Heading to the Big Horns
I am sitting is one of the most beautiful places that I have ever been. We have named it Camp Heaven. We are looking over a meadow that has a marsh in it that attracts wild life. Look a little further and you are surrounded by mountains, hills of trees and open expansive meadows, wildflowers of every color are blooming, green grass everywhere.
We have made our camp in the Big Horn National Forest, just off NFS road 14A (for any of you detail people).
We arrived early this morning in the Big Horns after a rather restless night. We left our day camp yesterday evening and drove to Gillette Wyoming and did our shopping, water refill and sewer dumped. Doug stayed at the trailer and fed and watered the horses while Lori and I went shopping.
A thunderstorm with hail had just gone through the area, and other rain clouds were making up so our timing was really good. We were between storms, the temperature had dropped and it was great traveling weather with horses. We drove on towards Sheridan WY and the plan was to get the horses out there for a few hours and get some sleep. The rest areas in most of the Wyoming have pens for horses and we were going to use them. The rest area in Sheridan did not have any, so we decided to hay the horses and see if we all could rest a while. We had a mountain to climb to get us into the Big Horns and the plan was to do it in the early daylight.
Our rest was only for a few hours as the horses were not very quiet with all the noise of the parked trucks. Finally Doug got up and announced he was going up the mountain now, as the horses were not resting at all. We started at 4010 feet in Dayton WY and headed up this winding road, climbing to over 8500 feet. It was actually nice to have the entire road to our selves. We finally stopped at Burgess Junction at a pull over and went to bed. The horses rested well. About 5:30AM we unloaded, to give the horses a walk about, eat grass and drink water. They were in good shape, and we all put our coats on, it was 42 degrees out.
We traveled on through the most beautiful areas, mountains that were just spectacular, with rock out croppings , and open meadows. We stopped at a pullout on a ridge that was above the tree line and we realized that we were above the clouds that were hanging in the valley below. The sun was shining where we were at.
Early in the year I had gotten a map of the Big Horns from the forest service. We had all studied it and were eager to see the things that we had picked out. First stop was Jaws Trail Head. We unloaded, saddled and packed the paniards on Visa with all our gear. In this type of terrain and setting it is not advised to go off with out everything you might need. Layers of clothes, as the weather can change quickly, along with our lunch, side arm and saw, to name a few. We headed off to Bucking Mule Falls, which was down the trail 7 miles.
We were probably 4 miles from home, going through a trail of rocks, I was in front when L.P. s head went up, he saw something ahead. It was a 2 moose; one cannot mistake those horns! They were probably getting a drink in the water as we were following Porcupine Creek. They ran up the hill from us, but we proceeded cautiously, making a lot of noise, as to not get between them if there were more around.
We had a great ride, stopped for lunch, and rested. We had been there a bit when Lori noticed that Tammy Fae had gotten her saddle horn hooked on the rope she was tied up with. She had her head bent around and her saddle pulled forward. She was not struggling or scared, thankfully, so Doug just took his knife and cut her loose. We all breathed a sigh of relief, as that could have been a big wreck.
We got back to the trailhead and decided it was time to find our camp spot. In the National Forest you are able to camp about anywhere. Just make your home. One of the things we had to look for was a place that was fairly level to get off the road so we don’t rip anything out from the underside of the trailer. It took us a while, but that is when we found Camp Heaven. We put up the electric fence and highline for the horses. They were turned our all afternoon until we did evening chores and tonight put a sheet on each horse as it will be in the 40s again tonight.
We sat out all afternoon and evening watching our meadow. So far we have seen elk and deer. The elk are bugling, something that I have not heard before. Birds singing everywhere, and if you listen you can here Porcupine Creek running.
We have taken all the precautions for bears that we can. Trash is locked up as well as our cooking grill removed and put away. The horses are quiet and resting well on the highline, they need a good nights sleep tonight, just like we do.