We're taking a pack trip into the Bridger Teton National Forest. Since our crew didn't make it in time for the initial ride in with the rest of the guests, Bob's friend Dale Clark, who runs a pack trip business for hunters, and his wife Carol packed us in and led us to the camp.
The ride in is about 10 miles and would usually take about 2.5 hours. It's one of the many pack trips and equestrian vacations we've personally tested as we explore the world on horseback. The ride has a few steep and rocky trails. It traverses meadows of wild flowers, forests, Willow Creek and to a couple of spots with majestic views. Since our group was filming the ride, it took us a little over 4 hours to ride into camp.
This pack trip is unique, because it is only a 20-minute drive from downtown Jackson Hole to the trail head. The ride into camp is shorter than most as well, but just long enough for our crew, after more than a few hard days of riding.
On the way to the trail head, which is down an unmarked dirt road, we drove right by a bald eagle, who was perched on a pole, no more than 20 feet from us. At first, I thought that the eagle was a statue or something. It was so still and so big up close. We stopped our car to look. After about a minute, the eagle took off, flying in front of our car and into the sky.
Dale Clark, who led us on the trails, has really fabulous horses and sounds like Sam Elliot. His voice is very pleasing to listen to as he tells you about the land and its history. I rode a horse named Jack, a dun colored horse--part Quarter Horse and part draft. He was amazing. He was so well trained and patient. We have to do a lot of stopping, starting and redos when we film. Jack didn't get agitated. He simply did what I told him.
Dale buys his horses young and trains them himself. He has a string of 22 horses. He is also a farrier, and had this new machine to help him swiftly and safely shoe horses. I would be very interested in seeing one of those.
Chip was riding a chubby Quarter Horse draft mix named Chunk, like the character in "The Goonies." His horse was certainly a character. Very adorable and well trained as well. Doug rode Moonbeam, who was just perfect and even let him sit on him backwards, behind his saddle, to film us riding behind. Now that is an understanding horse!
With Equitrekking, we have something that we call Horse Cam. That's when Doug films us from on horseback. The results can be good or bad, depending on the terrain and how smooth the horse is, but it is always worth trying, because it gives viewers a view that they would see if they were traveling on horseback with us.
We couldn't have picked a prettier day for our ride. The sky was blue with clouds, as we stared up the first incline and into the forest. We passed wildflowers in the forest, including Wyoming's state flower, the bright red Indian Paint Brush. We rode through one valley that looked up to a large canyon in the distance. The valley had the remnants of a cabin left over from the original homesteaders who probably picked this spot for its stellar views.
When we finally reached camp, I felt relief and a sense of accomplish- ment. That's the great thing about a pack trip. No matter how far you travel, you are heading to a destination. The trip there can be a challenge, but the fact that you are physically traveling into the wilderness on horseback to spend time camping and enjoying the land and nature, grants a sense of serenity and achievement.
Stay tuned for more from the pack trip and more from Wyoming!