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