Ain't nuthin like ridin' a fine horse in a new country - Augustus McCrae – Lonesome Dove

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Having Fun Yet? Not!

Mt. Pilchuck~
The plan was to ride from the Morgan Horse Club - my first time - to find my way around on my own!  This is one place where I always rode with Joyce, it was so close to her house.  I've never had occasion to go on my own.  Pat was gutsy enough to want to join me :-)  Since she's known me as long as anyone - it took guts to take the chance!  :-)  We started out on the red/white/blue marked trail.  I was familiar with it - soon realizing that we were going out - the way that Joyce & I usually come back.  The trail was in remarkably good shape, someone had worked on the blackberry.
Going up the "White" trail
 When we arrived at the clear-cut, I recognized it too & took the "white" trail, that I'd ridden with Joyce earlier this year.  It's much better established now.  It was a gray morning, cool, cloudy & perfect for riding.  At over three miles, we came up onto the road.   While we were deciding whether to go up, or down - the decision was made for us!
Logging Truck, heading up~
 We could hear the roar & around the corner came the logging truck!  There was room off to the side to get out of his way & he slowed down for us.  I could tell from the road that it was being heavily used.  We decided to head on down, my idea was to just continue on the loop in reverse.  Other than turning back the way we'd come, there was really no way to get off the roads. 
Here we are :-)
We took an offshoot or two, I knew that none of them went anywhere - but we looked anyway.  Anywhere that looked like it might get us away from the truck traffic was a welcome idea - but not feasible.  So many of the old trails are blocked off.
The bridge over Pilchuck Creek
An oiler truck came up behind us - while we were trotting, we hadn't heard him - when we did, we got out of his way.  At an intersection, I took a wrong turn & soon realized that it had been - when we came to this bridge.  Just as we were debating whether to take it or not -  we heard another roar...
Instantly moving away - here came the truck, on the downhill grade.  Both mares handled the noise & dust so well.
The beautiful Destry
At this point, I decided to call Scott & was lucky to find him at home!  He knew right away where I'd gone wrong & directed us back up the hill.  During that trek - yet another truck came at us, around a blind curve.  When he saw us, he instantly started breaking - it was steep & he was headed for the bridge.  Once he got by, I couldn't get to the top of that hill fast enough!  I took the correct turn this time.  A few minutes later, Scott called to see if we'd made it.
The bright spot!
I can't say what a relief it was to get back on the jeep trail that would take us back under the power lines & back to the MHC parking.   Once onto the wooded trails, we ran into Lynette & Skeeter - they too had found out that the trucks are running.  I called Scott when we were back at the trailers - to tell him we were safe...
Our route~
I was amazed once I downloaded our track - that I had actually made the loop!  Yippee!  I will NEVER make the mistake of going down that hill to the river again - at least NOT when logging is happening!  So much for enjoying the climbs that this area offers - at least For Sure not during the week!  They're taking some of the huge timber left up near the top & the size of the gravel pile at the quarry tells me that they plan to do a whole lot more :-(

Monday, October 5, 2015

Whitehorse Trail - Beauty & Dissapointment~

Heading down the trail~
Farah & I needed some fresh views & long trotting :-)  I love the Whitehorse trail in the fall - we hadn't been here for quite a while.  The white thing on the right is a Satellite Dish, cabled to the RV parked near the barn.  The next difference we noticed - Hamilton Mill has enlarged their yard for hog fuel, stacks of logs etc.  It now goes about 7/10ths of a mile down the right side of the trail.  There's just a narrow strip of trees & shrubs left between the trail & the yard.  The noise from the heavy equipment is incredible - so if you want to take this trail, be sure your horse is used to that kind of noise.
Truck driving through the yard~
In just a short way - we were beyond the noise & the beauty of the trail captured my attention.  With only three bridges left to deck - I really hoped that the one at the Fortson Mill would be Done!  Whitehorse mountain is holding on to it's high glacier - but it's very small now...  From a cool morning - the day warmed rapidly!

