The Tale Of A Wyoming Buffalo On Top Of Pinon Ridge…

The tale of a Wyoming Buffalo, up on top of Pinon Ridge is one of those stories you live for and live to tell. I know it’s long but it’s worth it! Many of the photos that I have are not digital so the quality is not great…but the heart is:) Most of the photos will enlarge if you click on them…I added several landscape photos with incredible views so you can see the Wyoming I knew and loved…

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I was not ready to pose for a picture when WB snapped this…looks like I am saying huh? He took this photo of me with my hair blowing to show the Wyoming Noon Express also known as the Wild Wyoming Wind! I had hurricane strings on all my hats when I was riding my horse or out and about…so hang on tight as here we go…with the tale of a Wyoming Buffalo up on Pinon Ridge.

It was barely daylight that late July morning when I unloaded my partner out of the horsetrailer, Lottie was big eyed as she looked around taking it all in, this was her third ride with me up Pinon. She had been in Wyoming about six weeks…the first month she was corralled until she was acclimated to the altitude. Then we took many slow and easy rides to build her stamina and overall health…she was doing great and she loved gathering cows!

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We planned to meet where the Green River begins at the base of Square Top Mountain and Green River Lake (above) with our fellow cattle ranchers and neighbors to gather cattle for the twelve ranches we represented.

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The ranches we rode with belonged to the Green River Drift or the Upper Green River Cattleman’s Grazing Association. A grazing association is a group of cattle ranchers who have permits to graze their cattle on public land for the summer months. Each ranch provides a cowboy for the summer to stay with the cattle once they reached the high country. The cowboys check the cattle daily, looking for illness or injury etc. and on this particular morning, we were meeting up with the cowboys to move the cattle to higher pastures up behind Yellowstone Park.

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I tightened up the cinch and checked my gear out, while WB was saddling his horse next to me and doing the same. Lightning was dancing and flashing all around us as the thunder cracked overhead, playing crescendo after crescendo with ba-booms that drummed into  a “Wild Wyoming Rumba In The Sky!”

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I looked forward to the day as WB was able to ride with me gathering cows, however when your hubby is the ranch manager/foreman things can happen…one of our bosses arrived with several Argentina kids that were visiting the US to play polo at his ranch, in Jackson Hole. I looked at WB and then we both looked at Bob, who was the elder cowboy on our outfit, and before I could ask him, he looked at me and said “GO, get gone girl and get going…hurry up go, before you get stuck here, and miss out on riding and gathering!” I took his advice quickly as Lottie and I trotted off to join the group…I didn’t know our neighbors that well yet but Lottie and I caught up with them and we were off for a new adventure, new scenery, incredible scary weather and treasured memories of living on a cattle ranch in Wyoming, at the base of the Continental Divide!

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Lottie and I, heading out to check cows here in Oregon on our mountain ranch…she was an amazing horse…so pretty and smart…calm, dependable and laid back but give her a cue and hang on as she moved like a cat when it came to cutting cows. My Dad would get so tickled and laugh at her as she would be in the pasture moving cows by herself so she could cut them out of “her” herd!

Wild Bill watched as our group rode up Pinon, climbing around 1500′, with lightning strikes all around us, it was something else to see! He saw jagged strikes hit the ground starting several small fires…about the time he was ready to call attention to it, the falling snow put out the fires as fast as the fire had begun. As we pushed on, the snow began coming down harder with a slight breeze that was blowing snow in my face…I pulled my Wild Rag up higher to cover my face up to my eyes, and pulled my cowboy hat down. I could not see the perimeter around me, due to the intensity of the snow, I could only see the cattle in front of me and Lottie’s ears.

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I didn’t know the lay of the land or where we were going, I figured the cows would know where to go as they had summered here before so we stayed with the cows as we disappeared into the clouds of brilliant white lightning and snow, with rumbling cracks of thunder that boomed above us. WB and Bob took the Argentina group for a trail ride away from us so they would not accidentally spook the cattle we were gathering. Fortunately they were low enough that the storm and blizzard missed them, they had a little rain but not much.

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We kept on climbing with our heads down and eyes squinting, gathering and pushing cows as we climbed higher. I continued to look both right and left for my neighbors…all I saw was a very serious snow storm with lightning strikes way to close!

