IRON RIVER, MICHIGAN July 8th, 2014

Rode into Iron River Monday afternoon. Stopped at the post office and there I met Gina Giuliani – postal worker who had my 3 boxes waiting for  me…and smiles and hugs and greetings and oh my I how appreciated her welcome. I have been at her place with her husband Mike Dye and her daughter Keilyn. A short in and out stop. Now we head across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Happy Trails

June 25th, 2014 IRON RIVER, WISCONSIN

Iron River, Wisconsin , “2nd largest county in the state and no stop lights” “Blueberry Capital of the World” – is one of those towns you ride into and everyone is friendly, truly, everyone you meet is friendly. I call these “Blue Ribbon Communities.”  Why? It’s not only because its so obvious, the friendliness, but there is an underlining community pride, a tolerance of others, the towns are clean, pretty. But there is more, Blue Ribbon Communities have the Post Office, Library, Laundry, Senior Center, Grocery Store and Parks all centrally located for easy accessibility. I felt welcomed the minute a rode in!! Thank you IRON RIVER< Lovely stop!!!
I rode in from the west, from Burle, on the “Tri-County Corridor,” an ATV trail. Now some people protest the ATV crowd. But these mid west ATV trails are not at all like what I have seen in my previous travels. I picked up my first ATV trail “The SOO Line” in Remer. MN. It’s a railroad grade, rode 80 miles on that trail. My brother Don suggested it. Now I’m finding all kinds of ATV trails. These trails are like small well maintained roads, spotless, I have seen NO, none what so ever-litter! They are well marked and well maintained and the ATVer’s have been very courteous. Simply beautiful. Oh yes do not let me forget…… the Mosquito’s. I have been on and off an ATV trail ever since I left Remer, Minnesota where my family gathered for a week. Shade trees, water, grass, straight flat grades and the bridges thus far have all been horse safe, oh yes and mosquito’s. How unexpected to find this here in Minnesota and Wisconsin, but I am told it’s very popular. The states, in collaboration with snowmobile and ATV enthusiast, spend a good deal of money to provide the recreational trails. SO, I do not complain. My ride has been greatly eased by riding the lovely trails. The Tri-County Corridor runs along the bottom of Lake Superior from Duluth to Ashland, Wisconsin. Must have been about noon when I rode up to the Chamber of Commerce building and out walks a very enthusiastic  and friendly Geri Dresen, that’s where it all got started. I began meeting people from home, twins! Look a like’s, sound a like’s of friends from Montana. Leading me to feel very much at home. In no time Scott Eisenhauer, very friendly Chief of Police finds me a place to camp next to the Iron River Community Center.  At every street corner, (I am on foot,) people stop with interest and surprise. Iron River is not a large town, it’s really hard to tell what size the towns are. Everything is tucked in and around trees and tall grasses, ponds and lawns. Hidden from view are houses that peer out from behind oak, pine, popular and maple trees. The Iron River Community Center is not like the Community Center in Trego which has well wore hard wood floors and a double barrel wood stove. ( I taught my ballet classes at the Trego Hall) No, quite different, it’s more like a convention center. My two girls, Essie and Spirit are on picket lines filling already big round bellies with more luscious Wisconsin grass. And I have set up “home” out side the building on a large lawn. (I carry a pooper scooper and keep everything very clean). They have left the door unlocked so that I might have bathroom facilities, very thoughtful.
This is a major stop for me. Boxes with horse shoes are coming in, boxes of equipment I no longer need, will go out. Wash/repair/adjust saddle and pack gear. Clean up, update website, and find MAPS for the Michigan crossing. From here I strip off as much weight as I possibly can, travel very light, quickly, we shall dance across Michigan, lightly.
It feels exotic, the wet verdant landscape and bird sounds that resonate with in, more like I ‘m crossing the Cascade Mountains again, not Minnesota and Wisconsin. Wettest spring on record or so I have heard. “Never seen mosquito’s like this” “Never been this bad” “ahhhh” I think, “I have ridden in worse.” The horses are covered in bed sheets, (I purchase at thrift stores) fly masks and sprayed to keep them comfortable. It works very well. I have a screen tent and am quite comfortable, but it is they, my hard working Fjord Mares, who must rest at night. Most nights I find shelter. I now carry a mosquito netting large enough to put the horses under. But it is cool at night and the past few days have been over-cast, drizzling, wonderfully cool. Don’t get me wrong there have been more than enough miserably hot, sticky, buggie, long days.