Whitehorse from the trail~
Lots of the leaves are turning brown, curling & dropping from the trees without turning color, but some of those that are hanging on are incredible!
Riot of Reds!
It was a perfect day - I would have enjoyed a breeze, it did get very warm, especially for Oct., but nothing I'll complain about. 
North Fork of the Stillaquamish
The area above is used as a local swimming hole & for fishing too.  The water level is so very low that it would be great swimming, but not so good for the fish...
The video above is on our way to Fortson.  We did a lot of moving out!  Some of the longest stretches of trotting that we've done with the Stonewall saddle & I'm loving it.  Today we used the pad Jackie recommends & it did not move at all!  I did have to drop the rigging - so now it sits on Farah's sides off the pad.
Blue Grass Festival Grounds~
 The festival grounds were quiet - What a view for the musicians when they perform!
Vine Maples in Oranges~
The Vine Maples are saving our color this season!  So far they are single handily providing us with those blasts of color that we expect!
So near & yet so far...
Well...  We got there & guess what?  No decking yet...  Unreal - I'm stopped heading west by this bridge & heading east toward Darrington by the "hole" :-(
The gaps are just wide enough & the wood old enough that I won't risk it~
Time for lunch then~
Farah loves the grass!
There's enough water running off the pond that we could still enjoy the sound of it.
Heading back, there's still wonderful views & this one of the mountain is a favorite of mine.
Road crossing - toward Fortson~
This road crossing is at about 6 miles out from Darrington.
Other direction from the road, toward Darrington~
All beautiful trail, enough organics on the rock ballast that it's become a more solid surface than the loose rock that covers miles of the trail.
Some water still in this creek~
Above was the most water that was in any of the creeks that feed into the Stillaquamish.  Some were completely dry.
Ditching along the trail~
We stopped to talk to the two Rangers who were doing this work along the trail.  They shut the equipment off - but were surprised at how Farah took it all in stride :-)
I did get some new news too - none of it good...  The infamous hole at Cloverdale is now considered a wetland!?  Do you believe?!  The County give out permits that allow new houses to be built on my trails - an area rich with natural water, springs &the headwaters of three creeks...   Then -  the hole - that was originally a rail bed - is now a wetland?  That designation will require the trail to be routed off to the side to get around it!  Another slowdown there - is due to the Japaneses Knotweed on the noxious weed list - that's gained a foothold there...  It is being sprayed & killed.  It must be Dead - before the County crews can bring in or remove any soils from the area!
The Bronco & Trailer wait!
We were back in Darrington sooner than I'd hoped :-)  I'd hoped for more trail - hoped to get over that bridge & the next two - that ARE decked...  Lots more questions for Parks!  :-)
Really an American Beauty of a ride!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

New trail at Victoria~

Blazing sunshine at home this morning, as I traveled north - the sky filled with low hanging gray, almost fog like clouds.  In Arlington, it was thick enough to block most of the sun.  By the time I was past 530, the air had cleared & the sun returned.  Yet another in a long string of sunshine days - our norm for over a year now...
Fresh grass
We left from Linda's today-  I wanted to see the new trail that the bikes have put in & changes they'd made to another trail.  Taking the long way around, we ran into a couple hiking with their dog.  Stopping to chat - they are from the Auburn, CA area & planning to relocated to Camano Is.   Smart to scope out the local riding areas & they had already visited Fire Mountain!
The thin haze covered the Sound~
Once up on top, you could plainly see the haze had filtered the earlier bright sunshine.  It was one of those kick-back days - we enjoyed a couple fast trots on the trails & soon Linda directed us to the new one.
Blocked Trail~
On the Magic Forest Trail, the corner that has been there forever, was blocked with limbs, rocks etc.  The bike riders had re-routed it to the other side of the big Cedar that's on the left.  We don't know why- nothing wrong with the corner.
Dry views~
First time in my memory that I've seen this view of Whitehorse & Three Fingers with their glaciers melted down so low...  You can see the haze in the air here too.
New Signage too~
We turned onto the new trail, soon coming to this new sign.  The trail took a turn here & horses are directed around a downhill section.  We're not sure why - but it works for us.
Linda & Count going through the middle of an old stump!
The trail was well laid out - but very soft in many places.  If enough horses go over it - it will be compacted faster than just the bikes would be able to do.
Another sign~
As we came off the by-pass, there was another sign at the bottom with a vine maple bent over to mark the spot.
Old road~
The trail dropped us down onto this old logging road that was once a trail.  Linda said it wouldn't take much to get it re-opened.  The bikes plan to start another section of trail off this road eventually.
Toward the west side~
Heading back toward Linda's on the trail I hadn't ridden since the hill was clear-cut, the change in the view was apparent!  From forest, bright sunshine over the new clear-cut area.  Linda has finally made a path through the worst of the left-over logging debris, it allowed us to complete our loop.
Wood cutters~
  As we came off the top & onto the road, there were wood cutters working away to load up the left-overs.  They were nice enough to shut down the equipment & we stopped to chat.  We spent as much time chatting today as we did riding :-)  Almost!
Our route~
All the zig/zags to the far right - is the new trail, it cuts right down the hillside & it is really pretty.  Very nice to have new trail, it's in an area that shouldn't be too hard to maintain.  Most of the trails are again open & if this weather holds, we can hope to have access to the trail system for a few extra weeks this season.  Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Carnation Farmers Market~