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This photo was taken earlier in June, it is about a quarter of the way up Pinon…looking back at Square Top and Green River Lake and the Green River flowing below…the country in Wyoming was HUGE! Amazingly huge!

The further we climbed, the harder it stormed and boomed! I found myself in a surreal world with near white out conditions, in the middle of summer…the end of July no doubt…while back home in Eastern Oregon my family was in wheat harvest and it was 105 degrees!

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It was a total mind trip as I wondered if I had ridden into a parallel universe or something? I kept moving cows, hoping to break over the top.

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Thankfully we rode into a lush green meadows up behind Yellowstone Park, the sun came out, the clouds parted and disappeared…just like that, we were out of the storm and my neighbors were either there or right behind me! Lottie and I sat looking at the incredible scenery and the cows we gathered…we had gathered a large bunch despite the storm. It was about 10:30 in the morning as we all sat on our horses drying out, basking in the warm sunshine while we watched the herd. One of my neighbors rode over to introduce himself and talk a bit and dry out…and then he said to me, “Hey look, whats he doing?”

I looked and said “Who and what is he doing?”

My neighbor said, “Hey, yeah…it’s Sam, (who rode for our ranch) and he’s chasing after a buffalo in the herd.”

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“WHAT?” I figured it was tease the newbie from Oregon…ha-ha…so I carefully asked him “Oh come on, are you sure its a buffalo?”

“Yep, I’m sure!” He figured it to be a young, maybe 3-4 years old but still sizable…we watched as Sam roped the Buffalo, while a bunch of cowboys and cowgirls gathered around to see what he was doing…and then my neighbor said “Hey, let’s go see what’s up.”

Sam had the Buffalo roped and down. A few cowboys helped him by catching the heels and several cowboys got off their horses to help, as now they had the Buffalo strung out. With the risk of Brucellosis developing, it was felt that the Buffalo had to be castrated to protect the cattle herd. No one said a word…not one word. I sat on Lottie watching the story unfold…wishing I had a camera and something to write on! Silence fell like a veil on us and time was suspended…finally one of the neighbors got off his horse and said “Look, we can’t do this, I’ll come unglued if you do this.”

Without a word, the cowboys dropped their ropes that held the Buffalo down…the Buffalo was a good size and he was mad! I knew what was coming…I asked Lottie to roll back and turn, moving it like “Sue Sally” as we galloped away!

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I looked back over my shoulder wishing I had a video camera as it was a “Real Life, Charlie Russell Painting!” Once the Buffalo was free from the ropes, he got up snorting and madder than heck…he began charging towards the horses, and the cowboys yet on the ground. Several horses took off dragging lasso ropes, spooking themselves as well as other horses who by now were bucking and running to get away from the beast while the cowboys were running on foot as fast as they could away from “Psycho Buffalo!” Lottie and I galloped out of there in record time heading for the high country…at 11,500′ how much higher can you go? I didn’t know or care as we ran fast and thankfully escaped the crazy chaos!

About 30 minutes later we all gathered back again in the meadow and rode off the mountain quietly…thinking of our day so far…it was noon and we were headed for home, back down Pinion Ridge on that crazy day the end of July.

About half way down Pinon, one of my neighbors said “You know, I was born and raised here in Wyoming and that storm this morning was the worst one I have ridden through!” I could not believe it! I figured the storm must not be bad as no one said a word, they just buckled down and rode through it like me…ha! We made it through one of the worst storms on the Upper Green…me and Lottie. I miss her, she was my girl and my partner…we were a team and had a great time together in the 20 years I had her. She was a triple bred Leo mare and she was incredible…a deep red sorrel, except for her white blaze on her face, and three white socks. I would love to find another one just like her.

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Once I made it to the trailer and my man, Wild Bill, I hopped off Lottie and hurriedly told WB about the Buffalo and he rolled his eyes and hooted on me. He thought I was teasing him so he would not listen to me…I said “No it’s true!” He said “Oh sure, I don’t get to go and you see a Buffalo” and I said “Yes I saw a Buffalo” he said “Yeah right”….so I marched over to my neighbors and said tell ’em….and they did, while they were hooting and laughing at both of us!

