September Adventure with Wild Horses
September 20, 2014
This trip was going to be pretty special to me. It was the first time we would be taking my twin nieces Tai and Ariel to see the wild horses and we were going to be joined by Ariel’s husband Kirk and our friend TJ Holmes (her first trip to Piceance). It didn’t disappoint. We had a great time!
Tom, Tai and I left the Front Range early (6:30ish) and headed towards Meeker where we were to meet TJ before heading out to the Piceance Creek/East Douglas HMA. I couldn’t believe it when we arrived at the motel within minutes of each other. Perfect timing! Ariel and Kirk were coming from a different direction (in hopes of seeing some moose) and would be joining us in the horse range later in the day.
As we entered the HMA, we decided to try the Barcus Creek area first. Too early or too late in this valley and light can become a problem. It was late morning so it wasn’t an issue. We didn’t see any horses until we were almost out of the area. Sadly, Tai’s first wild horses were a pair of bachelors – and one was injured. A tough reality when living wild. At least he had company and that offered us a bit of comfort.
We didn’t stay too long once we discovered the injury. We didn’t want to stress these guys and have them attempt to run off. They were close to a water source and we wanted it to stay that way.
As we continued to look for horses, we also kept an eye out for a nice campsite. Tai wanted to do some solo camping and I wanted to find a place with cell service in a location I knew, just in case. She’s a very capable young woman, but as her aunt, I think it’s just normal for me to be a little concerned. I showed Tai the place I was thinking about and she liked it. As a bonus, there was a fresh poop pile (the horses come through this area) and she had cell service. Perfect. We would come back to this spot at the end of the day.
We were running behind on our meet time with Ariel and Kirk, so we had to hurry through the rest of our loop. When we caught up with them, we found them enjoying a picnic lunch in the back of their truck. Ariel is due at the end of October (their first – I’m going to be a great aunt!!), so I had some concern for her as well. But, no worries. She was quite a trooper and had no issues at all.
Once we got re-organized, we were off in search of more horses. We decided to try the 84 Mesa area. There, we had better luck. We saw a few bands.
From 84 Mesa, we took a quick side trip down Duck Creek so I could show TJ where the Dudley Bluffs Bladderpods were located. The Bladderpods “are limited or endemic to barren white shale outcrops and specific soil tongues in the Piceance Basin of Rio Blanco County, Colorado” and are quite rare. (More information here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwsmtnprairie/5716434206/) I also wrote about them before and have pictures when they are blooming (click on the link, scroll to the pictures and then hit your browser’s back arrow to come back to this post): https://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/piceance-creeksand-wash-basin-trip-3-412/
As we left Duck Creek, we turned towards the “pasture” area where I hoped we’d find a certain horse that I love so that I could share him with the everyone.
Handsome has had some serious injuries over the years. He’s an older boy (probably 13-15 year range) and although he’s mostly recovered, he has a visible limp which may stay with him. But to me, he’s still one of the most striking stallions out there.
It was getting late in the afternoon. There was still one other road I wanted to try before we headed back to Tai’s campsite. One of the routes that eventually leads to the beautiful area known as Cathedral Bluffs.
We said our good-byes to the mare and her young ones and headed towards the site Tai would call home for the night.
After Tai was all set up for the night, the rest of us started back to town. The light was fading, but we decided to head down Barcus Creek since Ariel and Kirk had not been with us when we took this route earlier in the day. It wasn’t long before a large band of horses came running from the left and onto the road in front of us. Cool!
As soon as I see the black horse with the blaze in front, I say out loud that “he used to be in “G’s” band. And as soon as I get the words out, “G” passes by. “G” is my 2nd favorite stallion in this HMA and boy, he’s got quite a large family these days.
They cross to the other side of the road.
Oh, and there’s Glow! (More about her here: https://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2012/12/02/evening-glow-wild-mare/)
As soon as we hit some rock outcroppings, the large band took a sharp left and disappeared into the tall sagebrush. What a great sighting.
As we continued down Barcus, we came across one more family. It was getting pretty dark, but I took a quick picture anyway and I think it turned out alright.
As we got to the end of Barcus where it meets up with a couple other roads, we stopped briefly to take a picture of the sunset as we all said goodnight to Tai.
Later in the evening, Tai sent us these images from her phone.
She told us later that she heard coyotes singing until it got dark when they quit (that’s odd) and that she could hear horses nearby, but couldn’t see them (how cool is that?!). Though it wasn’t a downpour, it rained enough that Tai ended up in the cab of the truck for the night. I was glad she had that option. 🙂
What a great first day we’d had. It was so much fun to have the twins, Kirk and TJ with us. I couldn’t wait to see what the next day held in store for us…
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