Planning a horsey trail vacation
Hey all, I am going to be taking some time next year to go for an extended trail ride and I was wondering if some of you could perhaps point me in the right direction.
I have never done this with a horse before but I AM very well versed at backpacking and hiking solo in the great wide wilderness. I never did learn to use a GPS (not to say I couldn't by the time I leave) but I am a pro at wayfinding using a good ol' fashioned compass and topographical map. I would hopefully be going with someone but on the off chance I can't find a partner I am prepared to go alone. Right now I am still planning the very basics.
We put in our vacations in November so I'll know what time I have off by the end of the year, and that will be a large factor. If I can get a decent week in the summer I will probably try to do Yellowstone or Glacier National Park but if I have to go in the fall or spring I will most likely be headed south to Zion. Also, the northern parks have an abundance of predators so I probably won't do those alone (never ridden in bear country before).
I live in central Montana now and I was hoping to keep the drive to one day if possible, two days maximum. If possible I'd like to stay in an area where I can park the trailer and do several days' worth of day rides from that base. Camping for me is a non-issue - I can sleep in the truck or in a tent or in a hotel as the situation requires, so no worries there. Do any of you know of any areas besides the ones I mentioned that fit my criteria? I'm open to any sort of terrain, though I would like to avoid Nevada if at all possible simply because I used to live there and I'd like to go somewhere I haven't been before.
Also, as I said before, I have never ridden in bear country - what precautions do I need to take? I have been scouring the NPS website in case I go to Yellowstone or Glacier and they have some great tips but everything is geared more toward biking and backpacking than horseback riding. Are there any horse-specific things that you guys do? Should I train Dreams to do something or not do something in preparation? Will a bear (not counting a sow with cubs, in which case you're usually screwed) tend to avoid a horse and rider, or investigate? How about wolves? I'd really hate to run into a pack of those at Yellowstone. Anyone have any ideas about that?
The main reason I'd like to have a "base camp" is because I'm hesitant about having to pack in food for the horses. Depending on the time of year there will be plenty of grass, but I've never gone horse camping so I don't know how it's all done. Dreams is hobble broke, and Thunder is too on the off chance I'd need him to pack stuff, and I'd also be comfortable with packing a portable hot fence or high lining them or even picketing - I am confident they'd be there the next day in any of those cases. Is that sort of packing the type of thing that is better done with someone who has experience or would a reasonably intelligent, rational person be able to figure it all out? I would do my research, if it came to that.
I appreciate any insight, tips, etc that any of you can give me. I'd also be willing to get a group put together if any of you are into that.