The Rancher’s Report
So there I was, I had the whole day to myself on the Ranch, for the first time ever. Mom and the kids went down to Sheridan for the day, what shall I do today? I asked. Get the work done that needed completed, but then what, I’m sure there will be some time for something fun. So after chopping firewood, feeding the animals, and making sure everything was secure and in place before our next storm, I found myself thinking I needed to do some exploring of fence lines…what better way to do that then on the snowmobile. Now, I know I am not exactly an “experienced” sled rider, but I am much more comfortable than a month ago when I started. I packed up the snowshoes, saw, shovel, gun, and water bottle and headed out to continue learning the ranch.
80 miles later here are some of the things I came across. I started out heading onto the logging trails that I haven’t explored yet to check out what is out on this place, there are still many areas that I haven’t been able to get yet. I’m thankful I packed all that I did, because I needed it all on this trip. These trails consisted of many areas of downed trees due to the snow pushing them over that needed moved off the trail, some had to be cut, others I could move by hand. Some of these trails are pretty adventurous, it is probably the most serene, loneliest feeling that you can have at the same time. To be so far away from the home place, yet still on the ranch, in the middle of the forest, on a beautiful mountain, it is spectacular.
Near one of the peaks of the mountain in what we call the Tipi pasture (because there is a standing Tipi in it), I did some exploring today. We had never been farther than the Tipi area because there are no real trails, its just the mountain, so I decided I’d find my own trail up there.
Picture from the first day after the big move
My confidence was building on this machine! Then I ran into these rocks jutting out of the mountain and thought I had better do some exploring.
Came across this cave and went in. You couldn’t stand up completely but it was the coolest cave I’d been in. Just like the kind of cave you imagine in childhood books, where a bear might be hibernating. Stopped to get a drink and refill my water at this stream.
And then, in this same area, I went and checked out some other areas and saw this. Sometimes if you let your guard down you forget that you need to respect mother nature and her creations.
That is Large Mountain Lion track. Now I had been seeing many tracks from mountain lions to deer to elk to the smallest little creatures like squirrels. But this was big, too big for my liking. I was glad to have packed my gun as this track was very fresh (less than an hour or two old because it was really warm that day), also glad that I didn’t have to use my gun on this trip.
Just soon after taking this picture and taking a break before heading down the mountain towards home (I knew the rest of the family would be home soon and daylight was closing in), I had to go up the steep face of another mountain and my machine was digging in hard and I ended up running over a big log and puncturing a whole in my oil tank at the peak of this mountain. So there I was, a mile plus a little from the home place, no one to call, with snow coming the next day (6-8 inches), so the machine had to get home. I knew I couldn’t get into this area with a pickup, tractor or even our Big Red ATV. Only choice was to pull it by hand the rest of the way down until I could get to it with something else. Good Thing I packed up some water, I needed it! After about an hour of pulling and cussing, I got it where it needed to be, unstrapped my snowshoes and gun and began my walk to the home place. Exhausted already, I grabbed some supplies (one of the Wildman’s Diapers, leather straps, oil), jumped in the Big Red and headed back to the sled. Plugged the hole with the diaper so that it would hold oil to drive it back in, got the sled home, put the snowshoes back on, headed back out on foot to get the Big Red. I got home just in time for a shower before the family got home. And then got ready for the lecture about going out adventure riding without anyone else here…and of course I got it after I showed her my pictures.
Just another day here at The Montana Ranch Adventure. Until next time I get to report.