When I rode through Pie Town in 2006 from the west 2500 miles or so into a 5000 mile ride, a snow storm came raging in from the east stopping me dead in my tracks. While snow piled up in Pie Town I stayed warm in a tar-paper shack, with a million dollar view. I stayed 7 days. The tar paper shack is now gone, new business have opened, many shacks have disappeared. I won’t tell you much more about the ride in 2006 because my week in Pie Town became a chapter in my book, you’ll be able to read about it.
The town has not changed that much. It’s a town about PIES now that’s a good thing, lots of pies. Its just off the Continental Divide Trail and hosts hikers working their way up and down the roughed trail. Travelers racing by on Hwy 60 slow down when they see “Pies Ahead.”
Days are warm and sunny but last night the temperature dropped to 12 degrees, Rosie says with a smile, “We’re going further south.”
Knowing where you are going and how best to get there is a good thing.
Today I received new maps for New Mexico and California, I already had a Benchmark Arizona Map book for this ride. Now you must understand these are not just any old map books. The Benchmark State by State Road and Recreation Atlas minutely details each state with back roads, forest service roads, 4-wheeler roads, trails, even power-line roads and much, much more.
The pages have light color back grounds that makes for easy reading. I look at my maps morning noon and night, over meals, on the back of my horse, over a cup of coffee. When stepping up to a stranger asking for direction my Benchmark Map book is in my hand.
Without my Benchmark Map I feel lost. Each book has a large U.S. highway map then a regional map then recreational maps of the state followed by landscape maps full of information that keeps me awake nights looking, looking, looking, and usually discovering, “Ah there – that way will work, we can take this back road and connect up with that one.” Most of my rides are recorded on Benchmark Maps – complete with dates, campsites, people I stayed with and comments about weather and terrain.
Why no GPS? Many of you can understand when I say, “I want to feel the book and I can SEE where I will be going in relation to where I am.” Then I mark the route and plan, always planning another route. But also accepting the fact that it can be changed.
Each book contains information about the state, climate, attractions, notable towns, campgrounds and RV parks, Tribal Lands, National Parks and Monuments. I read and study each page with interest. These maps are as much a part of my rides as my Tucker Saddle.
IF you take a road trip, don’t leave without a Benchmark Road and Recreation Atlas. And when you return with stains from coffee and juice spills and tears from reading and rereading a page, with pen marks and phone #’s, you’ll look again at your trip, at your adventure refreshing those memories with ohhs and ahhs that no GPS can record.
I have never done this. Traveled with truck and trailer. I have picked up rides to avoid a bridge crossing, a dangerous intersection or treacherous traffic situation. But actually traveling with the horses in a truck and trailer like normal people do, no, I have never done this. It takes the edge off. The risk, the uncertainty is minimized and I can carry so darn much stuff!!
The nice red truck and big trailer belong to Rosie Rollins, a spry 76 year old equestrian rider of many, many years. Once an ICU nurse, once a biologist for the Department of Agriculture, Rosie now mostly travels. You can read more about her in an earlier posting (July 2017)and in her book “Adventures on Horseback.”
Rosie came unexpectedly walking up to my front porch this summer and introduced herself as a “short lady long rider.” “I’ve been following your rides for years,” Rosie said. “I happened to be in the area and thought I’d look you up, I hope I’m not intruding.” We became friends immediately.
Rosie began doing short rides (100 to 300 miles) with her horses in 1964. She’s probably accumulated more miles than yours truly. I asked her if she’d like to go south this winter and ride. “I’ll provide the horses, you the truck and trailer.” (She retired her last horse in June of 2017) She’s a very good rider, light for Liska Pearl, they are a perfect match. So here we are, traveling with truck and trailer. I sleep in my tent, Rosie has comfortable horse-trailer accommodations. Spirit and Liska have never had it so good.
My old 69 Ford miraculously pulled Liska and Spirit in my two horse-trailer 700 miles to Montpelier, Idaho. (south of Idaho Falls) Bitter winter winds and cold weather chased us south. It snowed 12 inches at my cabin two days after I left.
