Thursday, August 20, 2009

Long Rider Belinda Reaches Cooke City and then Gardiner, Montana

Belinda has emailed two updates -- the first one describes a rough trip to Cooke City, MT, through the mountains east of Yellowstone, including two grizzly bear sightings. The second post describes the trip west from Cooke City to Gardiner, MT, across some very rugged mountains with more grizzly bear sightings. Here's the latest:

We are finally in Cooke city,now. Had a few detours that probably cost us 3 days. Trails we rode to were not brushed out from the fires. Spent a day going in circles, up to 10,000 ft, almost. Hard work for the horses. Our first day out of Pahaska we saw a male griz. Probably 100 yds away. He didn't even give us a hello or anything. We camped at Camp Monaco, Buff Bills old campsite. The whole place was burned in 88, kind of a drag. The next day we climbed to over 10,00 ft to a pass. The descent on
the other side was pretty hairy. A thousand vertical feet of rocks about the size of grapefruits, on average, plus quite a few snow fields, wind, rain and hail kept us company, too. Hard going for the ponies, wading through the rocks and steep descents. Finally got to the bottom, in a nice wet forest. The creek was running hi and muddy. Camped at an old cabin that was pretty cool. Also saw a female griz and cub the second day out of camp. Wildflowers were to die for. The smells were great, especially in the deep forest. Nice to ride in a forest that wasn't burned. Due to
the closed trails, we had to ride the road from Little Sunlight to Crandel, where we stayed at a campground and had showers! Really good grass everywhere and the horses may be gaining weight. 2 more days brought us to here. The whole place is tore up with road construction. We had rain every day and night until now. Nice to have the sun all day and have dry feet for once. My mule is sore footed, so a shoer
is coming from Cody today. Then we will be on our way to Gardiner. Guess we will be in some deep wilderness then. Hope the trails are brushed. We have met some interesting and nice people along the way. Some real characters. They probably think the same about us.

Well, that's the short version.
Happy trails,

Next update:

Made it to Gardiner MT. Haven't seen one elk or moose, but did have a
griz walk by camp one morning. Rode in lots of snow, rainand wind. But
also had sunny days. Gorgeous country from high to low. Wildflowers
everywhere. I have so many flower pictures. Here in Gardiner, bought hay
from Bill Hopppe, 5th generation rancher. Nice guy. His great grandad
was the first white person born in MT. Horses are holding up well,
except Jim Bob threw a shoe. Had one put on this am by an old guy who has
shod 23,000, by his count. We all swapped some good stories. We are at a
campground above the Yellowstone river. Lots of rafters an kayakers
going by.
The way we got here is Cooke city, over Daisy Pass, over Wolverine Pass,
camped on Wolverine ck. Rode over the divide between Wolverine and Lost
creek, to Slough Creek, up again over another pass, down to Buffalo Guard
station, camped. Out of Buffalo,up over another pass, down to
Hellroaring (what a creek and cool bridge crossing), camped. Rode to Fawn
Lake, camped and then to Jardine, an old mining town,old mines everywhere,
a cool graveyard with lots of people dying in 1902, from flu, I believe.
Rode on towards Gardiner, stayed at Eagle creek campground, then on to
Gardiner yesterday. We will leave here Sat for the trails to Ennis.
Guess we may see some mt goats along the way- I hope!
Take care all,
If you check the map at the top of the page, you can see that the route from Cooke City to Gardiner and now to Ennis to the northwest crosses some very rugged mountains. I'm sure we all wish Belinda and Jim a continued safe trip and good weather crossing that territory.