Two herds – Act 1

It is with some trepidation that I write this blog.  I do feel fortunate to be able to visit so many beautiful places and horses easily like I am able to do living in Wyoming.  At the same time, I enjoy having the outdoors to myself.  As more people realize what is out there and visit it increases knowledge and support to protect the places and animals I love to visit.  Yet, still, I want it all to myself.  
I am going to write about two herds, and the major differences between visiting them.  The first is probably one of my favorites for a variety of reasons.  One is that I never run across anyone else while visiting it.  Part of this could be due to their remoteness.  It is 30 miles from the East to the boundary on probably the most “friendly” dirt/gravel road.  I usually prefer comig down from the North but don’t think it is any less distance.  

It is not the distance that keeps me from visiting the herd more.  I have become quite fond of desert areas to escape as I have visited them more.  Arriving late Thursday night, I set camp up on my favorite knob toward the bottom of Fenton Pass Road.  Out in the desert like this you can see so much of the sky.  I didn’t set my tripod up, but took a few pictures with the camera open to 30 seconds lying on its back on the ground.  I don’t think pictures can convey the awe of staring up at a fully open sky filled with stars and galaxies at distances that are hard to comprehend.

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Probably the reason that I like this herd so much is that this herd is still so wild compared to most of the horses that I visit.  That is also why I do not visit them as much.  I feel that if I visit too much it will either make them become acclimated to me and humans, or if they don’t it will stress them as they move away from me.  These horses must be approached differently than other horses due to their wildness.  I was fortunate on this trip that I was able to locate them first thing in the morning from my camp and they weren’t near as far as normal to hike to.  Unlike the horses in the second act, where I would normally let them see me and then circle around or just stand and let them approach me, I knew that I needed to move along ridges and valleys where I would not be seen, and would not be able to get very close.

A third reason that I love this herd is that the landscape around them is so colorful and geologically interesting that viewing the horses from farther off and getting more landscape shots of them in the environment is a good thing.  You won’t see any close-ups of single horses in this array of photos as you will in act 2, but this isn’t a band where I know of any/many named horses and known band groups that people follow anyway.  I have been lucky to get closer pictures now and then, but this trip you can enjoy more gorup shots, although close enough to identify horses for anyone that does visit them or know any names.

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DSC_3645I don’t think the horses ever really saw me, but the wind was blowing toward them.  Winds can be tricky in this area as they swirl and will seem to blow in different directions in one canyon compared ot the next.  I think that the horse in the bottom left of the next picture smelled me.  It may have seen me too, but I have seen them ignore antelope moving around.  I don’t think that enough of my head looked over for it to know I was human and not an antelope or other animal, so my experience tells me that it was smell.  While I do not have a picture of it, I also saw its nose in the air, as if sniffing to place my scent.

DSC_3649With that detection of my scent a small band decided to move out of the area.

DSC_3654When one group decides there is something to make them leave, they all decide it is time to leave.

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The grass in the area looked very green, and fairly thick and long for late July.

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I did not see any other horses in the area and did not want to bother the main herd again. I found a cool little arch on this trip, and saw the usual birds and antelope.

DSC_3676 DSC_3679 DSC_3682While deciding whether to cross a wash due to the sand ( they turn to mud/quicksand when wet, but can be just as tricky with deep sand when dry), I found some interesting rocks.  They seem very light for their size, and have interesting features and formations that make me think they are something formed from lava.  Or a few look like dung.  If you know more about them, please let me know.

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8 thoughts on “Two herds – Act 1

  1. Awesome shots of the mustangs with the pintos and greys in the painted desert/grassland 🙂 🙂 The terrain is fitting for these colors 🙂
    The rocks look like some sort of lava, maybe pillow lava, which forms when lava cools underwater; or it could be blobs of uncut obsidian. But I would definitely say it is volcanic 🙂

    • I do think that the rocks are something volcanic, and considered some grade of obsidian. There was more there than what I picked up, but none was broken so I didn’t see any of the fractured obsidian I am used to. I have a rock hammer, so maybe I will split one to get a look at the inside.

  2. I love the progression of photos as the sun rises… the area certainly is beautiful. And I understand and share your mixed feelings of people vs. no people. Viewing nature with no one else around is really special. I am glad you continue to visit this beautiful area and share the photos of the horses. Not everyone can do the amount of hiking necessary to see them.

    • While they were more toward my lookout area this time, I think there is somehow a way to use the oil/gas roads and get closer to where they usually hang out ( and I think were heading to when I left), I just haven’t found it yet. They usually are a good hike, which is why I do take it cautious and do my best to go unnoticed while I watch them.

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