Riding the open range or a mountain trail on an organized trail ride may be as close to the Old West as a greenhorn can get.
But look closely and you’ll find that these scenic endurance tests attract real cowboys, too. They’re fun for everyone.
Among today’s top trail bosses leading such rides is Willard Forman, founder of the American Trails Association and Summit Trail Adventures. Forman has led horseback riders and covered wagons down the Old Spanish Trail, the Cherokee Trail and numerous others.
In August of 2003, 27 hardy riders, including Red Steagall, Texas’ cowboy poet laureate, and this cowgirl, followed Forman across the tops of the Rockies on the famed Colorado Trail for four days and five nights. This scenic journey from South Park to Leadville on a segment of the nearly 450-mile trail included a chuck wagon cook, a shower trailer and port-o-lets!
The big question on everyone’s mind was “what to wear?” The answer was anything—just layer it, from t-shirts to down vests to Aussie coats and slickers. Anyone in the saddle for nine hours a day had to be prepared for changeable weather; temperatures could vary 40 degrees between sunrise and sunset. Sturdy boots, boot socks, chinks or chaps, jeans, deerskin gloves, bandannas (preferably silk for warmth) and denim jackets were appropriate. Everything else was a matter of taste. I learned the hard way, and a week too late, that the secret weapon to avoid saddle sores and bruised thighs lies in a woman’s lingerie drawer. You guessed it, the ultimate protection garment—panty hose.
Cowpokes, you might try spandex.