Unbranded: The Last Stretch

Nearing the finish: Four men, 13 Mustangs and more than 3,000 miles.

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We just got finished with the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, a 2.5-million-acre roadless area south of Glacier National Park. Two big fires, the Damnation and Red Shale, threw a wrench into our plans and forced us into a huge reroute to steer clear of the spreading forest fires. Our original route took us through remote but easy trails through the center of the “Bob.” The reroute forced us east into the Sawtooth Range, well named for its lack of plateaus, ridges and large drainages. The Sawtooths aren’t that tall but they make up for height in huge elevation changes, massive rock faces and a lack of grazing meadows. The views are stunning, but the going was slow and it often took twenty miles of trail travel to traverse 5 miles of straight line travel. Our horses, as well as we, had Canada on our mind and it was agonizing to accomplish so little distance with so much effort.

We’re currently five days and about 100 miles from the Canadian Border. Excited is an understatement! All that remains of our journey are seven 9,000-foot passes, 100 miles of cliff face switchbacks exposed to the forecasted afternoon thunderstorms, and possibly the most incredible scenery in the Lower 48, Glacier National Park. The Canadian Border has been a vague dream of ours for the past six months and as we get closer reality has begun to set in that the adventure will be drawing to a close. It’s a bittersweet feeling, I’m ready to get to that border, but it’ll be a hard transition from such a carefree way of living.

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Even though we aren’t finished with the trip it’s impossible not to reflect on the experiences that have brought us to this point. Less than a year ago I was working 90-hour weeks on the oil rigs to save up for this trip. Since then, we’ve worked with 11 wild horses and ridden 2,900 miles through the most incredible landscapes in the West.

One of the most common questions we get is what was the hardest part of the trip? It’s a tough question, we’ve gone over some nasty terrain, gotten kicked, bit, bucked off, evaded forest fires, snow storms, heat, etc… but we would never encountered any of the pains, or joys, had we not gotten started. Making up my mind to begin, execute, and finish a trip of this magnitude was easily the most difficult part of the trip. I knew what I was getting into but the hard part is the lost wages, the cocked eyebrows, and the determination to finish a started project. Now that the trip is almost completed its easy to say that it was an excellent decision but jumping off that cliff, refusing job offers, and ignoring the pressure people and society put on you to pursue a career, 401(k), and a big house was an extremely tough decision.

I’ve heard it from at least a dozen people thus far on the trip: “I wish I could do something like that.”  There’s absolutely no reason why they can’t. There are 773 million acres of public land in the United States to explore. There are 50,000 wild horses in holding facilities that need jobs. All it takes is a little saving (a mustang is $125), some planning, and the hard part—creating the determination to turn your dream into a reality. The sunrises, people, adventures and terrain I’ve encountered over the past couple months is worth more to me than any salary I could’ve acquired over the last year.

20 Responses to “Unbranded: The Last Stretch”

  1. Kevin Tengvall says:

    great thoughts Ben for each journey starts with just one step!

  2. Marla McLean says:

    We just did a 10 day ride in the Cypress Hill/Writing On Stone area in southern Alberta. And I say, as others have, I wish I could do what you are doing. Good on you all for keeping on. Wish I could be at the Canadian border to welcome you. Awesome Adventure!

  3. jasmine ferrari says:

    I wish I could have gone…….. I still do,keep me in mind for the next lourney……I have only myself andmy horses

  4. Morgan says:

    This is so great! This is something that I absolutely would love to do. How can we find public land? I’m searching Google and it’s not coming up with any maps, so how did you route your course?. How much did you save to make this trip happen? Where do you find the holding facilities for wild horses? I have so many questions! :) I’d love any response that you can give as I would absolutely do this in a heartbeat. Thank you very much!

  5. Thank you for sharing your adventure. Your life will never be the same! Live life every day & keep taking the road less traveled. At the end you only have your memories anyway.

