....

Merry Christmas :)

Posted on December 25, 2011 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (0)

It has been said to my many a time "What an adventure you are on."  And there is so much truth in that statement, yet I have found myself replying with "and even more so, a life changing experience." I have noticed this more when I slip back into the 'mainstrea reality' of everyday living and even more so with the holiday upon us. ore often than not while riding I have found my mind waundering to those whose lives have been touched by cancer, by those who have not hesitated to help me on this journey along y way and those who did hesitate then not only relaxed into the journey but managed to jump in with both feet. I have mentioned that I have found that Thanksgiving has become an everyday occurance in my life because of this journey I am on. Over the past few days with now Christmas upon us, I have found myself seeing this holiday too with new eyes. It has become a day of gift giving, presents under the tree, time spent with friends and family and what a joyous day it is. It has always been my favorite holiday, one I would decorate with garland and lights, joy, love and laughter. I am blessed to be home this day with my furred family as I wait for storm after storm to pass through the route I have chosen for the ride and have discovered that this year the day is no more or less for me than any of the past days I have spent on the trail. Each day has been a gift, presents placed under the tree daily and many times hourly. These gifts were not electronic gadgets, something that I had circled with stars in my eyes in the sears catalog, gift cards or wii games.....they were/are the roof placed over my head , the ice water handed to me at the end of a long hot day, the shower I had, the meals placed in front of me, the shelter for my steeds, The inns were always open for a traveler.....    These are the gifts wrapped in the paper with the big bow on top given in love. Strangers are friends and family to love and cherish. In giving we recieve and I have learned that in recieving we give.  Christmas Day is 365 days a year, for there is a gift in each day we have, unwrap it with love and hold it close to your heart.....