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

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Gray Day Views~

Farah survey's the view
It sure didn't seem like the end of August, more like the end of September!  We left Linda's just after 10 a.m.   George had done a large section of trail clearing, so we did some trails that I hadn't been on in a long time.  They included a couple nice bridges of some length so Farah went in front & right over!  Good practice for taking her to Baker Lake!  
Gray day view
 By about 1 p.m. when we were ready to leave, the gray was even gloomier & it had started to "mist"!  I don't know what the temperature was, but our hands & even our toes in our boots were getting cold!  In spite of it, we had a really good ride, some technical elements, climbing & didn't see any fresh sign of Bear - though we did see where some of the Elderberry had been knocked down & berries eaten.  The Blackberry's in the mountains have yet to even get ripe, so know that the Bears must be hungry!
Monument & Memorial Seat
We did some work on crossing a spot of water that Farah thought might jump up at her.  After one somewhat ungraceful leap, I turned her back & she had to cross it correctly the second time, which she finally Did!  She always seems so happy to get out & always has such a positive attitude & swing to her walk!  So comfortable!  I'm getting spoiled!

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Fine Day Fishing~

Grammy & Skyla
Since I'm not in to fishing, I took over the watch the baby duty!  Yesterday was a perfect day to be on the river!  Sunshine, nice breeze, fresh water flowing by & watching Ben fish!
Ben fishing~
 As with all fish stories, the big one got away!  Ben was so disappointed - we were hoping for fresh salmon for dinner!  An old Indian gentleman came by & told us the the run was on the upswing & that by this weekend, our luck would improve.  Butch has his pole & tackle box ready!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

To the Brewery we will Ride!

Route to the Brewery~
What a fun 14-mile round-trip.  We drove up to meet Charlotte at the Cowboy Campsites north of Sedro Woolley.  From there, Charlotte & I rode trail down to highway 20, then along the road to where we crossed over to the Brewery.  Butch & John drove down & met us there!   We tied Farah & Fancy to the trailer, a cable strung about 3 ft. off the ground was not our idea of a safe place to leave them!  We enjoyed a couple really good beers, before we started our ride back!  Such a perfect day, warm & a bit humid - but we had a nice breeze late in the afternoon.  Farah again, was so much fun to ride :-)  Some young horse issues, but when she starts rocking & rolling - it's a blast!

Charlotte was heading home after a weekend of camping, Butch & I went up to a recommended Burger place & had dinner out on a picnic table under the big trees!  Great way to end another beautiful summer weekend!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Checking out Baker Lake Trail #610

Where we started on the trail~
Butch & I drove up to Baker Lake late on Sunday afternoon.  We found the place where Friday's ride started.  Reading the signs, I discovered that the burned old growth trees were from a small eruption of Mt. Baker years ago!
View from high above the lake~
Following the road, we really started to climb, stopping several times to admire the views.  Late evening in the high country couldn't look any better than this.
North end of the trail~
Heading back down & across the dam, we drove up the western side of the lake to the trail head at the north end.
Suspension Bridge
We walked in on the trail about 1/2 mile to check out the Suspension Bridge!  It is so long that it we went out into the river bed to get this picture.  Can't imagine what it must look like when it's full of rushing water!   This is where we'll complete our ride out if we're lucky enough to do the entire length of the trail!
Clear, Cold & Blue!
Butch admires the view~
A very long bridge & a very strong one!  Even with a light breeze you can feel it moving under your feet :-)  It will be an "adventure" to ride the 14.3 miles.  The major question will be whether the entire distance is passable on horseback.  We had one large tree that the horses had to jump on a narrow trail.
Early evening~
By the time we walked back to the truck, the mosquito's were out in force!  We'll need to have plenty of a strong repellant with us both at camp & on the saddle!  Butch has agreed to be our crew on this adventure.
Mt. Baker out of the clouds~
 What an incredibly beautiful place!  It was hard to leave...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Baker Lake Ride!

What my GPS recorded
When my friend Patty mentioned on Facebook that she was looking for someone to ride the Baker Lake Trail with her, I jumped at the chance!  We started off early & arrived after about a 90 min. drive, at a wide space on the forest road where we could park the trailer.  The bugs greeted us in Force!  Drawing blood the instant they landed, Khari soon looked like she had red spots all over her body!  They continued to bite even as I rolled on more heavy duty bug repellant!  

