24 August ~ 2021

The highlights of my trip to Montana this month were camping at the base of the Beartooth Plateau and getting up in the dark to drive to the top and hike just as the first rays of sunlight came over the horizon to the East. This is something that Ben and Maggie did in years past, and now Hayley, Mollie, and Beau got to repeat the adventure. The pictures I got of them up there are among my favorites for the summer.

Smoke from the record expanse of western wildfires clouded the skies after I moved over to stay in a forest service cabin west of Yellowstone. I did some hiking but mostly the dogs and I kayaked in Earthquake Lake, and I took three horseback rides with the wranglers from Diamond P Ranch, which was less than two miles from the cabin. I am grateful to Diamond P for putting me on three very good horses, which were Tattoo, Scout, and Sam. My favorite though was Sam, on the last ride. He was a former BLM Mustang, and took a little more effort to handle, but we did well together. (Sam is the first set of horse pictures below).

The cabin I stayed in had a big acreage of open space behind it, with an irrigation ditch going through. Beau loved chasing the ball I threw for him. Once he got it, he would take it and lie in the irrigation ditch, and seemed as happy and content as it was possible for a dog to be. Like most of the forest service cabins I stay in, this one has a long history to it, and I felt a strong sense of peace sitting on a chair with the dogs outside the cabin in evenings, and hearing the coyotes yip and howl every night.

There are a lot of grizzlies in the hills just West of the cabin, so I made sure to scan the area with a flashlight before I went out with the dogs at night. I spent a couple hours out there on two nights during the Perseid Meteor Showers and saw the Milky Way and several shooting stars. The owner of the Diamond P told me one of the horse groups saw a grizzly on their ride the week I was there. He also showed me a photo on his phone of two grizzlies at his front door from August 2020.

I am enjoying this long summer of solo trips with just the dogs. These trips are easy and relaxing, and I am doing my best to appreciate the time I have with all three of them together. Life changes and dogs grow older. I am content with the part of myself growing older, but it breaks my heart that Hayley, Mollie, and Beau will not always be with me.

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart"