Crow Indian legend tells of foot-and-a-half tall dwarfs with pot bellies and no necks, that are incredibly strong with razor-sharp teeth called Nirumbee or Awwakkulé (little people or spirit dwarves). They supposedly steal children, rip hearts out of horses, and shoot arrows with pinpoint precision, among other terrifying pastimes. They are also said to bless certain people, manifesting as lone animals to issue their benediction. These monsters are said to live in Montana's Pryor Mountains. Now ya tell me.
There is actual physical evidence of these Western desert goblins - several mummified corpses have been found over the years (about which scientists disagree) and there have been modern sightings by respected locals. Seriously.
This maybe explains the uneasy feeling I had Saturday atop the Pryor Mountains and my urge to flee before I rupture a tire and get marooned in the barren desert of sage and juniper. But as I sat there, eating a ham sandwich and drinking a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale weighing my options, something appeared in the gully below me. It was a wild mustang - one of the horses from the Pryor Mountain wild horse herd.
I've never gotten particularly excited about horses, but there's something about the free spirits of these beasts that captivates me. I admire their lifestyle. They live oblivious to anything modern, on their own schedule answering only to themselves. No fences, no saddles, no shoes, no hay. It's a beautiful idea and I'm glad it still exists (not sure why other wildlife doesn't elicit this reaction in me - something about the spirit of these horses).
The Pryor Mountains are remote - the Centennial Valley has nothing on the Pryors. Which makes the absolutely awful "road" through the range (Sykes Ridge Road) all the more harrowing. It's really more of a custom-Jeep or 4-wheeler trail.
|Click to enlarge for full effect.|
|Close-up of the road. Not suitable for sedans.|
|Click to enlarge. Even the roads en route to the wild horse range are remote. Also, beautiful.|
|Dear snake, thanks for the warning and the photo op. Sincerely, Josh.|
Links of note:
A PBS documentary on the wild horses
Another excellent PBS documentary
Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center
Little People wikipedia
More on the Little People
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