Plenty of motivation to get out on the trail!  It was so stunningly spectacular that I forgot to turn on my GPS - until we were in about half a mile.  It was already10:30 a.m. & we expected to do a lot of trail - even if most of our conversation consisted of oohing & awing at the incredible huge trees & greenery that surrounded us!
10:42 a.m. About a 1/2 mile in~
Our plan was to ride the entire 14 +/-miles to the top & suspension bridge then return.  We soon found that there was No Way we would be able to accomplish that!  By the time we came to the first of the Many bridges over huge deep crevasses, we realized that this was no trail to be ridden at anything but a walk.   The bridges were well-build & sturdy, most not slippery - but only maybe 3 ft. wide - with incredible drop offs - some on Both sides.  Daunting to say the least!   Khari - with some encouragement - took the lead & started over - nostrils flared, neck arched & cocking her head to the side!  I would spot some Tera fir-ma on the far side of each & prayed!  :-)  After the first few, if bridges like that can become routine, they did - until we came to the BIG one!  It was so long that it actually made a turn right over the middle of the deepest part! 

Once over that one - the trail wound through the stands of trees & the footing was good, if narrow.  We tried trotting for a bit, but hadn't gone far - when Shiny fell into a hole, his front feet dropping in about 18".  He lifted himself right out - but that was the end of our attempt to increase our pace.

Next...  the crossing at Anderson Creek.  I'd been warned by Linda that it was a big, rushing, cold & large rock type crossing.  (I didn't tell Patty :-)  The water wasn't as high as I'd expected & the crossing had silted in some I think, from the last time Linda had seen it.
11:14 a.m. Anderson Creek crossing - gnarly at the far side
It didn't look too bad...  We waded in & by the middle, were up to stirrup height.  At the far side I could see a very deep hole just before the only place the horses had to exit the river.  There was also a very large rock, with a long jagged edge that faced out the way the horses would have to move over it.   Roots sticking out from the bank & about a 2' rise up to the trail.  I got off mid-river & landed in water up to my knees.   My long reins came in handy!  I scrambled over the rocks & put my back against a tree while Khari got a drink.  I used my stick to show her where to drop in to the hole.  She carefully stepped down into the deep water, which came up to the base of her neck.  Lifting her front legs up, she reared up & over the rock & roots & onto the trail!  Beautiful job!  Patty's boy Shiny - did the same - both very graceful & we were out!
11:19 - View of Mt. Baker
It wasn't much farther until we came to a sign pointing to the Maple Grove camp on the lake!  We decided it was time for a lunch break!  There was plenty of fountain grass along the shore, so the horses enjoyed some grazing. 
12:30 p.m. Baker Lake from Maple Grove
With the thought that going back would take less time - we decided to go on & try to make it to what we thought might be at least half-way before turning back.

2:30 p.m. Mt. Baker & Baker Lake
The views were just stunning.  The trail hugged the edge of the lake as far as we went with steep drop-offs straight down to the blue-green water of the lake.  Finally - we were stopped by a very large tree that had fallen across the trail.  Steep on the uphill side & straight down on the other.  Too big to jump.  We made the decision to turn back.  Tough to do!  
Khari & Shiny
As to our mounts...  Khari did not want Shiny to touch her!  He on the other hand - thought she was Wonderful!  :-)   The way back was just as beautiful as the way up!  Except for those steep drop-offs down to the water - that were now on our right.  
Straight DOWN!
We'd about forgotten about the bridges by the time the first one came up!   No, they hadn't disappeared & looked even scarier as we approached!  Khari would hesitate, then then lead the way.  We did come upon a nice lady hiking who was very surprised to see horses on the trail!  Khari was surprised to see her & cocked her head sideways :-)  The lady cocked her head sideways too :-)  We chatted then continued on - returning to the trailer about 4:30.  The bugs had Not gone away, so we loaded up fast & decided to go up north to check out the large suspension bridge at the far end of the trail. 

Suspension Bridge - far end
I'd left my camera in my saddle bag, so I didn't get a picture, but here it is - stolen off the net.  Very doable with horses!  We both plan to go again, in the fall when the bugs are better & to see the fall colors.  Hoping to talk Butch into driving the rig up to the top to meet us!  Dinner, beer, yes!
Looking due west at our route~
The Google Earth image above, gives an idea of the twists & turns of the trail.  Great ride, Great Day!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Shades of Gray ~

Farah's Saddlebred pose :-)
Incredibly strange weather pattern.  Low barometric pressure - so quiet, no air moving - water on the lake almost still.  Birds were quiet, no animals about.
Lake Murray NW
It never did rain or even drizzle, temperature in the mid-60's.  Actually - to me - the perfect riding weather!  We call this "Summer"?
Our Ride - North
Linda & I did a beautiful ten-mile loop leaving from her house.  All on trails - no road - lots of walking at a nice 4-mph pace.   We only saw two hikers as we neared the trailer parking area.  Farah refused the the narrow bridge, I walked her across.  The next one, she followed Count & crossed nice & straight.  Great ride!  Erie day!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Day at the Races!

