American Road Trip West, Part 8

Horseback riding in the Absaroka Mountains of Montana (pronounced Ab-sor’-ka). I’ve been looking forward to writing this post.

The Skyline Guest Ranch is three miles east of Cooke City, on Highway 212. A  log structure purpose-built as a bed and breakfast out of timber salvaged from the Yellowstone burn of 1988, Skyline hosts guests who want to run around the mountains by various means and for various purposes—horseback riding, snowmobiling, fly-fishing, hunting, backcountry camping—or guests who want to sit on the porch and enjoy the view.

Skyline Guest Ranch, Cooke City, Montana

Skyline Guest Ranch, Cooke City, Montana

Our purpose was to ride in the Rockies. This is the way to see the mountains: from the back of a horse!

Say ahhhhh!

Say ahhhhh!

Wrangler Rob, on his trusty steed Sue (a gelding), led us up and down, through the forest, and over rocks—for two hours.

Rob on Sue

Rob on Sue

Dave and I are seasoned riders, though out of practice for many years. I don’t know how rookies do this! Not that I want to deter you if you’ve never ridden a horse and you’re burning to try it in the Rockies. Just a caution: don’t panic. The horse knows what he’s doing, even if you don’t.

Here we are close to the turn-around point. As you can see from my right hand, I wasn’t altogether relaxed! It wasn’t a sheer drop to my left, but it was pretty steep and a long way down. But I was having a blast!

Turn around HERE?!

Turn around HERE?!

To give you an idea of how steep it was, to take this picture Rob had to dismount on the right and crouch on the mountainside, then remount on the right because it wasn’t safe to mount on the left, the side from which you always get on a horse.

Shortly after Rob took this photo, he said, “Do you want to turn around here? or where it’s wider?” “Here” was the width of a horse, with DOWN to the left. So I said, “Wider.” Duh! Well…”wider” was two horse-widths! Our horses had the maneuver done before I had time to freak out.

An afternoon shower on the way back did nothing to dampen our enjoyment of our ride in the mountains. We were just glad we were off the rocks by the time it started raining, not that slippery rocks would have bothered Mason and Rodman.

Now, when I’m lounging at home, drinking my morning coffee, my mind often wanders back to this ride. It was great! No, more than great—it was one of those lifetime greats.

If you go to the Skyline Guest Ranch, these guys await you.

The herd at Skyline Guest Ranch.

The herd at Skyline Guest Ranch.

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