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6-17-09 004_edited-1-2
High Altitude Horses

WAGONTEAMSTER .COM

6/16/10, Lizard Head Pass, CO - It was a short but steep drive today, ending in a large, high mountain meadow.

I took my time leaving the campground this morning.  After I harnessed up a three horses and broke camp, I drove them around the campground in order to reach a water spigot.  On the way, we had to stop to let some young girls get to meet some nice horses.  The campground is starting to fill up for the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and everyone we met was real friendly and excited to see the team.

After saying goodbye to Mike and his wife, the campground attendants, I hitched the team up in a Unicorn, for the steep pull up to Lizard Head Pass.

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Doc, in his daily chore of meeting young equestrians.

The three or four miles leading to a point that was just above Trout Lake was steeply pitched between 8 and 12 percent.  There was a moderate amount of traffic, to include quite a few trucks, but everyone was very considerate.

I was glad I had all three horse pulling, and they did a great job.  I could have pulled the hill with only two, but it would have taken twice as long.

A mile short of Lizard Head Pass, I pulled over at the top of the last steep hill and had lunch. Several people stopped including an Ohio Veterinarian and his wife.  He had just sold his equine practice, and was amazed at the good health and conditioning of the team.

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Trout Lake, just north of Lizard Head Pass.  Itís reminiscent of lakes that I used to see in the Alps.

After lunch, I ponied Doc behind the trailer, and continued up the last hill with just the two Belgians pulling. In short order we were on the crest, and topped off with an altitude of 10,222 feet. The boys werenít even breathing hard, so I figured they were acclimated pretty well.  The top of the pass is absolutely gorgeous, so I looked around an old sheep corral for a place to camp.  The grass was a little thin, and there wasnít very much water, so I got back on the road and headed south another mile.

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Stopping for lunch.  After lunch, I put Doc at the rear, and pulled his singletree off the end of the tongue. I was pretty proud of how well the Lads performed on the narrow mountain roads in this difficult hitch. A Unicorn is much harder to drive than a 4-up hitch.

A mile south of the crest, there was a very shallow bank from the roadside, leading to an incredible mountain meadow, with a small stream running through it (the headwaters of the Dolores River). I felt like paying tribute to the Basque Sheepherders for the night, and hanged a hard left turn. The team and I are camped next to the stream, on some very nice grass, in the most gorgeous high mountain meadow you could imagine. I set up the playpen with the creek running through it.  Initially, I had Bill in the playpen and the other two running around; but, first Doc, and later Bob wanted to be with his buddies, so I turned them in as well.

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Lizard Head Pass - at 10,222 feet above sea level, itís the highest point of travel for the team on this trip - so far.

Not long after I settled, Carol, who I met earlier in the week stopped by to socialize for a bit. As Iím about 400 yards off the highway, only the most dedicated visitors stop by. It was a great visit and I was sorry to see her go.

I tried my hand at fishing, but the only trout I saw in the stream this high up, were midget sized, and not worth the effort.  I have a feeling that theyíll increase in size quite a bit, a few miles further downstream.

I plan on taking several days to move down the Dolores River.  Itís one of the most beautiful and scenic watersheds in Colorado. I have absolutely no cell or internet service here, so Iíll have to post this blog later.

Tomorrow, Iím going to continue downstream a few miles and look for another great camping and fishing spot.  Right now, the team is enjoying life, grazing in their high mountain meadow; a life worthy of a team of ĎHigh Altitude HorseĒ.

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Using three separate shots with the camera, I tried to capture a panoramic viewe of the horses grazing in, and next to, their playpen. But, the camera really misses the true beauty of this magical mountain meadow.