Snowbound Marquita into the home stretch!
It was a perfect day to go to the Races!  Sunshine, mid-70's, blue skies, those fluffy white clouds I love - & a light breeze!  Butch & I took Dean up on his offer to enjoy an afternoon at the track.  He had two horses running in the 8th race.  Marquita led all the way to the homestretch, when she faded & took second.   No complaints!
So much fun watching such beautiful, fit animals do what they love to do!  Run!
Dean's horse heads to the track!
The last race of the day was the most thrilling.  With a big dark bay colt fighting every inch of the way to win!  He had his neck stretched out - ears pinned back & that I'm going to win it No Matter What look as he crossed the wire - first by a nose!  Very impressive performance by a 2-year old!
The Winner!
We finished up the day with Greek style pizza & salad! 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Another Ride in the Woods~

Our ride~
Khari actually stood & let me halter her up!  Guess taking Farah has bent her out of shape!  :-)  Good!  She was more than ready to go with me!  I met Joyce about 2 p.m. at the Bracken Tree Farm.  The day was really warming up & humidity was up too!   Ms.Trail Boss led us out & into the woods!  It was so cool & shady, but the sun was strong enough to light up even the darkest areas.  We did some very technical trails that neither of us had been on in a very long time.  Long, twisty ups, long, twisty downs.  The nicest thing about it - was that the trails, for the most part - were DRY!  The horses had such Great footing!  They could actually dig in & get traction for the steepest climb!  So nice after months & months of slippery mud! 
Joyce & Annie on the far side of the new bridge!
We found ourselves in places going around the edges of the farm. I now have the "idea" of riding all the way around the perimeter & getting the results on my GPS.  Would be nice to be able to overlay the trails too - but that takes more software than I have available!
No worry over obstacles with Khari, after years of trail work, but of course we again worked on the spooking.  Rode every stride & manged to get through it without even ONE big spook!  A few small ones, but she actually felt my boots on her sides hard enough for her to grunt when she tried it coming off the shaded trails into a clearing!  Guess what?  She kept on going forward & gave up the snorty, blowy spook!  :-)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

First Ride of August!

A clear blue sky day!
Linda & I finally managed to schedule a ride!  We've only been riding together for about 20 - years now, so you'd think it would get easier!  Not!  Busy schedules etc. try to interfere with our fun.  No one knows the Victoria trails better than Linda.  She's been clearing them & making them for longer than I've known her.  She used to set-up & manage two-day 100-mile Competitive Trail rides here.  They were TOUGH!  To win usually took a ten-hour ride time each day!

Farah admires the view of the sound~
I rode Farah & as usual when confronted with new surroundings & trails - she was a trooper!  Really enjoying the day, the company (she was in season & Count is Handsome) & the new experience.  Our only problem continues to be ditches.  Didn't want to work on that in a particularly muddy one, so we just took a different trail.  Her first time at the Monument, no spooking at the Big Sliver thing!  :-)

Linda & I had brought "lunch" so enjoyed the seat & admired the views.  My big disappointment, was to find cigarette butts at the base of the seat!  There's no smoking on the Tree Farm...  gee - I wonder why?  But of course people think they are above any rules.  To leave the mess though - at the foot of a memorial - is just more than I can STAND!  The next person I see smoking up there will take the brunt of my fury!  I picked them up of course & zip-locked them so that my saddle bag wouldn't stink on the ride back.

We headed back to Linda's after about four hours - didn't seem that long!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Willie Nelson!

Willie in Concert!
Just about the luckiest lady around this weekend!  On Sat. at the Lake Stevens Aqua Fest Parade, we ran into my x-employer & our good friends;  Dave, Debbie, Lee & Patti!  Dave had two second row tickets to see Willie Nelson at Snoqualmie!   After purchasing the tickets way in advance - they found that the date conflicted with other plans that day!  One ticket was open!  I jumped at the chance!

I'd enjoyed Willie's music, but really can't say that I was a die-hard "fan"... Until Now!  Seeing the entertainer in person, so "up-close & personal" was an incredible experience.  The man radiates an incredible warmth & charisma.   Then...  there's his music!  I have NOT seen such amazing guitar playing - EVER!  His voice resonates with the deep, scratchy rumble that his long-time fans know & love. 
Such contact with his audience~
The Snoqualmie Casio was the perfect venue to see such an amazing performer & the weather could not have been finer!  I feel very guilty for not offering my husband the seat...  but next time we will be sure that he goes!   Seattle Weekly article -  Dave & I get our photo in the "local" paper :-)
Connie & Dave