Drive’n to Estes Park

Once upon a time, we two almost newlyweds lived in northern Colorado for a spell. We lived near the banks of the South Platte River, on the edge of the Great Plains. We could see Long’s Peak from our house on a clear day. A friend who was somehow connected with a dude ranch in Estes Park invited us to come along and help drive a herd of horses up to the park for the summer camp season.

The day of the horse drive came. We met the head wrangler and the trucks coming in from Briggsdale at the base of the foothills near Loveland. They unloaded about sixty-six head of horses, and a bobtail truck load of work horses for us to use herding. One of the wranglers asked if I’d be willing to ride a three-year-old hackamore colt. “Of course!“ I said, allowing my ego to overload my brain. Sallie, of course, opted for an older, more settled horse. There were six or eight of us to handle the herd. Without fanfare we were off! At first there was a lot of back-and-forth to keep the herd together and lined out up the foothills. However after an hour they were becoming pretty sedate as we climbed in altitude. My hackamore  colt was even settled down by then. We passed through some of the prettiest swales and valleys I’ve ever seen. Most of the drive was through trackless foothill and mountain country with no roads or fences. We cruised along on a beautiful Colorado early summer day with cerulean blue sky and fluffy clouds, spruce and fir trees, columbines and green grass. It was like we’d ridden into a postcard. In the late afternoon we poured onto the highway into Estes, I think it was Colorado 36. It was a long down-slope in a narrow valley lined with pine and spruce, so the horses had to go right down the asphalt. Traffic had to come to a halt for us. Kids were leaning out of car windows “Look mommy, cowboys!” People were taking pictures and waving at us as eight pretty “punchy” looking vaqueros paraded the enormous herd of cayuses down the road toward Fish Creek camp.

One motorist was not so taken by our picturesqueness. He was expressing how peeved he was that we were holding up traffic. Standing beside a late-model expensive looking sports car he was shaking his fist and cursing us roundly. I happened to be near when one of the horses with a wicked sense of humor must of had enough of him. The old pony kicked out one of his headlights and trotted on with the herd. We all found somewhere else to look and rode off with the herd as he screamed about “who in the… do you think you people are?! I’m going to…”

Our fearless leader cracked us up as we turned the horses in to Fish Creek camp. “Sure am sorry about that Fellers headlight!” He grinned.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *