Beautiful Tuesday on the JO
I woke up to …. YOU’VE GOT TO GET UP, YOU’VE GOT TO GET UP, YOU’VE GOT TO GET UP IN THE MORNING … song was being blared out of the farriers truck.. all 4 doors of his truck were open. There was a cot/bedroll city around the truck. Good thing Doug had brought us coffee and we at least had our eyes open. It was actually fun watching the people in their cots and bedrolls wake up or attempted to….
The morning was just beautiful, sun coming up and not a cloud in the sky. The bell rang for breakfast before 6am and everyone knew we better get going. Doreen had beat Doug to feeding horses, which is a record in itself. He gets up early, but Doreen gets up earlier!
We saddled up and headed toward a hard top road that we crossed yesterday into camp. How the scouts instruct everyone to cross the road is literally at the same time. All 140 some riders line up along the road and when given the signal we all walk across the road. It looks like a cavalry charge.
We rode up a canyon that had been part of the out of control backfire again. At one time we actually were in such rough country that we had to turn around and go back to a clearing and take another rout. The trail was too blocked with downed timber. This actually took some time to determine as our NFS law enforcement guide and the scouts tried to find a way through the timber. All 5 or our horses stood quietly in such a variety of difficult places until we were told to turn around. I was on a ledge so I had to decide if I was going to swing LPs front end up the mountain or down it to get turned around. His haunches were going to have to stay put regardless of which way I went. In the end I opted for down the hill.
Once we all turned around I ended up being the first horse in our group of 5 horses. Horses like to work together and if riders let them they will sort out an order that encourages them all on. On Monday we really did not do that as the riding was easy and we were all busy talking to other riders on the road. Now that the riding was getting harder we needed to get our order figured out so our horses were working at their peak.
As it turned out LP ended up leading our group. This did not surprise any of us as he is the heard patriarch at home. Hopper and Lori, Sandy and Visa, Darleen and Dandy, and then Doug and Tamie Fae is how our order worked out. When the going got hard we all fell into this order and all worked together.
We continued to climb steadily in altitude, (wishing we had the GPS), and pick our way through the deadfall for most of the morning. We managed to flush out a moose that was eating in a bog. Poor thing can you imagine what the moose though of his privacy being invaded by 140 horse….
Going through the deadfall was slow as we had to stop 2 times for they guys to get the saws out and cut downed logs.
By lunchtime we had reached the top of the mountain, which was above timberline. I can’t say that I have ever ridden my horse above timberline, let alone had my lunch there, but today we did. We got off and held our horses and ate our lunch. The view was fantastic and we could see a long ways.
After lunch we started off single file down the other side of the mountain with LP leading our group. I managed to get behind this horse that we had watched kick a persons leg during lunch. I kept my distance from the horse and tried to talk people into coming in the line in front of me. I could not pay anyone to get in front of me behind that horse, so I just kept a large space between. We headed down a really steep hill at one point there was a log over the trail and horse were riding around it. I decided that this was not what I really wanted to do. I headed LP at the log and he crossed it nicely. Everyone got over it except Tammie Fay who managed to do a 4 year old thing, of not watching where her front feet went. She stumbled and twisted Doug off. Thankfully Doug only managed to scrape his elbow and no harm done to the mare. That was a lucky break in an ugly place.
We wound our way out of the mountain and into a valley that had a creek flowing in it. I could see the Nez Perce riding and running along this creek making a run for it as it was fairly easy moving; I realized we had crossed the wet part of the mountains and were now headed to the dry side of the mountains.
We were able to water the horses in the creek so water was not such a desperate thing today when we were in camp. The little ½ ton pickup would not be such a needed commodity today. The creek emend up being only 100 yards from the camp, so many people took advantage of it and went for a dip in the creek. The farrier and the vet went swimming every afternoon if they could.
Tonight Emit Taylor a Nez Perce historian spoke. He talked about what happened in this area when the Nez Perce went through here. The kids also did the empty saddle ceremony again. I so remember this from last year. This year in was dedicated to a Nez Perce man that was killed by a neighboring tribe. The area we are riding in tomorrow is called Dead Indian Pass in honor of him.
Also the Nez Perce women where recognized. There were very few men that were along on the Nez Perce trail, so the women were the ones who packed up each day and made things work. Today they honored 6 Nez Perce women who have completed the 13 years on the ride. There have no men who have done the 13 years yet.
Darlene had one of the Nez Perce women pray with her yesterday and was given an herb that was a tea for healing. I can understand what she is feeling as I felt the same way last year. For some reason this is such a wonderful feeling and so serene.
I feel such a undying spirit as I sit here writing this and taking pictures of the full moon coming up over the hills.. Life today is beautiful on the Nez Perce Trail, but I don’t loose sight of the people who made this trail and why.