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

Friday, September 19, 2014

Getchell to Armar on the Centennial Trail

Oh No... 
Well...  It was one of those days...  Could have ridden with a friend for a short/slow ride at Victoria, but I didn't need either short or slow.  After lunch, I loaded Farah & started north.  Only a couple miles up I could see that getting the seven-miles to Arlington would take pretty much all day.  Two halves of a new modular home was traveling Very slowly the same way I was headed...  With the power company in the lead to move overhead wires etc. I found a spot & turned around.
Parked at Getchell
Since my other way out is by Getchell to Hwy 9, I looked over at the trail-head parking & found it almost empty!  Yes!  Plenty of room to get turned around & park!  It had since March of 2013 since I'd ridden this section of the Centennial Trail, in preparation for riding the entire length.
Past Forward Signage at Getchell
I really like the new Past Forward Signage that's been installed along the length of the trail.  Mileage to the next trail-head is at the top of each, along with the trail map & some of the history of the area.  Educational, colorful & old street signs were used for these!
We start off north bound
 After the light rains, the air smelled so fresh & with the Black Cottonwoods starting to drop their leaves, the smell of Fall was in the air!
Looking west toward Marysville
The views out at the valley were as pretty as ever, at least in places...  Farah decided after our first long, nice trot - that she wanted to do some spooking again.  I was Not happy about that - but kept my cool, had her do some side-passing toward whatever she thought was worth a spook, so it took us a while to get to Armar.
We've arrived!
Instead of turning into the picnic area, I continued the final mile north - where Farah did her biggest spook of the day - from one side of the paved path - to the other!  I have to say - that at least this time she did have an excuse.  We were walking along where the side of the trail was several feet high in shrubbery when it happened!
The growling/barking hoard of Boston Bull Terriers :-)
All of these little guys rushed the gate, making more noise than a hoard of savage beasts!  When she realized that they were behind the gate, there was a Big sigh & we continued on to the intersection.  The owner came out to apologize for the noise, a very nice person & beautiful place!
Coming up on 172nd.
Here, we turned back.  At Armar the signage says 4-miles to Arlington & that's right - plus one more mile to get to Haller Park.  We did this the day we rode the full length of the trail, the end of March 2013.  Now, Arlington has done all the improvements to the trail as it goes through town.  Horses are not supposed to use this section of the trail - so to continue north, you would have to trailer from Armar to Haller Park.
Farah sees cattle across the road!
We rode into the rest area at Armar as I had to rest.  Farah as usual stood outside & I held her reins inside.  When I came out, there was a lady with her little girl watching.  The little girl said:  "Mom said I couldn't ask to pet your horse until you came out!"  :-) 
Beautiful afternoon as the sun comes out~
We made good time going back, were passed by a couple rude bike riders, but there were others who were so friendly & one who said she had been watching Farah's tail for a while :-)
Cookie Cutter housing ~
Yes, as I mentioned above - the valley "views" are changing way too fast to suit me...  Scary when we cover such fertile farmland with more & more homes...
Back to the light at 84th
Soon, we were back at the crossing light.  The traffic noise was incredible - it's amazing that the trail is as quiet as it is in most places.  But- with roads going over head, bridges over creeks, barking dogs, homeowners working with power equipment etc., it's still a challenging stretch of trail in some ways.  Thankful for it, especially since it's a short drive to access this section - but hopeful that the Whitehorse will stay more rural!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Wonderfully Cooler!

Rao & Farah
My very long-time friend & neighbor Pat - (The Only neighbors that we call friends.) & her daughter Donnie have a beautiful new horse trailer - giving them the wheels to get back out on the trails!  It was Pat that we bought my first mare from, then Butch's gelding.  It was Pat who got us back into horses, riding & probably changed the direction that our recreational life might have gone :-)  That's a lot for one person!  :-)  During those early years, we rode two or three times a week out from home - onto the trails that were - then - beautiful, forested, quiet & so private.

We explored everywhere - getting horses in condition for our very first trip away, to the American Diabetes Ride at the Evergreen Sportsman's Club, Capitol Forest. Those rides were so much fun - again, all the trails were horse trails.  The forest was less used & very scenic.  Before years of continued logging, invasive plant species, etc.  Before we horsemen had to start sharing with bikes & all other users.
Pat on Neva, Donnie & Rao
Today, after who knows how many years - we were riding together again!  Farah was a different mare from yesterday, low key & relaxed.  She knows Donnie well, since she occasionally feeds her when we're away.  I'd promised a trip to the Monument & thought I'd be able to guide a nice loop in about 8-miles.  Well... Since I'm usually chasing miles rather than looking for short routes - we ended up doing ten-miles!
Rao & Donnie
Rao is 23 this year, half-brother to KH Khaz, the chestnut gelding that Butch rode for Competitive Trail & Endurance.  (Khaz died last year.)   Rao was game to go & handsome as ever.
Khaleah & Pat (Ears Up girl!)
Khaleah had only been out on trail a handful of times, but Pat - has those perfect hands that I admire so much. When she rides a horse, the horse complies, yet Pat makes it all look so easy & smooth.
Nature's "Almost Fall" arrangement
Farah & I really enjoyed ourselves, at one point when we stopped for a break - all three horses were napping - including Farah!    We took our time & the horses were cooled out when we returned to the trailers.  No one there today - I was surprised - since it was what I consider a Perfect Day!  Now I'm hopeful that we have a whole lot more!