I remember the thrill of having finally arrived, after thousands of arduous miles, cresting a mountain peak and there…the sight of the Pacific Ocean! I cried as I sat on my grey thoroughbred mare Honor who so courageously traveled those miles with me and Claire Dog in 2006/07. (a 5000 mile ride) Lake Superior, although I have had but small windows – openings in the tree lines to view her, is none the less thrilling to see, smell and the knowing we have made it thus far. I must point out I am doing a number of short hauls. Remember the Long Riders Guild of which I am a member, defines a long ride as one continuous journey of 1000 miles. Now it is near impossible to ride across this area without a haul the risk to the horses and drivers far exceeds my desire of riding a dangerous bridge, or through a city or over a freeway. Which I have done in the past and now have the sense not to. I will need two more hauls one across the Mackinaw Bridge between the Upper Peninsula (referred to as “PU” in these parts) and the lower mainland of Michigan. I will also haul around the Toledo, Detroit, Cleveland complex. I will stay away from that area, and that will entail a 150 or so mile haul. I have ridden many miles, care a great deal about about my horses and know the risk of riding such heavily traveled truck and car roads to attempt crossing such dense populations.
The horses, Essie Pearl and Montana Spirit are in tip-top shape, people ohhh and ahhhh at them. When the weather is hot I pull gear from their backs every two hours. Let them roll and wash with cool water which is everywhere!!! We swim in lakes when ever possible and I let them eat as we walk. I’m very proud of them, they deserve any and all attention to ensure good health and comfort.
We are off in the morning, Happy Trails Bernice

June 10th
ride into Remer, ( Ed Streeper gave me a lift to Walker, MN. or I would never had made this meeting with family)
Remer, MN. I spent a week visiting with family, holding babies, enjoying the company of brother and sister-in-laws, sister Kathryn(grandmother to all) my brother Donny, niece’s and nephew’s. For the most part the entire week rained and stormed but a couple of fishing excursions, on nearby lakes, were managed. A Very nourishing family time.
June 17th – resume Soo Line ATV trail
chokecherry trees fill with berries, eat wild strawberries, lots of dandolin greens
June 18th – meet with five women whom I attended High School with in McGregor, MN. Had not see 4 of them since graduating from Elk River High. What a stop to much to write about!!!!
June 19th 20th – spend two nights at the barn of Franklin and Darlene Turnock sleeping, exhausted!! I needed sleep badly. It felt like a cave, an old dairy barn, low ceiling, dark cool like a cave. I slept all day while Franklin kept an eye on my two girls picketed outside his machine shop that he was busy working in all afternoon.
June 21st – Lois and Frank Klejeski, Moose Lake, MN. In barn. Draft horse enthusiast, fresh eggs, Newspaper reporter, Lois Johnson came out.
Very wet, swampy land. THE BIRDS!
June 22nd – Sue Jeffers lets me camp in her horse barn the horses have stalls and hay!
WISCONSIN !!!!
June 23rd – spend night behind Copper Kettle Bar, beautiful park like setting, soft ball field, pick-nick area, ate, nice evening.
Receive tip of another ATV trails head for Iron River, WI.
June 24th – many guests stop by to visit my camp here in Iron River, David Grote brings a fresh garden salad that I swear was the best salad I have EVER eaten, taste buds did not know what to do with the flavors, delicious.
Duluth is sending out TV reporter. Prepare for next stretch to Iron River, MICHIGAN!

