Yellowstone National Park
Most everyone I know but me has visited Yellowstone National Park. I hear lots of talk about places like Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and other attractions located next to the highway, but fewer people ever make the 18 mile round trip hike or ride to Union Falls. Supposedly, Union Falls has more vertical drop than the more frequently visited Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone Falls. Based on Dangerous' smile, the 18 mile ride to Union Falls was worth the effort. Since Yellowstone is a national park, I will never get to see the back country because dogs aren't allowed. I might have to write the Park Superintendent about the Park's policy as Dangerous did complaining about how he was treated at the Beckler Meadows Ranger Station.
Every August Walking Horse Bill and his friends make a trip to Yellowstone National Park to ride. Dangerous is usually invited because he has two extra horses and space to haul them in his trailer. You can rest assured that it isn't his pleasing personality or charm that gets him invited every year. After his most recent altercation with Park Service rangers, I think Bill will think twice before extending him another invitation. With Dangerous' record, another incident might land him in jail where Trea and I plan to leave him.
Bill, Janet, John, Rich, And Dennis
This year's group included Dangerous and five other riders. Since I had to stay home, Janet was the only female among the group of six. According to Dangerous, she never complains as Walking Horse Bill leads them through the lodge pole desert that makes up the vast acreage of Yellowstone National Park.
The Natural Order of Things
Like the natural world, horse riding usually has an order as well. Bill is out front on Balthazar barely visible in the picture, and Dangerous who took the picture is on Gennie bringing up the rear. Based on the experience of the rider and the natural affinity of the horses, the riding order is usually set. Balthazar always has to lead and the three mares prefer to travel together. Fortunately for Dangerous, Gennie leads, walks in the middle, or rides drag. If I had been allowed to go along, I would have eaten a lot of dust following Gennie while Dangerous rode drag. Between the river crossings and long stretches of lodge pole pines, the group stopped periodically at spots like Cave Falls to sight-see, rest, and snack.
You're probably wondering how anyone could spoil such a beautiful, idyllic outing, but you don't know Dangerous and his luck. He has a real nose for trouble and an ability to alienate people without even trying. That's why he prefers the company of animals, and his best friend is a sheep dog. As I have seen happen before, he got himself and his horses in trouble when the group visited Beckler Meadows Ranger Station. An excerpt from the letter he wrote to the Superintendent of Yellowstone provides a brief summary of the incident.
"Our party of six riders had started out together to visit Beckler Meadows. At the Beckler River Ford, we had difficulty getting one of the horses to cross, so I decided to return to the ranger station with the horse and rider while the other four in our party continued on. After reaching the ranger station, I tied the two horses to my trailer to wait for the others in our party to return. Approximately two hours later, the four riders returned to the parking lot. One of the returning horses immediately started calling to her two pasture mates tied to my trailer. She continued to call to the other horses when I tied her to the trailer to unsaddle and load to leave. While unsaddling the mare, one of the rangers approached me and told me that I had to quiet the horse or load her in the trailer. I am not sure what your experience is with horses, but quieting a horse that is calling to her friends is not easy, and I was already in the process of loading the horses to leave. Shortly after the first ranger approached me, a second one came to the trailer while I was loading the horses. After the horses were loaded, he lectured me about 'failure to control' my horses. While tied to the trailer in the dirt parking lot, the horses had pawed the ground. While he didn't give me a citation, he told me that he could, and that if I had been in the back country he would have cited me for 'failure to control' my horses"
I won't bore you with the complete letter, but if you know Dangerous, you can guess the content. Fortunately in this case, he kept his mouth shut, and Trea and I didn't have to make a trip to Ashton, Idaho to bail him out of jail. I know it's hard to believe, but shortly after sending his letter, Dangerous got a response back from the Superintendent of Yellowstone. I know it's even harder to believe, but he received an apology. Since I suspect you would doubt my veracity, I have included the complete letter below.
A Much Deserved Rest