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With  Linda Hamrock

I have been hiking often into the backcountry of the Tetons for over 30 years, several days at a time. It has always been a dream of mine to ride there. Since we moved to Montana the park is only about 4 hours away... I finally planned the trip!

My daughter, Kari Thomas, and my granddaughter, Parker Thomas, went with me. We decided on the Jenny Lake trail towards Cascade Canyon in Wyoming, from the String Lake trailhead, since Parker was 6 years old and hadn’t really done any long backcountry rides. This is a decently flat ride to the lake. If you continue up the canyon, it gets a bit more difficult.

We trailered in the day before and camped east of the park at Turpin Meadows. I would highly recommend this as a camping option.  It was the first time for Kari and Parker to go horse camping... Just the three of us!  The campground is wonderful. It has corrals, nice big sites - and trails right out of camp that I’ll be going back to try. We had so much fun camping and sleeping in the trailer. And the horses were snug in their corrals.

We took this trip in August of 2019. This trail is inside Teton National Park. If you go, you will need a Coggins, health certificate if coming from out of state, and brand inspection. Also, bring weed-free certified hay. We came in through Yellowstone National Park. They did make us pull over at the entrance and checked our trailer. They did not check the horses’ paperwork but did check the hay. They didn’t like the shavings in the trailer and recommended I have a bare floor next time. Just FYI for anyone coming in that way.

One of the highlights of the ride happened in the parking lot while we were saddling. A big tour bus pulled in behind us. My first thought was “great...” as the air brakes hissed. But then a whole busload of senior citizens piled out. They were so excited about the horses; they didn’t even notice the scenery! Parker proceeded to tell them all about the horses - what breeds they were, all about her pony Ruby, and so on.  Many pictures were taken! Parker then pulled out the treat bag and proceeded to pass out treats for everyone to feed the horses. The horses and the people were thrilled.

Another highlight was seeing Parker gain confidence and decide that she didn’t want to be ponied off Kari’s horse, but ride alone! We crossed bridges and passed many hikers with a big hello and a huge smile.

If you ride in the park, be mindful that it is teeming with wildlife, including grizzly bears. Carry bear spray and know how to use it (you don’t want it to get near your horse if you need to use it). There are also lots of people on the trails, especially at the lower elevations. Be prepared to encounter hikers with large packs and some trail runners. Also, be mindful of quickly changing weather in the mountains. I always carry rain gear and first aid supplies for humans and horses.

My horse, Dooley, is the grey. He is an eight year old registered Quarter Horse. I got him as an untouched three year old. He is an amazing mountain horse. He takes very good care of me and goes anywhere I ask. Kari is riding the sorrel mare, Callie. She is also a registered Quarter Horse. She is 11 years old. Kari has had her from a weanling. Kari trained Callie herself. She is a sweet mare that is also very brave on the trail.  

Parker has a wonderful registered Welsh Pony mare named Ruby. Ruby is 15 years old. Parker got her two years ago. She had never seen much outside of her pasture before we bought her. She loves to go on the trails. She is bold and excited to see the country. She takes really good care of Parker and will cross anything with confidence.

I highly recommend riding the Tetons. There are trails from easy to technical. Something for everyone!!  The best time to go is July through September. Hope to see you there in 2020!

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