On a two day riding trip this past Tuesday and Wednesday, we returned to the Strawberry River area. Starting Tuesday from the corrals, we rode the Mill B route, circumnavigating Currant Creek Peak and adding a sidetrip to the Willow Creek corrals on the Bjorkman Hollow road. The aspens were about 50% changed at 9000 feet, making for gorgeous views. Around the Willow Creek area, many of the aspens were red-gold.
This is a great ride, almost all alluvial, suitable for trotting and cantering much of the way. We didn’t even use boots on the horses, and they did fine on the 18 mile, 3800 foot elevation gain route, all in 4.5 hours moving time. Cows were still grazing in the high country, although a trough at the base of Currant Creek Peak had ice on the spout at mid-day. Cowboys were in the area this week rounding up their animals. A friendly cowboy said they’d get all of them out by the weekend.
Gooseberries were lush with berries around the trough.
The most unusual event on the ride was Daisy’s encounter with a porcupine. We had just passed a stock pond above the Willow Creek area. Daisy was lagging behind. I heard her bark once. Soon after, she showed up behind me, making gagging noises, alternating with flopping down and rubbing her snout on the ground. As she came up beside me, I saw something pointy sticking out of her mouth. I alerted Steve, who rode ahead. We both dismounted to check out the situation. Steve quickly diagnosed her as nailed by numerous porcupine quills. They were sprinkled over her nose and jaws, and some were stuck in the roof of her mouth.
Luckily, Steve had a hemostat in his saddle bags. (Amazing, all the useful stuff he has packed in those leather pouches.) With both of us holding her down, Daisy Mae tolerated having the quills pulled out. Some on the outside of her muzzle broke off. She may have some swelling and infection from those, but no problems yet. Seemingly delighted to be free of quills, she completed the ride in her usual exuberant fashion. Back at the trailer, she wolfed down her dog food, and slept just fine all night. She seemed no worse for wear the next day, either, and still looks okay today.
On Wednesday, we rode the area again. We started out on a trail to the west of the Strawberry corrals and road to the top of the Row Bench Trail. Steve spotted a mama moose and her half-grown calf. We passed an on-foot hunter (in camo, carrying a rifle) on the way up and again as we rode down. Don’t know what he was hunting, but we didn’t tell him about the moose.
Nice views of the Wasatch from the Row Bench ridge. Since that trail led mostly downhill after the ridge, we returned to the corrals and took Mill B to a turnoff leading to Willow Creek and made a loop ride with the Mill B trail that we had partially explored on Tuesday. We rode through beautiful aspen groves with great views of Strawberry Reservoir framed by fall colors.Back on Mill B, we heard bugling and saw a big bull elk with a nice rack standing between aspen groves. He melted into the aspen, but we saw him several more times, and also saw his herd of cows and calves hiding out in the trees. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem wary enough, and I’m afraid he won’t last through the hunting season.
Wednesday’s ride was a total of 14 miles, 3900 feet in 4 hours. The drive to this great trailhead is only 1 hr, 20 minutes from our house in Roosevelt. Before the aspen gold is gone, maybe we’ll get in one more outing in the area.