Sunday, October 3, 2010

Owyhee Adventure part 1

Blue: Hey Thunder, whadda ya suppose is down this road?

Thunder: I've been here before. A lot of horses go down this road to a big hill. The humans try to relive the Old West by riding us from here to the Snake River and the Oregon Trail.

Blue: I got to go on the East loop last year but not out to the Oregon Trail. Wow!

Thunder: You'll get to see it this year. You have a rider for Day 1. Follow me kid!

The Owyhee Mountain Range of SW Idaho is flanked by Hwy 78. To some it is a vast brown barren wasteland. To others, the high desert holds a rich history and a hidden beauty that at first you may have to look for. But then as the peace and serenity settles into your bones, you truly begin to appreciate the land. As you watch the sun come up over the horizons and the gold and pink hues in the landscape you begin to see it take on a life of it's very own. Little has changed in the Owyhees in the last 200 years. A few roads have been added but other than that, it is still the Old West where time has stood still. In the silence as you ride, you can hear the footfall of your horse, his every breath, the squeak of leather and if you are lucky, the call of a hawk.

As the sun rises on Sept 28, 2010; 68 riders saddle up and leave Oreana, Idaho. Their destination? Wild Horse Butte, the lands of Birds of Prey and the Snake River. It is more than a new dawn it is the beginning of a 5 day adventure through the Owyhees.

The trail left the Teeter's Ranch and climbed through washes to the open flats, heading east across Hwy 78. The footing was pretty sandy with rolling hills, cow trails and two-track roads out to the Snake River for a welcome chance to cool off and relax in the water. Leonard Liesens took the photo of everyone at the river as he was riding Z Blue Lightening, Thunder's cousin.

The route ambled along the Snake River for awhile then it was a climb up out of the lowlands and soon we were on the Oregon Trail. One can't help but wonder what the pioneers thought as they left that beautiful river behind and headed out into the dust. Perhaps there was more grassland then and less sagebrush but it was still pretty dry. I am thankful for a good horse that can go 50 miles day and not 3 miles a day like those wagons did! UGH!

After the vet check we had 16 miles of trails and two truck with more gulleys, arroyos, hills and sand. Some places were a bit tricky and Thunder felt good and threw in a couple bucks. Once as we were trotting along he leaped straight in the air! I think I heard a rattler but I was pretty busy trying to stay right side up!

I was pleased Blue could give his rider, Leonard Liesens of Belgium, his first look at the Oregon Trail! Leo thought that was pretty cool! There were a few pulls the first day but nothing serious and we were all happy to see camp! The horses vetted through without any trouble and we had a completion for day 1 before 2 PM!

Once finished though the work begins for the next day. Take care of the ponies so they can go again the next day. Go get your vet crewbag and repack it, load it in the rig going to the vet check so you will have all your stuff. Wash out your equipment so it is clean and ready. Feed the horse some more and pay attention to every little nick and bump so he can keep going. Go shower. Walk the ponies and play with Molly Dog. Dinner for me then more dinner for the horses. It never ends but I love it!! Even though I will get up in the middle of the night just to check and be sure the horses are fine. Toss them more hay and tell them good night once more.

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