Alternatively …

31 03 2016

Once upon a time in a place far, far away from civilization – better known as Spring Creek Basin – it snowed during alternative spring break. And then we had many, many years of pretty excellent weather, during which we completed many projects for the benefit of our mustangs that call this faraway place their home on the range.

Brumley Point forms part of Spring Creek Basin's southeastern boundary.

Tuesday would have been the first day of the annual two-day work project for alternative-spring-break partiers in Spring Creek Basin. However, Ma Nature had other plans, and she sent howling winds and blowing snow to this southwestern corner of Colorado.


Yesterday was the second day of our Spring Creek Basin project. Despite a light skiff of snow on the ground in the morning, we got a fairly decent start, and students carried several loads of materials and tools to the work site – which now is about mile from the road up the southeastern fence line.


BLM range tech Justin Hunt gives a safety talk before Mizzou students carry tools and supplies to the work site.


University of Missouri students pick up materials to carry to the work site from BLM range specialist Garth Nelson.


Libby and Nina carry staves up the big hill.


Nina (left) walks back to the truck for more supplies while SJMA’s Kathe Hayes leads Jenna and Bailey to the work site  with a second load of tools. SJMA’s MK Gunn is at far right.

And then it snowed again.

At first, they were lovely little flakes floating on the breeze.

Then those flakes got bigger and heavier, and they started sticking to the ground, and the dirt started getting damp and started sticking to the bottoms of our hiking boots.


Mizzou’s Chalen helps Southwest Conservation Corps-BLM GIS intern Josh Ryan carry wire to the work site along Spring Creek Basin’s southeastern boundary during alternative spring break. BLM’s Sean Waggoner follows with the chainsaw and T-posts.


University of Missouri students Luke and Jessica carry staves about a mile to the work site while snowflakes start to fall.

About noon, we made the decision to call it a day. By the time we got back to the road, the snow had stopped … but the next wave was on its way.

Between the waves of snow, students carried armloads of T-posts and staves, buckets of tools and handfuls of tools, stretched a string to straighten the next section of fence, built an H-brace, pounded T-posts and cut wood away from the path of the new fence line (actually done by our BLM range tech). A couple of them even got as far as dropping posts and staves along the line. But we didn’t have time to take down old wire and string and stretch new wire.


Garth pounds a spike into a cross brace held by Chalen in the H-brace built before the snow really came down.


Garth helps Chalen and Luke tighten the wire holding an H-brace together.


Justin cuts a tree away from the fence. Sean and Mizzou’s Megan serve as safety spotters. We learned that while we can’t cut even dead trees to use as posts in McKenna Peak Wilderness Study Area, we can use chainsaws to clear such trees from a fence line.


Sean holds wire while Nina and Megan attach strands to a T-post when the snowfall got heavy.

We’ll continue this project on other (sunny) days. 🙂

We sincerely thank this year’s Mizzou crew for being hearty and willing to brave the elements to tackle this ongoing project! It was great to meet you all … and there’s always next year! We also thank SJMA’s Kathe Hayes for her ever-cheerful organizational skills and taking care of the students, as well as members of the Colorado chapter of the National Mustang Association and Disappointment Wild Bunch Partners (who represent NMA/CO, Four Corners Back Country Horsemen and Mesa Verde Back Country Horsemen) for helping with funding.


University of Missouri students gather with BLM and SJMA employees in front of Temple Butte, just outside Spring Creek Basin in McKenna Peak Wilderness Study Area, during alternative spring break. From left to right: Justin Hunt, Bailey, MK Gunn, Josh Ryan, Jenna, Nina, Jessica, Megan, Luke, Libby, Kathe Hayes, Garth Nelson, Chalen and Sean Waggoner.


Don’t go away

30 03 2016

Maia and Houdini


Yesterday would have been the first day of the annual two-day work project for University of Missouri students to continue work on Spring Creek Basin’s southeastern boundary during alternative spring break.

But it snowed!

Interestingly enough, the nearly-all-day snowfall (snowblow?) left a grand total of … nada. 🙂 None of it stuck! The howling wind blew it somewhere between diagonally and horizontally, but the ground did end up a tiny bit damp, so it had to have done some good in the moisture category (?!).

Coming tomorrow: this year’s Mizzou crew, tackling the next section of boundary fence!

Spring in his step

29 03 2016


Young Kwana looks mature in his silvering coat.


28 03 2016

Hollywood and Maia


Hollywood finds comfort in Maia’s embrace.

She actually just walked into that position, and apparently it was easier for him to tuck his face into her shoulder than shift to get out of her way. 🙂

Days like these

27 03 2016

Alegre, Maia and Houdini, La Sal Mountains


The morning of the day this photo was taken, the local world was covered in white. By the time this photo was taken, near sunset, the ground was nearly as dry as before it snowed. (Thanks, spring wind.)

As quickly as it arrived and then melted, we’re supremely glad for the moisture – and would relish the opportunity for more – soon!


Just a wee bit …

26 03 2016


… windy.

That’s not a swish of Skywalker’s tail; that’s the wind blowing it sideways.

Those snow-covered ridges in the far background are far away, indeed. They contribute water to their watershed(s), but it doesn’t reach Spring Creek Basin. We’re crossing fingers and hooves again for moisture to dampen the dust raised and scattered by the wind.


25 03 2016


Winona flies with the wind through her mane.

She has a short flight distance. 🙂

Oooh la Terra

24 03 2016



A most gorgeous mustang among most gorgeous mustangs – Terra.

Truly, their beauty still makes me catch my breath, and time spent with them makes them only more beautiful and appealing.

Against the glow

23 03 2016



Do not be afraid of backlighting. Embrace backlighting. I love the way it highlights the shape of our most gorgeous mustangs.

Diagonal three

22 03 2016

Piedra and friends

Pretty, pretty Piedra watches while her compadres graze on a beautiful morning in Spring Creek Basin.