Montana Back-Country Trip 2004

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Montana Back-Country Trip 2004

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A little background while the photos are loading . . .  

I met Kathy in the early `80's.  In the fall of 1982, she took me on my first real "back-country" horseback trip to the Blue Mountains in SE WA State. I was hooked. Since then we have gotten into the "back-country" almost every year. Some years it was just a day-hike or two. But many years we "horse camped" for at least three days. Sometimes we packed in.  Sometimes, we camped at a trailhead and did "day-rides."

A few times we went with other friends, but most of the time it was just the two of us, the horses and her dog(s.) Several years ago, Kathy was the substitute back-country cook for the 7 Lazy P Outfit owned by Chuck & Sharon Blixrud out of Choteau Mt.  I was allowed to go with them on a 10 day trip as her "assistant." It was an incredible trip.

In 2004, she invited me to go on her last cook trip of the year with Triple J Wilderness Ranch,  Ernie and Kim Barker, owners; out of Agusta, MT.  This was an eight day trip to the "China Wall" in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Another outstanding adventure! Besides us, Kathy would be cooking for the four guests and 2 to 3 ranch staff. (3 including Ernie the first day, 2 wranglers the rest of the trip.) The weather was predicted to be rainy and cool. But we lucked out. While brisk the first day or two, and chilly each night, most days were pleasant fall weather with only a few brief showers.

We were a tad early to hear a lot of elk bugling but we had a few sightings. We also saw many birds including bluebirds, wood peckers, crows, hawks and golden eagles. There were mule deer and white tail deer, squirrels, and marmots. And on one day-ride we encountered a black bear and a little further down the trail a grizzly! Luckily, he didn't stick around long enough to check us out which was good from a safety point of view. Still, it would have been nice if he would have run to a hilltop a safe distance away - and posed long enough for photos!

Anyway - the excellent mule and horse pack string and wranglers packed in a great camp which we set up several times in a total of 3 different spots. We spent only dinner and breakfast at Deep Creek, the first camp. We set up twice for a total of several days on Biggs Creek and we camped for one night at the base of the China Wall beneath Sock Lake. In between earning my keep with misc. camp and hosting tasks, visiting with Kathy, and one lazy morning when I actually grabbed a much needed shower (set up included a "shower bag" filled with stove heated water), I was able to snap a few pictures.

Most of the photos below are from my compact 3.2 m.p. Sony digital camera.  I also used my Canon Elan 35 mm and a little Olympus Clamshell for "grab-shots" from horseback. These photos have been condensed for the Web. I have higher resolution files available for print quality photos.

Click "Thumbnails" to enlarge!

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