OVANDO — On packed horses and mules, Backcountry Horsemen volunteers ascended into the wilderness on a trail surrounded by fresh wildflowers and burnt timber.
The trail to Lake Otatsy near the North Fork of the Blackfoot made for a 15-mile round trip on the start of their two-day trip. Every so often, volunteers dismounted their horses to do what they were there for — saw away fallen trees and debris to improve the path for themselves and for all future recreationists.
It’s a needed service as trails see increased use in the area. And it’s a service the Backcountry Horsemen have been happy to provide since starting 50 years ago in Montana’s Flathead Valley with a focus on advocating and creating greater trail access. The organization has since expanded to 37 states since its inception.
The chapter that cleared the trails in the mountains bordering the Bob Marshall Wilderness was one of 17 chapters in Montana, with around 917 members total enrolled in the organization.
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The trail-clearing project was one of several the group has done or will do this year. That includes tree-thinning projects around a