Products We Use

Whether we are riding for a few hours or riding for a full day, being prepared is our top priority.We have been known to put quite a few miles on our horses. During the summer months we ride anywhere from 50-100 miles a week. With this high amount of mileage, mishaps out on the trail can happen that could ruin our wilderness journey.  Unfortunately riding on horseback always poses a certain amount of risk and although serious accidents on a trail are rare they can and have happened to us.

We are often questioned as to what we put in our saddlebag and sometimes even ridiculed for putting such large packs on our horses for a day ride. There are so many factors that can turn a pleasurable ride into a miserable one if not prepared. Things such as a change in weather, faulty tack, or pesky insects are just some of the few minor things that can happen. What about the more major things such as meeting unexpected wildlife, getting injured, or getting lost? While none of us really want to think about any of these things happening, the reality is they can and most probably will happen if you are spending as much time in the saddle as we are.

We recently read an article in EQQUS magazine that said you should create a “kit” that reflects the kind of riding you do. Our “kit” is definitely made for the more adventurous, rugged backcountry rider. From our personal experience things can happen on even the shortest of rides, so we always just pack our saddlebag and leave them that way throughout the season.image

Here is a combined list of everything we carry between the two of us. We know some of your are interested in the different brands of things we carry so some of the things on our list also have a link included that will take you to the option of buying if you are interested.

Basic Tools

Cellphone:  While most of the rides we go on are very remote, we take it as a precaution. When we get up in elevation, we sometimes can get a signal. We would love to look into getting a satellite phone.

Swiss Army Knife

Hoof Pick

Flashlight & Headlamp We carry both and each have our own set.  We seem to end up riding out in the dark quite often and you never know when one of your devices will die. It’s always good to have a back up.

Wire Cutters:  Some of the trails we ride have a lot of down fencing and while we watch for wire sometimes we miss it.

Saw:  Sometimes the trail takes us in places that are just too overgrown with trees. We have had to cut branches more than once to make it through.

GPS:  The Suunto Ambit 2 watch serves as our GPS. Read our previous post, How Do We Keep from Getting Lost, to learn more about its features.

Gun:  We once ran across some ladies on the trail who mentioned they carry the bear spray for protection against animals and the gun they carried was for protection against humans because you will never know who you will run into when out in the wilderness. 🙂

First Aide & Survival Items

Horse Fly Spray

Human Bug Spray

Bear Spray


Matches:  It is best to have waterproof matches, you never know what the weather will be like if you end up spending the night unexpectedly.

Duck Tape:  This has a variety of uses such as taping a horses foot, securing tack, or fastening bandages.

Leather String:  Can be used to repair tack such as a broken bridle, back cinch, or breast collar.

Banamine: The last thing you want to have happen is your horse collicing out in the middle of nowhere. We carry this as a precaution and have been with riders that have had to use it before.

Vet Wrap

Feminine Napkins: There is an alternative use to these, it might seem odd but they make great horse or human bandages.

First Aid Kit:  Includes antiseptic towelettes, antibiotic ointment, sting relief, bandages, adhesive tape, gauze pads, butterfly bandages, tweezers, pain pills, finger splints, safety pins, razor blade, and cold pack.

Survival Kit:  Includes survival blanket, compass, firelight sparker, tinder quik, whistle, rope, and ducktape.

Cortisone Cream: Good for bug bites or poison ivy.

Corona Cream: An ointment that will sooth and protect sores on your horse that could be caused by the saddle or even bad cuts while out on the trail.

Toilet Paper

Water & Food:  We carry plenty of water and besides our lunch for the day we also carry protein bars and nuts that we always keep in the horn bag.



Hoof Boots: We have tried and use several different hoof boots, currently we use Cavallo boots and Renegades.

Rain Coats

Plastic Rain Ponchos

Plastic Hat Cover

Gloves:  We carry riding gloves and warmer winter gloves just in case we were to get stranded on a cold night.

Extra Clothing:  sweatshirts, extra jackets, riding vests.

Once you get your gear together finding packs that are big enough to carry it all can be a challenge. We each have our own brands that we like. While red is Maggie’s signature color her saddlebags were made by the Amish and given to her as a gift. Amy uses the TrailMax brand for both the hornbag and the saddlebag. Both are quite roomy and we are able to fit all of our gear and then some. Also, Maggie wears a fanny pack which holds her cellphone, Chapstick, camera and Go Pro.  Always make a plan and plan for the unexpected. You never know where the day will take you.

