My goal to find and photograph the wild horses at Theodore Roosevelt National Park was accomplished in ways I couldn’t have dared hope. I’ve been wanting to photograph wild horses for years. To be able to do so, and almost completely unplanned, since I didn’t know about TRNP before coming across it yesterday morning, pleases me to no end.
Yesterday afternoon I killed time in town and in my campsite in the park, trying to wait out the nearly 100 degree temperatures. I am not a fan of the heat, so I was really hoping sunset or wildlife would make up for the uncomfortableness.
A couple of hours before sunset I headed out and just as the light became magic, I came across a small herd of eight wild horses. They stayed near for about ten minutes and then took off in a trotting line up and over a grassy hill with a bit of the North Dakota badlands landscape for a backdrop. I would’ve counted myself happy if it had ended there, but a while later I came across another two horses grazing atop a rocky outcropping as the golden light of late sundown hit their coats. I went to camp last night completely satisfied that the stop at the park, and enduring the heat, had been worth it.
Knowing it would be hotter the following day, I decided to head to Montana in the morning, on to the mountains and cooler temps.
So, this morning, waking at five to head out with my camera, my pass through the park was sort of a formality– one last look-see before heading on my way. I didn’t really think my luck would be as fortunate as the night before, but one never knew what might happen.
I spotted a lone horse outside the paddocks at the local riding stables. I can’t be sure if he was an escapee or one of the stallions looking for some domestic companionship. Anyways, it was too dark to photograph yet, so I continued on.
I had to stop only a little further on as a herd of bison took up the road. One beast of a bull grumbled his displeasure at a fellow bull and I stopped to record it on my phone. There’s something really thrilling about listening to such sounds in the pre-dawn light.
And then I came across another herd of horses. I stayed for an hour or so as nearly a dozen adults and 3 foals grazed and socialized. One of the foals was young enough to be making a right pest of himself, especially to a slightly older foal he’d apparently taken on as his elder brother.
When I moved on from them, I spotted another herd off in the hills, but too far to photograph. Then I spotted the duo from the night before, on a steep hill above me. They stayed in view for a few frames before moving out of site. Several miles further I came across a herd of four adults and an older foal. And just as they moved off, another group of four appeared over the next ridge. Those four made like brombies on the steep ridge when a large bison approached, then they backtracked and disappeared over the ridge after deciding against a Man-From-Snowy-River-like decent.
At that point I was just about ready to float away from giddiness. I made it outside the park without any further encounters and after a quick errand in town, hit the road for Montana.
I love driving through Montana. The land and the sky are so big and the towns so tiny! Even fighting a headache from about noon on, I kept catching myself with a small smile on my face, simply for the joy of where I was.
Due to my headache that was threatening to become a migraine and general worn-out-ed-ness I decided tonight was a good night to splurge on a hotel room. I found an adorable little motel in East Glacier and I’m holed up for the night with some Excedrin, a gallon of water and my laptop.