Today was an ambitious day, as Shyla and I were hoping to cover 40 miles. Wyoming’s Great Basin is about as flat as the trail gets on the CDT so it seemed like the ideal time to try and pull some high mileage. My mom and I woke up at 5am, checked out of our motel, and drove over to the horse hotel to give Shyla and Takoda their breakfast. While the horses ate, my mom and I ate our own breakfast and packed a lunch and water into my saddlebags. We then loaded up the horses and made the short commute to the other side of Rawlins where I had gotten off trail. We unloaded Shyla and tacked her up on the side of the road. Once I hopped on, Shyla joined onto a dirt road through the prairie; we would be on various dirt roads for the next 40 miles.
About 10 miles into our day I suddenly heard a buzzing sound. I instantly recognized it as a rattlesnake! I quickly hopped off Shyla and fumbled with my phone to open the camera app so I could take a picture of the snake. As I’m sitting on my knees in the dirt, something suddenly catches Shyla’s eye and she turns around. I glance over my should to see what it is, and what it is is a mustang stallion galloping down the hillside straight at us. I immediately hop on Shyla and move her towards the stallion and away from accidentally stepping on the rattlesnake. The stallion is a beautiful strawberry roan and you could see the many scars blemishing his coat from the years of fights with rival stallions.
As he gets closer, the stallion slows to a trot and swerves around Shyla and me showing off his bold personality. And bold he was! He was very eager to get up close and personal with Shyla. As she continued to walk away, I basically sat backwards in the saddle trying to scare him off with my best impersonation of a squawking demented parrot. The stallion came with in just a few feet of us, but Shyla’s complete disinterest seemed to send a clear enough message and he stopped pursuing us after just a couple minutes. As he trotted off back the way he came, I could see his small band of mares waiting for him in the distance just watch the show going on below. I had heard about the numerous mustangs on this part of the CDT, but I never expected an encounter like that!
As Shyla and I continued the rest of our day, we had two other mustang sightings. The second herd we spot remained at a distance and just watched. However, our third encounter of the day was another eventful one. This time it was a lone very dark bay stallion. When he first spotted us, he turned tail and ran. Unfortunately at that distance Shyla mistook him for Takoda and gave out a loud whinny at the stallion. The bay stallion slammed on his brakes and spun 180 degrees, quickly galloping towards us. Unlike the roan, however, this bay stallion was very timid and never got very close. Shyla lost interest as soon as she realized it wasn’t Takoda and carried on her merry way down the dirt road. Unfortunately, the stallion was obviously hopeful about finding a lone mare and followed us at a distance for the next 8 miles. Once we passed a water hole the bay stallion decided that enough was enough and he stayed there to graze, letting Shyla and I go on unchaperoned.
About 6 miles later Shyla and I arrived at the meet-up spot where my mom and Takoda had set up camp. Despite the eventful day, Shyla and I made amazing time and completed the 40 miles in just about 10 hrs. That was definitely a new personal best of us and one of my favorite days since leaving the Mexican border. And the place we camped was surprisingly beautiful, near a reservoir in the middle of the bare scrub brush and dust of the high desert.