I am so excited and proud to be able to announce that I’ve been accepted into the Long Rider’s Guild! If you’ve never heard of this organization you can find out more at: thelongridersguild.com – but basically it’s a fellowship of people who have ridden over 1000 miles in one stretch and who are committed to taking care of their horses/mules first and foremost. This is an incredible honor and I’m still a bit giddy!
One of my major inspirations for this Journey was a book I read last summer entitled The Last of the Saddle Tramps by Mesannie Wilkins. Mesannie lived in a little town called Minot in Maine and in the early 1950’s she was 63 years old. She had no family, her farm was being repossessed and her doctor told her that she had a year or two to live if she lived quietly. Her mom had always wanted to go to California and never made it so Mesannie decided that, with nothing to lose, she was going to live that dream. She put in one last crop of cucumbers, got a contract with the pickle company, sold the crop, bought an old summer camp horse named Tarzan, loaded up all her gear and her dog and left Maine in November. Two years later she arrived in California having had an amazing Journey across the United States – and she lived another 20 years after that! Her book will soon be available here on the Free Range Rodeo website if you’re interested and would like to read it – it’s a great story!
I’d just made the decision to ride up to Minot, Maine to visit her home town and pay my respects when I rode into Abiquiu, New Mexico. A pick-up stopped by the side of the road and a man leaned out and asked where I was headed. “Maine!”
“No kidding!? I’m a Mainer myself. Where in Maine?”
“A little town called Minot. One of my heros came from there.” I replied.
“You’ve got to be kidding me! That’s my home town.”
Turns out he’s been to her homestead and hunted the mountain there (he calls her “Jackass Annie”) and his dad had actually met her.
That meeting led to a place to stay for a few days and an invitation to the birthday party of another Long Rider, Walter Nelson. Walter and his friend Doug Preston followed Coronado’s Trail from the Arizona/Mexico border up and into New Mexico quite a few years ago – which led to Doug’s book Cities of Gold which is now in my saddle bag and will be my reading material as I cross the Pecos Wilderness. It was really fun to meet a couple of fellow Long Riders and hear their stories.
Tomorrow I will be heading out into the Pecos Wilderness for the next stage of my Journey. This will be the last official “wilderness” portion of the ride and I’m excited – and a little trepiditious! Portions of the trail are above tree line and due to the recent wild fires some sections of the trail will be challenging (possibly even blocked) due to dead falls and blow downs. The graze is reputed to be excellent, the scenery gorgeous and I’ve filed a “flight plan” with the Espanola Ranger Station – who have been incredibly friendly and supportive of the Journey and helpful with route planning.
A farrier came out today and checked the ponies hooves. They’re both in great shape – Finehorn hasn’t needed so much as a rasp in 6 months and her feet are close to perfect. Jesse James is perfect behind and I got a few pointers about keeping his front feet a little bit more in balance – but I wasn’t too far off and I learned quite a bit – so that’s really good news. The ponies have traveled across all of New Mexico thus far barefoot. I still have the Renegade hoof boots along in case we need them, but Kirt Landers (who invented them) was correct when he said that they’d last a long time because we would need them less and less. We’re still on our first set of boots and I just replaced the velcro straps for the first time! (Each set comes with spare straps since that’s the first part to go.)
And now it is almost midnight and morning will dawn early. Time to get some rest. I’ve got a mail drop planned for Montezuma, NM on 24. August and you should be hearing from me again about that time. If I can get word out between now and then my sister Jenna will post it on the “daily update” page.