A few posts back, I mentioned the horse and mule that showed up at the trailhead when our group was tacking up. What I didn't mention was that it was only the beginning of an equine adventure filled weekend.
Our party consisted of four riders, five horses, and one mule. The mule and one of the horses did duty as the pack animals. Both of them are in training, and this was to be their first overnighter. The trip in on Saturday was fairly uneventful. I ponied the mule, and she was a delight. I hardly knew she was back there. Smokey was his reliable old self. The only time he buggered up was when we passed two backpackers who had stopped to rest along the trail. Their pack were lying on the uphill side of the trail, and he was rather convinced that the blue backpack would find horses to be quite palatable. Having your horse dive off the side of the trail while ponying a mule does have the ability to initiate a burst of adrenaline.
Our destination was the site of the Old Tin Shack, which is near Airplane Meadows. The Tin Shack is off the trail, and if one does not know its location, it is unlikely to be found. As the only member of the party who had ever been there, it fell on me to guide us there.
Of course, there was a fly in the ointment. On my previous trip, we had ridden in from the south. This time we were on the north side, in Airplane Meadows. Rather than leading the whole party on a bushwacking expedition, I told them to stay put while Smokey and I scouted.
Now, I fully expected that my plan to ride off from the rest of the herd would result in something between a rodeo and a disaster. To my utter astonishment, Smokey headed off into the woods at my direction with nary a hesitation. That horse never ceases to amaze me.
It took about 15 minutes to locate the path, which is little more than a dry creekbed. I followed it, and in short order, Smokey and I found the site. We headed back down the path to retrieve the rest of the folks. To liven the ride up, I kicked Smokey up into a trot. When we came out of the forest and into the meadow, the others were on the far side. I was waving my arm to get their attention. My brother-in-law said that the sight of the horse and I trotting out of the woods with me waving was quite the scene.
The horses were untacked, and set out to graze, while we pitched cap. After several hours, the younger animals were starting to play and get a bit mischevious. Not old Mo. He steered clear of the juvenile delinquents, and kept his nose in the grass. Never know when your next meal will be. When the youngsters were beginning to get out of hand, they were tied to the highline. I left Smokey out to graze.
After awhile, he wandered closer to camp, and slept for about an hour. He then walked over near the highline. In fact, he stopped near his loop on the line. All I had to do was pick his lead rope up off the ground, and tie it to the line. Gotta love a horse that puts himself to bed! I tried to convince the others that I had trained him to do that, but they weren't buying it. Can't imagine why.
Tomorrow I will post the other half of this story, when the real excitement began.