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

Monday, July 28, 2014

HOT & High!

We Climb~
Hot, did I mention that?  Have I mentioned before that I Do Not like the Heat?  Thank heaven for those electrolyte tablets!  I took one before I left & each hour of the ride.  I do believe that they are what's keeping me riding in this heat.  Those & Joyce!  When she said we needed hills & heat to prepare for upcoming rides...  I think she Meant it!
Joyce leads the way~
When we started out, it was only seconds before we were attacked by deer flies - hoards of deer flies.  I'd sprayed Farah as usual & did her ears & face with a roll-on - but it made No Difference!  First time that's happened.  I think the combination of all the rain last week - then the heat this - has drawn out bugs that probably haven't hatched in years!  At least that's my theory...  It was horrible.  Even at a fast trot, even at a gallop - they stayed with us.  It was only once we got clear of the overgrowth that we found some relief as we started to climb.
Big Lake in the distance
We had both horses galloping up "Kitt's Trail" this day - they were driving each other on.  Farah would get ahead, then slow - Jesse would make his move - then slow.  Farah would give him her "shark" look as he went by - then open up, pass him & we'd repeat!  Both were covered in sweat by the top & we were too!
Mount Rainier due south~
Even through the haze from the fires, pollution or probably both - we could just see Mt. Rainier on the skyline to the south as we headed back down.  I got off & walked/jogged some of it - just to loosen up & get a photo of the amazing Fireweed that is now just past it's prime.
Fireweed & the Olympics
One of my favorite natives, I'm going to ride here next year when it's in full bloom.  The honey from this plant is amazing too!  It lit up an otherwise very hot, oppressive day.  Even with the heat, sweat & bugs - we rode & rode pretty hard.  Both horses held up really well & we covered over 16-miles, with over 2,500 ft. elevation gain.
Lower down, meadows in flower~
We returned to the trailers early afternoon, just in time for me to get home, give Farah a bath & make my afternoon Chiropractic appointment.  My shoulder is feeling better & my neck is getting better too, it takes time & I've become more of a believer since it's also improving my balance in the saddle! 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Turning on the After Burners ~

The rain moving in~
Today, we headed out on our own to do our large loop at Victoria.  I wanted to do some moving out - on road & trail too.  I enjoyed my tea up on the swing - then caught up on chores before I drove up shortly after noon.
Full parking!
What a surprise to take the last open spot in the parking lot!  Even with all these rigs, we only saw two other horsemen during our ride & they'd ridden in.  It was humid & quiet, I put my rain coat on the back of the saddle.
Another overgrown trail~
About the time we were making this climb, the rain started.  I was happy I'd taken my jacket & put it on! By the time we were at the top, I could see what I thought was a lot of rain heading our way...
Serious Rain~
After a stop at the Monument, short - since I didn't want my sheepskin seat saver to get wet - we kept moving.  Heading down to the south end & onto my Green Trail.  It was so gorgeous & quiet in the deep part of the woods.
Natural Arch~
 We hustled on through to the Main Line road & headed back north.  The rain had stopped!  Farah sat a good pace, she was enjoying this ride & getting to do her thing.  It wasn't long before we came out at the clear cut & could see back & up to the top of the Mountain.
Outlook at the far right - high point
From here we really started cooking along - making really good time & started the climb back up.  Our elevation gain was 2,198 - a good climb in anyone's book.  We hit the top at a trot, then turned onto the logging road that's at second level.  From there it's yet one more climb & we did that at a gallop.  One guy on a bike was trudging up...  I yelled that we'd be passing him on the right & he already knew that we were almost there!  Farah gave him a sideways look as we flew past :-)
Hardly out of the trailer & head down!
I don't think I have to worry about having enough speed - we were flying by the time we were coming up on the crest of the hill & I was asking her to slow up!  I spoke to Gary McClintock again today & we're looking forward to working with him.  Farah has accepted the crupper in the correct position now & the waves on her withers seemed better after today's ride.  It will take a few more miles to see if it solves the problem.  Gary's sending a set of bucking rolls, not sure if they'll fit the saddle, but worth a try.  There's nothing to keep me in position on the steep downhills & he got a laugh out of that!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Clear Trail!

