It was quite by surprise that I ended up going to a BLM ‘gather’ (BLM’s word for round-up) of wild horses! The Triple B round-up in eastern Nevada only had a few more weeks before it’s end date when a bunch of my facebook friends offered to pay my travel expenses to go to Ely, Nevada. I left a week later …
SUNDAY AUGUST 21, 2011
Nothing about this trip was easy. Seemed like every obstacle was placed in the way starting with Amtrak’s late arrival in Martinez by more than 3 hours! I decided to keep on trying to get to Elko, but this meant when I got to Elko I had to get a place to stay as it was not possible to hang out at the train station. There is only a phone booth size compartment that they call a train station in Elko. I had called Hertz ahead of time and delayed the rental reservation till the next morning.
MONDAY, AUGUST 22, 2011
I picked up a Chevy Traverse AWD in Elko and drove it to Arla’s in Cherry Creek. I had been on US 80 many times over the years but have never seen this stretch of the road so green and lush – there was even a bit of snow left on the mountains!
When I reached Wells, I turned south on route 93 and was surprised that the snow patches continued a bit along the mountaintops and high crevices. Along the way, I got off 93 onto Cherry Creek Road, a dirt road that cut 5 miles off my trip Arla told me. I saw a small group of either deer or antelope and did not have any chance of photographing them as my camera was still packed. After I got it out, I saw nothing.
Got to Cherry Creek and of course I was too lazy to look up the email on my phone where Arla gave me directions through her little village so I asked this older gentlemen at the row of the village’s mailboxes who was reading his mail in his truck. Followed his directions, ended up at Arla’s little gallery where I knew she wouldn’t be so I drove around for a short while when Arla magically appeared and smiled at me and I realized who she was and off to her house at the top of this village. Awesome view of the valley from there! Later that night I realized how bright the stars were – much brighter than where I live in the Sacramento River delta!
Arla and I spent a good part of the afternoon chatting. We went to her little gallery, Cherry Creek Gallery, and I got a chance to meet Annie and Spring, Ray’s mustangs.
Later in the afternoon, we took a drive down 9 mile loop to 4 watering spots: 2 little streams, a trough filled by a spring and another little pool fed by a spring – all were full of water and the streams were flowing. They all had hoof prints of horses, antelope, deer and cattle.
However, the least amount of prints were those of horses. Arla kept telling me that this was an unusual year as all these watering spots were full! In years past, these spots had water year round but not brimming as they were this year so late in the summer!
TUESDAY, AUGUST 23, 2011
I got up about 2:00am and left at 3:15am but was late arriving at the meeting place in Ely, the little park in the middle of town.
Upon calling BLM, I learned I had arrived 2 minutes after they left. I sat there a while looking at my email on the phone after leaving a phone message for Chris Hanefeld PR, BLM Ely, NV. I also took a few moments to make sure I was in compliance with the rules of observation they sent me via email – don’t wear white, black or red, and no bright colors, only neutral colors, closed toe sturdy shoes, and hat among other items on the list.
Tiffany was told to call me back and I chatted her up a bit and found out three people from HSUS were there since Monday. Somehow on Tuesday, the HSUS group, had gotten a flat tire and damaged the air conditioner in the SUV they rented, so Wednesday they did not show at the trap site but did show up at temporary holding which we visited at the end of the day’s round-up.
I drove around Ely before day break, saw the Railroad Museum, several casino hotels, and many murals on the sides of brick buildings depicting miners and the railroad. Got some gas and went to the only supermarket in town before returning to Cherry Creek.
Arla and I spent the afternoon chatting about photography, the BLM, horses and late in the afternoon, drove up to Becky Springs which is located where Rte. 93 does a right turn about 15 miles north of Cherry Creek. As we turned onto the dirt road headed to the spring, we noticed an ATV with two hunters. We altered our route to the spring and as we did so spotted an antelope who took off immediately with the ATV in pursuit. We never heard a gun shot so we presumed he got away.
Becky’s Spring was set underneath a tree and had lots of foot prints in the mud surrounding it – saw many deer and antelope prints and an occasional horse hoof print. Maureen was expected to arrive and we knew she’d be arriving soon so we left the springs and headed back to Cherry Creek.
This is the first installment of my experience at a BLM roundup. There will be several more chapters to follow describing my experiences complete with photographs, at the Triple B Roundups in Newark Valley and Butte Valley.
This was my very first experience at a BLM wild horse ‘gather’. I will also admit that I have never owned or had the responsibility for caring for a horse but learned to ride thanks to my friends years ago who took me trail riding from time to time. I’ve always loved horses, admired their grace and beauty but it’s been less than a year since I decided I had to stop the BLM from taking the wild out of the wild!
I am appalled that the BLM employees and contractors show such a lack of care for the wild horses, their own staff and observers. They violate or don’t enforce their own rules when it comes to following the BLM Caravan above the posted speed limits on very dusty dirt roads to the trap sites, permitted clothing color requirements for observers or trap site contractors, FAA rules about helicopters, but most of all the rounding up of wild horses with a helicopter … piloted by Josh Hellyer! Why must he fly so low over the horses? Why does he fly over the trap site and hover so close to the ground? Why is he allowed to fly over the observation area at less than 500 feet? And why is he allowed to keep the horses and foals running for 30 to 60 minutes at a time?
Each day of the Triple B round ups I attended started at dawn! Only 4 bands caught at most per day before the round ups were called off due to wind before noon? The pilot would drive the bands down from the mountains (where cattle don’t graze) from miles away, at best we could see them 20 minutes before they arrived at the trap site with them!
My facebook friends have played a great part in my education about wild horses and burros and are responsible for providing the travel expenses needed to attend this roundup. Thank you so much for this experience!