  6. Julie Rice says:

    Keep up the Good work ,God gave you a dream and you never quit till you succeed~

  7. Sharon Hebert says:

    It is truly amazing all that yall have accomplished and encountered. I have the utmost respect for what yall have set out to do and suceeded. God Bless yall on the remainder of your trip. Would love to read a book of your adventure or see a movie. It must be so inspirational and emotional of a trip…..

    I just had the pleasure of going to Sand Wash Basin Colorado and seeing the Wild Mustangs there. It was a dream come true but the best part was I was just named as a New Artist of the Sand Wash Basin and will have 4 paintings in a book called the Three Amigos of Sand Wash Basin, comming out the end of the year. Mustangs are a passion and since I am unable to ride, well painting them is the next best thing.
    God Bless and Safe Travels as yall complete your Journey of a Lifetime ♥

  8. Sharron Royal says:

    Incredible following you on this adventure. I have become enamored by the conection all of you have been able to enjoy. The closeness with the wild things around and under you. But I am saddened by the thought that you are unaware of the bond between you and your horses. I realize they are “only” mustangs, but they are living bonding creatures of God. Are you really going to give them, especially your favorites, away. Are you not knowledgeable enough about horses to know they will remember you forever, and possibly miss you and they may never bond quite as well with a stranger? Please, take the time to personally help them to make the separation. I had a mare who stopped eating because I left her. Again I have enjoyed your journey and experiences beyond belief, I have had horses in my life for over 60+ years and have never been on anything near what you four have just done. How exciting.

  9. Lisa Miller says:

    It has been a great journey, not only for you guys but for all of us that have enjoyed reading and following you on an adventure most of us will only dream about. Thanks so much for sharing!

  10. Jeffrey Anderson says:

    Sorry guys didn’t know who you were. We passed and talked to ya coming over the pack bridge leading into Benchmark. We had been up eight days and ate smoke for four. Would have talked more if I new great job.

  11. Jeannie Box says:

    Yes, it takes the things you’ve mentioned to make this trip. It also takes youth – or being younger at least! – and health! Without these 2 things a trip of this magnitude would be impossible. THANKS to ALL of YOU for allowing me to LIVE it WITH YOU!!!

  12. Robert Crabtree says:

    iwould love to be involved in a trip like that oe even have a chance to live in a place like that

  13. Victoria Boyd says:

    Congratulations for having the courage and the determination and the enthusiasm to follow such a wonderful dream! Most people dream it but never do it. You did it!!!!!!!

  14. Linda Hinders says:

    Well said Ben

  15. bbetz says:

    How exciting for me to stubble upon your bucket list dream…and to have experienced the dream with kindred spirits. This has been a childhood dream of mine–to cross Canada, my home and native land. Canada welcomes you. :)

  16. John Fritz says:

    It has been a great journey for all of us that have rode every step of the way with you in spirit anyway !! Thanks for sharing and let us know when the DVD will be available Thanks !

  17. Reed Jordan says:

    I am sitting here in my hospital bed getting chemo for my leukemia, and so envious of the incredible journey you guys have made. I am so proud of all of you guys, and so, so proud of my nephew, Thomas Glover. I may not be able to travel by horseback anymore, but when I am well my wife and I are going to do some traveling, and head west where I have traveled since my childhood. I can’t wait for the film to come out. Good luck on your last few days, and welcome back. I look forward to seeing you Thomas when you get home.
    Uncle Reed

  18. Mary Epperson says:

    Ben and gang,
    Thanks for sharing this magnificent trip with us “wanna-be’s” It is so hard to “jump off that cliff” Thank you so much for bringing the plight of America’s treasure, the Mustang, to the forefront. You have given 12 great souls a new life and a future. Hope this will encourage others to get involved with the needs of these wonderful creatures. Safe trip. Rest for you all

  19. Rebecca Schneider says:

    Congratulations to all who had a part in this magnificent accomplishnment. Thanks for letting my son join up with all of you after college graduation. I can’t wait to view the film. Rebecca Schneider

  20. Linda Harer says:

    What fun it has been following this incredible adventure. If you sell that stunning palomino paint, please let me know!!!! Linda

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