Sunday Aug 23rd – I had scheduled a horse ride in the Hayden Valley area for today. It would be an all day ride, which I was very much looking forward too. Though, I must confess, that I was a bit worried about all of our ‘sitters’ and knees holding up with 6 hours of riding.
We met Mike Thompson, our trail guide, and Bubba, his young helper at the Alum Creek parking area along the Grand Loop Road.
It only took a few minutes to give us all some instructions, and we were saddled up and ready to ride.
Brian was riding ‘Elmo’ and Bekah was on ‘Leo’.
I was riding ‘Lobo’, and Fred was riding ‘Bob’.
My horse, Lobo, was a special horse with a pedigree. The Nez Perce Indians are credited with developing the Appaloosa horse. Lobo is supposed to be a direct descendant of the Nez Perce Indian line of horses. He really was a wonderful and spirited horse, as were all of Mike’s horses.
Mike told us that we were going to ride across this open valley, up and over the hills, then around the trees, and make a rather big circle back to the road. We could ride single file or grouped together, but the horses seemed to just mostly follow the leader. Once in a while, one or another of the horses would get a bit behind, then he would trot a bit to catch up. At first, this caught me by surprise, then I realized that Lobo would just trot a bit and slow back to a walk. They all just liked keeping up with their buddies.
Up over the hill, we stopped at a geo-thermal area. The white ground is from the silica that the geyser waters deposit when they overflow and cool.
There were several steaming fumaroles…..
And one large bubbling hot spring pool.
It was amazing to just wander around this geo-thermal area without having the crowds, or having to walk only on the boardwalks.
As we rode on, we spotted this herd of bison.
There were hundreds of bison scattered about this valley.
That did not stop us….we rode right around and through the bison herd! It was a bit intimidating, but such an awesome feeling to be able to ride quietly among these huge animals, remembering that these bison are wild animals, not cows.
Around 1 pm, we stopped for a much needed stretch and lunch.
As we ate a delicious lunch provided by our guide, we enjoyed the view out across the valley.
We continued on, always alert for any wildlife……a wolf pack as well as elk, moose and bear all live in the Hayden Valley. We did not, unfortunately, spot anymore wildlife, but that did not matter with the amazing scenery all around us to enjoy.
We did, however, see a surprising number of bison skulls and elk antlers. On the left, Mike holds up a bison skull with one horn still attached. On the right, is Bubba, proudly posing with another skull.
Everyone got a turn to hold the skulls….
And there were several more full sets of bones that we spotted.
Brian and Bekah pose with one gigantic set of elk antlers (still attached to the skull) !
The last hour of our ride, we all were looking forward to getting off our horses and letting our sore seats rest, though, we were not eager for this adventure to come to an end. I do think that this trail ride will be a highlight of the trip.