 

Essie adding frills to her flymask
Essie adding frills to her flymask

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SOO LINE TRAIL
SOO LINE TRAIL

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Klejeski's and Lois the reporter from Star Gazette, Moose Lake, MN
Klejeski’s and Lois the reporter from Star Gazette, Moose Lake, MN

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friends from Elk River High in McGregor, MN
friends from Elk River High in McGregor, MN

snappers laying eggs on SOO LINE TRAIL
snappers laying eggs on SOO LINE TRAIL

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June 9th, 2014 Streeper family home, Osage, Minnesota

Streeper home
Streeper home

I think this may be the most unusual ride I ever do. The turn of events appears to be so. This evening is my 2nd night at the Ed and Amy Streeper home, I came in last night very, very tired and needed rest. Ed had seen a posting on Facebook I believe and had invited we weary travelers in. Ed and Amy are world champion Mushers, DOG SLEDDERS. Ed has finished in first place more places in North America than any other musher, he is passionate about it, even if this is towards the end of his career.  Eleven time Canadian World Open Champion, World Champion in Anchorage, Fairbanks and many other the list is long. His kennel clean and organized well. Amy is only one of two women to ever win the Open American in Fairbanks, AK. I rode into a home of celebrities! and…received a much needed rest, food and a safe place for the horses.

1-IMG_0194  The night before I arrived here at the Streeper residence I spent the night on Buffalo Lake at the fishing access next to a campground. Summer vacationers drifted over all night, very pleasant evening.

The night before that I was hosted by HIGHTAIL RANCH AND RESCUE.at Hawley, MN. www.hightailranchandrescue.com they have a very impressive program in operation. What stood out was how many horses were being rehabilitated by matching up an adoption home, but the horse and rider work together at the Ranch before going home together, great program. please check them out.  On my way out I rode under this bridge.

1-IMG_0175That afternoon Dan Bergstom stopped by to visit as I rested, all the gear off the horses. He later returned with 4 children in tow and brought out delicious chocolate cookies. I turned my back and Spirit had them in her mouth, but I wrestled her for them and the plastic bag, surprisingly was not punctured and so I ate them.

I feel like I have ridden into a strange new land. The smell of lakes, the birds!! my goodness bird song from early morning until late night, the frogs and crickets continue on thru the night. Loons, swans. pelicans, ducks and geese. The foliage is dense, jungle like compared to Montana, the air is thick when the wind ceases to move it. The mosquito’s and no-seeum’s are just everywhere!

Streeper home
Streeper home

The horses as you see are covered for that reason. I use inexpensive bed sheets that can be purchased for a few dollars at a thrift store. I am not sure what my girls think of the attire, but they never mind when it goes on. My sister MaryAnn is sending out lighter ones as I ride in the fly masks.

Let me recap my ride into Minnesota, it was challenging as I had to come north off hwy 10 up into North Fargo, it was the only way. Freeway crossing, industrial area, railroads, airport, and a busy four lane had to be negotiated and I tell you I could not be more proud of my two girls they handled it like professionals, like a well trained police horse! It takes courage on their part.

 
 

From Tower City, ND. I was invited in by George Richman, grain farmer, where I stayed in his HUGE machine shed with the horses, I rarely sleep away from the horses!! I had dinner with the family and was thoroughly entertained by his 5-7-8 year ? old daughters and their friend with a song and dance routine they performed in the living room. Delightful. At that age I to did these performances, wonderful, I also took cookies and homemade rolls out with me from Mrs. Richman. AND… pictures the girls drew.

