The Last of the Pecos (this summer)
I had to BORROW a horse! I own 4 rideable animals, plus Zeke in training (Mouse was sold to a lovely home!) and I had nobody to ride in the Pecos for Labor Day! I needed to pack Risa, Penny caught a lethargy inducing virus (= tanked show last weekend). Cometa got it too. Zeke is a bit wired to be a lead horse and Winston is just not ready–I don’t think he has been ridden much and apparently not out of an arena (stepping off dirt onto grass worries him!) thus, streams, hobbling, and mud could all be problematic. There is hope for him! It just might take a while…..
The purpose of this Back Country Horsemen project was to repair the latrine roof and repair the horse corrals at Beatty’s Cabin.
Arrived at Jack’s Creek and packed up pellets on Risa, the pellet-carrying queen. I got to use my box hitch! Love my box hitch! However, the lash rope with my (also borrowed) pack saddle is only 30 feet long. It needs to be about 40 as I run out of rope at the end of my hitch and have a hard time securing my loads! We packed wood for the outhouse roof on several animals, and top packed personal gear.
The sun left summer behind, even if the calendar has not quite hit fall. The sky has become intensely blue and the light has mellowed to a golder hue that angles across the landscape rather than searing whitely down. The aspens gave their tender green to the spring and the leaves have darkened, about to burst into intense yellow with the coming of the frost.
Along the trail, the annual plants look worn. Leaves are pocked with insect bites; flowers sag a a bit; seed heads are coming undone, sending their goods sprawling. Autumn is pushing in.
I feel a little melancholy. This has been a wonderful summer, full to the brim! I don’t relish the darkening of winter. I don’t want to clean the pack saddle and hang it in the basement until spring. I want endless summer!
Upon arrival at Beatty’s Cabin, the first order of business, after caring for the stock, was to take down the snag threatening the latrine.
If you look closely, you can see Richard’s saw. He secured the top snag to the dead tree underneath. Then we put a rope around the upper part of the snag and tensioned it to pull it away from the latrine as it fell. Next, we roped the remaining bottom half, looped our rope around another tree for leverage and pulled our target snag away from the latrine danger zone!
Peter spent most of Sunday tearing out the old roof and doing the detail work of rebuilding the roof supports. I cut stuff–angled stuff. I even drew angles and then cut them. Some turned out nice. Others…not so much. All our work was done with hand tools, due the fact we were in a federal Wilderness area.
Richard and Peter re- roofed. See the pale trim? I cut that!
Cheryl, Amber, Richard and Richard also cut and replaced a good number of poles in the corral and rebuilt a couple of gates. I wrapped the poles with wire to dissuade certain equine beavers from enjoying the rails during periodic snack attacks. They seem to like the green and the aspen poles the best.
Late Monday, we packed up, and headed out in the slanting afternoon light. My (borrowed) horse was in a mood to get home. He fidgetted, he jigged, he tossed his head. I was ponying Risa so I didn’t have use of both hands, and while I could manage him, I couldn’t convince him to settle under me.
We had a little top pack un-balance problem, so stopped to correct that and let some of the party go on. I figured Borrowed Boy would like to lead out and this would help him relax. Um. No. So…
I sang to him. All the songs I could think of that had a nice walking rythym. Desperado (my favorite song of all time), Red River Valley, Streets of Laredo, Oh Susanna, Home Home on the Range. Unfortunately, my lyric recall ability is a bit lacking so I sang verses that I made up, verses out of order, the same verses over and over. I was really enjoying myself, partly because I figured no one could actually hear me (Um. Wrong.) and partly because it reminded me of when I used to walk on the beach and sing–the waves crashing are effective at concealing sound (because I really do not sing well).
The idea behind singing was to create a regular breathing and sound pattern that hopefully the horse would emulate. This worked to some extent, but the edge was still under his skin. Finally, I put him behind Cinco, and giving up all standards of good trail manners, let him run his nose up her tail. This annoyed her some but allowed him to ratchet down.
Back at the trailer, dusk was settling, but the air was still warm. We unloaded and I talked to the guy running the cattle in the area. Found out his camp is out on Hamilton Mesa, and got an invite to come visit. He will likely be there next year, too, so thinking I might just take him up on it!
That could be something to blog about!