Playing Cowboy Days 40-44: 5 Day Hot Springs Pack Trip

I feel really good right now. Like the past five days were some sort of merging of skills I’ve acquired in the last ten years that are relevant above eight thousand feet and I just passed the final exam. Dan, Mike and I lead a group of five up North Brush Creek, camped the first night, went up and over to the Valley View Hot Springs on the Western slope of the Sangres on Tuesday, and chilled out there until Thursday morning. We camped at treeline on the other side that night, and then went up and over to the trailhead on Friday.

Words feel inadequate to describe the state of satisfaction that I have sitting here at Poag’s after this week. We took a German couple, a local couple, and a woman from Dallas on a five day adventure. They all made it back with smiles on their faces. I had a hell of a great trip. We were tipped well. I just had an awesome meal at Cel Dor Asado, including the apple crisp dessert that is my new favorite, and now am sucking down a Smithwick’s at Poag’s.

Monday morning we left the ranch, two trucks with trailers laden by horse and a fifteen passenger van comfortably loaded with our five custies. We drove to the trailhead, unloaded horses from trailers, filled panniers with gear, and hung them from the sawbucks of our four pack horses. After a riding lesson we hit the trail sometime before noon and one of the Germans said, “Pretty good weather this trip.”

As soon as we laid picnic blankets for lunch it started raining. It didn’t stop until just before we hit camp, several miles up at the top of the basin.

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Fortunately the rain broke long enough for us to pitch tents, set up the kitchen and cook dinner, and be about ready to go to bed. Then it returned, came off and on throughout the night, and by the next morning we understood why: We were in a cloud.

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We took our time getting out of camp that morning, primarily because the trip leader, when presented with the problem of Yarrow’s picket line being too short and thus he had eaten all the grass in range, decided that the best solution was to untie the horse and set it free. That’s the short story. We spent the early afternoon, since we didn’t break camp until after noon, walking up the Eastern slope in a cloud. It was pretty magical when we broke the backbone of the Sangres though, complete cloud on the Eastern side and Summer day on the West.

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We arrived at Valley View Hot Springs Tuesday evening and the relaxing began. Set up camp, dinner, campfire and music, and then go soak.

The hot springs are basically a nudist colony. Sorry, Mom. I didn’t take many pictures. Wednesday was perhaps the most relaxing day of my life, and this place is somewhere that I’m going to return.

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Thursday morning we packed up and left, heading up the Major Creek trail until treeline. We made camp, picketed the horses, cooked dinner, hung by the fire, and went to sleep. I finished The Fountainhead after several months of being in the novel (as is necessary with most Ayn Rand books).

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We broke camp early the following morning as we had to go up and over, have lunch, and then make it to the trailhead in a reasonable amount of time. We did so well.

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The trip was fantastic personally. It felt really good to be in the woods for the longest time straight since sometime in 2005. After we unloaded everything at the ranch, we cracked some beers and hung out in front of my cabin, watching the sunset over the ranch and valley, basking in the glory of the satisfaction of a job well done.

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Peace and good luck,

Devo

Playing Cowboy Days 38 and 39: Weekend Before a 5 Day

I coulda been at a beach house in Malibu with a pretty girl this weekend, but I declined because I said that I would be back on the ranch to help lead a day ride in the Sangres on Saturday. I told this to Mike. He looked at me funny and replied, “Dumb ass.”

I agreed when Saturday morning, after being waken up by the horse shit barrage, we booked an 8 person 2 hour ride on the ranch and Dave pulled me from the Sangres ride to help with that one. It was much of the families of a couple getting married that afternoon. We accommodated them well and then gave them a good ride, and they thanked us by piling into their Suburban and driving away. We wished them thundershowers, a runaway bride, and anything else that could ruin a wedding on a Saturday afternoon.

