Troubling encounter

5 11 2009

We’re almost to the end of hunting season. I was hoping we’d make it through with only the respectful people I’d seen thus far, but it wasn’t to be. Despite the fact that we reclaimed the old illegal road to Wildcat Spring, hunters apparently drove in a new “route” up on top of the next hill right above the spring! I guess they couldn’t read the very large sign at the entrance to the herd area telling ’em to stay on designated routes!

This is what the sign says: “Travel restricted to maintained roads. Cross country travel prohibited.”

Who thinks driving off the road and up onto a hill is OK? These guys.

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It’s hard to see the trucks and stock trailer and utility trailer and big canvas tent up on the hill, but they’re there. Note the old road to Wildcat at lower left. Lots of tire traffic and some boot traffic to the boulders (and walking past) to check it out. One of the dead trees the students “planted” was knocked over, whether human-caused or natural, I don’t know. I stood it back up. Thank goodness for the boulders, methinks.

To make matters worse, three men – one on an ATV and two on a “gator” or “mule” or some little golf-cart thing – came up behind my Jeep while I was watching and photographing Kreacher’s band from the road, drove around me and sent the horses galloping away.

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Check out the passenger shading his eyes so he can see the horses better. The carsonite sign at left marks the intersection with the road to Flat Top.

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This was my next view of Kreacher’s band. 😦

I just read a really great Writers on the Range (High Country News) column written by a guy who used to be an avid off-road ATV rider … until the day he was hunting elk and a group of off-road ATV riders zoomed up and scared off the elk … and didn’t understand why the author was PO’d.

To go back in time to a more positive encounter, when I first passed Kreacher’s band, just on  the other side of the road from where this happened, I was heading back to get a closer look at the camp. I drove slowly past the band and took pix through my passenger’s side window. Then I noticed a truck coming up behind me. I drove on, watching carefully in my rear-view mirrors, but they were very respectful and also drove very slowly past the horses, who stayed right where they were, completely relaxed.

Do you get the point? Some visitors respected the horses and were able to get an amazing view of them. Then three visitors completely disrespected them, and the horses galloped away to protect themselves, making it impossible for anyone to enjoy them further at that time.

In addition to the fact that chasing/harassing  the horses is completely illegal, it’s just plain stupid, disrespectful to the horses and rude to other visitors. ARGH!

I sent an email to BLM that night, and I received a near-immediate reply that not only had they had law-enforcement rangers in the basin the day before but that they would follow up on my report. Very much appreciated.

Let’s go back to the beginning.

There were still patches of snow in the basin – more than I expected, truth be told – but it was obvious there had been plenty of vehicle traffic because the roads were mostly good (though a bit more rutted). I did hear what sounded like a stuck truck, but I could never figure out where it was coming from.

Kreacher’s were first on the flats below the catchment. There were a lot of human “visitors” in the basin. I parked up near Flat Top and hiked the old road around the hill. Grey/Traveler’s band was on the north side of the hill. I followed some ATV tracks that went up actually onto the hill … maybe before the sign went up … maybe ignored. I spent some time just visiting with Grey’s band but didn’t take any pictures, then kept going around to the “saddle.”

Hook and Twister were hanging out in the middle under some trees. Twister was lying down with Hook standing over him when I first saw them. 🙂 The trail was somewhat dry – and considerably drier than the ground right off the trail (snowmelt) – so I sat down on the trail to watch the boys.

Steeldust’s band was out by the west-side loop road; Hollywood’s were a little closer to Flat Top. They ended up going all the way over past the pond to the roller-coaster ridge, up on top, then back to the west end. Aspen was with them when I first saw them, but I didn’t realize until I looked through my photos at home that Hollywood’s followed them.

Bounce’s band was over by the west end of Knife Edge … without Molly and Liberty. I never did see them. (Also didn’t see Duke that day, or Chrome, Jif and baby Hayden.)

Cinch and Bruiser also were on the saddle – closer to Round Top – and then I saw David and Shadow back toward that far yucky water puddle. It and the one close to Flat Top both have a little water, and by the hoof prints, horses are drinking at both.

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You can see the snow … and the salt in the soil around the puddle.

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While I was watching David and Shadow, I saw another “shadow” under some trees in the middle of the saddle, between D&S and Cinch and Bruiser …

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Ze, Roja and Seven … Bruiser in the background.

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It’s so weird to see them without Molly and Liberty.

I went back around the hill – Grey/Traveler’s were right up at the base of the hill then – and took the horse trail to the pond. It’s shrinking every time I see it.

I was almost back to the main road when I saw the camp and went to investigate.

That’s when I passed Kreacher’s band the first time.

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Corona has been playing in the mud. 🙂

And then on the way out …

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Loved that halo-light on the ponies …

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A little lovely light, a little lovely background … a little lovely wild.

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It was such a wonderful end to the day … until the horses heard the ATV.

Let’s review again how the day really ended:

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I want everyone to feel about the horses the way I do. It’s a rude realization when I’m reminded that’s not the way it is.


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5 responses

6 11 2009
nicole vinson

oh my gosh. Those kind of people make me so mad. In the summer on our mountain trips we often meet atvers on the road and they will shut off there machines untill we are well past them. And that is for domesticated horses. Thats how they need to treat any kind of wild life including wild horses. And people disrespecting signs is a sever problem that will probably and sadly never come to an end.
I am now worried about poor Duke and Molly:( I hope that you can see them again next time you go out.

7 11 2009
TJ

And we get quite a few of those respectful people in the basin, too. Maybe that’s one reason the people who are NOT respectful get so much attention. Maybe I’m overly protective, but it makes me crazy when people send horses galloping when a few more seconds would have allowed the horses to get calmly “out of the way.” (It’s their home, after all.)
TJ

8 11 2009
Billie

TJ,

Great pics of the horses. Too bad about the idiots out there, but you can’t control them, darn it! Just keep on loving those horses.

Billie

8 11 2009
TJ

Excellent advice – thank you! I’ll definitely try to remember that. 🙂
TJ

8 11 2009
Lynn Bauer

TJ –
Great light, great subjects! It may not always be possible but, when you do see folks do the right thing, compliment them – maybe the reinforcement will help them to remind the next group and so on and so on. It’s all we can do – we have to keep trying!
L and K

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