Castleton, ND- school  a cluster of curios children all aftenoon
Castleton, ND- school a cluster of curios children all aftenoon

 

Spent the hot afternoon at the  Castleton School resting the horses. Principle and teachers and children all came out to visit, brought me ice cream and cake, and you may wonder about my eating habits,I know but I also had cooked wild greens and hard-boiled eggs that day. One of the boys told me ” Hagges Bar and Supper Club would let me camp behind their place, I just know they will” he said. “NO” said the little girl standing next to him, you’ll have to tie your horses up tight. Now I am thinking its an old kind of bar and well I have stayed at many places like that- out back. But Hagges was no “old kind of bar”. A very large very nice facility, but Josh and his father Garland own the place, were intrigued at my travels and put me up on the beautifully groomed lawn out front, I carry a pooper scooper!! Now I was treated to supper and had a shower and oh my sometimes it is over whelming that people are so generous.

But here it gets kind of interesting because at Hegges the waitress set me up with a girlfriends parents that once raised buffalo and “they just have a perfect place for you” and sent a message of my coming and so I thought all was fine. Well what I did not know was there was no place for the horses to stay, the fences and sheds were all gone and a message which I never did receive had been sent telling me so. So when I arrived at my destination a very confused but friendly face opened the door and I could tell as soon as I rode into the lovely home of Kathy and Bill Byers north of Dilworth, MN. that mistake had been made, I wanted to cry! BUT  Kathy worked it out and they found a place for me and I spent the night and the next day it rained so there I was even longer and by this time well Kathy and I had much in common and were good friends and spent the day running errands and just being girlfriends. Neighbors Tony and Evelyn Karppinen  had a metal building with antique cars and motor home, the horses needed shelter for rest so we moved over there. After a refreshing gin and tonic I was out, not for long, I was up at 4am preparing to ride.

1-IMG_0148           I have for the first time brought with me a computer so I am better equipped to stay in touch with others. This also lets me connect with the offers to over night as I do need help, the horses must be in for rest if I do not have wind to keep the bugs off their tired backs.   So that’s if for now> I will be spending 5 days with my family that are driving up to meet me near Remer, MN. I should be out of Minnesota by the end of next week. Then I must look at Wisconsin and Michigan, tricky spots to negotiate.

Again to each and everyone of you who have helped or have stopped with interest, or those of you have supported with donations, a sincere and hearty thank you.

Happy Trails Bernice

 

Valley City, North Dakota June 2nd 2014

WEBSITE UPDATE JUNE 1ST 2014
It is here…..the heat, the bugs, the muggy, damp, high humidity of mid-western states. This will be the hardest part of the entire ride. Three months June, July and August. From here on I must rise at 3am., assemble a simple campsite, pack and saddle the horses while still dark. Unless there is some pressing need to make more miles I ride until noon and call it good. Invites to overnight are indeed welcomed and greatly appreciated, but I must rest!! and not visit so much on those stops. I get to talking and there’s no stopping me.
This part of North Dakota is experiencing a 20 year cycle of flooding. If it weren’t so flat I’d swear this were western Washington. Lakes, ponds, slews. Planted fields have standing water every where. Roads had to be built up, both highway and train tracks. This is beginning to remind me of 2012 and the ride thru Saskatchewan, Canada. The mosquito’s and biting fly’s tormenting the horses this is the hard part. I ride with fly masks and the horses are covered with bed sheets most of the time.
Essie Pearl and Montana Spirit look spectacular. Both are in “good flesh” as they say. I would call the look… voluptuous. I pack as lightly as possible now. Essie’s carry’s less than 80pds, cinching is a bit loose, not so tight as with a dog riding. I have a new set of horseshoes from THE BLACKSMITH SHOP(see sponsorship page) waiting to go on both girls, I’ll do that tonight. Montana Spirit is just now coming into her true size and my oh my, I think she is something else. Quick of mind and spirit, curious, beautiful coloring with feathered legs. Only now is she finding the courage to lead us. It is, when you think of it, her head leading us each and every day into the unknown. Takes courage to do that. Both of their backs are smooth, clear of any sore spots after nearly 1000 miles of travel. THIS I am proud of. It has taken years to achieve this quality of care. They’re the finest pair of long riding horses I’ve taken out, not that I have taken THAT many horses traveling with me. We won’t of course mention this to Claire Dog or Hart, (back home in Montana), but it is infinity easier traveling without those two(smiles). When I think back on the years we journeyed together, the miles Claire walked and Hart, steadfast as he was leading the tribe through Canada… I owe them a good retirement, which they are enjoying at Theadora’s Garden(see Store).

