Day 18 (7/31/16)

We were eager to get going as we were now finally headed to Buffalo, Wyoming a easy 162 mile drive–to the Hunter Trailhead Campground which is located in the Bighorn National Forest at an elevation of 7800 feet.  We had heard about it and actually had checked it out during our first drive across country to make sure it would be a good place to camp with our horses.  The Hunter Corrals were also familiar to us because the camp facility is situated right outside Paradise Ranch, the place we had gone to the previous two summers.  The Hunter Trailhead is a campground constructed with the equestrian in mind. It is just two miles off the Cloud Peak Scenic Byway on Hwy. 16 on a gravel road offering spectacular views of wildlife, mountain streams and abundant wildflowers.  No region in Wyoming provides a more diverse landscape, from lush grasslands to alpine meadows.  A dense forest of lodgepole pine surrounds the campground.  The trailhead provides numerous hiking and horse friendly trails to access front country and the Cloud Peak Wilderness Area.  Each campsite has a 20 x 20 hardened use pad and an individual livestock corral.  Potable water is available at the facility.  In short, the perfect spot to camp and ride off the grid!  Knowing how popular this campground is, we had made our reservations early on “Recreation.gov”–a very easy to use system for reserving camp sites on U.S. public lands.  And, can you believe it, with Dennis’ senior pass, it was only 24 dollars for 3 nights!  The ability to ride on the same trails as when we were at Paradise Ranch for a fraction of the cost!  Wow!

So, when we arrived, we felt like we were almost “home” with Paradise Ranch just over the hill.  As we pulled our rig into our reserved campsite, Jane greeted another couple who were setting up and announced we were from Virginia, to which the lady replied “we are from Pennsylvania”!  We were also greeted by our camp host, Mike, wearing a straw cowboy hat and in his wheelchair!  He is paralyzed from the waist down from a horse accident years ago.  We spoke a little, then he went about his business….and left us wondering, “what in the heck is a guy like this doing in a place like this?”  We were going to find out a lot more in the days ahead.  We put our horses together in a small round pen for the first time and they did fine–with a few squeals and kick-ups now and then.

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Driving along U.S. Forest Road 19 toward the Hunter Corrals.  The mesa where we had ridden before when staying at Paradise is off to the right.

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This reminded us of “Fan Rock” at Paradise.

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Our camp site at Hunter Corral.

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Our camp hosts, Mike and Patty saddling up for an early morning ride.

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There is Mike above, in the red shirt.

We were astonished and amazed!  Who were these people?  What was their story?  We suspected this was going to be another encounter with an “Unforgettable Character”.

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Mike leading “Tuff”–what a picture!

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Dennis giving a roping lesson to our camp neighbors during a sundowner.

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