Fabled Wild Horses of Main Canyon

A few years ago I decided to take a hike up Spring Creek Canyon which is on the back side of the Bookcliffs north of Grand Junction Colorado and behind where the old Cameo power plant was before they dismantled it. There’s a network of trails back there that are all located within the BLM’s Little BookCliff Wildhorse Area. Many people talk about witnessing one of the herds of wild horses that roam the area within these rugged canyons but even though I’ve been back there a few times I have never been lucky enough to see any of these fabled beasts that roam the confines of these steep canyon walls. Well, this day was a bit different. It started out with seeing a beautiful herd of four right at the trail head.

Wild HorsesAfter taking multiple pictures, I climbed the hill to drop down into Main Canyon. Once on top I was presented with a view of two more herds, one of five right below me and another of three or so a little farther down the canyon. While I was taking pictures of the herd below me the herd from the trail head had decided to wander over into Main Canyon and was coming up the trail right behind me. Witnessing these noble steeds cresting the hill and bearing down on me I decided I better pick up the pace a little and move on, so I traversed the steep trail to the bottom of the canyon.

Wild HorsesAbout halfway down I looked back and the 1st herd was about 30-40 feet behind me. I hurried a little faster. Once I was at the bottom I looked back again and to my surprise (and dismay) the whole herd had gathered speed and was at a good gallop heading straight towards me. Now I don’t know if they were thinking about charging me or what but I have heard that if you get too close the stallions harem he will often times charge you. I wasn’t waiting around to find out. I shifted gears and blasted a sprint out that would put Usain Bolt (The fastest man in the world) to shame. My heavy pack and clodhopper boots made me as graceful as a gazelle I’m sure. I blasted through the cactus and sage brush at dizzying speeds with only one goal in mind……to get to the other side of the creek. Why I thought getting to the other side of the creek would deter the horses I have no idea but it was my last glimmer of hope before the hooves came crashing down and pummeling my body into the ground.

Wild HorsesAs I leaped with spider-man agility what felt like a 20 foot gorge (on my return trip I noticed it was only about 5 feet) and landed safely on the other side I turned to look the beast in the eye and noticed they had turned and was stopped at the creek a short distance down taking a drink. I exhaled a breath of relief and decided to keep trekking up the canyon and continue on my original plan, that was until I noticed in the distance another swatting tail of a horse.

Wild HorsesI had no idea how many of them were there but the canyon walls were quite narrow at that spot and offered no bypass around the wild stallions. So I turned around. Once back at the infamous stream jump I found both herds had conglomerated in the general vicinity and was blocking the trail in hopes of preventing me from returning to the safety of my truck. I could actually hear them snickering and taunting me, hoping I would take the chance of getting to close to them.

Wild HorsesThe storm of the week was rolling in from the west and the blue sky was turning quickly to gray before my wide eyes and I knew if it rained or snowed I would be stuck there a long time. The only way around was to climb the sheer walls of the canyon and traverse the narrow ridgeline back to the top of the hill and away from these demon stallions! I cinched up my pack, put my camera away and foot over foot walked up the rather steep hillside above the devil horses below. The BLM says in order to see the fabled wild horses you have to be in the right spot at the right time. I guess they should say the wrong spot at the right time, or the right spot at the wrong time, whichever you prefer. Needless to say, I didn’t make it into Spring Creek Canyon.

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