Plains, Montana – Monday May 8th, 2017

we rode out with the melting snow, 2nd night out a set of corrals and a hay drop
We rode out with the melting snow, 2nd night out a set of corrals and a hay drop.
Website update may 2017

As I made a 20 plus mile descent off the long winding road from historical Bend Ranger Station, the snow covered Cabinet Mountain’s rising at my back, I had the good fortune to meet up with BACKCOUNTRY HORSEMAN of Plains, Montana. Trucks and trailers loaded with horses and mules heading home from a mountain ride, first one of the year. John Errecart stopped with his two big sorrel mules quietly standing in the horse trailer, heads and long ears poking out the windows as we talked. Montana Spirit is quite use to all this but little Liska Pearl is encountering newness at every step. If you are not familiar with BACKCOUNTRY HORSEMAN – ( I have written about them often and spoken at many of their meetings) they are in my opinion one of the best horse organizations if you want equestrian camaraderie or want to learn about packing or doing a back-country ride these are the folks to hook up with. I’ll be speaking at their meeting Monday evening here in Plains. I look forward to it.

Fairview work station a historical site not available for rent. I made camp on the front porch
Fairview work station a historical site now available for rent. I made camp on the front porch

If I am sore from our first 100 miles, then for sure the horses must be. Little Liska may be wishing she had stayed home. But I really do not think so. She has an eager look and excitement in her fast long stride. No more circles and arenas. These are long straight (or winding) roads she now travels, stretching out miles and miles and miles before her peaked ears and bright black eyes. She’s part of a team and seems very attached to Spirit. But oh my oh my what a radical change it must be for her.

Happy Inn behind the bar camped on their outdoor stage.

We are put up, (thanks to BACKCOUNTRY HORSEMAN who helped with the fees, a bit high for me) at the lovely and I mean they are lovely, Sanders County Fairgrounds. I do not complain about the cost it does take time and money to maintain these fairground facilities. I was headed away from the fairgrounds for a rough patch of open land near the Thompson River that is swelled and raging with spring waters when once again John Errecart pulls up next to us. This time with his wife, looking for me, bearing gifts of hay and grain! I must admit I’d been looking forward to staying at the fairgrounds. The horses needed the rest, free from ropes and tether lines. I needed a hot shower and corrals which are like having a baby sitter for my horses, allowing me undisturbed sleep. And so it happened a restful, very pleasant stay, “like the Hilton,” at the Sanders County Fairgrounds. Thank you BCH.

Rain and snow followed me most of the way from my cabin to the Libby stop over where I also had the good fortune of once again running into Judith Hemphill, a fine horsewoman in her own right who seems to always .lend a hand when I come thru Libby. She lent me a car so I could run errands while the horses remained safely at the J.Neil rodeo grounds.

I love this view of Libby I have seen it many times

Sixteen days – about 130 miles, not far, not fast, we must go slow. My back felt like it did the first year I rode a long ride. I thought I’d damaged my kidneys. I lay in my tent thinking “I can’t do this, I want to go back.” It does I must admit, take a fair amount of determination to long ride. “Well,” I said to myself – as I said to myself 13 years ago, “just how bad do you want to do this?” It hurts sometimes and it’s not fun nor easy as many imagine long riding to be. At not so young an age of 63 I must use more brain than brawn. I am glad Liska is small when I pack up. I am grateful everyday for the ease, the willingness and skills that my Montana Spirit offers me. But oh my, oh my, not a day goes by when I think, “How is it, how is it I get to do this?” The beauty, the people, this life of long riding. Each time I ride out I am filled with gratitude for our public land I have access to enjoy. We all must support this national treasure. Once again I am swept up by the enormity of the country I live in. A country that has filled my spirit these many years. A joy I thought I may have lost this past year.

Thank you I say, thank you and again thank you.

The girls having a good rest at the beautiful Sanders County Fairgrounds.