Monday, September 15, 2014


Even in the shade~
Monday - ride day with Joyce & when she said 11, I thought - "hot" & was not disappointed!  :-)  With hunting season now upon us, Bracken seemed a better idea than further up.  Only a few trailers were in the parking area when we arrived.  Joyce had gotten in a long ride with friends over the weekend, so today rode Target.
Farah was not in a good mood...  I honestly don't think she likes the heat any better than I do.  Even going out with Target did nothing to improve her mood & she was spooking at anything she could find.  That cost her two hard hits with the stick & some rough words from me!  We took this trail thinking we'd have blackberries to eat - but amazingly - they are drying on the vine!  Neither of us have ever seen this happen before.  Just too hot & dry for them to get large & juicy as they were a week ago.
Target & Farah
By the time we were heading back, Target - who was doing well for Joyce, had about Had it with Farah!  She let him know that she was in a very Bad mood!  :-)  He's such a nice boy, so bonded to Joyce that I had to get this photo of the two of them.
Target watching leaves floating down the creek~
With the AERC deciding to lock up all ride records to anyone but current members, the decision has been a hot topic of conversation on their Facebook page.  The transparency that we all enjoyed - is now gone.

I feel blindsided & Very Disappointed in the AERC.  Having the horse & rider records open to the public-at-large acts as a safety net for the horses & keeps riders accountable for the way they ride.  There's always a learning curve for new riders, but over time - the system has sorted out the bad apples.  Closing it down cheapens the values that the AERC has always said they subscribe to.    Now - I can't even access my OWN ride record & received No notice that this change was going to occur so that I could print it for my reference.  Since I've only been riding a couple of rides a season, it just wasn't cost effective to remain a member, though I do continue to support our local PNER.   I hope the BOD change their minds & reconsider a very bad decision.

At least long-time members that I greatly respect, such as Becky Hart are against the change, which gives me some faith in human nature...  Trying to become an elitist organization is not the way to attract new members... 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Distance Derby Photo Contest~

I have a page on this blog that explains my past experience at photography.  I've loved taking pictures since I was a kid.  I have photos I've taken over the years that I cherish & I hope my family will long after I'm gone.

The Distance Derby is having a photo contest this year, judged by an outside professional.  We can submit entries on a monthly basis, then at years end the winners each month will be judged for the best of the year.  It's been such fun to see all the monthly entries - similar to the "As Seen Through Horses Ears" pages on Facebook.

I've been lucky enough to win twice now & receive a runner's up.  This month I managed to get a photo that I'm really proud of - so thought I'd share it here with you~



Congratulations to Team #120: Long Distance Rider
Connie Hoge of Arlington, WA
(Connie chose this prize to use in her camper.)

(Judge's comments shown below for the winner and 1st and 2nd runners up.)

Team 120: Long Distance Rider (Connie Hoge)

Water Rider
AUGUST - WINNER:  "This is a very creative way to show both the horse and rider in the same image.  Some thought went into this image and that is what sets this apart from the rest.  Thinking outside the box makes for interesting photographs.   Don't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone once in awhile and look at your subject from different perspectives.  This image is both simple and abstract all at the same time.  Well done!"

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

New Territory~

New views~
Today, was beautiful - early fog to stellar sunshine with an amazingly cool breeze.  Joyce & I met at the MHC & saddled up.  Having missed a turn for the ride Joyce had planned, she improvised & I ended up seeing a new area, always fun.  There was more climb that we expected, but both horses were really having a good day & are so well matched when they trot side-by-side. 
We'd traveled the road in the first photo, then gone into the trees & soon broke out to see this view open up.  The sky was as blue as it looks!  This hillside was covered not with thistle, but with Fireweed!  Though the word weed is part of the plants name - if you've read this blog for any length of time, you know it's one of my very favorites.  The impact of all these plants in July will be just stunning & you can bet we'll be back next season! 
Next - stunning Douglas Fir
Soon we came into stands of very tall & beautiful Douglas Fir.  Joyce wondered why they hadn't been cut & soon that question was answered.
Beautiful creek~
There was this beautiful creek running down about the middle of where all these large trees were - so we're thinking that it's the set-back requirement that saved them.  The sound of the water flowing through the rocks sounded like the tinkling of bells...
On the downhill side, there was this huge boulder~
The huge boulder stood out even in the trees, have to wonder how or what brought it to rest in this spot?
Joyce checks her compass - Jesse was expecting a cookie!
At the top of the climb, we were disappointed to find just the usual logging turn-a-round, so time to turn back.  As always seeing things from the other direction is just as interesting.
Looking Northwest
Heading down, a huge raptor came sailing out over us!  He had light feathers in the mid-section of each wing & was bigger than most of the Eagles we see!  I've been searching - but have yet to identify what he was.  It was a thrill to watch him sail on the breeze with a minimum of effort :-)
On our way back, Joyce took us up my favorite running hill & without any urging, both horses broke into a gallop!  Our GPS units were showing over 20+ mph by the top of the climb!  A deep breath out of both & off we went! 
White snag - blue sky~
It was really a Great ride!  We covered almost 16-miles & both horses were still feeling fresh.  It's been over ten years since I've had Joyce for a consistent riding partner & as I told her today - she was greatly missed!