Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Piute Bound

Wednesday July 19 2006

Afternoon thunderstorms, fires all around; tomorrow my boss and I are headed into the backcountry with the Forest Service horses for a few days for some trail and wildlife surveys. (Actually ‘fires all around’ is an exaggeration – there’s a big one 20 miles away on our district, though we are having some wicked afternoon thunderstorms.)

We’ll be based out of Piute cabin, an old 1940’s cabin 12 miles back into the Hoover Wilderness that sits on an edge of a meadow, with craggy peaks framing the other end of the valley. The cabin itself oozes rugged charm and character for its lucky human occupants, and the horses love it out there – in the past they spent a lot of summers living in and working out of Piute meadows. Back when the FS had money to actually hire full-time summer rangers (now we have only 1 part-time, half summer), one was based out of the cabin, and he used the horses to get around to do his rangering, and he did all the packing for the trail crew. The horses get turned out in the big meadow when they aren’t working.

Last year I packed my fish crew into the Hoover once, and was able to take three of the horses to stay overnight at Piute Meadows and cabin. I didn’t think I’d ever catch them again to saddle up in the morning, and I had to really drag them away from their beloved meadows.

We won’t need but two riding horses and one pack horse, but I plan to take them all in as a treat. Tom hasn’t seen Piute meadows for several years, as last year he had an injured foot. I imagine tomorrow about 1 PM he’s going to be one happy horse – as are the other 4.

I only hope I can catch all five of them when it’s time for us to leave this time, or we’ll be hoofing it out on our human feet!

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