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Pelican Valley

Deadfall from the 88 fire

Pelican Valley
August 2, 2012
We are really going to need lots of George’s coffee today! The camp doctor told us that Vivian had broken her hip. 3 pins were put in it and she was doing well. She was in a hospital in Idaho Falls ID.
The sky was glorious as usual with the moon full and a planet in the eastern sky. My John R. would have known what planet it was. The cooking crew is nothing short of fabulous. They roast steel cut oats and then make oatmeal out of them. I am not much of a breakfast eater, but I ate plenty each morning as lunch is a long way off when you eat at 4am.
All our horses still have escaped the flu and get looked at again before we load up and head out for the day. We really have gotten our routine down and Visa, being the hoof (hand) wringer that she can be has really has settled into the drill. We bring the horses to the trailer to grain and water them while they are being saddled. Keep in mind that it is still dark out and lots of commotion.
We are going to Pelican Valley today. It is in the northeastern part of the park. It took us 2 hours to get to the trail head. We had to wait until 9am to leave as that gives the bears time to move on. I got back in the truck and took a nap. We started through some timber and then came out on a glorious long meadow with a stream running in it. WOW, it was beautiful. We rode 10 miles up one side of the valley to a cabin at the end of the meadow. We saw pelicans, Canadian geese, and other large birds. This was a Forest Service cabin that had an outhouse, complete with TP and a broom. We lunched at the cabin yard and rested for a while, then started on across the meadow to a trail that went down the other side of the valley.
We learned from one of the camp lectures that when the Nez Perce came through this valley after the battle of Big Hole. A chief’s wives died in the valley and is buried there somewhere. It was a realization of how this trip may be a once in a lifetime opportunity to ride parts of the Nez Perce Trail in Yellowstone.
I have really liked riding L.P. He is sturdy, quiet and has a really solid mind. He has taken good care of me. The riding in Yellowstone is varied and can be challenging at times. We were making our way across the meadow after lunch when we had to cross several marshy and boggy spots. When a group of people ride through a bog it gets deeper, so the riders should spread out and find different places to cross if possible. I followed where a rider had gone before me and told myself that maybe this was not the best place to cross. L.P. started down the bank and into the bog, then thought better of it as the footing was deep. He attempted to back up and pull his front legs out of the goo then discovered that he could not move his hind legs underneath him as the bank was in the way. It was somewhere in here when I told myself “better bail out we are going down”. L.P. struggled but did not panic at all and we both hit the ground. I did not have very far to fall as he was in the bog and we both landed on the dry ground above the bank. I was just trying to push myself away from his so he did not land on me, which he did not. I can say I did not hurt at all and L.P. got up and seemed just fine. I got back on and found another place to cross and on we went.
My camera battery had died by this time, as it did not get charged the night before with all that went on. The light was so different from what it was in the morning and the mountains looked so different from the morning.
We got back to the trailhead, loaded up and headed back to camp. On the way we go through an area in the park called Fishing Bridge. Gas, groceries and a few park buildings are there near a lake. Just past that we saw a large cinnamon colored bear loping towards the buildings. We all had a good chuckle picturing all the tourist that were going to scatter in a few seconds. In the same area we saw 2 bears that appeared to be eating on a carcass. One thing about the drive home is that the tourists are out and stop for various events that happen on or near the road. We got into one of those park traffic jams a few miles down the road when a black bear was very near the road.
The camp program tonight was a ceremony where all the people who have died in the past year are honored. The Nez Perce youth and their horses did this ceremony. The camp doctor had died in the past year along with others. It was explained that when the Indians would come home after someone had died they had to bring the horse home, so another rider would pony it back. The horses were rode in a counter clockwise circle, three times around the circle. There were 3 horses being ponied tonight. It was quite moving. I had been thinking of my John R. a lot today as he would have really enjoyed the ride in the meadow.
Wow did that shower feel good. Our laundry is taking over the bathroom. Good thing it got done a few days ago. We are all beat tonight and looking forward to one more day in the park.

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