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

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! 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Smokin' Hot~

Smoke from the fires in Eastern, WA
Another hot day - our tenth consecutive day of temperatures above 80 & the count is at 12 so far this summer.  With the smoke in the air from the Mills Canyon fire in Eastern, WA making up most of the haze.  Linda & I headed out, Farah with a crupper for the first time.  I left it a little loose & when I got off to tighten it - she responded "no!"  Linda suggested leaving it this time - since she was doing so well & setting it up one more notch on my next ride.  We did a lot of hills & I didn't have to practice my emergency dismount :-)
Blooming Thistles
The heat has all the thistles blooming & I'm sure it will only be days until they go to seed.  Seems it's going to be a bad year for weeds.  The trails are now bone dry - in perfect shape.  We were the only ones riding - besides one guy with his bike.
Real woods~
 Just love riding the trails through the big trees when it's hot - the temperature is at least ten degrees cooler.   The hole on this trail that Farah had stepped in - is a Big one, so have to figure out how to carry some rock in to fill it.  Someone put a large branch in - as warning, but it's right in the middle of a nice trotting trail.
Linda & Count
By the time we reached the far end of our "range" we decided that it was darn Hot & time to head back!  Both horses were sweating & all the water puddles have dried up.  When we returned to Linda's - Farah was ready for water!  Count got a bath & tried to drink the spray :-)
Farah too :-)
Farah had her bath once we were home - she enjoyed every minute!  Her weight has held really well - even as the miles have been adding up.  We're ahead of where we were this time last season.  Looking forward to heading down to Bare Bones.  Just hope that all the hikers are aware that an endurance ride will be happening.  Know that many we saw as we were coming in last year - were unhappy at our pace.  Hard to finish a ride top ten & drop to a walk to past all the hikers...