La(te)bor Day 3- Lonesome encounter

I had not explored the roads on the North side of the creek before, but from where I photographed the bands in the last 2 posts I could see another band in he distance near the prominent bluff/cliff.  I followed a fairly well used two-track back for a ways and found a horse trail that looked like it is used often, with some fresher tracks on it.  I had to follow it for a while before I finally came across the band I had seen.  I snapped a quick picture, because some of the McCullough horses do not hang around long once they see someone.

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Only this time, I didn’t need to worry about that.  it ended up being the opposite scenario that brought me a little anxiety.  Instead of running off, they ran towards me like some of the bachelor groups tend to do.  Once they got closer I knew they weren’t a bachelor band, but it was Lonesome’s band, led by Precious.

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Once they came in close, I actually backed away a little.  They didn’t seem to need the space, but I did.  They settled in and ate from the sparse desert floor while curiously inspecting me.  

Lonesome’s band consists of: Lonesome(duh):

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Siesta ( I may have mixed her – BLM list says left hind coronet, I would say right hind coronet also)

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Caramel Girl

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Precious

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Agave – Again, I may have mixed her.  The list has her as black.  I would call her bay or seal brown , not black.

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Okemah –  I love her eye spot, and the little kid looking at the moon on her back

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Talladega Nights

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Finally, the young stallion/colt Takula

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While photographing the horses, I happened to find a nighthawk.

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The light was still good, but I decided to leave Lonesome’s band and start walking back to the FJ.  I was hoping to find a few more horses before dark, but they were the last band I saw on this trip.

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La(te)bor Day – McCullough 2

While watching Lansa run around as detailed in the last post, I was also able to watch quite a few other bands interact. This post will not have too much dialogue, but will mostly just be pictures of the horses that I was able to get.  I am not as familiar with the McCullough horses, so I may have mis-identified some of them, and haven’t yet figured out the last half dozen I saw.

Derby and his mares Tuff and Topeka were there.

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Tuff

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Topeka and Derby

Close to his band for most of the time was Indigo’s band.

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Indigo

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Cholla

Brawny 8-31-13

Brawny

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Onyx

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From later, but I think Onyx from the other side

Las Vegas moved his band around a bit while I was there, probably because poor Cactus Cate was being harrassed.

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Las Vegas right side

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Las Vegas left side

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Cactus Cate

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Buckeye

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I saw snoodle’s band, but unfortunately they never came very close.  I really would like to get some good pictures of Miley with her distinct facial pattern.

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Snoodle, Miss Packman and Miley

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Miss Packman

While he didn’t do much, the arrival of Remington did lead to a little action.  It was sort of like one of the “give a mouse a cookie” books that I don’t eally like, a cause/effect chain reaction.
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Which of course brought in another stallion to kick some dirt around.

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A standard chase scene.

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Even though Chirihacua pulled off, in a 5-degrees of Kevin Bacon way it led to the only real fight I saw for the day.  Not much contact, but at least some good hind-leg standing.

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While I had seen Chirihacua before this, i really didn’t get pictures of his band until after.  I am not sure on most of his mares which one is which.

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Walks Ahead left side

 

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Walks Ahead right side

 

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Oakley?

 

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I left the horses for a little to check out the road to the East, and then on my way back through I took a few more pictures that I have not matched and identified yet.  Feel free to comment on any corrections I need to make, or any help identifying the unlabeled horses.  I am sure I can figure them out, but I am willing to take the quick route of just being told after doing the rest.

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La(te)bor Day – Lansa

Now that I am finally getting caught up with posting some blogs, I decided to go back and get my pictures up from the last part of Labor Day weekend.  I never got to the pictures from McCullough Peaks in the fall.  Since the ID part can take me a while, I have decided to break it into a few parts.  I do not have a lot to say about this first part, just a lot of pictures of Lansa, with a few of the rest of Trapper’s band thrown in. I was able to find quite a few horses, but foals usually get more camera time.  
When I first noticed Trapper’s band with Lansa, he was busy bothering his older brother, Still Water.

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They are part of Trapper’s band.  From top to bottom is Story Girl ( I believe Still Water’s mother), Trapper, Palette and Tarpan.

