Short and sweet. Challenging enough to be an adventure. Far enough away to see some spectacular country. Long enough to be missed. Hard enough to tire my body (though no, still nothing like a day of digging…).Exciting enough to wet my lips for more…
I stayed in our big back yard, as we call it. For those familiar with the area, the route headed up West Lost trail, up over and down into the Pole Creek drainage. Then on into the Weminuche Wilderness at Starvation Gulch, perhaps the most beautiful place I know of… so far… From there, up to the ridge above Beartown, along the trail into West Ute, down the Utes… and home. On a map, a distance of only about forty miles. You could cover this in a day horseback if all you’re doing is riding, and far more distance if you’re on anything motorized. But the camping and packing, I suppose that was the challenging part. Especially alone. These are the chores we are used to sharing. Setting up and breaking down tent and tarp and gear, tending horses, gathering firewood and water, cleaning up to leave no trace… and lifting all on the big horse….made me long for a little mule! I found myself in a sweat before even climbing in the saddle. Riding was more relaxing. Though being there, building a little home for the night alone in the wilds with the only sounds as I finally would crawl into the tent at night would be the rushing of the creek, the bugling of the bull elk oh-so-close, the rustling of mice or other little critters outside the tent, and the occasional gentle sigh and shifting of the horses in the trees beside the tent, tired and relaxed and content to be by the safety of their two legged companion.
Being alone along the trail in the wide open country of the world above tree line. You can talk all you want to the horses and no one will hear you. You can see forever. You can feel as though your horse has wings as you reach the pass and open up a brand new horizon before you. Breathtaking! You can look back and see the ominous clouds building and chasing you and hope you can get your slicker on in time, or your tent up against the wind. You look out of your tent and hope the horses are still there. Walking home is not a comfortable option in boots and levis and chaps. And the chance of someone else coming along to “rescue” you isn’t a likely option. I ran into one person on the first day, and a couple on the last. All were somewhat surprised to see… a woman. Alone with her horses. I hope I showed them what I learned myself. It can be done.
And now I think of where else I can go… Will we ever stop longing for more?