Happy Trails!


Wilderness Journeys

The Buffalo Horn trail was supposed to be an easy ride into Ramshorn Lake. We planned to eat lunch at the lake, then explore a bit beyond there, and then turn around and take the same trail back out. Sounds easy right? This was one of our first attempts at exploring a brand new trail in an area we weren’t completely familiar with and the first trail we tried using the Suunto Watch. Let’s just say things didn’t go as according to plan on this journey. It all started with finding the trailhead. This was probably our first clue that we were in for an adventure. The Buffalo Horn Trailhead is located within the Montana 320 Guest Ranch. When looking at the map and planning this ride, we didn’t realize we had to drive all the way through the guest ranch before accessing the trail. As we were traveling down the Gallatin Gateway, we saw a sign pointing to Buffalo Horn trail and it was pointing into the guest ranch. We argued for a moment, one of us certain that the trailhead couldn’t be within the ranch. We pulled in, looked around, and there were no signs pointing to the trailhead. We turned around, went back to the main highway and searched around a little more. After aimlessly driving around we decided to give the guest ranch one more shot before giving up all together and picking some other trailhead along the highway. This time we pulled into the Guest Ranch and parked.   We went to the front desk for help in locating the Buffalo Horn Trail. The kind lady at the front desk pulled out a map and circled the trailhead. Apparently they get many people coming through getting lost and asking the same question. You’d think they would put up a sign poining you in the right direction.

Once we finally found the trailhead and tacked up, we were off to a late start. This ride does offer some amazing views as you meander through meadows and forests. Once you reach Ramshorn Lake, the view is stunning and a great spot for lunch. Remember to always stick to your plan 🙂 After lunch we explored a bit but heard from some people we met on the trail that there was a loop option. Don’t deviate from your plan! We did and we didn’t end up getting off this trail until midnight. This was also a 2 1/2 hour drive from home, so we didn’t get home until around 3 o’clock in the morning. Yikes! It was a beautiful ride though and after getting home we realized our mistake and would do this trail again.

Finding the Buffalo Horn Trailhead

320 ranch map

From West Yellowstone:  Take Hwy 191/87 north out of West Yellowstone. Stay on 191 as it winds through the corner of Yellowstone Park. You will be on this road for about 36 miles before you see signs for the 320 Ranch on your right and the Buffalo Horn Trailhead. Turn into the 320 Guest Ranch, drive left past the dining facilities and continue left and up the drainage. You will pass several guest cabins and eventually park at a loop in the road at the Upper Buffalo Horn Trailhead at about 6650 feet. If you click the park map above it will take you to the 320 Guest Ranch page. You will see that the Buffalo Horn Trailhead is all the way at the top of the map.

Buffalo Horn Trailhead Description 

The Buffalo Horn Trail to Ramshorn Lake and a little beyond is about an 18 mile in and out trail. From the start, the trail has several splits, some are signed and some are not. Make sure you use some sort of GPS on this trail or download the map we provided at the bottom of this post. The trail that takes you in to the lake is a relatively easy trail that meanders through the forest and meadows with the Buffalo Horn Creek to your right. As you go along on your ride you will see Ramshorn Peak in the distance. There are some bridges that bring you across the creek and also some big mud holes that we went though. The elevation gain is steady all the way to the lake. Make sure you look back as you climb up higher, you will get a good view of the Gallatin Range.

Keep a look out for signs on this trail. There were two posted to the trees pointing you to Ramshorn Lake. When we hit the sign that said we were about 4 1/2 miles from the lake that is when we ran into these dirt bikers that mentioned there was a possible loop in the trail that would lead you back out to Buffalo Horn. Of course they weren’t all that detailed, just said follow the trail to Porcupine Creek after you hit Ramshorn Lake. We gave this some thought because doing a loop is so much more fun than going out the same way we came in.

After chatting with the bikers, we made the final trek to the lake where we ran into some other horseback riders. They asked if we had been here before and when we answered no, they told us that we were in for a special treat, because the view at the lake is amazing. They were right! Ramshorn Lake is pretty. The lake is that greenish turquoise color surrounded by a rugged, jagged mountain. The lake was jumping with fish, and there was a couple large camping spots at the lake. At the time we talked about how it would be neat to pack in and stay at the lake in a future visit, little did we know that we were almost going to spend the night here. Later as you follow the trail to the left you will see large corrals for horses.



