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?

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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. 😉

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

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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.

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

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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!

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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.

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

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

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The scenery is just so pretty with all the snow.

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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.

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

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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.

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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! 🙂

Timeline-s copy copyClick to enlarge image

A short video can be viewed here:

https://youtu.be/xsaGmy5OZnY

Part 1 of our Winter Trip: https://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2016/01/19/christmaswinter-piceance-creek-hma/

Photos are for viewing purposes only. Most images are available online at: http://www.NickolesPhotography.com. 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.

DSC_4068-sThe big, handsome band stallion “G” from the Piceance Creek/East Douglas HMA in Colorado. Every time I see him, he’s shining. He has a wonderfully healthy coat.

More images of “G” with his band here: http://wp.me/pqR49-37O

Photos are for viewing purposes only. Most images are available online at: http://www.NickolesPhotography.com. 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.

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A wary stallion keeps an eye on me as he leads his mare to a more comfortable distance. This fellow was so intent on snaking his mare through several groups of horses, that he pretty much chased his mare right up to me without even noticing (well, that sage is pretty tall). It was quite a surprise to all 3 of us! 🙂 (Piceance Creek/East Douglas HMA, Colorado, 9/2013).

Photos are for viewing purposes only. Most images are available online at: http://www.NickolesPhotography.com. 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.

Sunday was still cool, overcast and windy, (I hate the wind) but wind can dry out roads, so we were hopeful we might have better access. We drove to where we had started the day before hoping to see some of the same horses again.

Our first sighting was a group of deer. Hard not to notice them. Look at the collars those little guys are wearing! Can’t say I’ve ever seen any like them before.

(Click on the images for larger/sharper views)

These collars are hard to miss!

A safe distance from the deer with no horses in sight, we found a dry place to park and let the dogs out to play.

Little Sage (aka Sagey)

This photo cracks me up - Sage stalking Brihten. They are so much fun.

They are absolutely no trouble to travel with. They love to go and are perfectly behaved wherever we take them.

We decided to try one of the dirt roads that appeared a bit drier than it had the previous day. We hadn’t gone too far when we spotted our first group of horses.

They glowed in the little bit of morning sunshine that managed to poke through the clouds.

They are so intent on grazing, they don’t even notice me.

I've been spotted.

The band stallion

Of the bands we found on this trip, this group was the leanest. Not bad considering the winter we had.

More horses!

Young stud

This is the band stallion. Kind of a small guy, but I like his look.

He paces a bit, but doesn’t go far.

The youngster goes to him for some reassurance.

Persistent little bugger. The stallion isn't distracted and keeps his attention focused on me.

The lovely mare of the group

Pretty girl

What a flirt - he winked at me! 🙂

The youngster

Tom is proud of this photo. He snuck up on me and got a horse in the background too. HA!

The road is good enough that we can continue a little further. We find another band of horses.

The gray is the stallion

Another looker

This was a much spookier bunch and they didn’t allow me to get very close before they moved off. I didn’t want to cause them any stress, so I didn’t try to follow them.

We were at the end of the road. There was too much mud to continue so we turned around. On our return trip, the group of three had made their way right down to the road. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity, so I got out and took a few more shots.

It was very satisfying to see that their experience with me left them comfortable enough to concentrate on feeding.

He's still alert though.

So good to see the grass coming up

After we got back on the main road, Tom followed a “hunch” and turned down a dirt road that we’d never been on. It was south facing and in pretty decent shape. Good job Tommy – horses!

Good looking stallion

Another youngster

And the mare

Love the view

This must be an experienced stallion who really knows the territory. He and his family appear to have wintered quite well.

Family portrait

Time for a puppy break!

Sagey is so darn cute. He loves to roll in the snow!

My guys. 🙂

We decided to check on the young Mustangs in the rancher’s pasture one more time before leaving. The filly is probably going to be pretty easy to train. When she sees us, she heads our way. She’s curious and has a very sweet/kind look to her.

The little stud is pretty full of himself and might be more of a challenge. 🙂

She's a beauty

But I like this little guy too

Once again, while we were visiting with the horses, the rancher drove up. There we stood on the side of the road just chatting away as the wind whipped at us. I had to tighten down the stampede strings on my hat to keep it from sailing right off my head! Obviously, we really enjoyed exchanging thoughts and ideas with this man so we made plans to meet again the next time Tom and I were up.

We stayed longer than we had anticipated we would, but it worked out well for us. Somehow, we missed the usual ski traffic on I-70 and breezed right on down the highway. What a welcome surprise. As we came out of the foothills into Golden, we could see all kinds of smoke. We knew something was up as there was a detour notice on I-70. Wow – this fire was close to town!

While the mountains may have gotten lots of snow, the Front Range and other locations within Colorado (as well as other states) have suffered one of the driest winters on record. Since this fire (which took a week to control), there have been several more. I’ve read that this has been the earliest start to the fire season – and most of the fires were started at the hands of a human. Certainly cause to be extra aware and careful in the outdoors right now.

Day one post: https://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2011/04/09/piceance-creek-hma-3-2011-day-1/

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Photos are for viewing purposes only. Images are copyright protected and owned solely by Pam Nickoles Photography. No reproduction or downloading permitted. Feel free to share the story/link, not the images.

Visit my website for wild horse prints and more: www.NickolesPhotography.com

I couldn’t stand it anymore, I needed a wild horse fix, but traveling to the horse ranges in March is still a bit early in the season, especially this season. It’s been a very snowy winter in the high country. Snowpack across the state is 115 percent above average as of this week. In the past, we’ve arrived at our destination only to have to turn right back around when roads were completely impassable. We ventured out to Adobe Town one winter, started down the road from the highway and came upon drifts that were higher than the Jeep. Our journey ended. I was hoping for better luck on this trip.

