Wishing for warmer weather this week brought me back to reminiscing of long summer days riding up into the mountains. One of the best overnight trips I can remember was totally accidental. I had called up my friend Brigitte to go for a late afternoon ride up the Bear Canyon. We saddled up and headed up the trail. The weather was beautiful and the sun shone bright through the forested trail. Now this was one of my favorite places to go riding as it is sheer beauty of forest and cliffs, streams, and hardly any other people around. My favorite spot is about 10 miles up there is a large open meadow and old homesteader house and barn. I often stop to eat there and wish that I could have lived here about a hundred years ago and how happy one would be in this beautiful oasis. Just past this spot you wind around to another meadow atop the Canyon and can see adjacent canyons all the way towards Yellowstone National Park. There is not a full trail but I always wanted to ride from there all the way to Chico Hot Springs and back. Could life get any better than a day on your horse and an evening of music and soaking in the hot springs? Enough daydreaming and back to my story. I had always gone to the top of the canyon and then turned around and gone back the same way I came. The trail continued around the top. I figured it made a large loop around as most trails do. Feeling adventurous I asked Brigitte if she was up for giving it a try. Away we went, following along the top of the cliff lines was breathtaking and beautiful. The sun began to drop down towards the trees and we could see the truck and trailer below. The only problem being- the trail kept going past and the truck and trailer was about 3000 feet of a straight drop below us. Perhaps if we go past it drops down and circles around I thought. We went into some heavy forest and came out into another opening just as the sun dropped out of sight. It was pretty steep but I thought we might be able to meander our way down. We dismounted and weaved down the sloping side. Suddenly my horse hesitated and stopped dead. I turned around and he was wrapped up in an old pile of barb wire rolled up in a jumbled mess. Luckily I was able to get him out without a scratch. Just then my eyes began adjusting to the night sky and I saw that our steep slope also suddenly dropped off below us. Back up to the trail we went. I decided it was best to just stay where we were for the night since I knew my directions. We could see the bright lights of town shimmering far off in the distance. I had snacks in my saddle bags, ropes to highline the horses, and our dogs to keep the bears away. We even had cell phone service for Brigitte to call her husband. We laid the saddles back and covered up with the saddle blankets. I'll make a long story short- we made it out first light in the morning and had one of the funnest non-planned overnight trips ever.
The moral of this story is if your not the adventurous type- know your trails before you explore them! It's always great to have food and extras along also!