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One of the few individual pictures I got was of Story Girl after she got up.  Most of the rest of the time they were grouped together.

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Lansa had SO much energy.  He played with Still Water for a while, which gave me some of my favorite pictures from McCullough as he “leaned” on him in various poses.

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When he finally left his brother, he ran in circles around the band, kicking up dust.

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After a quick check of Story Girl, he made his way to his mother, Lark, to eat.

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With the refill, he bounded off again.  Still Water also appeared to still be feeding at this point.

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About half of an hour later, he was finally tired and ready for some rest.  The band members provided some shade for the young one to relax in.  

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I will cover the other horses I saw while watching Lansa, and some of the stallion excitement, in the next post.

Christmas break – Living on the edge

After the unexpected delay due to my battery that was detailed in the last post, it was later in the evening by the time I made it down the south fork of the Shoshone River.  There was still a little light, so I was able to see drive all the way to the end and make some plans for Christmas.  There were some ice climbers in one of the crevices that I could see from the road. 

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The south fork has so many beautiful, frozen waterfalls that people come from all over to climb the ice.  Here is a shot of another frozen fall I could see on the east side of the valley from the road, although I am not sure if it is a climable fall or not.

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There were 2 areas of the Deer Creek campground that had tents set up, which I assumed were for ice climbers.  Even though it was not dark yet, I found a spot and parked for the evening.  Malaki and I walked a little and looked at deer, and then I heard the familiar crack of rams butting heads.  We moved to where we had an open view, and I was able to locate 2 rams butting heads high on the cliff right above Deer Creek.  I was not able to get a good angle for a picture, but I was able to listen to them as we ate dinner and got ready for bed.

Upon awaking Christmas morning, there were quite a few sheep on the hills where I could see them. I believe that I have previously mentioned that the sheep seem to move to the steep cliffs later in the evening through the morning hours for increased safety.

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It was still not very light, so I drove to the end of the road and then back up.  Mainly I was looking for some buck deer (all I saw was doe) and seeing if any other ice climbers were up and moving since the ones at the campground weren’t.   

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There was a car parked along the road at one of the ice falls I have taken pictures of before.  On that occasion, I had gone up the canyon and taken pictures from a small knob that was not even as high as the lowest fall.  Since then, I had mapped out a climb in my mind that I thought might give me a better view, but I really didn’t know.  Seeing there was someone there, it seemed like the perfect time to try it.  On the next photo, I labelled where I was for most of the time and the best path to get up the ridge in case someone else wants to try it.  It is steep in spots, but not too bad.  There are also one or two narrow spots, but none that are unmanageable.

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The next shot was where I first saw the climbers from, and just on the other side of this is where I spent the most time.

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While I did first see the climbers on the lower first fall, I did not get any pictures of them on it because I got distracted by some bighorn sheep on the opposite side of the canyon. 

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If it had just been rams sleeping or harrassing ewes, it would not have been too much of a distraction.  What really caught my attention is when some of the rams began butting.  These shots will not be zoomed in like those in the last post, so go there if you want more “power” shots.  Those shots were on safe, flat terrain.  Watching them fight on the steep hillside was an entirely different experience.  Rocks careening down the mountainside and the persistance of some, even near cliffs, made it seem much more serious. I wanted to leave the shots wider to try and show this.

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The upper ram wasn’t giving up, and I think he would have pushed the lower ram over the edge if he could.

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While both rams walked away from this, it gave me the feeling that sometimes accidents happen.  Watching a ram chase a ewe showed how quickly they could negotiate the hillsides  and adjust( I wish I could put the video right here), but that doesn’t involve getting shoved against your will..

ImageWhile it seems dangerous, the rams are being driven by instinct and the desire to reproduce.  I wouldn’t consider them crazy.  The ice climbers on the other hand…yeah, I think they have to be a little crazy. I understand it.  The satisfaction of reaching a goal each time you make the top of a fall is probably exhilarating.  I was feeling some of it from just hiking to the same altitude as them for the photos, and I am sure some would call me crazy.  I was safe the whole time, and while it seems there is more potential for something to go wrong, I bet a trained climber knows safe versus unsafe ice and is actually pretty safe the whole time.