The reason for the concern about the Buffalo, was due to disease. Buffalo will breed cattle and they carry a deadly disease that can wipe out your entire herd of cattle called Brucellosis. We called the Fish and Game as soon as we made it home that day…and they dealt with the angry Buffalo up on Pinon Ridge…all on a typical day, gathering cows in Wyoming in one of the most beautiful places on earth!

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A few footnotes on Sublette County and the Upper Green River Drift:

We lived in Sublette County which was the least populated county in the United States…Wyoming was the least populated state in the United States and we lived 8 miles from a very small town!

Local ranchers have grazed cattle on public land for more than a century in the Upper Green River Valley. Each spring, cattle are driven north to their pasture allotments and when it gets cold in the fall, the cattle begin to drift off the mountains to head home for the winter. The twice a year cattle drives have become known as the Green River Drift.

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Ranchers who are members of the Upper Green River Cattle Association can be found moving herds of cattle south down the Green River Lakes road during the fall months, to the staging area next to Trapper’s Point monument area about 5 miles west of Pinedale. The large groups of cattle are then moved to the cutting grounds where each rancher’s cattle are sorted out by brand into their respective herds, to be driven in smaller cattle drives back to the home ranches. Our ranch where we lived was down on the flat meadow ground that you see as that was my view of Gannet and the Wind Rivers.

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In the 1890s, the first cattle associations were formed in the Upper Green River Valley as a result of extremely harsh winters that decimated local cattle herds. The Big Piney Roundup Association was formed in 1890. In 1916, the Upper Green River Cattle and Horse Growers Association was formed. The name was changed to the Upper Green River Cattle Association in 1925. In the 1930s, the association added driveways which allowed them to bypass private land and more easily funnel cattle to desired pasture areas. For more than a hundred years, local ranchers have worked with government entities to manage the range allotments and cattle use with the best management practices possible. The Green River Drift, cutting grounds, and driveways have been a part of the valley’s history for so long now some people have suggested they be considered for historic recognition and designation.

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As I close for now, here is where the Green River begins…it flows out of Green River Lake…and begins its winding way to the Colorado River. Square Top mountain is in the background…I often rode above it and could look back and look down to find it as it was so level. Pinon Ridge represents a pivotal ridge due to the three main water ways it represents. Depending on which side the waters flow from rain drops or snow melt, it will either flow to the Columbia River or the Colorado River or the great Mississippi River. Some call it Three Waters Mountain or Ridge…I first heard this the first time I rode up Pinon and it was raining! I loved it!!!

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May you all have a blessed week wherever you are! Minnie is having a Mommy and me moment! HRCG over and out…10-4 good buddy!

This is a special mountain: at its summit converge three major watersheds. Every year during the late spring or early summer, a pile of snow at a certain place on this mountain melts into three distinct basins. When water from one basin finally reaches the ocean, it will be well over a thousand miles distant from the mouths of the other two basins. – See more at: http://www.usends.com/Explore/Elevations/3WM/index.html#sthash.0BimcudI.dpuf
This is a special mountain: at its summit converge three major watersheds. Every year during the late spring or early summer, a pile of snow at a certain place on this mountain melts into three distinct basins. When water from one basin finally reaches the ocean, it will be well over a thousand miles distant from the mouths of the other two basins. – See more at: http://www.usends.com/Explore/Elevations/3WM/index.html#sthash.0BimcudI.dpuf
Meltwater eventually trickles into Fish Creek, which is a tributary of the Gros Ventre River, which flows into the Snake River, which in turn flows into the Columbia River, which enters the Pacific Ocean near Astoria OR. The far side of Pinon Ridge, however, drains into the Roaring Fork, which flows into the Green River, then the Colorado River, which empties into the Gulf of California, which meets the Pacific Ocean way down somewhere between Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico – some 2000 miles down the coast from Astoria. – See more at: http://www.usends.com/Explore/Elevations/3WM/index.html#sthash.iupIQ4SI.dpuf

14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. reocochran
    Dec 30, 2013 @ 16:53:15

    When I look at your posts, I see the beauty in the outdoors and the radiance In the people’s faces, too! Happy New Year to you and yours! Enjoy!

