October 24, 2008

Lost Dog, Pit Bull Fight, and Mischief's Inner Mule

Yesterday morning dawned bright and cold. We started riding at the Grassy Hollow trailhead (about 15 miles down Indian Canyon from Duchesne) about 11 AM. The temperature was still in the 30’s. The first part of the ride was easy. We trotted and cantered along a 4 wheeler trail for a couple of miles, passing a spring with a tire trough. Water around the trough was mostly frozen.
At the top of the hollow, we headed straight up, or so it seemed. The slope was forty degrees, at least. We ended up on a hillock at near 9000 feet. To reach Twelve Mile Creek, as was Steve’s plan, we then had to go down to about 7500 feet. Steve came up with an “old horse trail” (translate: no trail”) that was equally steep as the route up. Steve walked and led his horse and I let Mischief follow them while I struggled along on foot, or sometimes on hand and foot, trailing the group. Mischief balked about halfway down. I continued, thinking he’d follow. After my wise Arab thought about it for a few minutes, he came along.
As the lay of the land leveled out, we rode through a forest with a lot of downed trees. The spring on Steve’s map ended up having no water, so we moseyed along the creek bed, came up the other side, and started riding southwest, intending to intersect a real trail leading to Gray Head Peak. Half a mile later, we realized Daisy Mae wasn’t with us. We’d last seen her in the creek bed, so we called her as we retraced our steps. About the time we reached the creek bed again, we saw her trotting our way with her tongue hanging out. Her custom is to trot ahead of us, but this time she missed one of our turns. Usually her sensitive nose is good enough to find us, but she must have become confused and gone back the way we’d come for some distance before turning back.
By the time we found her, she was pretty thirsty, so Steve took her back to the frozen spring. He wasn’t happy about the added travel. It was becoming apparent that we weren’t going to complete his planned route. Here they are, returning from the spring:
After the lost Daisy fiasco, we went northwest along the creek, thinking to find a route back over the hillocks that would be easier than the one we’d just done. After about a mile we came to a nice spring. A cowboy who’d been riding the area looking for cows was parked on the other side of a fenceline, and he came over to ask if we’d seen any of his animals. We hadn’t.
He was with his little girl and a couple of dogs. One of the dogs looked like a pit bull with strange light blue eyes. Since Tess’s dog had a bad run-in with a pit bull, I was a little concerned, but Daisy and the dog sniffed each other and the dog showed no aggression. Then, while we were talking, the two got into a tussle. Daisy ended up on the bottom, in good position to have her throat torn out. We yelled at the dogs, though, and the tussle ended without bloodshed.
The cowboy told us we could go up Camp Draw, where the spring was located, to reach a 4 wheeler trail that would lead us back to Grassy Hollow. We decided to give it a tray.
Talk about an “old horse trail!” In retrospect, we probably took the wrong fork at the head of the draw, but we ended up on the steepest hill we’ve ever attempted with horses. Steve led Boss and I let Mischief follow while I struggled through to keep my feet on the sandy cliffside (Okay, not a cliff, but close… 50-60 degrees?) After awhile, I noted that Mischief was hanging back, but I figured he’d follow as he normally does.
Not so. I finally caught up with Steve at the pass we were aiming for, and neither of us were too keen on going back for my errant horse, who had decided to hang where he was, midway up the mountain. He’d found a spot with a little grass, and he figured he was past due for a break. He was on strike for better working conditions. While I waited around, hoping Mischief would give in, Steve rode Boss to the top of ridge. Meanwhile, Mischief decided to go the other direction and disappeared from sight. Uh-oh.
Finding a horse in that rough country wouldn’t be easy. Fortunately, Boss and Steve reappeared on the ridge and found that Mischief had just gone over a rise and out of sight. The two horses nickered to each other and reunited.
Steve accused Mischief of looking like an Arab and behaving like a mule. I say he’s just too smart to meekly go on an impossible trail. Maybe next time we should take trail advise from him. In any case, I was happy to have my ride back so we could go home. In celebration, I took a few photos of the views:

At the end of the insane route up Camp Draw, we did, indeed find a 4 wheeler track. On the way back to Grassy Hollow, we found more bristlecone pines, these at about 8900 feet. (I’m not holding back on location any longer, since I read that the forest service allowed a large bristlecone in Nevada to be chopped down in 1968 in order to count the rings. That tree turned out to be 4900 years old, the oldest living … well, not living, after that… plant or animal in the world. So, the worst sort of vandalism has, in fact, been committed at the forest service’s own hand!) The trees above Grassy Hollow aren’t in a particularly difficult environment, so they probably aren’t more than a few centuries old. Here's the largest one we saw:

We reached the truck and trailer about 5PM, and just barely reached home before dark. The ride was 13 miles and 3400 feet. With all of the crisis management, it seemed much longer.

1 comment:

  1. I was thinking your ride would've been longer too. I think Mischief had the right idea. :) Ugh, I hate that people who own pit bulls don't understand that they were bred for animal aggression and let them wander off leash. I've seen the light blue color eyes you're talking about. I read that it is actually a mutation that is a sign of inbreeding.. sounds reasonable. Oh, and the laser pointer Tim just got at a gas station. I'll bet Wal Mart would have one for sure.



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