I watched them climb the second fall.  You can see 2 higher falls in the first picture, and I think there are some you can’t see.

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Once they were past this fall, I did not see them again.  There was a higher fall I was hoping to see them at, but when I left around lunch time they still had not reached it.  Not only is it big, but there are large trees in front of it, which would really make a fabulous shot with a climber above the trees.  It does look like the middle is thinner (through the trees) and it may be hollow behind the ice, so I am not sure if it is a climbable fall or not.

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While I was waiting for them, I did get to watch on of the rams make its way quickly down the other side, and then up the side I was on. The speed with which they can cover ground on such steep slopes is amazing.

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After hiking back to the FJ, I took one last look at the upper falls.  The one I focused on before is in the middle, and you can see another tall fall above it.

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Part of me wishes I had stayed all day to see how far up the climbers went, but I am also glad I ended up getting over the mountain and home before dark on Christmas.  

The last photo from my trip back out from south fork seems to be a message to hunters saying “I lost it naturally, not to you”

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I like big butts (and I cannot lie)

As I made my way back toward Cody on the North Fork Shoshone on Christmas eve-day, a group of rams was crossing the road in the Rex Hale area.  Since there is a passing lane(3rd lane) that begins right where they were crossing, I pulled toward the right of the road to take some pictures of the rams and ewes near the road.  I knew it would be a few minutes, so I turned the car off and began shooting from the drivers seat.  

These two to the right of the road had some tension between them.

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There was also a ram that was definitely showing wear from previous encounters.  I waited until he got across the road and was 
able to get some decent light on him.
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Even when all of the sheep got to the left side of the road, I waited for a little to see if the other 2 rams would move by with the sun shinning on them.  Instead, I was treated to an hour and a half of them alternating between head-butts and eating.  I was able to get pictures of quite a few series of butts.  Even if they didn’t always present the best angle for the finish, it was exhilarating.  I took video of a handful with my camera, and tried to do one on snapchat for some friends, but it has too much of a delay for the short video time to get the action easily.  Looking back at the pictures, none of them really convey the power I felt as I watched it, but I was able to get them both rearing up and connecting.

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I’m not sure if they were getting tired, but on the next series the left ram missed connecting, although I think it was more that the right ram didn’t extend and go into it than what he did.

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It wasn’t too long after this that they started to make their way toward where the rest of the sheep had migrated to quite a while before.  Remember when I said I shut my car off?  I did, but not expecting to be there so long I had not taken the keys out of the ignition.  I had also left my lights on. Normally, if the keys are not in it they shut off after a set amount of time.  With the keys in, I think they may have been on the whole time.  I also had a camera battery charging in the lighter plug.  I turned the key and click-click-click.

I have only done this once before , and I think the battery was charging then, too.  That time I was able to shut everything off, let it sit a while, and then start it.  I was hoping that would be the case this time.  While I waited I took Malaki out to relieve himself next to the road and then watched the elk that had moved onto the hill while I had been watching the rams.

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I tried to start the FJ once or twice and realized that it was not going to turn over without waiting longer or possibly a jump.  I was wishing I had moved completely off the road, because I knew I couldn’t leave to walk to Rex Hale or just sleep in it to let it rest for the day/night.  It was past 1 and I feared the roads would clear out the later it got into Christmas Eve.  Even though it wasn’t going to help the battery, I started putting my 4-ways on when I would hear a vehicle coming, which wasn’t often.  I was hoping someone would stop and see what was wrong, but it wasn’t happening.  I still had hope it might turn over eventually, but  was starting to think I was going to have to wait on the road and flag someone down.  Then, finally, a very nice lady stopped and gave me a jump to get going.  Thank you again to the woman with the “Cougar” license plates that was kind enough to help me out. It wasn’t spelled exactly that and was something more like “cugger”, but I forget the exact plate. She had dogs in the back and was probably hunting, for those of you jumping to conclusions about the plate meaning – or went to BYU. 

The battery charged as I drove back to Cody to fill up and grab a few supplies at Walmart before heading down the South Fork of the Shoshone River, and has not had a problem since. With the remoteness of many of the places I go, I think I may pick up an emergency quick starter in case something like this ever happened again.