Libby, Montana – September 24th, 2015 J. Neils Park

At this time last year we- Essie, Spirit and I were heading back to Darlene Lundgrens home in Fort Edward, New York. I set up winter camp in the historical feed store building that sits behind her house. To be perfectly honest it seems impossible that I really and truly rode to the Atlantic Ocean last year. The ride was so much more than I could have EVER imagined. Darlene – well the entire town were very gracious hosting my stay. I enjoyed being a “celebrity” through a snowy winter and I am sooooo glad my travels had taken me to the northeastern half of our country. I will reflect on the ride when I settle in this winter.

there's Darlene greeting me to Fort Edward, NY
there’s Darlene greeting me to Fort Edward, NY

I have a new computer!


The name, Soroptimist, means “best for women,” and that’s what the organization strives to achieve.

Soroptimist is a global women’s organization whose members volunteer to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment. Approximately 75,500 Soroptimist’s in 130 countries and territories support community–based and global projects benefiting women and girls. The organization is particularly concerned with providing women and girls access to education, as this is the most effective path to self-determination. Soroptimists are women at their best, working to help other women to be their best. I am  familiar with the  Soroptomist  International  Organization whose work  supporting and encouraging women throughout the world is well known. I have frequented the thrift store they own in Whitefish, Montana many times. I have the Soroptomist’s to thank for this much needed tool, a computer.  They also donated living expense for 2 months! The “geek Squad” as they are called at Best Buy in Kalispell helped me select a computer suitable for my unusual travel needs, it takes a beating in my Trail Max Panniers, (big saddle bags). This will be the first year I am going out with such a device, one that is light, has sufficient battery capacity and large enough key board that my fingers don’t protest. It will enable me to post regularly, maybe even more than I do!!. I can stay a bit more connected, have access to maps, messages etc. I have protested for years but now perhaps because there are so many that follow the ride or perhaps I just like sharing the story,  I do feel the need to stay  connected. At the very core of my rides is this…
I hope it encourages women to reach beyond fears that keep them from leadership! that’s it. SO thank you, thank you so very much Soroptimst of Whitefish, Montana. Thank you.

I have been I must admit in turmoil about whether or not to continue riding any further this year. I have wanted to go home in the worst way. Just relax among community I know. Where I have invested time, be home.
After coming down  from Canada, unable to get us across  north of Waterton Parks, Alberta for several reasons, fires had slowed us down, then inclement weather, then vet papers expired and for reasons too complicated to explain – I  returned. I came down thru Browning, Montana where the wind can wipe the smile off your face real quick. Oh my that is brutal wind, and so much of it. Spectacular vista’s as I came within view of the Rocky Mountain’s Eastern Front.  A recent snow fall had the tips covered in snow, a reminder, “winter is coming, winter is coming.” Intimidating that’s what they are. Cold, dangerous and tired – wanting home, that’s how it felt crossing Maris’s Pass.
I must say something about riding a horse over Maria’s Pass. A five day dangerous ride. I have come across Maria’s Pass 2 other times both in a trailer/truck that Russ Barnett from OutFItters Supply hauled the horses with. Both times the pass had snow covering the sides of the road. This time for what ever reason, I felt I could do it. Please, please understand that I have two of the finest long riding horses – with thousands of miles, seasoned, exceptional, champions in my humble opinion, long riding horses. Don’t ride Maria’s Pass if you can avoid it. Just don’t, it’s far to dangerous. Semi traffic is horrendous they are coming down off the mountain fast, with Jake Brakes sounding like rifle shots. Guard rails  keep you about 2 feet from them, I could reach out and touch some of them. Very few horses will hold for it. I could NEVER have ridden down the steep pavement with-out the horseshoes I have on from Roger Robinson, NEVER. I could never have done it with out Essie Pearl who is steadfast and trusting above and beyond the call of duty, she is truly a champion!

 But the love and longing of the ride seems to always win out. I have kept riding. The horses are fit, kicking up dirt, round bellies, lively steps – the fall weather being their first choice and mine also, of riding seasons. But what has kept me from thinking of continuing much further than the Washington/Idaho border, Spokane area, was this which I read just yesterday….
“The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail.
Travel to fast and you miss all you are traveling for.”
It’s from Louis L’Amour, “Ride the Dark TraiI”

I recently read this in Gary Montgomery’s THE TRAIL. Gary publishes a quarterly collection of interviews, historical photos and as he says “interesting tidbits from the past.”.

The Trail Magazine – Photos – Lost Trail Publishing


Rest and repair stop at OUTFITTERS SUPPLY
I have camped behind OUTFITTERS SUPPLY’S store and warehouse in Columbia Falls I think 5 times on various rides coming and going. Ruth the seamstress reinforced a few seams on my saddlebags.!!!Replaced a few things but for the most part all the gear was in good repair.OH MY SPONSORS I so appreciate all of you, your products, your support. When I began long riding in 2005 I looked like a hopelessly homeless woman (but on a beautiful horse, Pride). I now have the best of equipment, support from a farrier, Vet, and equine nutritionist. I just have to do the ride, keep myself and horses alive. smiles
Supplies arrived from Theodora Brennan who manages to help keep me going and is the sum total of my “homebase.”(and somehow manages to keep me tied to reality) Then Chrissy Tate from Texas with friends in tow arrived. I met Chrissy years ago on another ride, this was a screamer, just by chance we see each other again!
The ride from Columbia Falls to Whitefish, besides an interview from the Flathead Beacon-(www.FLATHEADBEACON.COM – Sept. 23 issue,) held several other friends who came out to meet and greet, give hugs and encouragement. OH I so wanted to turn north and go home. But I also knew that once the hugs and smiles and joy of seeing  friends and family had ended and they’d all gone home and on with their lives, well there I would be with a lot of time on my hands, riding time and to late to really go back out. SOOOOO
On I continue, but having settled in my head how far and what I am going to do this winter.
Libby, Montana
This is I think the 7th time I have ridden thru Libby and the changes and make-over is remarkable to me. The town went thru hell with the Grace Mine fiasco, still is, but I tell you they have come a long ways in rebuilding town pride and the towns beauty. It sits in a  valley surrounded  by the Cabinet and Salish Mountain Ranges. Libby has a recreational park that most towns would give anything to have. Besides a walking path, sports area and picnic areas there is a horse arena covered stalls round pen and riding trails. The J.Neils Park. The Hilton to us.
Close enough to town to walk. I like Libby, I’m always greeted with, “hey your back again, where’d you go this time?” It is good to be back, feels like I have been gone a very long time. That’s the thing about traveling slow. You move in and out of terrain slow enough that it changes you, it has an effect on you. The mountains seem bigger to me, the scent of lodge pole pine stronger, the raptors, scavenger birds, eagles, turkey vulture’s  big black ravens are loud and cocky. And the Tamaracks, just now getting underway transforming from green NEEDLES to the most incredible gold, yellow and tans. A very different color change and look than on the east coast which was also incredible. Everywhere, everywhere there is something beautiful to marvel at.
Happy Trails,

coming into Libby, Mt.
coming into Libby, Mt.

crossing the border
crossing the border