This wagon that Scott adorns comes from circa 1890. It was used by the extended families of the Mormon pioneer Heaton clan to establish and populate this part of the land. The Canyon Explorer tour we're about to embark on goes through some of the most pristine land of the United States. Bordered by some of the great wonders of the world, Zion, Bryce and the Grand Canyon National parks, we travel through private family ranch lands, avoiding trails whenever possible. The Heaton family motto. . ."we don't do trails".
Our trip will definitely experience their motto in grand style. I'll start with day 1 of our adventure and do my best to portray the grandiose nature of this experience.
The land around the Heaton ranch in Moccasin, Utah.
We were shuttled to our horses and our first camp. No more cars from here on out. One week of cross country horse travelling. Can we handle it? So far so good, but it was cold. REally cold!
But the warmth of our new travelling buddies would keep us cozy for the night to come.
My good friend Banjo Bob (right) and Scott (my handsome cowboy) go over their gear for the days to come. Guys are like that. . .it's all about the gear!
Now mind you, Bob and his wife Jen organized this ride with all his old cronies from college, gathered and scattered amongst the trees here in Utah. Who knows what the days to come will hold on this ride dubbed "THE BIG RIDE".
We meet and greet our steeds that we'll be matched with for the rest of the week. Who will I be with? Who will carry me into the wilds of this west? Who will I trust with my life?
Carol, a resident of New York and sweater designer for Ralph Lauren, has found her beloved "Utah". She fell in love with this horse last year on the Three Parks Spectacular tour. Carol has taken several trips that were organized through Equitours and touts them as being amongst the best she has taken.
Scott has been matched with his little mare "two-bit". She was a wonderful match for him.
I'm here with little Roanie, she was amazing. Strong and sure-footed, perfect! (a little bit short-legged, which meant alot of trotting to keep up with the herd, not good for a double D woman, but I think they plan it that way. . .crazy cowboys. Bob, I think that was your doing!)
We begin our ride along the Virgin River trail, so far so good. But this could be the last of actual trails that we see for a while.
Meandering through the aspen trees, extra ponies in tow. Fresh air and aspen-glows. Now I know what the term aspen glow means.
Mellow walk through the scenery
Lunch amongst the aspens
AAahhhh, the lake. A mid stop watering hole for the horses. We've traveled about 10 miles now. First days are usually pretty mild. We'll see how the rest of this day goes.
What a pleasant stop for us. Warm sun, pristine water, bad jokes and plenty of laughter!
Surreal scenery. Much of the trip was spent in silence. The scenery was so awe-inspiring, that words began to be repetitive. "Ohhh. ..myy. . . ..how beAUUUttiful!!!
over and over again.
And again. . .
At the other end of the lake was this lava field. It had it's surreal beauty of it's own.
Then began the ascent up the other side of the valley.
And up some more. It's hard to tell just how steep some of these trails were from photos. But trust me. . they began to get pretty steep. But nothing compared to what the days ahead would hold. Remember, this is mellow day one!
But as you can see. . .we're now above the trees, above the valley, pretty much above it all!
We love our horses. . . they carry us to places that allow us to marvel.
Day one has come to a successful and pleasant, oh so pleasant close. This is our homeward stretch to camp.
Where Mel and Jason and two dogs Rowdy and ??? (Oh help me someone, I can't remember the other dog's name) greet us at our first camp.
I sit by the lump of saddles, the lump on the log. It looks like I was incapable of going any further, maybe someone handed me a cold beer?
Our first night by the campfire after a hearty meal prepared by Mel himself. This is where the recaps of the day take place. Kind of like fishing tales, but usually more adventurous. Although, I'm sure they're no less exaggerated and manage to evolve in much the same ways. But Mel, his tales don't need to be exaggerated OR made up. If you get lucky enough to catch him in a talkative mood, you'll hear about the movies he's ridden in, the adventures he's had and the history he's sewn. I can't wait for the days to come!
Thanks Scott for taking all those photos from horseback! While holding on for your dear life!