Monday, September 28, 2009

The Cattle Drive - Day 5

Click Here for The Cattle Drive - Day 4

All of today's photos were taken by Mark MacLeod of Highlander Photographics except where noted.

The sunrise on this particular morning was a miracle that can't be captured with photographs or words. The skies were big, blue and clear.

Morning light on our tents. Time to pack up and hit the trail...

...but not until our breakfast of steak and eggs out on the plains in Montana style.

A couple of the wranglers had talked about the issues my horse "Sporty" was having and they decided that I should have a different horse for the day. I got to ride one of the wranglers ranch horses, his name was "Big Al." "Big Al" was a fast walking but mellow and gentle horse, a pleasure to ride. Dad and "Roany" got along great. "Roany" had some sort of walking horse in his blood that showed up in his smooth rocking chair gait. It was going to be a wonderful day.

Driving the steers across the plains was easy and relaxing. So much open space and sky! The hills of the snowy mountains are behind us.

There couldn't be a better way to experience Big Sky country than seeing it from the back of a horse. It was sunny, cool and windy. Chapstick was our friend for sun burnt and wind burnt lips! I can't imagine a bigger or bluer sky. It was so peaceful and quiet, hearing only hoof beats and the sound of the wind.

Dad on "Roany"...enjoying the ride. It was an ideal time for chatting as well as a time for being alone with your thoughts. The time and space called for both.

The plains were rocky and barren because of the drought. There was one muddy watering hole along the way. Even the trough at this windmill pump was dry.

Riding across the open plains with only steers and cowboys in could have been yesterday or 100 years ago. Truly a timeless experience.

Over wide open spaces with the sun in our faces, we traveled across the heart of Montana on the back of a horse.

We moved from the plains to a long straight road. The steers were tired, we were tired too. Almost there.

Photo by Pat Young
We arrived at the Twin Coulee Ranch at about 2:00 pm. Time for lunch and a hot, outdoor shower. The wind was strong across the plains. Setting up camp was a challenge with the wind! The rest of the afternoon we had some free time. We spent some time driving the team of mules with cowboy Amos. It was easy to imagine the wagon trains heading out to the old West....well, without the Indians and the weeks of hardship.

Simple sites like saddles on a rail fence were reminders that we weren't in Minnesota anymore.

After another Montana sized meal of BBQ Ribs, beans and potato salad we were treated to another night of live music...

...and some much needed rest. All this cowboying is tiring work!

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