As mentioned in the previous post, Smokey and I, as well as a cast of others (for a total of 4 riders, 5 horses, and 1 mule), went out for a brief trip in the Norse Peak Wilderness. My job being to guide the party to the location of the Old Tin Shack.
We arrived at the Government Meadows Horse Camp early Saturday. While were engaged in tacking up the animals, from the other side of the trailer I heard Steve L. say "we've got a horse and mule here."
Admittedly, my first thought was, "no kidding, we brought them." Then I looked over behind the trailer, and discovered that the horse and mule to which he referred had not arrived in our party. These two miscreants were standing there looking expectantly at us:
They both had halters on, and the horse had the remains of a set of hobbles on his right leg. As they were both clean, and obviously well fed, we concluded that they had escaped from their camp. Since there were no other trucks or trailers at the horse camp, we decided that they had come in off the Pacific Crest Trail after hearing our horses.
After some discussion as to what to do, we decided to leave them tied to one of our trailers. We filled a hay bag with alfalfa and hung it between them. Our thought being that either the owner would find and claim them, or, if they were still there when we returned on the morrow, we would take them with us, and advertise that they had been found via the Backcountry Horsemen and Craigslist.
When we returned Sunday afternoon, they were gone. On the windshield of the pickup was a note that stated "Please call Russ", with phone number and smiley face. We were relieved that their owner had claimed them, as we certainly knew how we would feel if our stock were missing on the trail.
As it would turn out, I know Russ, as well as the other members of his party. Talk about a greater sense that we had done the right thing. The group had ridden in from Sand Flats Horse Camp, which is south of where we were. The pair had vanished sometime in the early morning. After searching all day on the trails, Russ had, on a whim, driven to Government Meadows, where he found his wayward horse and mule.
It's a small world, folks.