November 1st Arrived in Montpelier, stayed at the fairgrounds, had covered stalls, good thing as it snowed and rained while I waited for Rosie who arrived on the 4th.
I met Elaine Zeyer in 2009 when I rode through Montpelier on my 6000 mile ride – we’ve been friends ever since. She once again did what she did in 2009, she fed me. Wonderfully home-cooked food poured from her kitchen and then she sent a load of this years dried fruits and veggies with me. Good to see her again. She has my truck and trailer at her place. This time Elaine shared many of her friends and family with me while I waited for Rosie traveling with her golden lab/ridge-back dog Bella from Nebraska to rendezvous with me in Montpelier, Idaho. Thank you Elaine.
Each night the Milky-way clearly stretches across the sky from horizon to horizon. I love this country, but then I say that often. I say that even though this spacious desert country is daunting, merciless and presented me with some of the most difficult riding I’ve ever ridden. The red rock plateau’s, mesa’s and striking rock formations make one ooh and aah. The highway stretches out into eternity and I wonder, how in Gods name did I ever ride this country as I did from 2005 to 2009? There is so little water. Grass? What grass? And I rode single horse rides! Claire Dog walked, I walked, Honor, Pride and Essie walked 100’s of miles in this vast, dry, cracked desert country.
Oh but I do love this country. I love the nights without bugs, without wind camped in sagebrush scented air, so still and clean it sinks deep into the lungs and I toss back my head and visually pull the stars to my chest wrapping my arms tightly around them. Lights rest on the horizon like stars that have fallen from the sky. The muffled sounds of car and truck traffic mingles with coyotes song.
For the past nine years I have traveled northern routes bountiful with water, grass and campsites. Easy riding in comparison to these early routes and years. Those first few rides were lean, hard rides. If I had five dollars in my pocket I considered myself rich. I am reflective, even somber as I look out across land and roads that quite honestly look impossible to me now. “How ever did I do it?” I wonder, gazing out the window as Rosie, Bella and I drive smoothly and swiftly in the comfort of her new red Chevrolet pickup. “Why did I have to do it?” I ask myself. No answer. To many memories running through my head just now. Coming back through this country has sparked unexpected emotions that toss and turn in my head. But tonight camped on a route I rode in 2008, a mile off Interstate 25 south of Belen, NM.,I tell you it is paradise to me. North of me is an oasis, the Kiva RV and Horse Motel owned by Diane and Bob Wiltshire. In 2008 Diane and Bob invited me, Claire Dog, Essie Pearl and Honor in for the night. I remember being so deeply grateful as the horses were put in corrals, fed and watered and I slept, really slept for the first time in many nights. It’s one of the prettiest, well kept Horse Motels I have seen. But now Rosie, (who has known Diane and Bob for 4 years,) Bella, the horses and I are camped on BLM land just south of Bob and Diane’s business, Rosie and Bella in her trailer me in my tent. The horses in a portable fence. We have water and hay that I bought at a “Hay Vendor” in Gallop, NM a few days ago. The horses have apples and salt and Source Micro-nutrients and a little alfalfa and a little oats and they are like two pets that are spoiled and I love them for their curious want-to-be near me attitude, always nickering, always needing something.
Rosie is calling this her “Canyon Ride” as she would like to see several canyons that she’s not ridden. So far we have taken 4 short rides. One in Nevada just out on BLM land where we’d camped for the night, one around McPhee Reservoir in Delores, NM, one at Boggy Draw (near Delores) and one along Delores Canyon. Next week we ride San Lorenso Canyon with Diane and her friends. My sister MaryAnn is coming from Edgewood, NM for a visit tomorrow.
We will continue south with Bella in the lead, Rosie ahead of me on Liska Pearl who is gaining experience and strength. Bringing up the rear are two seasoned travelers who know one another very well, Montana Spirit and yours truly.
Received my new catalog from Tuckers Saddles, I am honored to be part of this company and greatly appreciate their sponsorship AND of course their fine saddles, Thank you Tuckers ! My horses and I have spent a good many hours wearing your saddles.
Steve Tucker quotes me below in his “message from founder” and I do mean it… “Nothing comes between me and my horse but a Tuckers Saddle.”
