Saturday, June 6, 2009

An Adventure on the Garfield Table


It's going to be an adventure when the directions start out like this: Go north on Highway ** until you come to ** Road. Turn east. When the pavement ends, go about two more miles to the second house on the north. Look to the south, there will be a trail road, follow it two miles across the pasture.

I did have to double check these instructions after the Mister related them to me, just to be sure we weren't going on a wild goose chase. Sure enough, he had them right.

The drive on ** road was interesting even before the pavement ended. Lots of deer crossing the road, stopping to look at us like we were intruders... which, I guess we were.
Have you ever been told Nebraska is flat? Don't tell that to folks who live in Custer County. Just look at this beautiful homestead nestled in the canyon.


So here it is, the gate into the pasture. I wish all gates had a cheater bar like this on them. Makes it very easy for Nebraska Outback to open.

And here our adventure begins. What do you think of the trail road? Would you follow it? Naturally the Mister was happy to try out his new Ford F150 across the hills, but he was disappointed. No 4-wheel-drive was necessary.
And here is the destination. A beautiful camp set back... way back... in the canyons of Custer County (or we could actually have been back in Lincoln County at this point). Our friends who were spending a few days riding and relaxing here invited us up to spend the evening, and are we ever glad they did. They told us how the land owner thought they were crazy. Why would anyone want to camp clear back there? Keep reading and check out the next few pictures, then tell me whether or not you think they are crazy.

Ah yes, here's what it's all about. Good friends, good beer, beautiful countryside. Note the hand-made beer holder and the hand-made spurs. These are a talented bunch of guys.

One of the advantages of galavanting all over the countryside taking pictures is that I get to watch all of the work being done. A whistle and the rattle of some sweet feed in the pan and the horses come running.
Halter, bridle and saddle and we're ready to ride.
Just about a half mile south of the camp, we rode across this man-made dam. Designed for erosion control in the canyons, it also captures water in a "tank" on the uphill side, creating a watering hole for the cattle as long as there's rain.
Our first stopping point was a windmill on the southern edge of the section (one mile square, 640 acres) that we were riding in. It is set in a beautiful little draw, and the extra water provided by the windmill has allowed trees to sprout up. As you can see, it is a popular "watering hole" for the local population.
Time to stretch the legs a bit. My pony is the one on the right with his rear facing the camera. He's a race horse. Not really, but he sees no need to allow another horse to walk in front of him So, even without knowing the country side, I got to lead the way. Fortunately my companions pointed me in the right direction.

Andy is his name, and my only complaint was that he didn't like to stand still, so some of the photos I got that I thought would be great turned out a little blurry. Guess we'll have to go again at some point to get some better shots!
Friends helping friends. Staying hydrated is a priority in arid country, and you don't want to risk getting dry.

There are lots of plum thickets and grape vines in the canyons, and here a couple of the cowboys are checking out the prospects of this year's crop. Looks good right now, but the birds, deer and other wildlife will eat their fill before the snow flies.

Any guesses as to what you're looking at in this picture?
It's an ant hill. Made of twigs and dry grass stalks, it is one of the largest I've seen in awhile. While not particularly aggressive, it's not a good idea to disturb the little critters, as they will bite.

Below, if you look closely, you'll see a flock of wild turkeys skeedadling away from the crazy city-slickers riding through their canyons.
What do you think? Are we crazy to enjoy riding through this country? We rode through a dozen beautiful draws just like this one. It's been a wet spring, and the land is in great shape, thanks to the good stewardship of the landowner. Right now, he's got 98 pairs (mama and baby) on just one section, which is a pretty heavy carrying capacity for Nebraska. But this land is so bountiful, it can take it.
Another picture showing the breathtaking scenery in the area. Still think Nebraska is flat?

Off in the distance, in another section, gathered by another watering hole are some of the landowner's beautiful horses. He loves them probably more than his cattle, and raises nearly as many!

Nearly back to camp. The stragglers are starting to catch up.

Just to prove that it really was me on the pony taking all the pictures, here we are, the Nebraska Outback's showing we really do know how to ride.

There's still a lot of daylight left, and the camp mistresses, who so graciously let us ride their horses while they stayed in camp and cooked had a delicious dinner of steaks and pork chops waiting for us. Then a couple of beers and lots of good conversation, and we had to head back to town for work the next day.

Thanks for stopping by. Let's enjoy coffee cooked over a camp fire one of these days.


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