By Kat Deutsch
Based at the Panchuela campground, the New Mexico Back Country Horsemen gathered for a long weekend of education, exploration of the Pecos Wilderness, and some good fun. The area was filled with trucks along with their trailers and the sounds of the many horses calling out to each other. Members from across the state were greeting each other and retelling stories from rendezvous past. The first night was filled with many such stories over a warm meal, until we all had to seek shelter from the storm clouds rolling overhead.
The second day began with a trip around to all of the camps, where I met not only the members of the Back Country Horsemen, but also their crew of horses and dogs. Due to the heavy storm that raged throughout the night, the trail rides had to be pushed back to a later time. The trails were incredibly muddy, which was dangerous and could lead to serious injury of the riders and their horses. The slipping hooves in the wet trails also erodes and damages the trails tremendously, so it is good practice for horseback riders to wait for the trails to dry out before venturing out.
A little while later, two groups ventured onto Cave Creek Trail for a leisurely ride. I was able to borrow a horse and join them! I have hiked this trail before, but from the back of a horse, you have the opportunity to see the Wilderness from a different viewpoint. It was an incredibly rewarding ride! I also had the opportunity to teach the Horsemen about invasive plant species. We also conducted some light trail maintenance, which helped make the route more friendly for tall horses and their riders. During the evening, I spoke to them about what constitutes a Wilderness Area and its five important qualities.
Overall it was an incredible few days!