After we unsaddled ten horses I drove into town to get some lunch and go to the Wet Mountain Western Jubilee, a traditional Western music festival. It was the first music festival that I’ve ever been to with chairs and only six outhouses. I don’t see the point in sitting down at concerts, especially ones outside in the summer time, but since the median age was likely over sixty I understood. It still didn’t mean I was sitting down. The first band I heads was called The Haunted Windchimes and they were really sweet. I posted up about six rows back, standing next to the center tent support pole in the center aisle to do my best to not stand in front of anybody. It took about three songs for a Custer County sheriff to tell me that I couldn’t stand there and I should find a seat. I don’t want to sit and I don’t want to stand in front of a chair, certainly blocking somebody’s view there. Stand in the back then. As much as I really wanted to go to war I knew that I would lose, and moved next to the sound booth where I stood unmolested for the rest of the show.

My favorite act was Waddie Mitchell, a cowboy poet and wordsmith like I have never heard live. His poems were stories that painted a picture in my mind so vibrant that I sat screwed to my chair, transfixed by the words falling over me like magic water. He introduced Don Edwards, an apparently legendary country singer and songwriter. He received quite a reception and I was impressed with his music. I don’t know much about classic country but shows like this one make me want to know more.

I wasn’t feeling the dance afterward and just headed to Poag’s for dinner, beer, and internet. I worked online for a couple of hours, trying to get everything taken care of before this 5 day pack trip leaving on Monday. Think I lost a couple hundred bucks.

Sunday morning I slept in til 8:30am (that’s so weird to say still) since there wasn’t anything going on at the ranch. I joined Mike and his family for breakfast, they reminded me more about how I was a dumb ass for not being at a beach house in Malibu, but I didn’t mind too much today because I was going to be traveling all day if I had gone out there. A lazy and productive day in Colorado is much better than traveling anywhere. After breakfast I drove to the Alvarado trail head to finish up my work for the month before spending the afternoon playing tournaments online. I don’t understand how Verizon doesn’t work on the ranch or in town, but does in the middle of hay fields and at trail heads. Prettier offices anyways. After arriving I realized I left my laptop in my cabin. Back to the ranch.

Tournaments started at 2pm, it was shortly after 11am. Bored, I came up with an adventure. I forgot to tell y’all about Rudy being struck by lightning last week while I was in LA. Tuesday morning when Dave and Mike did round-up they found a dead horse, unfortunately one of our best. Poor Rudy. Two weeks ago potatoes were falling out of the sky around him as we fell to the deck in laughter, and last week he gets blasted by lightning. 1200 pounds of horse chop will bring in all sorts of wildlife, so I decided on going for a hike, partially to check out what a horse hit by lightning looked like and also hoping to see some critters.

I strapped my six shooter to my side and walked out into West, headed up horse highway into the woods. It’s a neat feeling being out in the woods by yourself, and walking through the thick North woods I pondered on the last person to be where I was. When all you can hear is wind blowing through Aspens life is at peace. I walked past an old fire ring not used in years, and looked down from the ridge into Lee’s meadow and the original homestead, settled a hundred and fifty years ago by German potato farmers. It’s still in use today, the ranch owner’s private residence. The Ute’s were here long before the Germans were, and with so many years of people walking these woods before me I was grateful that it laid mostly as untouched as it was a thousand years ago.

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I could hear the call of a Golden Eagle, screeches of Red Tailed Hawks, and saw several Ravens circling. The last thing I wanted to do was find a need for my sidearm by spooking some bear off his buffet, so I scouted from high on the ridge to make sure things were clear before approaching Rudy. Disappointed I didn’t see anything, I approached the corpse, from downwind, and smelt the decay of life before I could see anything close.

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He lay on the ground like a plastic horse figurine knocked on its side. Two legs on the ground and two above sticking straight out parallel, the rigormortis in full effect. He was way less chewed up than I expected; Dave predicted that he’d be a skeleton within a week or two. My adventurous spirit turned grave quickly, and I was reminded once again how fragile life really is. Hell I might not make it back to the ranch, it’s not like it’s impossible to be struck by lightning out here. It’s nice and good to plan, but we’re only really guaranteed this present moment. I feel like people cheat today worrying too much about tomorrow.