The drive to Duvall is usually so enjoyable, I take the back roads until the outskirts of Snohomish - where I take the Hwy 2 on ramp from 88th.  The ramp was closed just as I went to make the turn.  Directed to Lincoln street, past the Lord Hill turn & on to Monroe in a solid string of trucks & traffic.  I called Courtney to tell her I'd be late...
Courtney's back patio decor~
I needed some advice on a sewing project I may get started on this fall & Courtney had the expertise to help!  Lunch at the Grange was just a good as usual!
Spectacular flower pots outside the Grange~
The plan was to pick up Mason, (Cassidy had a game in Fall City) then visit the Farmers Market in Carnation.
Made me want to have a picnic!
 This market opens on Tue. afternoons by 3 p.m.
New covered area for the market!
It had been a couple years since I'd been here - the new cover is such a nice improvement!  
There were some wonderful displays of fresh farm products!
Sweet red peppers
Such variety too!
Swirling colors~
Courtney & Mason tried their hand at marbling paper!  Glycerin mixed with water - then add the colored dye of your choice.  Next dip the sprayed paper in the mix & see how it comes out!
I don't think there's any way to go wrong when it comes to playing with bright colors!
Veggies good enough to eat!  :-)
 With a light breeze, brilliant sunshine, friendly vendors, it was a perfect way to spend the afternoon.
Brilliant blooms!
Mason is always hungry & directed us as rapidly as he could toward the food vendors!  A hearty recommendation for the pulled pork sandwich convinced me to place a to go order.  They had a variety of fresh salads, I couldn't pick just one, so decided to try two for tonight's dinner!  With a lemonade drink that included fresh blueberries, I was ready to make the drive home :-)

Monday, September 28, 2015

This is Fall?

Pretty doe
As Farah & I left from home this afternoon, a little later than I'd planned - we saw this beautiful doe at the top of the hill.
Her twins were nearby :-)
With weather as fine as we've been having - it's hard to Not be out & riding!  Things aren't getting done at home - again!  Without Ben to do the mowing, I managed to hit a rock with the mower, bent the blade & now it's out of commission until Butch can get it replaced :-)  Such a shame... :-)
Farah looks at the "Dead" Kubota
Once up on the power lines, there was a truck coming at us.  The driver stopped to say that they'd been contracted to mow under the power lines & had gotten the mower stuck.  Tomorrow they're coming back with the tow truck.
Deep ruts
I've seen this area mowed many times in the past & have to say that I have Never seen a mess like these guys are leaving!  They're going way overboard - into the deep wet soils & it a miracle that they didn't get stuck long before they did!
Our way home~
It was one of those days when I was just along for the ride.  Farah is going better & better every ride!  She will start one of her antics, then stop herself & move on out!  The two of us are working on our partnership - with the changes in my balance on the seat.  The differences are slight - but being in that sweet spot & in perfect rhythm is our goal :-)
Ms. Farah
She started chomping on her bit as we rounded the corner to where the tree had blocked our way last week.  It was too funny when we came to the spot, the tree was cut & her surprise was so obvious :-)
A dry view of Mt. Pilchuck
The logging to the east of Granite Falls has almost denuded the hills now - there's something about clear-cutting that just rubs me raw.  Another ruined view is driving east on Hwy 530 coming into Arlington - seeing that large mountain clear-cut from top to bottom.

The weatherman keeps telling us to enjoy this weather - as it will change, but at this point most of the rain that's been forecast has been a non-event.  I love this weather as much as anyone, but for the sake of Washington's Green - I hope we get the moisture that we so badly need.