Christmas/Winter @ Piceance Creek HMA – Part 2

January 25, 2016

Morning of day two. We realize it’s going to be really cold since the heater in our motel room can’t get to a very comfortable temperature through the entire night (they gave us a portable heater later that solved that problem).

DSCN0494-sWe bundle up little Sage since he’s 12 now. Okay, he was fine and it was for my own benefit, but doesn’t he look comfy?


Whoa! When we get loaded up, the temperature gauge in the Jeep tells the story. We’ve been out in -27 degree weather before – Sand Wash Basin trip – but that was pretty extreme. Are we really going to do this again?

Tom was concerned. My Jeep has over 233,000 miles on it (a lot of hard, horse range miles in that count) and Tom said technically, our anti-freeze was only good to -25 degrees. He really didn’t think we should be headed out to the range unless it warmed up a little. Though I was anxious to get back to the horses, I knew he was right. We decided to putter around town and then to the outskirts a bit where we’d be near people in case we ran into any trouble.

We started up the road towards the Flat Tops Wilderness at the north edge of town. It was foggy and frosty. Beautiful conditions, but a little tough on the fingers when I got out to take pictures. πŸ˜‰

DSC_0417-sThese guys have some frost on their puffy winter coats.


I’ve never seen this before. Those are wild turkeys all hunkered down in the trees by the river. They’re covered in frost as well.


The river is warmer than the outside temps and creates this wonderful mist that freezes on everything. Makes for some amazing scenes.






I just had to take this picture. We were headed back to town when we ended up behind this guy. Yup, it’s dang cold out there!


Back in town, we drive up and down the streets (it’s a small town), but not many folks are out and about. That’s a car all covered up in snow. That will be fun to dig out.

We drive by the bank with a large temperature readout that says it’s up to -24. The Jeep gauge confirms. It’s after 9:00 am (a late start for going to the range). Tom says it will probably get a little warmer as the sun continues to rise, the Jeep is running like a champ, so he decides we’re good to go.

About 40 minutes later upon reaching the HMA, we spot our first horse. He’s quite a ways off enjoying the sun as he snoozes on a hill. I bet that feels really good after a very cold night.


There are animal tracks everywhere. So fun to follow them to where the critters live and hide out.


I darkened this image so that you can follow the tracks more easily.



The scenery is just so pretty with all the snow.


Topping a hill and turning onto the Pinto Mesa road, we spot this lone bachelor stallion. I think we stayed with him at least 45 minutes. He wasn’t bothered by us and I took a ton of photos (and some video – bonus at the end of this post). He looks very healthy.




















It’s amazing what they can get by on as forage.



A little back story. As I was going through these photos and sharing, another gal that documents the Piceance Creek horses mentioned that she thought this stallion might be the little colt that Tom and I had found separated from its momma back in July of 2012. I pulled up those old photos, she sent one from April of 2013 and I compared both to my current images. Indeed, this was the same horse right down to the little notch out of the right ear and in the same location where we had spotted him as a baby. I told her it was like deja vu (minus the scary situation), so he is now known as “Deja Vu.” It was wonderful to see what a beautiful horse he’s grown into.

DSC_2845-sDeja Vu as we found him one early morning in July of 2012.

DSC_2848a-sDeja Vu with his dam. You can see that they are separated by the HMA fence line.

DSC_2866-sThis is the stallion that was with them. Can’t say for sure that he’s the sire, but both parents were pretty worried about the little guy on the wrong side of the fence.

DSC_2869-sThe dam again – she has 2 blue eyes. Deja Vu has very light colored brown eyes, not like many I’ve seen. Unique and beautiful.

DSC_2879-sI kept my distance because the youngster would charge the fence trying to get back over to the other side. His little chest was getting scraped up.


I did call in the situation to the BLM Range Specialist and she checked it out right away. Luckily, they had somehow reunited and I never saw any of them again, until this trip. I just love a happy ending! πŸ™‚

Timeline-s copy copyClick to enlarge image

A short video can be viewed here:

Part 1 of our Winter Trip:

Photos are for viewing purposes only. Most images are available online at: Images by Pam Nickoles Photography, along with all site content are copyright protected and owned solely by Pam Nickoles Photography. Photos and/or text may not be used, downloaded or reproduced in any form without express written permission from Pam Nickoles Photography. Feel free to share, but please respect my copyright.

14 Responses to “Christmas/Winter @ Piceance Creek HMA – Part 2”

  1. Kathy Wharton Says:

    I love Sage all bundled up! He is so cute!

    Kathy Wharton❄️


  2. pnickoles Says:

    He’s pretty pampered Kathy. He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in August, so he’s getting even more attention than usual. He’s on medication and doing pretty well. He definitely seems the happiest when he’s on the adventures with us. We wondered about taking him after the diagnosis, but after the first time out, we realized it’s really the best medicine for him. He’s such a happy guy when he’s out playing with us. We don’t let him play as rambunctiously as before – he has to be reined in a little even with a compromised heart! He’s such a special little guy. πŸ™‚

  3. puller9 Says:

    What a gloriously handsome guy Deja Vu has become! His dam is stunning and the stallion she was hanging out with was lovely as well. Is Deja Vu a blue roan? I thought his eyes looked light (but I’ve thought that before). Interesting that he remained in the area where he was born. Wonder what became of his dam? Glad you didn’t encounter problems with your car. Thank you for the wonderful photos!

  4. Maggie Frazier Says:

    VERY productive trip! Deja Vu is beautiful & sure was lucky to get back with his mom (that had to be a hairy experience). I think Sage is also very fortunate to have “folks” who care for him the way you both do. He sure doesnt look twelve!

  5. Pat and Bill Rice Says:

    Your pictures, as well as your commentaries, are absolutely fabulous! Thanks for sharing your adventures with all of us. Pat and Bill

  6. Lise Morgan Says:

    Deja vu indeed. Thank you Pam for these pictures and story. Full of heart. They are a blessing…to the universe.

  7. TJ Says:

    Awesome happy story – and very handsome grownup boy!

  8. pnickoles Says:

    Thanks TJ – I think he’s a pretty nice looking horse too. Interesting eyes. πŸ™‚

  9. pnickoles Says:

    You are just too kind Lise. I’m glad you enjoyed it. πŸ™‚

  10. pnickoles Says:

    Nice to hear from you Pat. Miss seeing you guys. Hugs!

  11. pnickoles Says:

    Lucky indeed Maggie! Nice to see that everything worked out. Our critters are family. We do our best with them because we love them to pieces and the just enrich our lives. πŸ™‚

  12. pnickoles Says:

    Hi Puller – I haven’t seen that dam with that stallion again, but there’s so many places for those horses to go. I wouldn’t call Deja Vu a roan, at least not until I see him in the summer. I bet he goes gray, but that’s just a guess. He’s pretty dark right now. And those eyes – so different. Those and his notched ear will make him easier to identify, even if he ends up changing color. πŸ™‚

  13. Lynn Bauer and Kathy Pariso Says:

    These are just wonderful!!! So glad you found a healthy, grown-up Deja Vu!! Thank-you so much for this trip to a very special paradise – Oh, and a big hug for Sage! πŸ™‚

  14. pnickoles Says:

    Thank you so much Lynn and Kathy! It was a really nice surprise to find out about Deja Vu. We hope to get out there again soon while there is snow still on the ground. Loved, loved, loved being out there. I just gave Sage a hug from you. He appreciated it!

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