After 2,000 horseback miles through five states, Idaho cowboy Phil Dawson fully expected the quarter-sized calluses on his backside.

What he wasn't counting on was finishing the five-month journey aboard his Appaloosa mare Apache Gold Chip with a passenger: a Welsh Corgi he'd acquired in Missoula, Mont., in August, just after coming down from Lolo Pass near the same trail where explorers Lewis and Clark traveled two centuries ago.

"As we traveled, I kind of grew on him," Dawson said Monday of the dog, Short Stop, who rode double in his western saddle for about 500 miles. "He wasn't happy all the time, he had to stand up at times. But they have short legs."

Dawson, a horse trainer from the southern Idaho town of Hagerman, completed his round-trip trek last week. He finished 40 pounds lighter than the 200 pounds he weighed when he set out May 1 with his mare and a pack mule named Copper Penny, thanks to a diet consisting of mostly bagels and beans.

He says the local volunteer fire department and the Gooding County Sheriff's Office escorted him as he rode into Hagerman last Wednesday.

"Trying to come up with one highlight is kind of a tough order," Dawson admits.

On the first part of his trip through the Nevada desert, Dawson was stalked by a mountain lion for a couple of days. Near John Day, Ore., the 58-year-old shot a rattlesnake with his single-action U.S. Army Colt Peacemaker. Apache Gold Chip hurt her leg in a cattle crossing near the Oregon-Washington border, forcing Dawson to bring in a new steed for a few weeks until she'd recovered.

The replacement horse was subsequently injured walking through downtown Lewiston, Idaho.

Wolves in Montana's Bitterroot Valley howled in the night, though Dawson says he didn't see any in person.

Then, outside Bellevue, Idaho, a rancher caught up with him, offered him a night's respite on his spread, then guided him 20 mi les over the high, sage-covered desert to Shoshone, 20 miles to the south.

Over five months, Dawson's horses and mule went through seven sets of shoes each.

"I was wearing the shoes literally off the horse and mules," he said. "I took a back pair off the mule, there was only half a shoe."

Dawson hopes his trip will serve as a fundraising springboard for a foundation to help children in need of organ donations. On Monday, he said he still hadn't pored over donations from his latest trip. He raised about $20,000 on a similar 2008 journey he took with his wife, Patty, from Hagerman to Richmond, Va., just enough to cover his expenses.

Home less than a week, he's planning his next excursion: a 1,000-mile pack trip with 20 paying guests - the cost is $10,000 per head, he says - from Valdez, Alaska toward the North Pole.

For now, however, he's just glad to be home - calluses and all.

When he arrived back in Hagerman, one man greeted him with a bee r chilled in a bucket of ice. In fact, all along the way, perfect strangers reached out with simple acts of kindness, like the Missoula veterinarian who put him up for 10 days while his mare healed from yet another cut on her leg.

"I camped out on the back part of the property," Dawson remembers. "Heck, he never charged me a penny. He patted me on the back and said, 'Have a good ride.' "

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