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6-17-09 004_edited-1-2
Base Camp


6/8/10, Mt. Sneffels, CO - Most everyone has their favorite place in the world, I headed towards mine.

This morning, I repacked the wagon, to support putting it in the ‘Lean Mean Mountain Travel Mode’. The trailer was left at Ralph’s place, near where we spent the night. It’s a good thing we were traveling light. It’s been 20 years since I’ve been back in the Sneffels range, and on previous trips I was in a car and didn’t take notice of the fairly steep grades.

I started the day driving Bob and Bill, but Billy was starting to play-out, so about halfway up, I replaced him with Doc.  In eight miles of travel, we climbed about 2000 feet, so it was a steady uphill climb, the whole way.

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Mt. Sneffels, standing tall, at over 14,000 feet.

Doc and Bob pulled well together, but as always, Bob tries not to miss an opportunity to have Doc do the Lion’s Share. When they stop to rest, Doc gets even by backing up half a step, so Bob has to hold the weight of the wagon.

About 1 pm, we pulled into a nice meadow, a half mile below the ‘Blue Lakes’ trailhead.  There was a nice camping spot, plenty of graze for the horses, and a small stream running through their pasture.

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My goal for this trip is a beaver pond, at 10,000 feet, just below snowline, in the basin that is in the center of the picture.  As stunning as the scenery is here, it pales in comparison to the one from the beaver pond.

After letting the lads graze for a couple of hours, I saddled up Bill and went for a ride.  When I ride Bill, the other two rascals just play follow-the-leader, and I don’t have to worry about them.  First, we rode 1/2  mile to the trailhead, then started up the trail.  My goal was to ride to a meadow about 1 1/2 miles up, but there was a very large spruce tree down across the trail about 1/2 mile after we started.  I think I could have gotten around it, but there’s a possibility that one of the horses would have got hurt.  Knowing that I’m 51 now and not 31 years old, I don’t figure I would have sufficient time to get in and out of the beaver pond in a single day if I had to hike the whole way. This would require that I hike up and down about 3000 feet of contour lines, through some steep terrain. I was counting on the fact that the horses could take me through 2/3 of that altitude change.  Oh well, with all the flow coming down Dallas Creek, the dam is probably washed out right now, anyway.

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My ninth and last cattle guard that I had to go around during the day. They all had good go-around gates, except for the first one.  That one had a steep ditch running under it.  I thought I would have to use my plywood to get over the cattle guard, but without the trailer, I just had to knock down the edges of the ditch a bit, and drive through,

After turning the team back down the trail, I still wanted to ride a bit, so we headed downstream of the wagon to do a little exploring.  I was a little surprised to see a herd of about 30 heifers grazing downstream of the wagon.  In the Cimarron Mountains, the grazing lease doesn’t start until July 10th.

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The two free ranging trail bums, who walked ahead of Bill on our way down the mountain.

After returning to camp, I put the horse on some new grass and started doing a few camp chores. As I was cooking up supper, a nice guy, from Arizona, and his three kids stopped by to say hi. They drove out this afternoon, and are camped about 200 yards above me.  Right now, they’re the only other campers around here.  Later, they stopped over and gave me a pound of fresh ground coffee.  A couple of the kids got a chance to sit up on Doc.

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The wagon, as viewed when I went on my ride downstream.

After supper, all of the cattle showed up, curious to see what’s going on. Since then, they’ve periodically have come back and gathered outside the playpen fence. So I don’t have a horse breakout, if they knock down the fence tonight, I tied Doc to the wagon for the night. This gives me a horse to chase the others if I have to.

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“Hey, let’s see what’s playing on the ‘Heifer Channel’ tonight?  Wow, it’s ‘Horse TV’.”

Tomorrow morning, I’m going to saddle up and do some more exploring. I’ll pack the fishing pole and a picnic lunch and see what I can find.

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“Hey, let’s put our nose on this rope - wow, that smarts.  Try it again; and again; and again.” After 3 tries by each cow, they decided that it wasn’t such a good idea.

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Relaxing next to the fire before supper. I normally don’t cook over the fire, but made and exception for tonight.

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Even in the middle of a wilderness, Doc can find kids to sit on his back!