Clear Trail!
When I arrived at Linda's this morning - I knew she'd been up to something!  :-)  She had that look on her face!  Once we were up on the trails & I asked my usual question;  "Which way?" I found out that someone had been clearing some more trail!  So - of course I wanted to check it out to be sure that someone wasn't telling tales!  Well...  it was the truth & an interesting truth it is.  It took Linda 1-1/2 hours to clear a quarter of a mile of trail & at a walk - we covered it in 4 min.!  Another section - of 3/10th's of a mile - took us 6 min. to walk & another hour + to clear!  So - it's a labor & time intensive proposition to clear trail in Western, WA!  The reason that the endurance rides that have been held here in the past - are no more!
Another cleared trail!
The trail above heads down to the parking area & porta potty.  It was so heavily overgrown that it was almost impossible to get through at all - not any more!  Thanks to Linda!  Today we did some scouting & checked trails that haven't been used in forever - you have to actually know they are there to even find them!
Linda moving tree tops~
Since I'm still supposed to be in "recovery" mode...  I held the horses while Linda broke us through.  A really beautiful trail that I'd completely forgotten about called the View Trail - from the days when there was actually a great view. 
Clouds in the morning~
Lest you think we didn't have any fun at all - we did go check out the views & had lunch at the monument.  The day started so cool that we took jackets, but once the sun burned through - it turned hot in a hurry.  No need for jackets!
Count brought his snack with him!
Count wanted everyone to know that he too, does his share of trail clearing!  When we dropped off the hill onto the paving, I heard Linda say something & turned to get this photo :-)  Really great day of riding!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Heart Lake!

Covered by the algae bloom~
It was a perfect morning!  Someone turned on nature's air conditioner!  My kind of weather!  Overcast, cool & cloudy when I left home to meet-up with Jack & Lynn in Arlington.  From there we headed on over to Antacortes for a long anticipated ride on the Heart Lake Trails.
Lynn sprays Sophie!
Once at the parking area - even though the cloud cover was still there - we could see it was breaking up & the bugs were out in force!  Sophie sported a "Quiet Ride" fly mask & it seemed to work great for her - even if she was the blunt of a few remarks :-)
Directional Signage
With so many trails to choose from, we decided to try to make our way to Whistle Lake - Lynn had the maps & did a great job of guiding us.  This is technical riding, lots of up, down, all around & a few large rocks to navigate.  The trail surfaces were not only dry - but very hard packed from all the mountain bikes that frequent this area now.  We passed several groups of kids, hiking up to swim in the lake, they said they envied us our "rides"!  :-)  On the steep downhills, the mares had to sit down & slide.
Farah listening to the kids yelling as they jumped in!
I was disappointed in my photos - for whatever reason my little camera blurred several.  Others were crystal clear...  Regardless - here's a look of one of the beautiful trails.
Wooded trails~
 Such a perfect day to be on these trails!  We didn't see any other horses, but when we returned to the parking area, there was one other trailer.  It was pretty obvious that this area gets a lot of visitors on the weekends.  Lucky us - able to ride during the week.  
Farah & Connie & a HUGE Douglas Fir!
 It took a while, navigating the trail system.  We've for sure figured out #207!  :-)  In just under ten-miles - we managed 1,447ft. of elevation gain!  People wondered how Diane kept her horse fit?  Not!  Both mares got a good workout, though neither even broke much of  a sweat.  Farah just keeps getting stronger & smarter - still taking a second look at dark patches at the edge of the trail - but - has never refused me anything.  Feeling lucky, very lucky to have her for my partner!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Another "Square" loop!

At the creek
Today Joyce & I met at Bracken & we took the way out that we usually don't - which put us at the creek.  Beautiful & shady on what was to be a very warm (hot) day!  Joyce - as usual had a great ride plan - we headed for the river & from there down the Whitehorse Trail toward Arlington.
Along side the Stillaquamish on the Whitehorse Trail
It was obvious early on that today was going to be hotter than either of the last two.  The humidity was up close to the river, but now & then we'd get a nice breeze.  The rock was a little more compacted in spots - but still heavy going.
The Green Wetland~
The large tree that had slid down one of the banks had been removed, but the trail will need to be brushed before too long.  It's still not getting much use & won't - until the surface issues can be addressed or mitigated with another layer of rock that will settle what's there.
Joyce & Jesse admire the trail~
It's such a beautiful trail - with the trees arching overhead & the dappled sunlight.  Before too long we came out to the start of trail, where it splits off from the Centennial Trail.
We come to the Arch!
At this point, we turned north & headed up the Centennial Trail.  There were a few people out walking & one lady jogging with a baby in the stroller!  There was a blanket flapping & both our horses thought that might be worth a good spook :-)  She looked up, stopped & opened the blanket that she was using to shade the baby boy inside.  Farah had to take a closer look, but when she realized that the baby didn't have any food, her interest waned :-)  This Mom, out jogging with the baby - had twins at home!  I can't imagine what she must do with her spare time!

Finally at the Bryant store, we turned onto Grandview Road.  No shoulder to speak of & lots of traffic as usual.  I put Farah into her medium paving trot & we trotted all the way to the small road that took us off Grandview & eventually onto the trails back into the tree farm.  Sweet relief & shade too!  All together it was about a 12-mile Square loop.  By the time we were back at the trailers, we'd both run out of water & were ready cool off!