The Sublette County Journal
Volume 3, Number 26 - 7/29/99
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
by Gina Feltner
Yes, a short ride, indeed. I've pushed cows all over the county, but have never ridden The Drift.
Yes, a short ride, indeed. I've pushed cows all over the county, but have never ridden with The Drift. I also have never made the ride from the New Fork Valley to the Green River Valley. Years ago, in the late sixties, I helped with a cattle drive for Carl Jorgensen bringing cattle down here. In the winter. Driving the cows from here to the Green was something I just wanted to do.
I called Bob Olson after seeing the cattle in the allotment by the cattle bridge and asked if I could tag along. He was most gracious saying they could use any and all help. I was hoping old grandmas with a horse that's not used to working cattle counted as help. I also was thinking the drive actually began here. Not so. They had already spent several days gathering and bringing them from Yellow Point to this area.
My assignment - be at the cattle bridge by 5:00 a.m. O.K. That means catching my horse and riding in bareback to saddle him around 4:00 a.m. to give myself about a half an hour to ride down there in the dark. I didn't want to ride fast and pick up a badger hole along the way. I don't have a corral or a light at the barn. But the moon was nearly full, and Hopi behaved, and it all came together.
As I rode up to the bridge I could see by the moonlight that my watch said ten minutes till five. The guys were a little early, and I could hear a few cattle bawling and knew the gathering had begun. I rode out and joined them as the dawn was breaking over the Wind River Range.
You could see the cattle easily. Some of the guys didn't have a clue who I was, others knew Bob was expecting me to show up.
As the sun rose over the mountains, the cattle were well stung out to the northwest. It was quite a sight even for me, who had been on many cattle drives over the last half century. There were close to two thousand cows trailing over those sagebrush hills heading for their summer pasture in the mountains. The dust rose over the herd and glowed in the morning sunrise, and my early morning effort was worth every ounce of work. I asked Bob about the draws we were riding up, and found out we had left the Bertrum Draw and were now headed up the Soap Hole Draw. Soap Hole Draw was a new name for me. Actually, the Bertrum Draw heads more west and starts lower on the river. As the morning warmed up, coats began to peel off. The bawling cattle moved easily up country, and the calves did well.
Irv Lozier's bunch caught up as we were going over the first ridge. He had some good help for us too. A wrangler named Wes Dunn was riding a rangy colt, and he reminded me of a C.M. Russell painting. He had definitely worked cattle before. Wes and Levi Lozier had bullwhips and were expert in cracking them over the herd. A new sight and sound for my horse, but eventually he got used to it.
Robbie Moore was along. I hadn't had the pleasure of meeting him before, but enjoyed watching him work with his horse, dogs and the cattle. He certainly has a nice manner with livestock.
On day number one, Bob was riding a good-looking gray horse. That horse would move out and knew his business. Pete took a little guff for riding Shorty. But Shorty, a stocky white horse with a little experience, held his own, treated Pete with respect, and did fine. Stan was riding a sorrel that reminded me of my Rusty horse. That was another good cow horse. The next day Bob rode a black gelding with white stockings and a white blaze. Bob was really mounted both days. The black made me feel good when he shied at Marty's motorcycle, as my Hopi was doing.
The drive this day moved exceptionally well. The air was cool and the bugs were nonexistent. We got to the Blue Reservoir about eight-thirty in the morning. The lead cows were probably half an hour ahead of those of us riding drag. This is the point where I began to get to know the riders a little. On the trail, there's not much opportunity to visit. But hanging around letting the bunch mother up gives you the chance to visit some.
After about an hour or so, we headed to the trailers and called it a day. This is a point where I could brag about my horse a little. For a slightly spoiled pleasure horse, he worked darn well. I was proud of him. He didn't embarrass me at all.
The plan for the next day was different. Bob Olson was to start at the bridge and pick up the "run-backs." It made sense for me to join him because I live nearby.
Others were to unload at different spots en route, gather up whatever was around and head north. I met Bob at the bridge at five again. He already had twenty-five head of yearlings locked in the corral for an easy start in the morning. We picked up small bunches along the trail, and they all traveled really well. This day was a piece of cake.
Well, at least that part of this day! When we caught the big bunch, they were bogged down about two miles from going over the top. And bogged down doesn't tell it. There were six or seven hundred cows and calves milling in a large circle that would not move out. The main herd was well moved out, in fact long gone. We got word that the very front of the herd had hit Marsh Creek. Miles up country. We all ran our horses down with this bunch, but somehow did get them moved to the crest of the top. It was eleven when we looked down on the river. We hung out and visited, worked the cows a little to mother them up, but mostly just let them come back and find their respective calves.
About noon it was agreed we had accomplished about what we were going to and turned to ride away. I thought it was a joke when Pete Olson said, as we turned to ride back to the trucks and trailers, "We better ride fast or some of them will outrun us!" Well, this was not a joke, it happened. Some of those ol' cows took off the minute we turned our back, and headed out. By the time we got to the trucks and trailers, a few cows and calves were nearly a mile ahead of us heading back down country. Well, Bob would pick them up tomorrow and head up country again.
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