I pick and cook dandelion, nettle and lambquarter greens daily. Red-wing Blackbird’s(my favorite song bird)cling preciously from last years cattail stalks. Night and day begin merging this time of year. We are on the continental divide, 1452 feet above sea level. Water now drains to the east. Each day packs and saddles must come off 2 or 3 times during a 25/30 mile ride. If sweaty, the horses backs must be washed. Or if no water, (fat chance of that) at least cooled dried and brushed as are saddle pads dried and brushed clean and soft. I continue to successfully use the SKITO SADDLE PADS(see sponsorship page) with wool hides, and other wool pads cut and shaped for this type of travel. The Black Mountain saddle from TUCKERS SADDLE CO.(sponsorship page)is soft, light and fits Spirit excellently. I suppose it would be sad if I could not say..”I’m happier with my saddle, gear and campsite set up than I’ve ever been.” The horses are far more comfortable, as well as myself. It’s taken years.
For the next 3 months I will trek each day as lightly as possible, no frills like lasts years leisure ride thru Montana’s Rocky Mountains. At night I must provide some type of shelter for Essie and Spirit who can find no rest outside, the mosquito’s are unbearable. Often times it is but an abandoned shed or barn other times we are invited in as is the case now. Yesterday I rode from Spiritwood, N.D. following a late afternoon thunder storm, I got slam dunked! I have not been soaked like that for a long time. I thought the storm was over and rode out with rain gear on. “Gotta cha,” said mother nature. She poured it down hard and heavy, we dipped into an abandoned barn but were later rescued by Wayne Kuntz and his brother-in-law Billy Contrieras. They hauled me over to Wayne’s place a few miles away and here I am. Warm, safe and dry in a big machine shed with lines strung and gear hanging to dry. Dave, the tall lanky neighbor drove into Valley City. I rode along (riding in a car after riding a horse the way I do is so odd) and picked up the horseshoes waiting for me at the post office. Repairs made, website updated, wait for the rains to subside and off we go. Will be in Minnesota next week. Happy Trails

