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Swan Lake


6/24/12, Swan Lake, ID - After a fairly short day I decided to quit early and give the lads and I a little rest. They’ve pulled 57 miles in the past three days, much of it through some pretty good sized hills. So, when I saw a nice place to camp with green grass and water, I went for it. Tonight, we’re 14 miles north of our previous camp on Henry’s Fork, at the northern edge of Swan Lake.

Knowing we had a tough pull for the first few miles, I hitched up in the unicorn.  It was a steady 5 to 8% grade until we got to the National Forest Boundary, about 5 miles down the road.

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Not long after I pulled Doc off the front, leaving the two Belgians to pull alone, I stopped to chat with the guy in the RV. Even though traffic was moving fairly fast, I talked with several other people as we were pulling up the hill.

As warm as the day later got, I was glad for an early start to knock off the climb before the heat. It was suppose to be Bill’s day off, so he went to the rear and Doc came forward to pull at lunch time.


A grizzled old teamster in need of a shave.  This picture was taken two days ago. The twins I was packing around my middle at the beginning of the trip are grown and gone.  In a couple of days, I’ll break out the hole punch and put a new notch in my belt.  I have to eat like a pig to maintain my weight as I burn a lot of calories on the wagon.  Photo courtesy of Mike Siurua.

About an hour and a half after lunch, I came upon Swan Lake. At the north end, there was a two track road that allowed me to access some nice grass.  The boys were weary and I needed some rest time so I pulled the wagon down a fairly steep hill and set up camp.  I think I can get out again tomorrow with only two horses, but I might have to break out a third - we’ll see.

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While Bob was getting his hoof-mud beauty treatment, he did his best to pull me in for one too. When I told him I was going to let go of the lead and he can sink or swim alone, he relented.

Everyone had a very pleasant and restful afternoon.  After two dry camps in a row, it was nice to be next to some water. The grass is excellent and the Amigos have been going to town with it.  All afternoon, I let them graze an enclosure in front of the wagon and just swapped them to a new paddock behind the wagon for night.

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“Hey Bob, let me see how your shoes are looking. Okay, they seem fine to me”.

Tonight, I’m 38 miles from West Yellowstone, MT. Once there, I’ll turn north on US-191 and follow the Gallatin River to a point west of Bozeman, MT. I’ll then turn west to the City of Three Forks, before turning north to Helena.

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A nice, pleasant way to end the day.