Here we go — Part IV.
Saying goodbye to Al after thanking him over and over for two memorable days, and his drawl replying, “Aww it was nothing”, my very sore body crawled in my car and headed north, not east. North into Theodore Roosevelt National Park on the hunt for that vivid picture, seared in my mind’s eye, by that Montana cowboy drawling the story—the story he so poetically shared of a black and white stallion on a butte, tossing his mane, pawing the ground, his nostrils flaring, and his breath backlit by the cold morning light.
In addition, tucked in my pocket were Al’s instructions on where to look for wild horses, and it wasn’t from the loop road but along a trail called Upper Talkington. Al graciously gave up his wrinkled, folded, and well used topo map of the park (I still have that map and carry with me to this day).
It is November 30th, 2012, and it was cloudy, temps hovering around 21 degrees, winds steady at 13mph with gusts to 28mph out of the northeast. I was dressed in layers, my backpack filled with all the necessary camera gear, compass, Al’s map, coffee mug with ice cream in it *wink*, water, and snacks and extra layers, if necessary, and binoculars dangling from my neck.
Locating Upper Talkington, off into the classic North Dakota day and the ever present North Dakota wind in my face, I went. This was my first hiking trip into this area of the park and every step of the way was holy moly, look at that. Or wow! Or is this real, am I really here? History, rocks, bentonite, sage, draws, birds, bison, deer, coyotes—sigh….I still remember.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park near Medora, ND is 46,000 acres that lures you into her rugged and historical beauty!
The wind, the effort, the beauty, the smell permeating from sage—slowly the fog of society began to lift, a greater respect for the earth started to settle in the further each step took me into the world that these wild horses call home. Alone, on a trail, in the badlands of TRNP, hunting for wild horses was exhilarating and this farm raised, horse loving kid from Minnesota, connected immediately to the solitude and was transported back to her childhood home, that dairy farm, where she had spent hours and hours alone exploring the acres of oak woods and wading in the meandering, tiny stream hunting for grayfish and shiny rocks.
Buttes, vistas, climbs—finally I stopped for coffee at the bottom of a butte, out of the wind, and while sitting there I glassed. For a long time. Sip, glass. Sip, glass. Sip, glass. Hold up…are those horses? OMG…yes!!!! A mile away. Tiny dots in the binoculars. The time—9:55 am, mountain time.
The first sighting!
The next two hours, that infamous blue eye twisted my heart, his presence lodged in my soul, and I knew something had changed, but not realizing yet what that change was until October of 2014 at Celebrate, when the epiphany struck!
You are invited back for one more installment on this journey with Blaze, to 2022, before we begin the tales of the fascinating and colorful history of this incredible landscape these wild horses call home!
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to each of you. Honoring this blue-eyed stallion is not my story, it is your story. He has touched you in some way, I am only the conduit to what he represents to you. For that I will always be eternally grateful!
Thank you and have an amazing day in your part of the world. ~Deb