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QUICK LOOK BACK OVER LAST MONTH;
Thursday, May 8th, 2014
Say goodbye to 95 yr old Berniece Higgenbotham. A wonderful visit with her and others in the community of Forsyth, Montana.
Miraculously my good friend Mel Evans from Trego met up with me in Rosebud. She has recently received Montana’s prestigious Masters of Fine Arts Award. Mel and her husband Bill are talented sculptural artist with see website …
Caught in rain wind west of Miles City, stay in machine shed for two nights, collect water for drinking. Spirit runs off and would still be running if not for cattle guard gates. In my long underwear and slippers I dash out and jump on Essie and chase after her.
May 12th Sandy and Rod Lee help me down the freeway when I am dead ended by cattle guard gates. Visit Terry, Montana home of Evelyn Camarron the famous photographer.
Meet up with Judy Stenberg from Sentinel Butte, North Dakota. I met Judy in 2010 heading home from the 6000 mile ride. She was the postmistress there, now retired, we had dinner in Medora.
May 16th Begin a long stretch of freeway and train noise.
May 19th Met my nephew Mitch Ende in Belfield, ND. He is working in the oil field near Williston, ND. I get a good look at an oil boom in Dickenson. But thought the town had a grip on the growth, things were clean even with the massive building occurring.
May 20th Met Teri Theil from the department of ND tourism. Also met Terry in 2010 when she and others from the tourist department helped enormously as I pressed hard into westerly winds heading home from a long 6000 mile ride. Good to see these friends I thought I would never see again. Lots of smiles and hugs.
May 22nd Folks working at the New Salem fair grounds greeted a weary traveler when I rode in late under Salem Sue’s udder’s. Salem Sue it the worlds largest Holstein Cow over looking interstate 94. I laughed as I watched a herd of Red Angus bulls in a pasture west of Sue. I wondered if those bulls ever got a hankering to go up that steep hill and vist that big cow just standing there like that. Also met Faye Sanders whom I met in 2010.We had lunch and much to visit about. I think this was the real reason I chose to ride North Dakota and not South Dakota, just to visit with friends I thought I’d never see again.
Received new rein’s a bit and stirrup coverings from Tuckers Saddle Co.(see sponsorship page) I have been wanting to try the stirrup coverings for sometime, not sure why I waited this long because I love these things. Not only for safety reasons but to keep my feet dry. The day after I received them I rode from Bismark, ND along a busy 4 lane hwy minding my own business and all of sudden Spirit leaped with all 4 feet with a gazelle like action, shied from something might have looked like a snake to her, if you ride much at all this will be one of those “oh yeah I know, that’s happened to me” One minute you are on the ground the next in the air and I swear I stayed in that saddle because of the new stirrups. The next day it rained and feet stayed dried!! Thank You Tuckers Saddle CO.
May 24th Here’s a good one. While in New Salem I arranged a haul across Bismark bridges spanning the Missouri River. Got directions to camp at a home near my ride pickup, rode to the home, camped, it rained. In the morning Carla Nelson arrived with truck and trailer as scheduled at least I thought. Behind her was a new white pickup truck driven by a woman who appeared not at all happy. I HAD CAMPED AT THE WRONG HOME! The white pickup, driven by a confused property owner whose name I never did know was gracious and patient as she listened to our explanation, rather my embarrassment. She and her husband were camping(Memorial day weekend) she had just driven in to check on the dogs. Oh my goodness what a befuddlement. She made a donation after all of that!! Carla got me safely to the other side of Bismark and onto the eastern half of North Dakota. Thank you
The heat turns up. Miserable riding. Must now rise at 3am to break camp and prepare for the days ride.
May 27th I rode into Medina looking for a place to camp stopped at the home of Bill and Janet Well as they had an empty pasture west of their home I thought might work. Sure enough, had a delightful meal with them, both retired teachers amoung a host of other jobs and adventures they’d experienced in life, both very interesting people. I think half the town stopped by to visit. One thing you can count on in North Dakota is hospitality.
Next day I ride through Cleveland, ND to pick up a package that was not there. Had coffee at the senior center and in walked two bicyclist from Sweden who were crossing the U.S. My age, encouraging!
Later that afternoon the heat was terrible and I am instructed to stop at Marge Lange home, a widow in her late 80’s still living in her home of 60 some years. An enjoyable afternoon with a lively, bright, remarkable woman. Encouraging.
May 30th Next day I stop in Spiritwood to rest and eat at the Sportsman’s Bar&Cafe “where its always Happy Hour” I thought I’d ridden into grand central station. Lunch hour was just finishing up with dozens of men eating, mingling or heading back to work at the Cargill plant across the road. Wayne and his wife Hilda own the cafe, busy place great Mexican/American food. Besides the waitresses and cooks there were no other women in sight.
I am slam dunked and rescued by Wayne and Billy.
June is not going to easy, not with this heat, humidity and bugs.

May 16th, 2014 – 2o miles west of Medora, North Dakota

This country, the eastern half of Montana is all about American Indian Tribes, Dinosaurs, Lewis & Clark, Custer and Sitting Bull. When I read Clarke’s reporting in 1806 that 1000’s of Buffalo were crossing the river (Yellowstone) ahead of the canoes “as thick as they could swim” – the herd was a 1/4 mile wide and took 1 hour and 15 min. to cross the river, after which two more herds as big as the first crossed….What must it have been like? I can not help but wonder, paradise? Such abundance the Crow, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Sioux, Ogalalas, Miniconjous Tribes must have enjoyed before European peoples “settled” the land. With years of wars and broken treatise, “Indian removal” and slaughter of wildlife, “how the west was won” was not a noble story by any means.
Crickets and loons serenade the evenings. We crossed into North Dakota which is not flat nor boring and is experiencing an oil and gas boom on May 16th, it’s one of my favorite states to ride. This is my 3rd time crossing and already I’ve encountered several people I’d met on those previous rides. Lots of smiles and as I have said earlier, an opportunity to thank, once again, the many who’ve helped me on my journey.

