This years trail would be the only loop where assembly and destination camps are the same, as that is what the Nez Perce did during their flight from Gen. Howard in 1877. Tolo was an encampment often used by the Nez Perce in the 1800's, and they would race their horses on the prairies and hunt. Our route would take us down into Hells Canyon and back up again twice during the loop.
I rode day one as we left Tolo Lake and headed out around wheat fields that were once Camas prairies, and down ravines into the timber. We were treated to a big herd of elk right after Chip's wife said, "this looks like a great place for elk!" Boom there they were, haha!
Lunch was in some shade along a little creek. Peanut was a bit nervous with 117 horses but I eventually drifted to the rear, getting him out of the ruckus, and rode with Michele McGorky, the wrangler, with her pack mule. Peanut likes Perlita and she tolerates him, which is pretty good I'm told. At one point we had to all gather in a as tight a clump as we could and cross Hwy 95. That was scary. The crew was equipped with radios so we all knew when it was clear and safe to cross. We wasted no time in crossing and it resembled 117 horses leaving the starting gate! The water truck had horse water on the other side and Jeremiah Kraft and helpers had cold Gatorade for us! Then it was downhill to Whitebird battlefield and camp.
Monday night's camp was at a ranch adjacent to Whit Bird Battlefield. A total of 34 of Howard's men were killed but only 3 Nez Perce were wounded in this 1877 battle. The Nez Perce crossed the Salmon and the flight to freedom would run for months until the end at Bear Paw. The route is approximately 1300 miles and the organized Chief Joseph ride encompasses 100 miles a year and takes 13 years to complete. This is my fave photo of the whole week!!
On Tuesday my friend Lynn Wellborn rode Peanut. I'm not in the habit of loaning my horses but Lynn's horse had just gotten injured and she was heart brok
e. She needed some salve for the soul. She is a good rider and I trusted her so off they went. She had a good day with Peanut but had boot problems since I don't usually boot him, and wasn't planning on taking him to the ride, I didn't even know what size would work for him. The whole week was an unplanned experiment. So she only rode him one day.