Here is a cute story you may enjoy. I am taking Bills Old Blue Truck south next week for winter riding with Rosie Rolling (see summer posting and her book “Adventures on Horseback”)
Bill’s Old Blue Truck
He bought it new in 1969 from the DePratu Ford dealership in Whitefish, Montana. He brought it home, home to Trego all shiny and new. His short body sat a bit taller in the driver’s seat, proud of his new acquisition. Proud. Bill Griffin was a “Ford Man.”
A 1969 ¾ ton Ford Pick-up truck, baby blue, “Camper Special,” two wheel drive, 360 V-8, four on the floor – stick shift, full-size box with side chrome embellishment. Brand spanking new. It rolled off the Ford’s Detroit assembly line in 1968. They sold for $7,000.00 give or take. Built not for speed but for work. Dependable.
Bill’s blue Ford truck has been a fixture on the roads of Trego, Montana and its surrounding communities for nearly fifty years: coming and going, never missing a beat, steadfast like a work horse. It is now the only truck like it in the tiny community. Everyone knew it belonged to Bill, they waved and smiled when driving past. “There goes Bill with another load of neatly stacked wood filling the box.” He left the tail gate down where “Whiskey,” his shaggy gray/brown colored Collie perched precariously, but calmly, seriously taking life in as dogs do. He trusted Bill because Bill drove slow, Bill drove careful.
He had an Apache Camper that fit on the truck. He and Peggy his first wife took several long trips around the country with the truck and camper. “Bill was really proud of it,” said Perry Johnson, long time friend and relative. Roy Kern of Trego rebuilt the engine in 2016, did as good a job as any master-mechanic would. Kelly Mee finished it up. He raved about the work Roy did. It purrs like a kitten, starts right over, requires muscles to drive it. With good tires and in low gear, that old truck will crawl ever so slowly up a steep incline, just let it go she’ll crawl steady like a tank.
Bill and I were friends, just good friends and had been for years. After Bill passed away in July of 2006 at the age of 83, Norma Griffin, Bill’s widow, gave the truck to me. It had 90,000 miles on it and hadn’t been driven for a few years. I tried selling the truck a few times, “Needs too much work, too old.” I said, but the damn thing persistently held on and would not go. Bill moved westward as a young man with a friend from Wisconsin in 1951. “Couple of boys probably just out looking at the country,” said Peggy Brandon. He lived with the Henry Hillikee family (Peggy’s father) for years before purchasing his own home. The Hillikees and Griffins had family connections from Wisconsin.
He found work with the National Forest Service grading roads and fighting fires – stuck with it and retired from the USFS. He remained a dedicated community member, husband, and father. “Couldn’t ask for a better neighbor.” said Bruce Todd. Bill was a friend to many. He was a Mason, served on the Trego School board, the Trego Hall board and the Lincoln Electric Co-op board for eighteen years. Ask him, “Well whaddaya think?” “Takes a big dog to weigh a ton,” came his reply.” Bill had a million of them. “It’s so cloudy around here a person think they’d sold the sun to North Dakota.” He’d say with a faint smile.
Bill moved through life gently. He wasn’t a man to shout or cuss. He was a gentleman. He held his short sturdy body straight, was never fat, wore a belt on his jeans and usually a nice wool plaid shirt tucked in. He wore a fisherman’s cap and thick rimmed black glasses. He dressed clean and neatly unless he’d gotten himself into some dirty project like rebuilding a horse drawn wagon (for me). Our local vet Nancy Haugan now has the beautifully crafted (John Deer green) wagon.
