Guide Lowell Prunty has lived in the “Borderlands” area his whole life. He’s one of generations of Pruntys who have ranched, raised horses and guided in the big country along the Idaho-Nevada border. Lowell and his family live most of the year in Murphy’s Hot Springs, Idaho, one of the few families to do that. The town is the base of operations for the Pruntys guided trips into the Jarbidge Wilderness just across the border in Nevada. The wilderness contains over a hundred thousand acres of pristine mountain scenery and includes several peaks over ten thousand feet high.
The first Pruntys in the area arrived back in 1860. They settled the Bruneau headwaters as miners and then moved on to cattle ranching and horse ranching. Lowell’s grandfather started the horse packing business in the 1940s. Lowell and his daughter Monica are carrying on the family tradition of working with horses and taking visitors on backcountry horse packing trips and hunting expeditions. It’s the kind of work they both love, in a place they feel is unlike any other.
“It’s a lifestyle. I grew up with it. This place is one of the least traveled wilderness areas in the continental United States so you don’t run into a lot of traffic and a lot of people… Getting away from the hustle and bustle of every day life and just being out there on horse back. There’s an old saying of Ronald Reagan, ‘There’s nothing like the outside of a horse to make the inside of a man feel better’. There’s a lot of truth to that.
Every bend you go around is a different view. You might be coming around one corner and looking at an 11,000 foot peak and then the next corner you are looking out into the Idaho desert. There are a lot of big, open sage brush ridges in there as well. It’s one of God’s pristine places I guess you could call it. It hasn’t been touched by man very much except by our travel and we try to preserve it as much as we can... It’s definitely a sense of home for me. I started coming in here when I was 12 years old with my grandfather and my dad. This is where my heart is for sure. It's home.”
--Lowell Prunty, Jarbidge Wilderness Guide and Packing--
“Well it’s been in the family. I’m a 4th generation so basically just being born into it. My older sister and I were equestrians, started riding equestrian, western also when we were about 3…They are my favorite animal. I love them. I’ve always been around them... Just the experience of being around horses in the wilderness and not being around phones and cars all those things all the time...spending quality time without all those distractions.
--Monica Prunty, Jarbidge Wilderness Guide and Packing--