Campfire Story by Jessica Brewer of Potomac, Montana
One of my most memorable Bob Marshall Wilderness stories is from a few years ago. It was September, which is the most beautiful time of year in the Bob. The cold nights wash away the smoke of hot August days. The air is crisp and cool, and people just suddenly vanish. It can feel like you have the place all to yourself.
September is also hunting season. Before guides take clients out on hunts, they go on "guide trips" to check out the area. I happened to befriend a group of guides who worked at a local outfitter, and I begged my way onto this weeklong guide trip with them.
We rode 20+ miles in, set up base camp, and then went from there each day. The trip was awesome because we were completely unchaperoned. It's a bit like the first time your parents hand over the keys to the car. I was excited!
I'll never forget riding in on the first day. The horses and mules carried us and all our supplies up the North fork of the Blackfoot, along the dry fork to Dwight creek. It was the golden hour with the sun setting and we'd been riding all day nearing camp.
I could see silhouettes of a few elk grazing up on the ridge. We rode up toward them, crested the ridge, and rode beside the most magnificent herd of elk grazing right next to the trail. It was unbelievable. The sheer number of animals around us was overwhelming. I got off my horse and just watched in awe.
There it all was: we were 16 miles into the wilderness with the sunset casting a golden glow on the most magnificent scene my eyes had ever seen. I just stupidly stared with my mouth gaping.
I could hear a lot of shuffling and whispering going on around me, but all I really noticed was the perfection of that scene. The trees, the birds dashing around, the smell of horse sweat on crisp cold fall air, the elk grazing head down on the wild hill side.
From that moment on I was obsessed.
I grew up on a ranch in Montana that my family homesteaded in 1888. When I was younger, another girl in my grade and I just rode horses together everyday. If we got in trouble, we got grounded. From our horses.
I want to ride the entire Continental Divide Trail. All 3,000 miles. I daydream about it all the time.
I love trail riding because it makes the world make sense. I hop on my horse with something on my mind, and before I know it, I have a crystal clear solution and everything just makes sense again.
A big thanks to Jessica Brewer for sharing her trail riding adventures with the community.
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