We figured our best chance was to take a paved road on the southern side of the HMA and work our way up. We’ve seen horses off this road before, but I had no idea where they wintered. Pretty quickly we realized that most of the dirt roads were going to be too muddy to travel. Oh well. We were out enjoying the drive and scenery (along with our dogs) and we had the full weekend to look for horses along access we did have.

We drove the full length of the road without seeing a single horse. Then on the way back, I saw a herd off to the right (they hide so darn well), but they were behind a fence. I wasn’t sure if they were on BLM land or not, but luckily for us, there was an natural gas employee parked at a pad that I could ask.

He looked at me rather suspiciously when we first approached his truck, but when I told him we were there looking for wild horses, he became quite friendly and informative. He told me the horses stayed in this particular area year round and that the horses I’d spotted were indeed on BLM land. I just needed to hop over the fence. Cool. When I’ve asked an oil or gas employee about the wild horses, they’ve been friendly and helpful 100% of the time. They seem to enjoy having the horses out there to view while they go about their work.

Tom helped me across the fence and I started hiking out to the horses. I was back in my element. That magical, peaceful feeling was beginning to take hold. It was quite chilly, overcast and windy, but it just didn’t matter. I was in beautiful country and there were wild horses in front of me.

(Click on the images for clearer/sharper views)

I wasn’t sure how close the band stallion would let me get. He was pretty uneasy, so I just waited and watched for a bit. I don’t like to stress horses in any season, but it’s particularly important not to in the winter or just coming out of winter when they need to be conserving their energy. After such a tough season, I was anxious to get a look at their condition, but I still needed to get a little closer.

This group looks to be in pretty good shape.

Even taking my time working my way up to them, they decide to take off. Hopefully, they won’t go far if I just stay where I’m at.

This is a large band

They just disappear into their surroundings. I walked parallel to where they had gone hoping they wouldn’t feel pursued, allowing me another glimpse.

The band stallion is on the far left

My tactic worked. It often does. The band stallion never took his eyes off me, but he didn’t move his family and he actually allowed me to move towards them.

Before they felt pressured to leave, I thanked the horses for allowing my visit and headed for the Jeep.

We decided to try the eastern boundary road next. As we were driving along, I noticed something that I wanted to look at more closely and had Tom pull the Jeep over. Just as I suspected. It looked like a new life was about to enter the world and we were here to see it. Not a wild horse, but pretty amazing regardless.

(Warning – somewhat graphic photos to follow)

Once she laid down, we didn't want to move the vehicle for fear of spooking her, so apologies for the brush in the foreground.

The poor girl bellowed in discomfort as another cow came over to check on her.

She rolled around quite a few times and then started to get up.

I can see the little one!

Mama immediately starts to eat the afterbirth. It's instinct. The afterbirth could attract predators. I'm getting a little nervous. Baby still isn't moving.

Finally - a little head pops up.

Whoops!

Mama is trying to stimulate as well as clean. The little one needs to be mobile as quickly as possible.

Trying to get those legs underneath him.

This particular stance gets the attention of another cow.

Trying so hard.

Success!!

Just as the little one stood up for the first time, the rancher who owns the cows drove up and stopped to speak with us. I was hoping he didn’t mind that we were parked and photographing. Nope. He told us that he could get us much closer if we liked. These cows were used to him being around checking on them and their newborns. It wouldn’t be a problem at all. We just needed to follow him down into the pasture. Off we went.

He's about 15 minutes old here.

Still a bit wobbly

The vital first drink

Hey there little guy

Wait up Mama

We left Mama and her little one and tried to find the kind rancher who had allowed us to photograph them. We couldn’t find him anywhere. He must have gone over a hill checking on new mothers. In case he could see us somehow, we waved good-bye and headed down the road.

We didn’t get too far when I noticed horses in a pasture. They looked like wild ones to me, so again, I had Tom pull over. We have seen horse sign all up and down this highway (which has a constant flow of semis on it – scary). It wasn’t totally improbable for these to be wild horses outside of the HMA. I got out and took a few pictures.

A little stud colt

And a cute little filly

We hadn’t been there very long when the same rancher drove up beside us. Great – now we could thank him in person. We chatted for a while about the cows and calves and then I asked him about the horses in the field. “Those are wild horses” he told me. He had contacted the BLM about them. (They are young and off the range). He wanted to know what they’d do with them and was told that they’d be taken to Canon City for possible adoption.

Well, this rancher has owned Mustangs before. He knows there are too many horses in holding and not enough homes for them. He asked the BLM if he could adopt them. Since he was already an approved adopter, the BLM agreed. Of course, this brought up a whole new topic of conversation and we stood around for quite a while talking about wild horses, ranching, the BLM, etc. We weren’t completely on the same page, but we weren’t really that far off either. Here was a guy that could see both sides and was rational when discussing them. He also spoke about the importance of going slowly and gently when working with a wild horse. I liked him right away.

It was time to head to town, but we kept an eye on the hillside just in case. You know, somehow that always seems to pan out for us.

A group of bachelor stallions

Not even able to get into the interior of the HMA and look how many horses we managed to see. And a birth as well. What a great day.

Almost into town when I get my final shot of the evening.

Wild turkeys - the first white one I've ever seen on the far left.

Day two to follow…

Update – Day two post: https://nickolesphotography.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/piceance-creek-hma-3-2011-day-2/

The “Email Subscription” link automatically alerts you to new posts. Stay updated and subscribe today!

(Photos are for viewing purposes only. Images are copyright protected and owned solely by Pam Nickoles Photography. No reproduction or downloading permitted. Feel free to share the story/link, not the images.

Visit my website: www.NickolesPhotography.com

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