Little Missouri Falls to East Saline Creek
Day 2, April 26th 2014
Around 3:00 or so that day, we were at the last crossing of the Little Missouri River. It had been a few hours since we lost Charlie and the Angels on the trail. We caught up again with the merry bikers contemplating how they were going to get across the water. One of ‘em looked a bit nervous. I was busy standing shin-deep in my boots and cursing the general slickness of that stepping rock I misjudged. Ahead of us was the Viles Branch Horse trail.
Kat’s original plan was to camp on Eagle Rock Vista. I was still a little nervous about the storms coming in on Sunday and was thinking of moving on a bit further down the trail before dark. We’d already put in about eleven or so miles that day and it was heating up real good. Both of us already had inadvertently soaked our boots and that water felt good.
Well, after you got over the scream of how frigid it was and your body went into shock a bit while your core temperature dropped to near alarming levels . . . then it felt pretty good.
We found a nice rock bar in the middle of the river and drained out our boots. Carefully squeezed the socks as dry as we could. Even pulled out the insoles and squeezed as much water out of them as we could. Spread everything out on the rocks to dry and then went wading into the water.
It did wonders for my knees.
I managed to convince Kat that, at the pace we were making, it wouldn’t take long at all to knock out the Viles Branch Horse Trail and we’d be at the vista by 5:00-5:30 easy.
At 3:30, we geared back up and put our somewhat dry but definitely sun-warmed socks and boots back on.
Then promptly walked through shin-deep freezing water to start walking a 3.5 mile horse trail that crossed water no fewer than eleven times.
I hate horse trails. This one wasn’t so bad, mostly because it had a distinct lack of horse hikers. Don’t get me wrong, I love horses. Beautiful, graceful, soulful animals. Horse trail riders, though, just aren’t my favorite types. I have to amend my prejudices, though, after this trip. I have a new hypothesis regarding horse trail riders.
You ready for it? Here goes:
The amount of detail placed in cowboy cosplay is inversely proportional to how friendly the rider is to hikers.
So far that holds true. We came across a posse about mid-way down Viles Branch just after Kat and I had to scramble up a washed out portion of the trail. No sooner did he opine about how difficult it would be to get a horse past that when they arrived. The ladies in the group were friendly enough (they weren’t in costume), but the guy in chaps and spurs seemed a bit grumpy. Of course, that might have had something to do with how adamantly his horse was renegotiating the decision to continue along a washed-out trail.
Kat and I stood around a while to see how they’d handle that bit of a challenge, but it felt too much like unwelcome gawking and we trucked on down the trail.
Made it to Eagle Rock Vista around maybe 6:30-ish.
I convinced Kat that my meal plans were so epic that it required camping by a stream, so we decided to head down and make camp by East Saline Creek. It was a good call. Very beautiful campsite. Dropped packs and made camp close to 7:00 p.m.