He made his own firewood, was an avid reader, had carpenter skills and was a good mechanic. If he didn’t know how to do something, he’d figure it out. Each year he baled and sold the hay off his land at the end of Griffin Road in Trego. More often than not he’d give it away. He was the kind of man who was always, always willing to help when-ever, how-ever he could. Bill rides along sometimes in the 69 Ford. I swear I can see him sitting at the other end of the bench seat looking out through his thick glasses, commenting on the weather, the land, historical events, smiling. He makes a clever remark that makes me laugh but I keep my eyes on the road, both hands on the big steering wheel. Behind me my two horses follow smoothly. The old blue truck pulling my horse trailer is slow but steady. It looks retro. I must gear down for hills. New trucks hurtling past me up ANY mountain pass, laugh, curse and snort at us slow pokes. I drop down into 2nd gear and pull over to let a line of cars pass. When I stop for gas a man fueling in the other lane calls over, “What year?” “Sixty-nine,” I call back. “Best truck Ford ever put out!” says the man. I smile. Bill would have had a clever reply, I only nod.
It’s got a few dents and scraps adding character – its no show room vehicle, it’s still working, that’s obvious. But still it looks pretty good. Inside is like new.
Fifty years later Bill’s Old Blue Truck is still rolling its wheels down the paved highway looking for adventure.
Thanks Bill, thanks Roy, thanks Ford!
Special thank you to Bruce & Loretta Todd, dear friends of Bill’s who provided time and information for the story.
When Bernice Ende is not traveling around in Bill’s Old Blue Truck at 50 mph she’s traveling at 5mph as an equestrian long rider. She has amassed an amazing 30,000 miles in the past 13 years crisscrossing the United States and Canada on her beloved horses. This is the very first truck and trailer she has ever owned! Read more about her travels on her website www.endeofthetrail.com or read her book “In My Own Skin, Becoming a Lady Long Rider.”
And there is more….
Following this past years fire season and with much careful deliberation I have decided to log my property. I have had enormous help deciding how best my property should be logged so as to improve its condition and provide good stewardship. Brian Russel, Ed Ferruzzi and Michael Justus are the team assisting my project. Michael did this wonderful Management plan and I felt I must share the Philosophy part.
Tree Farm/ Forest Stewardship Forest Management Plan Forest management is the human process of assessing a forest, and act accordingly to provide for its sustainability”
Native American Reality: A Land Ethic
Community: Men and women are members of a community that includes all beings. Each has its proper role and obligations to others. All beings have spirit.
Human-to-human relationships are similar to human-to animal and human-to-plant relationships. Human obligations in action toward nature should mirror human actions toward one another.
Connectedness: One should expect that an action that affects one part of the environment will have impacts on other parts. Further, the connections are many and complicated. As a consequence, the assumption of connectedness, native peoples rarely classify other species as “good” or “bad.” They assume that every being has a reason to exist, even if humans do not understand the reason.
Seventh Generation: Among humanity, past generations have left a legacy, and humans have a duty not only to their children but also to seven generations. This assumption of duty to the seventh generation leads to the belief that land should be sustained.
Humility: In taking action, humans should be humble. The natural world is powerful and complicated. Connections are not obvious, but they are important when considered over the time scale of seven generations. Some tribes object to the concept of “management” and prefer the term “care-giving” to describe their philosophy of interaction with the land.
Boston’s streets were clean, quiet, filled with people bicycling and walking. Large broad-leaf trees shaded and cast lovely evening shadows that encouraged late night strolling. I can not thank Heather Mumford enough for not only inviting me to speak at Harvard but also for her work as an archivist and highlighting my great Aunt Linda’s life.
Letter from the Long Riders Guild
Andra is correct. We would request that someone provide info and images after Bernice has concluded her speech at your facility, whereupon we shall publish a summary on the LRG News page. http://www.thelongridersguild.com/news.htm
Meanwhile, I believe it may help those at Harvard to understand the equestrian side of this unique story and situation.
With Members in forty-six countries, every major equestrian explorer alive today belongs to the Guild, including Hadji Shamsuddin of Afghanistan, who recently rode a thousand miles through that war-zone, Jean-Louis Gouraud of France, who rode 3,000 miles from Paris to Moscow, Tim Cope of Australia, who rode 6,000 miles from Mongolia to Hungary, Claudia Gottet of Switzerland, who rode 8,000 miles from Arabia to the Alps, Adnan Azzam of Syria, who rode 10,000 miles from Madrid to Mecca, and Vladimir Fissenko of Russia, who rode 19,000 miles from Patagonia to Alaska.
