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News.bytesNews.bytes Extra, issue 318

Mustangs and a mule take to the rocky trail

The group on a rocky trail along a rock cliff

Mustangs have a reputation for endurance and Mark Montgomery thinks they’ve earned it. From July 8 to August 1, he took a pack string with five mustangs and one mule from Yosemite National Park to Horseshoe Meadows southeast of Mount Whitney, a 240-mile trip, without incident.

"We were on a real rocky trail each day from 8,000 to 13,000 feet," he said. "We did 12 miles a day on granite trails above timberline." They typically would camp at about 8,000 feet and go over a higher pass during the day.

The Penn Valley hunting and fishing guide is planning a similar trip this summer.

Montgomery and his son, Brian, ran the packstring with supplies for a group of about 14 backpackers on the Yosemite-Mount Whitney trip.

"Some friends backpack and decided they didn’t want to carry heavy backpacks on the trip," he said.

The rock footing did take a toll on horseshoes. "There’s a rumor going around mustangs don’t need shoes. I had shoes on all four feet and they wore them off on the granite," he said, requiring some re-shoeing along the way. (more below photo)

Looking ahead along the group at the base of the rocky cliff

Along with packing supplies on the trail, the Montgomerys rode out once along the way, a 28-mile round trip, to get additional supplies.

Mark Montgomery got into training mustangs through his guide business. " friend shot an elk 12 miles from the road and decided we’re not going to haul it out on our backs,"he said. e borrowed a horse for that trip and started looking for horses for himself.

He adopted the mustangs and trained them himself, using techniques he picked up from various trainers.

If you’re interested in adopting a mustang yourself, information is posted online at http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/wild_horse_and_burro.html.

The horses take a lunch break at Purple Lake
Horses graze by a grass-lined lake, with snowcapped mountains in the background

Taking a break to catch some fish
Riders show the fish they caught during a stop along the trail

Climbing higher...
Horses continue on the rocky trail, with rock-covered rocks and a small blue lake in the backtground

...and higher
A sign at Forester Pass in Sequoia National Park - elevation 13,200 feet

Scenic view of mountains along the way

Some shrubs and small trees show up at a lower elevation, as some of the group crosses a bridge.
Crossing a wooden bridge on the trail, some greenery alongside

Crossing a stream

D. Christy, 2/08

BLM California News.bytes, issue 318

Last updated: 02-12-2008