SLC anomaly – Crook Mountain

It has been quite some time since I have written a blog post.  Part of this is due to moving last summer and getting the house ready to sell.  Another factor would be my dedication of time to a game called Ingress.  If you look it up and join, go Enlightened (green).  Last of all, while I did manage some trips to see horses or Yellowstone and even new places like Teddy Roosevelt, I ended up either just putting the pictures directly on or a lot have still not even been converted from NEF. They were ok, but I didn’t have much to say about them and have no internet ( just hotspot from my phone).

So here is the first post in a while and most of it will be pictures without much commentary.  For those that don’t follow ingress, it will mainly be at the start.  I will add that with more time this summer, I have been able to mix my trips in to include both Ingress, and photography and camping.  While most of the pictures in this post and the next will be wild horses, the trip was centered around an anomaly in SLC  (Enlightened won) in which I tried GoRuck Urban for the first time ( we won 4-0).  My path there allowed me to both see the things I enjoy and hit some remote portals to try and help prevent a field over SLC for the anomaly. At the same time 2 teammates were doing the same from southern Utah.  It ended up looking like rails, but we had no plan that I know of to field.

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The anchor under the M is at Baroil and an entrance to the Green Mountain horse herd.  I did not get on the closest roads to Green Mountain, so I did not see any horses in that stretch.  It comes out at Crooks Gap, where I turned up Crooks Mountain and was rewarded with both wildflowers and quite a few of the Crooks Mountain herd.

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Lost Creek, Crooks Mountain and ..wherever

I decided to try a new route home from Adobe Town, and took the Wamsutter-Crooks haul road.  I was not sure what I would find for the road, but it was in excellent condition.  Even with a thunderstorm toward the northeast, I was not worried.  It had a good base and was practically a highway by Wyoming backroads standards.  I camped near the Mineral X road intersection and continued North in the morning.

I am not sure where any of the boundaries for HMA’s are in this area.  The map on the BLM site is a very broad map which doesn’t show details.  Several of the HMA’s border each other and the horses can travel between them.  I am hoping that one day they release a map with detailed borders, but until then I may place horses in some of the wrong HMA’s.  The first bands I saw were right near the intersection of Hadsell Road, which I am pretty sure puts them in Lost Creek HMA.  With the clouds, the light was still low when I began but picked up by the later pictures.  Most of this post will be horse pictures, with only a litle commentary after this to introduce where each set was taken.

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A little further up the road I came across a band being dogged by a bachelor.  I can’t remember now exactly where I was, but I am pretty sure I was north of Lost Creek, but not to Crooks yet and east of Antelope Hills.  I am not even sure this group was inside an HMA boundary, but they were wild.  The bachelor that was following is the beautiful tobiano.

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As I approached Crooks, there were some horses to the East side of the road.  There is fence there and I believe it may be private, but some of the horses look like the may have been wild at one time, or maybe still are because the fence looked spotty and passable in places.

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While there were more horses a little further north and east on the hill, I decided to focus on the group west of the road inside the fence that I believe marks the boundary for Crooks Mountain.  I walked down the ridge and took some pictures of Romeo and everyone else down below unnoticed.  I normally would have stayed on the ridge and observed for a long time, but I could see a rainbow to the West.  This prompted me to move for two reasons.  One, if I could quietly get down the hill and east of Romeo and the other horses, then I could get pictures of them with the rainbow behind.  Second, a rainbow to the west meant rain was coming my way, and I knew I would have to try and get back to the FJ before it reached or got bad so my camera didn’t get wet.  Of course the horses saw me, so I only got a pair of pictures with the edge of the rainbow and Romeo and the horses all moved away.  Maybe I should have waited on the ridge, but sometimes you have to make a decision and it doesn’t always work like you planned.

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I did run to the top of Green Mountain before running home, but it was covered in fog too thick to get any pictures.  Coming down on the West loop I did see 6 horses, 3 on the left of a fence and 3 to the right.  I do not know if either or both sets were wild.

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July 16 – Crooks Mountain HMA

On Tuesday we made our first visit to Crooks Mountain HMA, which is just West of Green Mountain.  There may be back roads connecting hem, but not knowing the area we went back to Jeffrey City and then south on Crooks Gap Road.  From behind Crooks Peak I could see the roads over to Bairoil and Stratton Rim, so I should be able to switch between Stewart Creek and Crooks and see more horses in the future.  I also saw a sign for Lost Creek, which is another HMA I have never visited but want to try.

Stewart Creek may be right next to Green Mountain, but it is much different.  It feels a lot more like the desert.  It has a very “upcountry mule deer hunting” feel.  Sage brush dominates most of the landscape.  There were a lot of rolling ridges and draws.  As you get higher onto Crooks Mountain there are trees but they are not as dense as Green Mountain and have a lot of open sage meadows between them.  You can see a little of the land behind Romeo’s band.

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Romeo’s band was one of two that I saw for the day.  They were in the more open area about half way up.  This was my first time to see them, but I recognized them right away since I had seen many pictures by Angelique Rea.

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Updated: There were 3 more nearby that I thought were a separate band, but Angelique let me know that the larger stallion is Romeo’s foal from last year.  The mare is called Bella and she has another foal with her that looks similar to his brother except with more white.
ImageImageImageImageImageImageThe only other horses we were able to find on the HMA was another band of 3 in an open area on the top.  I thought it was a bachelor group by the way they acted, and I knew the first and last one I saw were stallions.   The grey stallion, which I assume was he lead stallion, saw me and left the other two.  He did not snake them as I would expect a lead stallion to do.  The other 2 did not see me and I was able to get come up through some trees and get decent pictures of them.  Eventually they noticed me and joined back up with the grey stallion.

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The 11 horses we found only represent a fraction of the 65-85 set in the AML, and a lot of draws and mountain face we didn’t explore.  We also didn’t complete the loop and come out Happy Springs Road, so maybe next time we can find the rest of the herd.