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Unbranded talks with NickerNews, Part Six
: We spoke with Ben Masters on his way out of Bozeman, Montana. With 2,500 miles under their belts and about 500 miles to go, the end is in sight.
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How’s everyone's attitude?
Well, we’re ready to get there. But at the same time, we’d kinda like to keep going.
How have the last 10 days been (spent in deep backcountry in and around Yellowstone National Park)?
We’ve been through some pretty remarkable country. Spanish Peaks in particular. But I’d say it’s been pretty uneventful. We've seen bighorn sheep, antelope, rattlesnakes, big black bears.
The horses must be in top form.
Yeah, they’re in marathon shape. It’s not a big deal at all for them to do a 3,000-foot climb and not even break into a sweat. Now we’re on pretty straight north-running trails. Four-wheel drive roads. We’ve been able to cover a lot of ground fast.
Are you doing 20 miles a day?
Lately, we’ve had some pretty easy terrain so we’ve been cranking out 25 miles or so.
You’re on familiar territory now. How does it feel, having traveled here previously on that long 2010 trek? [Masters rode with two friends on the Continental Divide from New Mexico through Montana.]
It’s a lot of déjà vu really. You go up over a hill, you see the next stretch of land or the next mountain range and it’s kinda nice know a little bit of what to expect, knowing where good grazing spots or good water is.
It makes it a lot easier.
Have things stayed the same?
Yeah for the most part. Except the last time, we were getting dumped on with rain. We have beautiful weather now, which is kind of a nice change.
Did you reach this area at the same time of year?
No, we’re approximately two weeks later last time.
Did you hear about the kidnapper and the multi-state manhunt? [A California man kidnapped a 16-year old girl and headed into the Idaho wilderness, about 200 miles from the Unbranded team.
No, I hadn’t heard. But Jonny [Fitzsimons, who heads to Officer Candidate School for the Marines this fall] would have saved the girl. For sure.
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"An owner of a Tennessee Walking Horse once said that his horse reminded him of a lightning rod, for, as he rode, all the sorrows of his heart flowed down through the splendid muscles of his horse and were grounded in the earth." - Marguerite Henry
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