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Sunday, September 6, 2009

HOM: Moose IV

The weather was great on this trip, Indian Summer in the high country, we felt great and enjoyed everything. We even had good neighbors in nearby camps who dropped in to visit. One was the cook from the dude camp down the creek who chatted for quite a while, and one was an old woodsman that rode in. He was a little displeased when he saw we were doing some laundry at the edge of the creek and mentioned that doing so made the drinking water taste a little funny at the downstream camps. He had a point. The cook had a few tales to pass on. He'd found a nice new revolver in the trail on the way in, picked it up and stashed it in his saddlebag. A few miles further on he found a man trudging back down the trail, peering and poking in the bushes that bordered it. Cook asked him what was up, and when the searcher said he'd lost a pistol he produced it and made the searcher quite happy. He also mentioned having to escort a dude out using a different trail system than we'd taken on the way in. We asked why they'd taken a longer route and the cook said it was because the dude didn't like being able to spit a hundred feet. Yeah, guess I wasn't the only one to ever have a fear of horses and high spots. Things were too good to last. Once we got a rude surprise when we got to camp and discovered that the horses were all gone. Jim was faster than I am, so he grabbed a rope and took off back toward the trailhead on the assumption that they'd headed home without us. I headed upstream toward the lake, and I guess it figured that I was the one to find them. They were all hobbled, but they could really cover the ground even so. I got them more or less rounded up & caught Randa, then slipped my belt off to use as a lead rope on her neck. It was a little short and a little weak but it worked, and when I started back to camp with her the others tagged along. I met Jim about the time we made camp. He'd finally decided there were no fresh north-bound tracks on the trail and they'd gone the other way. (When I got back to town, being a believer in Semper Paratus, I had a custom belt made, of sturdy buffalo hide with strong screws & buckle, and a foot longer than I needed. I figured if I ever again needed to use a belt as an emergency rope, I might as well have one of a useful size & strength.) A day or so after that episode one of the other horses kicked Randa in a front leg and it started to balloon up, which worried Jim. He waited a day or two to see if it would improve and then decided to abort the trip when it didn't. TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)