When we were finished with lunch we jumped back on our horses and continued on the trail to the left that heads up the mountain. The trail follows along Fortress Mountain. It is a neat jagged mountain and there were lots of loose rock and boulders lying on the ground that we posed by. After this section the trail starts to gain some elevation and does some steap climbs up the mountain. However the views are amazing as you get a complete overlook of the range. We stopped when we came to a view and explored a bit before deciding that we better turn around before it gets dark, as we still have about 9 miles until we return to the trailhead.

We were about a mile from Ramshorn Lake when we noticed a sign lying in the grass that poined to a trail to the right that said Porcupine Creek. This is the trail the dirtbike guys said we should take to make a loop. So we decided why not, let’s give it try. Afterall how lost can we get right?

As we turned onto the Porcupine trail, it went into a forest where we lost some elevation with switchbacks. It was also quite muddy through the forest and we went through quite a few deep mudholes. The trail was easy to follow, however there weren’t many signs. I think we came across one that pointed to Eagle Mountain which we knew was in the opposite direction we wanted to head. We started keeping track on the Suunto Watch with how many miles we were traveling while on this section of trail. We also marked the trailhead as our starting point, so the watch did have an arrow that told us which direction we were parked at and how many miles we were from the truck. The sun started to set and the watch kept telling us we were getting further and further from the truck. We understood that in a loop you must first get farther away from your starting point before the trail starts to turn back and go in the right direction. However we were basically traveling this trail blind. At about 5 miles into Porcupine trail, we still hadn’t seen a sign that told us we were on the right track. So we made the decision to turn around and retrace our steps. At the time this was the better decision for us, however when we got home and looked on the map we realized that had we continued on this trail it would have looped back into our starting trail in just a few more miles.

Taking this diversion caused us to put an extra 10 miles on our poor horses. We contemplated spending the night at the lake even though we weren’t competely prepared for that. However, we do carry fire starter in our packs as well as a thin emergency blanket and we always have extra layers so we probably would have made it just fine. Instead we decided to gear up with our headlamps and hoof it back to the truck. We turned an 18 mile ride into a 30 mile plus ride and returned to the truck at midnight. With the drive, we got home at around three in the morning. None the less, it was a wilderness adventure and the trail did offer some amazing views.

This is fun to see when it is getting dark!  They were all over.

We now have the loop properly mapped out and would love to go back and do it again some day. Maybe this time in reverse so that we are traveling the part of the trail we didn’t finish during the early hours.

Where to Camp?

There is camping available at the trailhead. We also found a helpful article through Trail Rider Magazine. It describes a few other horse camping locations along the Gallatin Gateway. There is also the option of staying at the 320 Guest Ranch if you are coming from a distance and don’t want to haul your own horses. They offer trailrides and other activities.

Trail Maps

The map you see below includes the loop option that we did not get to finish.

Wilderness Journeys


We did the Alaska Basin to Buck Mt. Pass in early October last year, because of it’s high elevation it is recommended that you don’t attempt this trail until July. The day we did this trail, was extremely windy and cold. It often can be when you reach the pass so make sure you pack yourself some extra layers. We always go prepared because we never know how the weather may change. Almost everytime we have gone to Alaska Basin we have experienced weather of some sort. Once you reach Buck Mt. Pass you will be at an elevation of about 10,500 feet. The route we took was an in and out, 21 mile ride. This is a very impressive ride with views of Battleship Mtn, Buck Mtn, limestone cliffs, giant colorful slabs of granite that were smoothed by the glaciers, and high moutain lakes. All of this makes this an amazing pick for our fourth favorite ride of the 2015 season. At the end of this post you will find a map that was created by the Suunto Ambit2 watch. We have some amazing photos of this ride that really capture the beauty of Buck Mtn and the beautiful granite slabs that you find as you enter into Alaska Basin. Remember all these photos are taken with Maggie’s “Tough” camera. We have ridden Alaska Basin several times, but this was our first time visiting Buck Mtn Pass.

