The end of the last full day a storm had rolled in, and as I wrote this in the next morning getting ready to leave, was on the deck hearing the rain on the tin roof. Solid rain and steady gray with thunderstorms in the forecast- packing it up to turn the iron nag for home. Happy for the rain, as it is great for the range- more grass for the mustangs and critters that live here, ample snow/water run-off to fill the creeks and waterholes, and grow a stunning variety of desert wildflowers too.
Voodoo- Like true to wild mustangs, we hoped to find the Voodoo band- but didn't. Logging in near/around ten miles round trip in his favored territory in the outback of the HMA, we didn’t find him, but did find two bands I’d never seen or knew about. When one finally spotted me hunkered down among the lava rock on my ninja mission to gain ground, and like dominoes they all noticed.... they acted like I dropped out of the sky- as though I were something they’d never seen. A lead mare and her stallion came in closer like they couldn’t believe their eyes of this oddity sitting there with clicking metallic objects at my face- and with the bay roan stallion quickly snaking her, took off like a shot across the basin with both their band, and the second band soon following- not sticking around to see what set the others’ jets in motion. Would have been nice for them to stay for more photo ops after hiking nearly an extra mile to get to them, but it’s their wildness I love more, and when I follow them swiftly running with my lens, kicking up dust, for that moment I feel just as free and spirited as they. And though I had hoped to find Voodoo, but also a satisfaction when we don’t always find the wild mustangs we seek- because they are wild and they are free. But when we do get lucky, we feel that much more blessed. Even though we didn't find Voodoo this time, the experience looking for him was great, finding other bands I was not familiar with... But when I was out in the large basin of Voodoo's territory, I watched some of the mustangs look up and back toward the juniper forest where I had come out of, but even when I moved around at different views- no matter how hard I looked between the trees to see what they were seeing- I couldn't see anything. But they sure did....
While there, we also came across the large Kashmir band. His black minimal white pinto mare Flight- true to her name- quickly detecting us at a distance and sending the whole band into motion, trusting and following her uncertain back and forth pattern to catch our scent. She has a dark pinto foal that mimicked her every step. There is also a foal in the band with a limp, so we backed off, walking away to settle them down so the foal wouldn't have to move hard or fast to keep up with the rest. Images of this band are distant with my 600mm lens for documentation. Mustangs are tough, and I have little doubt the baby will heal up. Following the Kashmir band, we were excited to find Fuego- who has mare Illusion- well we were so excited to find them because he had her since last year following the bait gather, so we knew if she had a foal it would be his- and they do have a baby- a cute little solid red sorrel who looks to be roaning around the flank area- surprise surprise. He added a black and white what looks to be a mare to his little family too, gender confirmation when I can zoom in on shots- but likely a mare.
The range this time of year has a variety of desert wildflowers- I’m not good with flower names, but a few I could id were Mt Lupine, Larkspur, and a large type of clover, among others. Heading out of the Voodoo range we walked through acres of lava rock and the tiniest yellow flowers, hearing crickets all around, and the aroma was light floral and with the sun, smelled like fresh warm churned sweet butter. We also stumbled across a giant oldgrowth juniper, and we were pleasantly surprised to see a giant well-constructed nest above our heads at it's top.
The bands congregate this time of year, and when much change happens... and what keeps genetics viable with variability. Met new bands of mustangs and reconnected with old friends. Even saw Shaman. I have a number of pics of the Medicine Hat stallion stirring up trouble, and on this trip decided to trail the Red Vogue band and growing fillies... but he brought with him reinforcements- two of his apprentice young stallions- HawkEye and Mahogany (grown orphan colt of fall 2014), there was one moment on the range where Shaman watched my direction, motionless a long time- I know he knows me as one of those two-leggeds with the clicking gadgets, but this one moment in time late dusk, was a bit unusual, even Alice commented. Even though there was other activity around him like fighting stallions, he didn’t stop watching, I even looked behind me thinking I missed something and he was watching it instead. There was nothing. So I documented through shots.. perhaps observing across the span of time.
Random moments out in the wilds of the range, when bottom line, you are your only help... and as my late wise dad used to say- out there- you're your only hero.... he always said, stay ahead of the game and plan/think ahead. I try to do that. I packed new gear and clothing half way through the trip- on the big Voodoo search. This time though, didn't transfer my pocket knife- my useful multi-tool. Found myself by myself and a battery I could not extract- a rogue damaged battery from my camera, and had a couple wild bands I had stealthed it to from a half mile back- some coming at me- some wanting to run - but my battery was stuck and me without my trusty pocketknife from my dad I had seen in his hands since I could form a thought... But I remembered I had a worked and broken obsidian spearhead I had found just before, I used it instead- extracting the jammed battery out with it's fine sharp edges.
Time and stories...
Journal in progress... check for more later :)
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