Packed up and hitting the trail
This country is fairly rugged. On your trip you will most certainly cross mountain passes, ford rivers, and cover a wide range of terrain from rolling meadows to heavy timber to wide open high alpine basins. We stick to well maintained trails. These trails often have bridges over the bogs and strategic deep river crossings. We occassionally have to go around, over, or through downfall caused by the wind from a summer rainstorm. Howeve, mostly the trails are in good shape. If you haven't ridden much, you will be a little saddle sore. However, we stop about every 2 hours to give everyone a chance to stretch their legs and relax the riding muscles. Usually about 2-3 days into the trip you get quite acclimated to the riding.
We generally go about 12-14 miles when we travel. We do not travel each day of your trip. The 5 day trips usually involve a ride into camp and 4 nights in that location, then a ride out of camp. We can take any number of day rides, usually 5-6 miles, on the days we do not travel. For trips longer than 5 days we typically travel every other day. This gives everyone a chance to enjoy the beautiful spots we tend to camp, and rest up a bit for the next travel day. Our longest rides can be 18 miles, which tend to be on the trips where traveling is a focus. Even then, we usually only have 1 day like that on any given trip.
Riding the Trails of the Bob Marshall
Mule riding is popular in some areas of the west, but we use mules strickly for packing gear. They are the "pickup trucks" of the mountains. We and our guests ride horses. Our horse breeds are a mix of Quarter horse, Morgan, Tennesse Walker, and draft-crosses. We are picky about horses and keep the best natured, durable, most reliable stock for our outfit.
Definitely - if it's a western saddle. If you ride a lot and are driving and have your own saddle that fits you right, this is a great place to bring it. You'll be much more comfortable. We do not recommend riding english saddles on these mountain trails is not advisable.
Our trip sizes range from 6-9 guests at a time. We often will put different groups of different sizes (couples, smaller groups) together on the same trip to get to an optimum trip size. We do take private party trips (one group only) and generally require those to be a minimum of 6 people.
That's quite common for us. About 50% of our guests have never ridden before, and another 25% haven't been on a horse in over 20 years. We're used to having new riders. Our stock is very gentle, and well adapted to the trail. They get us from one camp to the next in a safe manner.
Our trips are all-inclusive. We provide all necessary camping gear, cooking gear, tack, etc. All you need to bring are your personal effects, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad. The tents are not big enough to accommodate cots so we recommend thicker sleeping pads. Sleeping pads can be inflatable or foam.
We provide the tents. The tents are quite large and provide plenty of room for 2 people and gear. If you are traveling single we provide you a private tent.
We find most people look forward to the occasional layover day. Have no fear though - there is plenty to keep you busy on these days. For example, if you want to take a day ride most campsites have excellent options for a part-day rides to points of geologic, historical, or scenic interest. If you are interested in hiking, we have outstanding short hikes in most any direction from camp. These can be guided or unguided depending on your comfort level. We frequently find photographers want to strike out on their own to explore and capture photo shots near camp. It really is bound only by your interests and how much time you want to spend on that excursion that day.
We have an excellent menu of western fare. We pack quite a bit of frozen fresh meat, and bring along fresh vegetables as well. Our meals include all manner of beef, chicken, pork, and fish. The breakfasts are hardy and include things like bacon, sausages, eggs, fresh fruits, and the ever popular pancakes and french toast. Lunches are generally on the trail or in the field, so they are light and portable but fun and varied. Things like sandwiches, cheeses and crackers, wraps, fruits, and other goodies keep us going during the day. We can also accommodate gluten free and vegetarian diets - we just need to know in advance so we can pack the food accordingly. It's a long way to the grocery store from where we'll be!
We find that kids do exceptionally well if they are around 10+. We like to see kids at least 8 and we can adjust the trip travel itineraries to ensure they distances are not too long between camps. There are a couple of trips that we advise kids be late teen-ages, as the days are longer and tend to draw more adults into the parties.
Yes, we certainly allow adult beverages. Happy hour before dinner is often a universal social event on any excursion. We only request that you bring aluminum cans for beer, and plastic bottles (or transfer to plastic bottles) any alcohol. We prefer boxed wine, but understand many wine preferences do not come in a box. We want to see glass wine bottles wrapped in towels or other clothing to prevent damage during packing.