Follow along as we recount some of the memories made on our journeys.
Ranchmanship June 2014 This past week we hosted our first ever Ranchmanship week at the N Bar where we have lots of one on one horsemanship along with cattle work including cutting, sorting, penning, roping, and branding. Chris from DC made it back to the N Bar for this week along with Ebba, Jon, and Inger all from Denmark. The week started out with our usual Sunday night speech about life around the N Bar – really just the do’s and don’ts of camp life. Still no campfires tho as the week started out pretty dry. Monday morning we paired up with our mounts Chris on Slade, Inger on Gringo, Jon and Scout, Ebba with Gaucho, Tanya riding Hondo and I took Trampas. Monday’s are always about getting to know your horse and what better way than a 4 hour shakedown ride. We took Rocker Canyon to Deer springs. This mountain spring is about the only patch of green grass around and it’s a welcomed lunch stop for both people and horses. Everyone was feeling pretty good with their mounts – this is great group of horseman - the Danes ride frequently in their homeland and compete in western reining, horsemanship, and western pleasure classes back home and Chris is polo player so he’s used to “hot” mounts and staying in the saddle. We headed back to the ranch for roping practice. All the guests got to learn to build their loop, proper heading and healing techniques and then everyone climbed on our dummy horse “Rusty” to get the feel for roping from up in the saddle. They all learned that roping horseback is harder than it looks – your reins and your rope and your horse and that pesky calf are a lot to manage all at once. Tuesday brought us into the arena for an extended horsemanship lesson and more practice at how these ranch horses work off your leg. Once everyone was really in tune with their horses we headed to the cow pasture to gather up and practice moving the small cow herd. All of these folks have moved cattle before and they proved it, we took the herd through gates around tanks and then into the pens. Once in the pens Preston and I showed folks how we work these cattle before Trampas and I took everyone into the herd to make our cuts. We were looking to sort off our yearlings from our pairs and everyone had plenty of opportunity to cut and sort. Gaucho has the heart of cow horse and he Ebba had a lot of fun getting after those yearlings. Wednesday we headed out into the grasslands with our ponies. We were in search of big herds of elk – there’s only a 3 week or so period out of the year where the elk are in great big herds and running the grasslands with their babies and these folks didn’t want to miss a chance to see it. I should also note that we have Josie and Faye – “the trailer queens” – accompanying us today. These gals trailered their horses from the Carolinas to come ride the Gila. They’re a fun bunch to have in camp. We all headed out on the same mounts except Tanya took Jake and I rode our blue colt Fuego on his first big day off the ranch. He did great it was just he needed. We were seeing small elk herds (20-30) above Eledeane and T Bar tank. Tanya took the girls on a shorter loop up Feathery valley while the rest of us dropped into T Bar valley with thunder clouds looming to the south. We have an unofficial rule here on the N Bar that in June we don’t carry rain gear until we get wet at least once – gotta tempt the rain gods! Well as we were ill-equipped I tried to steer us around the rain heading over Deadbull pass and tracking the girls up Feathery. I did my best but that rain caught up with us. It soaked us pretty good but quit before long and the little breeze had us drying out before we topped out on Feathery Hill. There were bunches of elk scattered around Feathery but everyone was more concerned with the black thunderhead that was getting rather sparky to the north. We made a B-line for the ranch and ALMOST made it. Just as we got into the ranch gates it opened up on us! By the time we got to the saddle house we were soaked to the bone and mighty cold. Tanya and I stripped saddles and turned out our horses. She filled me in on her day and as it turns out all those small bunches elk on Feathery were the remnants of the big herd that Tanya’s groups scattered. Oh well – I think everyone was happy to change into warm dry clothes. Monsoons are upon us!!! Thursday we switched mounts for more cattle work. Jon (aka Juan) rode Chico, Inger on Dakota, Ebba on my horse Frisco, and Chris on Chili. We went out for a quick ride up to Negrito Lookout and back in time to pen our cattle before lunch. Rain was threatening again so after a quick break we cut off 2 yearlings for our practice roping. Only Inger and Ebba got a try at ropin these two before the skies opened up again. We tried to wait it out but this once was sticking around and we opted to unsaddle and call it an afternoon. The next morning we were back at it again, gathered the herd and