I didn’t spend more than a couple of minutes there. Just wasn’t a pleasant place to hang out, next to a horse that I’d spent hours on the back of in the past month. I walked back a different route, down across South pasture and through the gate into West. I could see the ranch in front of me, but I could also see the junkyard off to my right. I knew that for years the ranch had used this place as their dump, initially filling up a couple of mine shafts but eventually creating their own collection of a hundred and fifty years of ranch junk. I figured there had to be something cool over there.

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I didn’t find anything too exciting unfortunately. It was neat to poke around a bit, but you didn’t miss out on anything Fuller. I crawled through the barbed wire fence and walked back on County Road 271, waving at the one truck and two motorcycles that passed by, and changed out of my boots and into sandals back in my cabin.

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I headed to Dave and Michelle’s, played the Ultimate Bet $200k and UBOC event 8 $1k, two other tournaments, and one cash game for several hours. I started out well everywhere and then lost flips and ran bad to bust them all somewhat early in the evening. No problem, gave me time to write, and now I’m headed to the ranch to pack for the 5 day I’m going on tomorrow.

Dan, Mike and I are leading a five day pack trip with the destination being some hippie hot springs on the other side. Michelle told me that I wasn’t allowed to be naked in front of custies. I have no idea why she would find it important to inform me of this rule. I’ll shoot a bunch of pictures and solve the problems of the world soaking in natural hot tubs. Bye bye society see ya on Friday.

Peace and good luck,

Devo

Playing Cowboy Days 35-37: Intermission for an Audition

I had a most excellent few days in Southern California, not something I get to say very often. The congestion of the place just depresses me.

I made it down Tuesday evening and promptly took my Mother and Brother out to my favorite restaurant, North Woods Inn. It was good dinner and a good time, it was nice to catch up with them a bit. That evening I visited my old friend from Forest Home Serenity and her two kids. It was good to reconnect with an old good friend that I hadn’t seen in years.

Wednesday was work and prep day. I hosted the Ultimate Bet Online Championship 5 event #2, a $250+17 PLO/PLH tournament. I intended on recording live for Poker VT but left my microphone in Las Vegas. I picked up a headset that will work with Skype also, and then went to get my hair cut at the local barber to match my newly shaven face. I really wanted to leave the beard, but my actress friend Karri advised that I fill the box of what they’re looking for at the audition. Good bye scruff.

The tournaments went okay, I profited $4 between the one I hosted and the $320 sniper that Sebok hosted. I recorded them both, shooting a little over three hours of video that I think came out really good.

The following day was the reason that I left the ranch for this week. I was auditioning for the new WPT segment “The Raw Deal.” I sported a slick suit and showed up at the bike right when I said I would. There were like 20-30 people milling about who all looked like they had zero chance. I walked in, was moved straight to the front of the line, personally greeted by Mike Sexton, and I gave it my best shot. They asked my opinion on a hand, then asked if I had any problem calling out people, I said no, but then when they asked me to talk about who’s bad I had nothin’. I can’t help it, I’m too much of a sweetheart. It’s totally a different case though when you’re commentating on hands in progress versus just talking about people who suck at poker. Besides that (and even accounting for that) I feel like I hit a home run and have a good feeling about my chances. I assume that it’s a good sign that they published one photo from the audition and it was of me in the act.

Afterwards I headed into the heart of LA to have some happy hour with Karri. One beer led to more beer and ended with me leaving early in the morning, unable to drive the night before, but not wanting to leave anyways as I had one of the best times I’ve ever had hanging out with a woman. She’s great people with a heart of gold and I’m proud to be her friend. I made it across the Mojave just fine, found Jared in my apartment and was like sweet, ride to the airport, and have eaten dinner and written this blog in Colorado within 10 hours of waking up this morning. Not bad. I’m headed back to the ranch.

Peace and good luck,

Devo