    Like

    Reply

    • Hot Rod Cowgirl
      Dec 30, 2013 @ 20:49:23

      Thank you:) You made my day! I’m glad you can see the beauty in the outdoors, which I love, and the radiance in the faces:) Wishing you a very Happy New Years! I am looking forward to 2014!

      Like

      Reply

  2. Ayesha (Miss Spicy Hat n' Sugar Socks)
    Dec 27, 2013 @ 06:15:03

    Lovely shots and beautiful posts you have there! 🙂

    Like

    Reply

  3. Jonathan Caswell
    Dec 21, 2013 @ 07:30:07

    Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    I LIKE HER STORIES!!!! BUT SHE’S NOT TRYING TO “BUFFALO” ANYONE!

    Like

    Reply

    • Hot Rod Cowgirl
      Dec 23, 2013 @ 15:02:13

      Thank you so much…it is always such a nice thing to do and I appreciate the reblog:) I am running here trying to get ready for Christmas…seems it came too fast this year! Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Years!

      Like

      Reply

  4. jesusknowsmyname
    Dec 17, 2013 @ 07:38:56

    You must, you simply must do a book. Great photos, great stories. Too good to let go by the wayside. Must be shared with the rest of the world. Tell the story of your parents; your father, your mother, where you were born and raised. Your victory over cancer, your ranching/rodeo experiences. Throw in some bits about WB, the classic cars. Tell your life story! A big, bold story of one woman’s life in the American West. Just like you state at the top of your blog: “…courage is being scared to death but…” Giddy-up and go girl!

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    • Hot Rod Cowgirl
      Dec 17, 2013 @ 13:12:00

      Thank you so much, your encouragement truly helps me in thinking that well hmmmm,maybe I need to write my book…I have been writing chapters this year. WB loves that others tell me as he has told me for years to do it! I have felt blessed that God has given me this life and all the various adventures have been good and I learned from them too…I have seen so many different things and met lots of people…and I love sharing my life with others, both good stuff and not so good stuff…I often take the not so good stuff and use it to help another who may be going through the same thing…I think God calls it wisdom:) Hard knocks! I love hearing your words and I do feel in my heart that you are right:)
      Sending you hugs and also wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

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      Reply

  5. onespoiledcat
    Dec 17, 2013 @ 04:35:36

    What an amazing story……I felt like I was THERE because your descriptions and feelings were so clearly given. You certainly had quite an experience seeing that buffalo – I know they are HUGE and seeing one up close has to be pure magic. The photos are gorgeous too – as I’ve said before, the vistas you have “in your own back yard” are beyond belief…..living in the suburbs here and having all that space around you there – it’s like night and day. You’re blessed and I know you know that already (!!).

    I hope you, Wild Bill and Minnie and the rest of the crew have a wonderful Christmas……

    Hugs, Pam (and Sammy who says HI to Minnie!!)

    Like

    Reply

    • Hot Rod Cowgirl
      Dec 17, 2013 @ 13:00:52

      Thank you so much my friend:) Your encouragement means a lot to me! I love hearing my descriptions take you there and that my story came to life:) As a writer, more than anything you hope that the reader will fall into the story and experience good stuff! I enjoy sharing my stories and life as I have been blessed to see and live some of them:) The Buffalo story was incredible to live…I could not believe the crazy wild weather and then coming out of it into a situation with a Buffalo and when the cowboys let it go, oh wow was that Buffalo mad…and it really did look like a Charlie Russel painting! WB was so funny when I told him as he would not believe me! LOL! I loved Wyoming too, incredible beauty and a feeling that it was really heaven on earth:)
      I hope you have a wonderful Christmas too and also a Happy New Years! Can’t believe how fast time goes! Be sure to give Sammy hugs and rubs from Minnie too!

      Like

      Reply

  6. neilirving
    Dec 16, 2013 @ 23:51:37

    Wonderful story, I would so like to go riding in that country

    Like

    Reply

  7. Teepee12
    Dec 16, 2013 @ 20:43:24

    You have the most remarkable stories. Each post is like a book I read or a movie I saw. Wow. I mean WOW.

    Like

    Reply

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