Sunday, July 28, 2013

Of Horses and Humans

Rocky Mountain Penstamon
Returned late last night from the utterly insane experience of the Chief Joseph Trail Ride. An annual event where 160 owners of registered Appaloosa horses spend a week navigating their way along 100 miles of stunning back country trails that most humans will never ever experience. It is a sight to behold.

Indian Paintbrush
Imagine, if you can, towering, jagged mountain peaks stretching toward a turquoise blue sky. Fields of stunning wildflowers, waving in a gentle breeze. Deep, green canyons with fierce, noisy rivers crashing against the rocks.

I’m asking you to imagine this because my traveling companion managed to lose my camera the day we arrived in camp. 

The kick off to a week of hilarious drama that could be a highly entertaining made for tv movie.

Sego Lily
Double Trouble!
I was invisible. I don’t curl my hair, slather on tons of make up or weigh myself down with 20 pounds of cowgirl bling ~ aka rhinestones. And, therefore, I don’t exist.

This year, I traveled with twin 50-year-old (read: aging) rodeo queens who did just that, both competing for the attention of the same man. 

Pouting on the sidelines was the rejected ex-beau who’d waited a whole year to see twin #1 again. When she barely glanced in his direction, the special ice cream [that he'd brought for her] went sour and so did his attitude.

Fish, the only attractive single man on this fiasco of a trail ride, spent his week chasing after an 18 year old girl from Germany, who was easily young enough to be his daughter, and seemed quite anxious to go home.

Now that is not nearly enough drama to keep us yahoos occupied.

For good measure, we hired a low-functioning adult to drive our rig (RV + Horse trailer) from camp to camp. I'm not trying to be mean, here, or insulting. He was my favorite person on the trip! But, it took me the entire week to figure out how to communicate with him. "No, no, no, please don’t turn that generator off until the coffee pot is done percolating." He hears: turn the generator off. And, there you have it. Early mornings. Bitchy people. No java to ease the pain.

These are the times that try men's women's souls. Each morning at dawn, he would lecture me on how coffee is bad for you ~ all the while he’s working on his 2nd Mountain Dew.

Geez. I almost forgot to bitch about the other member of this ill-fated Donner Party. We brought along the most high maintenance California girl I’d ever met. She could not be bothered to feed, water or even saddle her own horse because she was having ‘a low energy day.’

Good times. (Are you laughing? I hope you're laughing, because I am. :)

Sweet Sable, resting in the shade.
I’m like a ghost on these rides. I saddle up my beautiful Appaloosa and as soon as nobody is looking, we pull away from the madding crowd and trot along the sidelines, just myself and Sable, immersing ourselves in the spectacular beauty that surrounds us.

We keep our eyes peeled for the secret observers who witness this ride: hawks soaring up above, cautious deer hiding in the brush, curious coyotes doing the same darn thing. Speedy antelope put fast miles between themselves and our thundering hooves. A terrified little bunny trembles under the sagebrush, trapped by 160 riders on horseback, cantering to the top of the ridge, flattening the ground surrounding his home.

Cellphone shot of us riding into Sunlight Basin.
On the upside, my super-fantabulous Appaloosa horse logged a hundred miles, in 5 hard days, through Sunlight Basin, with nary a temper tantrum. Perhaps she observed all the human temper tantrums and decided to give this weary cowgirl a much-needed break.

Riding into camp.
Earning my blonde hair:
I almost saw a bear! Turned out to be a cow. And, the whole time I was up there, I thought I was in Montana. Turns out I was in Wyoming. Whateva.

Lots of people have asked why I don't intend to do this ride again and ~ surprise, surprise ~ it is not because of the crazy ass human drama. I mean, really, without those shenanigans I'd have nothing to blog about! The Chief Joseph Trail Ride changes location every year, on their trek from Oregon to the Canadian border. For the next two years, they'll be riding across the hot dry plains of Montana where we'll spend as much time fighting with rattlesnakes and grasshoppers as we do with ourselves. Sable and I are moving onto greener pastures.

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ProfessorRoush said...

TAKE NOTES, quick, before you forget the details, because that ride could be a best-selling book! I laughed through most of your post. Humans! Who needs em!

Rilly said...

Shame your camera was lost, would have loved to see the bling queens, the aging Lothario and all the other characters. Loved the flower photos as usual. Happy trails....;)

A Garden of Threads said...

Gosh Kate, I would (murder) no be very angry at the person/guy who lost your camera. In all that drama, I still hope you succeeded in enjoying the scenery. The company sucked though:) But makes for a fantastic story to tell.

ProfessorRoush said...

Actually, I was thinking about this some more. Write it up and add a murder; if Twin #1 falls off her horse and a cliff midway and everyone finds the flank cinch cut partially through, then they'll all suspect the jilted lover (who's actually bedding Twin #2). In reality, the last page can reveal that it's the high maintenance California girl; she's the daughter Twin #1 gave up for adoption and she is holding a grudge for being placed with a liberal California hippie family.

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Ha, ha, ha! Love this story angle Prof! I'll get right on it! Thanks for the giggle. :)

Rose said...

Ha, sounds like the kind of "vacation" that you laugh about later...much later:) The beautiful wildflowers and scenery make up for the lack of reasonable human companionship, though. I don't blame you for passing up next year's ride; the mention of rattlesnakes would keep me miles away, too!

David Cristiani said...

Great story, and I really laughed at the high-maintenance one. Makes me glad to be single!!!

Seriously, I also appreciated the description of the canyon and creek, as well as those scenes and plants that are there because they belong there. Amazing.

Marguerite said...

The human drama makes this sound like the social event of the season. I'd love some ringside seats to watch those twins fight over a cowboy.