by Kraig Fallwell #1659 Hiveranno
A short while ago, Dick Pieper and I were talking about wanting to go on a horse ride somewhere. He and Oliver McCloskey had been talking about it too, and had decided to take a trip through Colorado and ride to the Rocky Mountain National Rendezvous.
So then it was planned. Dick made the arrangements. It would be just after the fourth of July holiday.
I met Dick at his ranch on the 5th and got some sleep before leaving the next morning.
About 3:00AM, Mike Hancock arrived and we had a great breakfast by Mrs. Pieper and we set off toward Colorado. We were met by Oliver McCloskey and at the ranch of some really nice folks that were friends with Dick and were treated to a fine supper and drinks. Morning finds us arriving on the 6th at the trail head near Durango, Colorado. The place was called Vallecito Trail.
After we unloaded our horses and gear, we spent the night there to get a fresh start the next day. We are heading to the rendezvous that is near Creede, Colorado, some 80 to 100 miles away. We are a small party consisting of four men and seven head of stock.
Oliver McCloskey is our booshway, and Dick Pieper, myself, Kraig Fallwell, and a guest, a man named Mike Hancock.
7 July, Wednesday
Finally we start on the trail. It is good to be going and we’re just getting the feel of how our animals will work for us. We got a late start today and only make about seven or eight miles, but find a suitable camp and stop for the night. I slept well.
8 July, Thursday
We’re up and have breakfast of bacon , dried fruit and biscuits, with coffee.
We saddle up and get ready to leave. Oliver figures that we will travel about twenty miles or so before reaching the Continental Divide. We will make camp there. Started out and along a narrow mountain trail, two riders go through and I see the trail starting to give away. My horse looses her footing and we go over the side! It was not really high or real steep but we fell about thirty feet and got banged up and scratched. I broke the stock on my rifle during the fall.
Lucky for the both of us, we weren’t hurt and I was able to get back on my horse and head in the direction that the others went. Oliver found a way down to where I was and we rode back to where the others were waiting. We all continue on down the trail. Rain begins to fall, we keep going, and cross many small streams and rivers. Finally, we reach the Great Divide. Beautiful scenery, everywhere I look. We stop and make a few sketches of the area and then, push on, we need to make a few more miles. We come to a nice spot and decide to make camp. It’s getting dark, we unpack the mules and unsaddle our ponies. Got a fire going to dry out. Oliver says he thinks we made about forty miles today. The other men sit around the fire for awhile, I’m banged up and sore from my horse wreck, so I just go to sleep.
9 July Friday.
Morning sun wakes me, and I’m up and feeling pretty good! I check on the stock and get a fire started.
Get some hot coffee and food in my stomach and I’m all set. We start out and have a pretty good day, we make about fifteen or so miles, the going is pretty tough and we took a wrong turn at one spot and had to find another trail. Still on the Divide. Made camp about two hours before sundown. Dicks’ horse got stuck in some loose rocks in a creek and had to have help freeing it.
10 July, Saturday.
Woke up to a fine morning. Coffee on and bacon cooking. We hope to make some miles today. We hit the trail and rode some pretty rough country. After a while, we run into some weather. First it’s rain, then hail is pelting us and our stock. Nowhere to take cover, so we push on. After a while, we find a spot to hunker down and wait out the storm. We get a fire going, it feels good, and pass around a flask of rum.
Waugh! Good times! The rain stops and we get back on the trail. It’s really slow going,
Much timber and rock on the trail. Finally, we come to a most beautiful view, we make sketches and take in natures beauty. We move on along over more rugged trails. Finally, we make it to a place called Trout Lake and make camp there. After our work is done, we sit by our fire and enjoy the night. We are just coming off the Divide today. Weather is clear and chilly, stars overhead. Tomorrow we hope to make it to rendezvous. We figure we made about twenty five miles today. I slept well.
11 July Sunday
Woke up and noticed that one of the mules that I thought I had tied good, was loose.
It was Ol’ Doc, one of Dick’s critters. Doc has a reputation for being an escape artist!
After coffee, we get moving and see much game. I am in front and jump a big deer. On this trip, we also saw many elk, and a moose and her calf. Move on down Trout Creek Trail and it is very slow going. There is much timber and rock blocking the trail, we have to get around it as best that we can. We are planning on about seventeen to twenty miles today. Our progress is slow. We have to cross the stream many times today. Along the way, one of the packs on the mule works itself loose and we have to stop and tighten it. After about ten miles, the trail gets better. We finally arrive at rendezvous about eight thirty in the evening. Many people come out to greet us as we ride in. We are offered refreshments and are welcomed into camp. We met with the booshway and were given directions to the horse camp. After we put our stock out to grass, we put together a small camp for a couple of days stay. We were tired from our journey. We estimate that we have traveled about a hundred and twenty miles or so on the trail. Although it was some rough country, it was beautiful.
12 July Monday
Woke up late this morning, weather is cool. I feel well rested. The other men and myself go in search of some breakfast and hot coffee. Oliver put out a trade blanket and Dick and Mike went to take care of some business. I went out to visit the other camps and see old friends and make new ones too. I stop and listed to music being played at several of the camps and am offered drink for my empty cup. My horse is in good grass and I am enjoying visiting everyone. I stop and trade for some items that I had lost along the trail. As afternoon turns to evening, I just rest and have a good time.
13 July Tuesday
I awoke a few hours after daylight. We go to a camp and have a good breakfast and some coffee. We are planning to leave the rendezvous in a few hours. Anxious to be on the trail again. We pack the mules and saddle our horses. As we are riding out, many people again come out and bid us farewell and a safe trip. We have had a really good ride and met some new friends here. It is a beautiful place. I want to thank all the men that were on this trip for making it what it was, and thank them for inviting me. It was a shining time!