Monday, August 01, 2016

Return to Lost Valley Ranch 1997

As I mentioned in the last post, we enjoyed our 1995 trip to Lost Valley Ranch enough that we went back in 1997, for Roundup Week, the last week of October.

A blizzard hit Colorado the weekend that we flew out there. Our flight out was delayed by 45 minutes, to allow time for the airport in Colorado Springs to clear a runway for us.

At the ranch, we were somewhat dismayed to realize that we'd been assigned to one of two cabins located at the top of a steep hill. The cabins were appropriately named "Huff" and "Puff" because those who occupied them were definitely huffing and puffing after climbing that hill.

The view from the porch of our cabin
We had to hike up and down that hill at least three times a day...or go hungry!

Although this was Roundup Week, they didn't send us out looking for cows on the first day. Instead, the morning and afternoon rides on Monday were just pleasure rides. There was an embarrassing moment when my horse, Stinky, decided to lie down in the snow on the trail. I was able to get off her, but getting me back on her proved to be a bit of a challenge. Another guest strode confidently to me and tried to give me a leg up, but I proved to be too heavy for him. The wrangler who was leading our ride tried next and was, thankfully, successful.

The ranch is truly a guest ranch, but they did run about 85 head of cattle on 25,000 acres of Pike National Forest. Their lease required that the cattle be removed from the national land by October 31st each year. The blizzard had driven about half that number to return to the ranch on their own. That made finding the rest of them something like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

During Roundup Week, a trail guide would take us out some distance from the ranch, then turn us loose to look for cattle to bring back to the ranch.

On the first day of that activity, Doug and I got separated from everyone else and, at one point, even from each other. Fortunately, our horses kept calling to each other until we were reunited. But, on the upside, we did find five cows and a bull on our way back to the ranch. Meanwhile, our trail guide had radioed to the ranch that we were lost; and three other ranch employees stayed out to look for us.

On Friday, we went on an all-day ride (roughly 17 miles over some pretty rough terrain) to look for the last four cows still to be found and brought back to the ranch. It was the hardest and longest riding I've ever done; but, oh, it was beautiful! The rest of the photos are all from that ride.




Linda riding Stinky and Doug riding Slick

Taking a Lunch Break Before Starting Back to the Ranch

That long ride didn't result in finding those last four cows. As we neared the ranch on our return trip, Doug and I and another man decided to follow the road at a leisurely walk, while the others chose to continue beating the brush in a search for those missing cows. To our delight, though, we three found the cows on the road to the ranch and brought them the rest of the way in.

I was so sore that I couldn't go on either the morning or the afternoon ride on our final day at the ranch. Doug went on the morning ride without me, earning my deep respect. But he declined going on the afternoon ride.

For a long time after our return home, Doug said that, when he looks out the window and sees an Amish horse now, all he can think about is how glad he is that he doesn’t have to get on it on go riding after cows!


  1. What better than being in beautiful scenery in the snow and on horse back. Wonderful shots

  2. Looks like a wonderful time, Linda! Beautiful photos.

  3. wow. that's pretty cool. you got out on your own (scary) and did real cowboy work. and you made it. :)

  4. What lot of fun. I admire your going in with snow. Tough business being a cowpoke, they are a different breed.There was a ranch near my old home where all the family got together for the roundup, about 25 people.It looked impressive seeing them all together working.It takes me a bit to get my land legs working again if it is a long ride.LOL

  5. It sounds as if you really 'roughed' it on this return visit, but you got some gorgeous pictures.

  6. Beautiful scenery,even with the snow.

  7. Whew... That will be a trip you will remember and talk about forever... I'd love seeing the snow---but not sure I'd want to Huff and Puff up and down that hill. NOR --would I want to be out on a horse looking for cows in that cold weather.... CRAZY....

    Beautiful pictures though.


  8. Thanks, Margaret. It was a memorable experience.

    Thank you, Linda. It was indeed a wonderful time.

    Tex - It was a little scary when we got separated from each other, but we were pretty sure the horses would get us back. I think they were more relieved than we were when we did get back together. It wasn't exactly "real cowboy work," but it was fun pretending. :)

    Steve - The reservations were made before the snow came, so we were kind of committed. The the snow did enhance the experience.

    George - It wasn't really so "rough." Once again, the food was outstanding, including the sack lunches they sent us out with for those longer rides.

    Ruth - I think the snow actually added to the beauty of that trip. But I'm glad we were able to experience it without snow the first time.

    Betsy - The memories, even of a trip like that, do fade over time. I'd be lost without my journal. :) Surprisingly, the weather wasn't that cold. It was probably in the fifties, and the sun was intense since the ranch is situated at about 7,000 feet of elevation. You may have noticed the lack of heavy jackets in most of the pictures. And Doug got one of his worst sunburns ever while we were there.

  9. The same place and the memories are so different! The snow changed the scenery quite a lot and the experience of riding in that snow must have been different too. The photos in both of these posts are beautiful. Mentioning your journal in the comments has inspired me to keep more detailed notes during our holiday this year! :)

    1. Petra, you're right about the different memories and changed scenery. It was so beautiful with the snow. As for the journal, the older I get, the more I wish I'd been keeping a journal in my younger years. Memories do fade. The ones recorded in the journal, though, remain fresh.


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