Gals Try Riding Instead of Hiking: Glacier Gateway Trail Rides
As a lead into Sperry, the GiG headed out on a horseback riding trip to East Glacier. Several gals were considering riding horses instead of walking up to Sperry Chalet. This would be the test.
Maria and Randi had been taking riding lessons in Vaughn, but wanted to see what a trail ride in Glacier would be like, since Swan Mountain Outfitters, the ones who guide from West Glacier up to Sperry Chalet, said they would only take experienced riders. Bonnie wasn't sure if her hip would take a horseback ride, Gail had ridden to the chalet before, and Katie was just along for the fun of riding horses.
Glacier Gateway Rides is owned and operated by long-time Blackfeet residents the Hall family. Mouse Hall, now well into his 80s, greeted us and explained how he was half Texan and half Blackfeet and how his great grandfather had fought in the Civil War for the Confederacy. His wife helped us with our payments and showed off the family's trophies as well as pictures from the Hollywood films they had ridden in or provided horses for, including Dances with Wolves.
Then, Dakota, a Blackfeet who had been raised in Helena and who had only been working with horses for two weeks, rounded up and saddled our horses. He already had a great way around the ponies. One horse seemed hurt and backed away when we tried to pet him, so Dakota carefully checked to make sure nothing was poking into his hoof and rode him around the paddock to make sure all was well. He put Katie on him and told everyone which horse was theirs. Then Mouse said we needed to wait for another wrangler as he can't send out just one person now after a sexual harassment lawsuit. We all understood.
We waited about 15 minutes for two young women to arrive and saddle horses with Mouse telling is stories and about the breeding of the horses from original Spanish stock crossed with Arabs.
The ride itself was beautiful with fireweed flowers and service berries to grad along the way. The two gal guides were both still recovering from COVID complications. One had had COVID twice. One had been working on a dude ranch in Texas where they mistreated the animals, feeding horses and cows nothing but straw, so she quit and came home.
Overall, the ride went well although we all felt our bowlegs for a bit after we dismounted. Then we went to the lodge for lunch to discover they don't open the lounge until 3 and the dining room wasn't open for lunches this year, probably due to lack of staff since no travel visas were allowed for foreign workers due to COVID. So it was down the road we went to old favorite Buffalo Joe's in Dupuyer to get the hot slaw and sandwiches.