took some practice roping before cutting and sorting the pairs to be worked. It was going smooth as could be until the last pair – of course. The bull was stirring up trouble in the herd and cut pair was doubling back on the far side of the pen. Seeming out of nowhere Ebba and Frisco made the cut and brought up the pair – it was a great save! Trampas and I sorted off the calves. Let the roping begin! I acted as the hazer trying to line everyone up with a shot and I think everyone caught. We worked the small bunch of calves, finishing the last just as the rains set in – perfect timing. We held up our ponies hoping the skies would clear for some afternoon penning but the rain gods had different plans. The Danes will head home with a new appreciation for the work of an American cowboy and I know Chris enjoyed another week on the N Bar trying something new. Until next time. <
June 2014 Pathfinder Jay's Log 6/29/14 This past week was the first Pathfinder ride we have done in at least 8 years and personally my first Pathfinder ever. The preceding week I learned how much preparation goes into these rides. We are moving camp every night and need all the gear necessary for both people and horses. Preston and I set out on Sunday afternoon to set up our first camp in “Y” Canyon. Our guests arrived shortly afterwards fresh in from the “real” world. When I first came here many years ago from the east coast I used to think that every once in a while you would hear a plane go over head just to remind you that you are still in the “real” world because this rugged country is so vastly different from the life I was used to. I learned however, that THIS is much more of a reality than the hustle and bustle of city life. Folks come out to visit to get a break from the madness that we have built in the cities around the world. This week we have Peg from Ma who is a long time N Bar veteran, Brandi from Tennessee on her second trip, and Martin from DC on his first visit to the N Bar. These guests won’t see the HQ until the end of the week when we ride in. Although we had tents at the ready everyone (except for myself) decided to sleep out under the stars. The next morning after breakfast we caught and saddled our ponies and started out on our big adventure. Martin was riding Chico, Peg on Gaucho, and Brandi on Gringo. The route took us through “Y” Canyon for a short ways before we climbed out and traveled the mesa to the south. We were lucky enough to find water for our horses near La Jolla and dropped into Collins park. The second camp was on the southern edge of the park, but being that it’s thick with juniper I overshot camp by about a mile (Brandi no longer trusts my version of a mile!). But without much trouble we circled around and met Preston, who had a great campsite picked out with plenty of shade to cool us from a rather warm day. Day two on the trail we were set to cross Elk mountain. There is really only one good pass over the mountain, and on first try I missed it. We followed an old logging road that was grown over and eventually faded out on the side of the mountain and there we were stranded with no good path to get through the dense undergrowth, downed trees and rocky terrain. It took some maneuvering and we all had to get off and lead our horses through the thick stuff but we back tracked along the side of the mountain, spilled out on an easy ridge and headed back down. Well the second try to cross the mountain was a lot more successful we had all had enough of the rough stuff and decided to just follow the road through the pass. On the other side we dropped into 7HL valley and scared up a small herd of elk from the tank. We’d been seeing small cow herds and bachelors most of the day. We followed the valley down into a shady cottonwood grove where Preston had set up camp. Tanya joined us after unsuccessfully trying to find our 2 previous campsites. We were glad to have the extra help and she’s always welcomed along the trail. Her and I headed back to the HQ to swap out horses for the following day and made the return trip to camp just in time for a hearty meal. The next morning we set out for our longest day yet – down 7HL Valley, cut across the northern edge of the grasslands, swing south crossing T Bar ridge, down into SS Basin and up to Loco Mountain – my best guess would be 18 miles but Brandi will tell you I underestimate. Peg was riding Slade, Martin on Scout, and Brandi took my horse Frisco. I rode Hondo for his first big ride of the year and Tanya took Cash. The route went just as planned, we were out in the open grasslands for most of the day. We spotted a BIG elk herd near Pit tank and they let us ride right close to them. There were 150-200 head in the herd and that’s a lot for one bull elk to manage – when the herds get that big they tend not to scatter too far. We had disturbed their watering and they were intent on getting back to it just as soon as we left. We took a lunch break near Elk tank on the side o