Spendin’ Time at Cow Camps
Down a long winding trail from the rim was the only way to visit Winter Cabin from the Ponderosa pine forest above. It was a pleasant ride on a trail made safe by our constant repair work. Before the government deemed this a Wilderness Area, thereby prohibiting all mechanized tools and implements, we made many improvements to this trail and the cabin two miles below. Once titled and protected not even a chainsaw is now allowed. Nothing with any sort of motor can be brought into the entire Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Area. Not that any vehicle ‘ceptin maybe a bulldozer could possibly make the trip here. It is a miniature, wild, colorful, Grand Canyon, below the Mogollon Rim, and fifteen miles west of Sedona, Arizona. A place made by God for cowcamps and cowpunchers. We were not daunted in the least making trips into it’s depths because we always used our ranch’s strongest horses to make these trips.
Heavy muscled Quarter Horses bred on the ranch specifically for these jobs of strength, endurance, rough trails, cowsense, and cooperation. Twenty brood mares, and one, sometimes two, carefully chosen stallions provided the ranch annually with foals of superior bloodlines. Every summer we packed in for a week or two, at different times, to improve all the line camps, the fenced lots, different corrals, and the springs that ran there. Making those springs dependable was a high priority. They were the only sources of water within our allotted 25 miles of that canyon. Years ago a cement water trough, slightly larger than a bathtub, was constructed to hold a large constant supply of very cold spring water. It made a very refreshing summertime bath when camping at Winter Cabin . . . .once you overcame your initial shock. Brrrrrr!
Everything for miles around got a drink here. Elk, deer, antelope, even bears. One night a cougar came for a drink and our saddle horses broke down their corral and stampeded madly away! – – – – until it was time for their morning oats. Then carefully, and sheepishly they returned about six a.m. I usually camped alone at these beautiful places of solitude. My pleasant companions were horses, dogs, and wildlife visitors. One mid-summer, I was plagued nightly with rats running across my bedroll. Before turning in I spent a lot of time shootin’ them critters off the log walls of this Sycamore Canyon cowpunchers retreat……
This story is continued in George’s Books
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