When a friend of mine turned 60, she invited 10 of her besties, ages ranging from 49 to 67, to Wyoming to help her check some things off her Life List. Topping her list was a horseback ride into the mountains with an overnight campout. Amazing vistas, shared new experiences, expert guides and sore bums made this a never to forget, highpoint on the trip.
After a quick lunch and storing our gear in semi-permeant tents ( glamping ), we headed out on an afternoon trail ride through Bridger-Teton National Forest. The horses were saddled and ready to go, with bottles of water for the riders tucked into our saddle bags. Horses were assigned based on our height, weight and riding experience, which ranged from the occasional vacation rider to those who haven’t been on a horse since their teenager years to first time riders. Being sensitive to our age and riding experience, our guides offered us several options for getting into the saddle, including standing on stump to get closer to the stirrups.
We saddled up with all the grace we could muster, stirrups adjusted, clinches checked, and off we went. It was quickly apparent that the horses were trained for trail riding and very comfortable following each other. Our focus was to keep them moving, not get knocked off by a tree branch and enjoy the beautiful views. The scenery was spectacular as we climbed up the Teton foothills past Stump Lake. We stopped at the peak to rest the horses and absorb the views, craggy mountain tops, scented pines, and wildflower studded meadows abounded. It was humorous to watch amateur horseback riders balancing on their horse while trying to take pictures with their phones. You could feel the confidence in the group building, although a few mentioned rarely used muscles were feeling the saddle. The ride back was equally as scenic and enjoyable.
Returning to camp, we were aided in dismounting if needed, and went to find out out just how comfortable our tents would be. Camp included a dining tent, sleeping tents, a wash house with two sinks and a shower and two flush toilettes. The dining tent had fans for the afternoon heat and both the sleeping tents and dining tent had propane heaters for the evening chill. It got down to 36 the night we were there, even though if was August. Moving gingerly, those rarely used muscles again, we settled into our cell phone and internet free space. We enjoyed a glass of wine, a beautiful sunset and getting to know our guides while a delicious steak dinner was prepared.
After dinner, there was not the usual campfire, because of a fire ban in the National Forest at that time. There was a bit of silly dancing from the music off our phones and the some of the most beautiful star gazing I have ever experienced. The Milky Way was clear and iridescent from our campsite and several shooting stars added to the light show. We snuggled into our tents, listening to the coyotes howl, knowing we were safe as Saget the camp dog kept them at bay.
After breakfast and a short walk to stretch our sore muscles, we trailered the horses over the Greys River and started off on our second trail ride. We rode four hours along a mountain creeks, Pine lined switchback trails, through a Aspen grove, to high mountain meadow filled with Daisies, Indian Paintbrush and early Golden Rod. The views of the foothills and Teton peaks were breathtaking. While not as comfortable in the saddle as the day before, those sore, little used, muscles again, the scenery and peace of the forrest made it worth the uncomfortableness.
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