Friday, 16 December 2016

Callao

Wednesday 21st September  Riding into Callao on the old Pony Express Trail..
After several days tramping through the hot desert, it was delightful to reach this well watered oasis with its green alfalfa fields, tall ancient cottonwoods and the leafy willows which gave Willow Springs Pony Express station its name. 
A sign displaying the names and locations of the residents as you come into town!........
   We ended up finding a corral and a place to park the rig with the Timms family (second label down on the right) who included Derek and Cindy, and sons Trevor and Devon.

 The monument for Willow Springs Pony Express station, which is located down the driveway on the Bagley Ranch... 
 The station accommodation did not appear to be have been very salubrious, as Burton stated "nothing could be fouler than the log hut; the flies soon drove us out of doors". However "hospitality, was not wanting, and we sat down to salt beef and bacon, for which we were not allowed to pay".

You may just be able to see Lady in her sheltered corral at the Timms Ranch....
 We initially parked the rig on the right, but a real gale got up later in the day so we moved away from the huge old cottonwood trees to park by the cattle pens at the back, just in case! Thunderstorms came in overnight and it continued to rain on Thursday 22nd September, so it turned out to be a good time to take the planned day off to re-stock with supplies (propane, gas, food etc) at the nearest sizeable town of Wendover, eighty miles away.  Internet access and phone reception had been very erratic or non-existent as we travelled away from civilisation, so it was also a vital opportunity to contact and confirm plans with some of the NPEA members who had kindly consented to help out further west in Nevada.


The Timms run about 250 cattle on their property...
..but this strange beast is actually a dummy steer to practise roping...
 Derek Timms is the fifth generation to farm in Callao and their land was bought by an ancestor from the renowned Howard Egan. Derek is also descended from Boyd of Boyds station.

It was a cold damp start to Friday 23rd September as we set off towards Ibapah, and snow was settling on the Deep Creek mountains to the west.  I had hoped to stop for a lunch break at the site of Canyon  station at the mouth of the narrow Overland Pass, but it was so bleak and windy that after a quick rain drenched photo opportunity we moved on.....
The photo shows Round station, which was a fortified building built in 1863 after the demise of the Pony Express.  It replaced previous Canyon stations which had been burnt by Indians, one of them three miles to the west of this point in Overland Canyon. Through the rain and to the right in the background you can see the start of the canyon, a narrow valley about nine miles long through which Pony Express riders had to run the gauntlet.. "Nothing, certainly, could be better fitted for an ambuscade than this gorge, with its caves and holes in snow-cuts, earth-drops, and lines of strata, like walls of rudely piled stone" wrote Burton, who was shown a point where one rider was badly wounded and lost his horse.

We pressed miserably on through the wet and cold, but I managed to get a photo of the Pony Express monument for Burnt Station across the dry stream gully at the other end of the canyon..
The station site was a few hundred yards further west, or in the right hand background of the photo. The station apparently consisted of a log house and stable, and a dugout where meals were cooked and served.  It was originally called Canyon station, but acquired its current name after the Pony Express had ended, when it was burnt in an Indian attack in 1863 in revenge for the massacre of a camp of Indians including women and children.  All the inhabitants of the station were killed; five Overland stage employees and two soldiers.
 
The sleet started to clear, and Lucy found a rather exposed camp spot a couple of miles further on by Skinner Spring, where there was a long trough of clear running water. It was bitterly cold with a cutting wind, so to give Lady some protection we put up the corral on the lee side of the rig and Lucy dug out a waterproof rug.
Our camp spot with a scenic backdrop of the snow sprinkled Deep Creek mountains.
 Amazing to think that only a three or four days previously we had been riding in temperatures of nearly 100F!

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