Once that issue was out of the way we loaded up and headed out to our favourite spot at the Yaha. The weather was spectacular and the scenery as usual beyond compare. There are always folks around out there who I either have met before or who are just waiting to be met this time. Once we got camp set up Blue and I took a spin around the Bighorn Camp just to see who was there and what had changed since last time we were out. There we a lot of folks camping there without horses and with tubes and blow-up boats for floating the river so there were some new and strange sights for Blue to get accustomed to. A couple of groups who are there pretty regularly invited us back to jaw a little in the evening once they got the campfires going so although Blue decided to hang out at our site, Meg, my Border Collie, and I did make the rounds but headed back to our own spot early to keep Blue company.
Some folks just returning from a pack trip, and below the view from the Lunch spot on the High Trail.
Our first full day we headed out onto what I call the High Trail and everyone else calls Popular Bluff. There is a spot up there that just begs to have someone setting enjoying the view while they eat there lunch although this time there was a pretty voracious bunch of biting flies up there to welcome us. Needless to say we didn’t stay for much longer than to get a few photos and then it was off down the hill. On the way home we rode up the backside of Eagle Lookout on a trail I hadn’t been on for a few years. It is quite often pretty muddy but with the hot dry weather we have been having it was not to bad. It brings you out on the ridge overlooking the Red Deer River valley and then back into camp.
Day two we headed west up the river towards Hidden Falls. This is a spot that is a must do at the Yaha Tinda, the falls have cut their way back into the hillside so that you actually have to walk down a steep narrow trail into the canyon to actually see them, not the nicest trip for a guy who doesn’t like heights but even though I was there by myself and could have made some excuse not to, I managed to slip and slide my way down in my riding boots and take a few photos. Maybe because of the surrounding forest or the cooler temperatures here the flies were not in evidence. I ate my lunch here and then managed to catch a few zzz’s before mounting up and heading back down to the valley. Not very often have I been here that there was absolutely no one else in the area. Once we got down the hill and heading back towards camp I started running into folks coming up. They told me the river crossing was pretty deep down by the camp so I thought well we will just find a good spot along the trail and cross somewhere else. Great plan, but once we got about halfway across the river we found a deep hole and Blue lost touch with the bottom. Now he is a pretty calm level-headed sort of fellow but this was a little unnerving for him so once he got solid ground back under his feet he went to doing a little bucking. After the dip we had just had my gloves and saddle were pretty wet and slick and I managed to get myself unloaded on a gravel bar mid-river. Rest assured it was an unplanned dismount and I didn’t stick the landing very well. Blue however continued across to the other side without me to weigh him down. Once there he stopped and just watched me as I tried to find a route across this glacial river. Luckily it was 75 degrees out so the cool water was quite refreshing. After Blue and I were reunited it was time to take stock of what was gone or broken. My camera had been in a saddle bag on the horn of the saddle and either my clutching or Blue’s lunging had dislodged that and we found it downstream hooked on a tree branch. Lucky break there although the repair depot will let me know whether the camera and lenses are repairable or we just brought them home for recycling. I had a few scrapes and bruises on my arm and back as well as some ribs that appear bruised or cracked. Not much I can do about those except try not to laugh or breath to deeply until they heal. Oh yah and the fact that later I noticed the back was torn out of my shirt gave some clue to the poor landing I managed. We did manage to cross the river many more times on this trip so there should be no lingering bad feelings about water crossings. And the bruises have gone and the ribs are healing fine.
Somewhere up there is the site of my horse swimming lessons
Day three I took a ride through what is a prescribed burn that has cleared a lot of the forest on the NW corner of the ranch and then stopped by Scalp Creek and the waterslides. Meg could actually hear folks down there and plunged directly over the hill and straight down as she figured where there were kids voices there would be people to throw a stick for her. Once I got Blue to the hitching place I wandered over and sure as shooting she was training a new bunch of stick throwers. There were a few bicycle riding folks up here also. One of them is camped right beside me in the campground so we had a visit and he tried to convince me that I should try the slides out. Even offered me his helmet. Now remember I had had an opportunity to test the waters out the day before downstream in the Red Deer River. While I was there some folks from Innisfail and Bowden, the Sawyers and Travis’s, who I had visited at their camp the day before arrived. Now remember this is water that had in its very recent past been ice. But they seemed to have fun sliding down the creek, between gasps of shock.
Scalp Creek waterslides above and Wolf Creek Falls below.
Day four I joined the Sawyers and Travis’s on a trip around the Wolf Creek trail. The weather was a little cooler today and we actually had a couple of opportunities to try out our slickers. I enjoyed this ride as usual and showed the folks a different trail to get back to camp without having to ride down the road into the ranch.
Now day five was a camp day. The Wolf Creek trail is a fairly long trail and I thought both Meg and Blue could use a relaxing day so we just hung out around camp all day and caught up on our napping and a little book reading for me. It is always interesting to just set and watch the comings and goings of other folks both those on horseback and folks who are just arriving or just leaving the campground.
Our last riding day we headed out past the YMCA’s Outpost camp and back around the High Trail going the other direction. Beautiful ride and the flies were less aggressive today than the first day so I actually managed to get my lunch eaten while sitting in that beautiful overlook spot.