Though we are used to dealing with remarkable individuals at the Guild, Bernice achieved a special place in Long Rider history. Bernice Ende’s singular journey into equestrian travel history began in 2005 when she rode from her home to New Mexico. In the subsequent years she made numerous other trips across the United States and Canada, which resulted in her riding more than 25,000 miles.
Yet equestrian travel is not a competitive event. Counting miles is akin to watching the odometer spin endlessly on an automobile’s dashboard. What set Bernice apart was that she carried a message of historical significance, one that had been passed down by female champions from the past.
In 2016 Bernice became the first person to attempt to ride “ocean to ocean” across the United States in both directions on the same journey. Not only was this journey of geographic importance, Bernice used the opportunity to inform the public about the vital role played in society and politics by suffragettes and “lady Long Riders” such as herself. Because this journey was deemed to be so unique, Bernice is among the few equestrian explorers to have carried the Guild flag on an international expedition.
Bernice reached the Atlantic Ocean at the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge in Maine on October 8, 2015. She reached the Pacific Ocean at Bay View State Park in Washington on June 17, 2016. The 8,000 mile journey, which began in Montana in 2014, took more than two years to complete.
Thus, the inspirational example set by Linda James Benitt has spread beyond Harvard and is now urging others to follow their dreams – like Bernice did. And that is a concept which is not restricted to one age, campus or country.
In closing, we look forward to receiving news and images of this celebratory event.
Both the moon and the sun are red balls rising and setting through thick forest-fire smoke, choking out sunshine and stars to wish upon. Breathlessly still long days, waiting, we all seem too be waiting.
The small Amish community of West Kootenai has lost 11 homes. Glacier National Park has lost a historic chalet. The town of Seeley Lake, has been on evacuation notice for weeks, the air hazardous. I spoke with a woman in Plains, Montana south of here whose home, yard, and barn were surrounded by fire. The Gilbraltor fire east of Eureka although no threat to humans continues burning on an eastward trek. For more info look at mt.gov/fire.aspx
The air is thick with smoke, making it difficult to breath or work out of doors–how do the brave firefighters do it? Every one of us in Montana are deeply grateful for the momentous effort they are making to save lives, homes, and forests. (And if they aren’t I will punch them.)
Besides the 600 miles Liska Pearl, Montana Spirit, and I traveled earlier this Spring, it is impossible to even think of riding out in any direction. I’ve used the time for work around the cabin, repairing my large pole barn with new support beams, fixing fences, and finishing up last minute details on the book before FarCountry Press takes it. Carol Guthrie from Huson, Montana guides me along with the expertise of having published 8 books.
Leaving the cabin and hauling to Helena next week has me a bit nervous, but must be done. The Harvard talk on the 20th of September seems like a great adventure. I am honored and thrilled to share my Aunt Linda’s early life with them. While I’m in Boston the horses will be stabled with Karen and Steve Davidson southeast of Helena–friends I met on my way home in 2011 with safe corrals for each girl!
Montana Spirit and I have been together 8 years and have never been apart for one whole day. Goodness, how will I manage? She’ll do fine, it’s me that will miss her. I like to think she’ll miss me, I’ll entertain myself with the thought she will.
Here I am with Pride. The first horse that so courageously carried me on the 2005 ride.
He’s been living a great life for many years with Nancy Haugan’s on her family ranch in the West Kootanai – west of Eureka, Montana. Nancy is our beloved Veterinarian and owns Mountain Vista Veterinary Services. He must be around 23 by now I wasn’t quite sure. He looked great, still as flashy as ever.
It’s hard to believe we ever survived that first ride. What I marveled at was his perseverance in the face of my inexperience!
THE GREAT AMERICAN ECLIPSE
The Eclipse happened at 11:15 here at Libby, Montana. The regional fire-fighting headquarters were set up in the J. Neil Park where I camp when I come thru Libby..
The fires have made it impossible to consider riding across the Bob Marshall to Helena as I had orginally planned. I will haul next month to Helena visiting FarCountry Press, finishing up the last details for the book coming out soon. Then Boston, Harvard talk from the 18th to the 21st of September.