Finding the Alaska Basin Trailhead

At the stoplight in downtown Driggs, turn east off Idaho Hwy 33 onto Ski Hill Road toward Grand Targhee Ski Resort. Follow Ski Hill Road for about 6.5 miles where you will come to a sign that points to Teton Canyon on the right. Continue down Teton Canyon road for about 4.5 miles until you come to a giant turn around where you will find the Teton Canyon Campground and the N. Teton Creek Trail that services Table Mtn and Beard’s Wheatfield. We park our truck and trailer here even though the S. Teton Creek trail that services  Alaska Basin and Buck Mtn Pass  is about .1 miles down the road. The parking lot by the Alaska Basin trailhead isn’t the best for trailers and most of the hikers park here.

Alaska Basin-Buck Mtn Pass Trailhead Description


The Alaska Basin trail is a starting point that will lead you to many different trail options such as Hurricane Pass, Buck Mtn Pass, or Mount Meek Pass. All three options will bring you to the Grand Teton National Park Boundary where riders can descend through the park to reach the valley floor of Jackson Hole. In this post we will be taking you to Buck Mtn pass, however if you are new to this area we highly recommend also trying to take a trip up Hurricane Pass as it will give you an amazing view of the Grand, Middle, and South Teton.

Once you are geared up, ride on down the road about .1 miles where you will cross a bridge and find the trailhead sign for South Teton Trail (027). This is a tough and rugged, rocky ride. The trail however is well marked and easy to follow. It starts out as a wider trail that takes you through a forested area, crossing creeks before the terrain opens up to reveal the canyon floor, wildflowers in July, and the amazing limestone cliff bands. In about 2.7 miles you will come to a sign that points to Devil’s Staircase to the right. This trail is not recommended for horses and there is actually a sign at the start of that trail stating not for stock use. Continue straight to reach Alaska Basin.

The next five miles takes you through some amazing territory as you approach Alaska Basin. You will be going through some forested terrain and crossing the creek. You will see tributarties cutting through the forest and some small waterfalls. The trail will start to gain elevation as you do a series of rocky stair stepper switch backs. As you get closer to Alaska Basin you will come to the large marbled granite slabs. The colors in this rock are absolutely gorgeous and we have taken many amazing photos here. We ride our horses barefoot, so if your horse is shod be careful as this rock can often be slippery. When you reach the granite slabs the trail can become a little more difficult as you are climbing over and up the rock slabs to reach the trail on the other side. Shortly after you will find yourself at Alaska Basin where the view opens up. You will be able to see Buck Mtn in the distance and there will be many boulders and tributaries from Sunset Lake.

The trail will come to a junction that will leave you with a few options. One of the trails takes you to the Teton Crest Trail to the right that will bring you to Mount Meek Pass. There is also the Alaska Basin Trail to the left that will take  you to Hurricane Pass. From this point there are two ways that you can get to Buck Mtn. Pass. One would be heading towards Hurricane Pass. On that trail their will be a cutoff sign that will point you to a trail that will take you to Buck Mtn. The second way would be the way we went which is heading on the Alaska Basin trail to the right that will take you past Mirror Lakes.

mirror lake

On your way to Mirror Lakes you will pass many small lakes before coming to the big Mirror Lake. Here your view is amazing as the trail winds around Mirror Lake with Buck Mtn revealing itself in the background. The trail starts to gain elevation as it climbs up around Mirror Lake. There will be a few creek crossings as the trail makes its way to the base of the pass. Just before the pass the trail will level out with a cliff band to your right and small boulders surrounding the trail. You will start to see the final rocky switch back that will take you to top where you will get an incredible view. The final climb is a hard one on the horses as you are making the final push that will bring you to about 10,500 feet in elevation. The trail is composed of tight gravel switchbacks and  you will be crossing over small loose boulders.

When  you reach the top you will have an amazing view. Here you will be at the border of Grand Teton National Park. You will see Buck Mountain straight in front of you. You be looking down on some high mountain lakes as you look down into Death Canyon. We explored a little past here beause the view is breathtaking and unlike any other. It is definately worth the climb. Take your time, breathe in the beauty, and take your fair share of photographs before you turn around and begin your journey home.

Where to Camp?

Before you reach the main parking lot there will be a horse camp on the left side of Teton Canyon Road with horse corrals and a place to park your trailer. There are only a couple camp sites at this location. There are also places to camp along the trail with your horses. You don’t need a permit for this area. This is a highly populated trail and you will encounter many hikers so the campsites are first come first serve.