I must mention  new products which I’m using this year. First the horseshoes which Roger Robinson from the BLACKSMITH SHOP is sponsoring this year. I do my own horseshoeing on the road. I am not great at it, but I do a fair job. Roger sent me enough horseshoes with the patented DuraSafe Borium. Don Tucker from Fortine, Montana shaped them for me and now they are shipped out as I need them. This is one incredibly big improvement for me. The shoes are giving me twice as much mileage from a set of shoes – that is important, there is no slippage on wet pavement or ice, none. I am thrilled with the horseshoes! Thank you Roger, many thanks.
Next, OUTFITTERS SUPPLY’S new panniers, please check out the photos. Totally new look, I am no. different than the woman who picks up a new set of luggage. I had a very handsome cowboy tell me they looked very nice on my horses! The Panniers are somewhere between a hard and soft set of Panniers. I’d been quite satisfied with the canvas bags but Lynn Foster at OFS  suggested I try these…A bit roomier, sturdier, have side flaps and I think… are very attractive.
Also I am using a double woven cinch from Sylvan Walden owner of TANGLEO’S CUSTOM which I really like. I make modification on just about every single thing I use I have added a small piece of wool to the center but the Cinch is fantastic, softer feel to it, Spirit stays cool under it and its got a double weave, very nice.
I must take time to thank my sponsors. I have the best equipment and such a difference it makes. The earlier rides were difficult, my equipment often times make shift. How much easier it is this year and much of that is because of sponsorship support.

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Forsyth, Montana Rosesbud Fair Grounds – May 7th, 2014

It does seem odd traveling without Claire sharing each and every morsel with me. But she and Hart have remained home and are safe, content, in loving hands.

APRIL 8TH TO MAY 8TH. Approximately 450 miles. Wind, the eastern half of Montana is all about wind. Belligerent, pushy wind. The kind of wind which drove early pioneer women mad. The kind of wind that drys clothes in 5 min. – if you can keep clothes on a line. The kind of wind you want to ride in, only if it’s at your back.  Essie and Spirit clipped out 30 mile days, weather was cool, water in the ditches, plenty of grass, packed light.

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Calving time for ranchers. Wheat and dry land crop farmers are behind from inclement weather. Spring wheat erupts from the earth with promise. I love this country, calming to the eye.

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Much of the ride from East Glacier to Forsyth was a route I followed in 2006. I rode Honor with Claire at my side. Not only was it a reflective stretch for me, but also an opportunity to say thank you to many people who extended help in one way or another. The ride in 2006, a 5000 mile ride was the most difficult journey I’ve yet to make. A novice long rider and a 8 year old Thoroughbred mare who moved with jitters for 1000 of miles, it was amazing I made it. To cross this wide open spacious country once again after 9 years of traversing the United States and Canada, reminded me of how far I had come as a long rider. I met several people who helped Claire, Honor and I in 2006, tears, gratitude and smiles ensued.

We rode into Forsyth, Montana on April 30th. Long stop, rest,visited with friends, resupplied, re-shod horses, look ahead. Thank you to Vicki Fink, Rosebud Fair manager, she moved me inside when the weather took a turn sending sleet, strong winds from the NW bringing the horses and myself inside. Very gracious of her. We all  leave rested, the horses are growing restless. The length and breath of this 8000 mile ride has set in. We have a long way to go and only by staying focused, determined and careful will me make it. The next stop will not be until Minnesota, I’ll be crossing into the land of 10,000 lakes in one month.

Thank you, each and every one of you who have contributed this far.

Happy Trails Bernice Ende