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

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Snoqualmie Valley Trail, Point-to-Point

10:02 a.m.Linnea on Bizy, Connie & Farah
Here we were, at Taylor Landing in Duvall, ready to start the ride that Lynn had planned for us.  Having done different sections of the STV trail at different times, both of us were motivated to do the entire length.  I was up early, scraping ice off the windows of the Bronco - 30 degrees felt Cold!  The inside of the horse trailer was frosty & Farah had her rump rug on for the trip to Monroe.  We had both horses loaded & Jack again kindly agreed to be our point man for this journey! 
Heading south outside Duvall, WA
It was Cold & brisk, with just enough of a breeze to send the leaves cascading down from the trees in front of us.   There were more people than I'd expected out enjoying an absolutely stellar fall day.  We were dressed in layers & it wasn't long before our jackets came off! Once out of town, we started making time, knowing with the shorter days we'd have none to waste.
11:48 a.m. Bridge over the Tolt River
Bridges are us!  At least that felt like it should be our slogan for this ride!  I have no idea how many we crossed - but I'd love to know!  We slowed to a walk for each - to err on the side of caution & it was a very good thing we did!
Going over The Tolt River~
As we were walking along a bridge close to the Remlinger Farms - Farah - in the lead, made one of the strangest moves I'd ever ridden, while at the same time, turned her head & acted like she was listening at something beneath us!  Again - she made the same move?  Strange & a little scary when you're up there.  In the next instant, just feet from the end of the bridge I caught something PINK out the corner of my eye, below the level of the bridge deck & off below the side of the bridge support where it met the bank.  A pink hard hat!  I warned Lynn that someone was doing SOMETHING - I knew not what - as a second head appeared next to the first!  I yelled - & said;  "Say HI!"  "Let the horses know you're there!"  They spoke, then told us that they had pounded on the bottom of the bridge to "Let us know they were there!"  THAT was what Farah had felt & heard under the bridge!  Probably NOT the best way to let a horse know that somethings going on!
Tokul Bridge
Lynn  & Bizy make it look like a walk in the park!
Some of these bridges are WAY high up!
Our first ten-miles we did in under two-hours & I hoped to continue that pace throughout the day's ride.  The second ten-miles was just beautiful with the wooded trail & the low sun making the light golden.
Maples along the trail~
 The plan was to meet-up with Jack at a parking area above Snoqualmie Falls.  This was the point where the trail ends at a tunnel at Tokul Rd.  After a  couple turn-back attempts to find the little path through the ferns & forest out to the logging road - we found the gate & came out right where we should be!
A welcome site!  1:53 p.m.
Lynn had hiked this section the day before to see how we could get the horses through.  The SVT trail, ends at that spot, but does continue on as a trail once you're on the far side of Snoqualmie.  To get there would be the challenge. 
Getting around the Snoqualmie
There were a couple gnarly spots, riding along the side of a two-way road on a narrow strip of green on the far side of the fog line is never fun.  We didn't dally - Farah kept up her trot, I wanted to get through!
Another of Snoqualmie
We did stay ON the bridge :-)
Once through town, next was the Mt. Si Golf Course, where we were almost run down by a little ole lady in a hurry!  Our close call of the day!  The rest of the way through, we just had to avoid the whizzing golf carts!
Lynn's beautiful shot of the river & Mt. Si
 It was a relief to get out the far side & back into the semi-country side of North Bend.  We passed schools, playgrounds, beautiful homes, barking dogs, all the usual on an urban trail.
3:48 p.m. & we're heading under I-90!
This was noisy!  You could hear & see all the traffic whizzing by over head.  Again though - with some relief, we ended up riding on another beautiful wooded section of the trail.   Of course there were more bridges here.
3:54 p.m. Crossing the river
It was getting late in the day, the temperature that had warmed earlier, was now dropping down as the sun was moving lower in the sky.  I'd stopped earlier in the day & removed my warm pants & replaced them with cotton.  Now - I was wishing for the warm ones I'd left in Lynn's rig :-)  We started seeing mileage markers!  The one below was exactly one-mile more than what my GPS had recorded, so we knew we were close!
4:19 & 32 miles
We figured we had maybe 3-4 miles to go & the grade had increased to a good up-hill climb.   I always like to finish strong, so moved Farah up into a faster trot & Bizy started galloping (A very smooth gallop!)  along side.   It was almost abrupt when we started hearing cars on a road & suddenly found ourselves next to the parking area!
Rattlesnake Lake!  Here we Are!  4:30 p.m.
 We'd arrived!  There were so many parking areas, that Lynn called Jack to see where he was!  Not to worry - he told us to "stay put" & he would come find us!  What a guy!
Bizy, Linnea, Farah & Connie
The end of the trail!  We'd made it!  Six-hours from our start to the finish!  If I do say so myself, it was really a pretty amazing ride.  Not for the faint-of-heart - at least if you don't like heights :-)  My GPS recorded 32 miles & it was every bit of that!  Both of us have asked everyone we know & no one knows of any rider that's done the entire trail.  So - we're going to say we're the first until someone proves differently!  :-)

Jack drove us back to Monroe, I unloaded Farah from Lynn's trailer, she loaded right back up into mine & we made the hour drive home!  It was Great to find Butch & the dogs waiting for us!  Lights on in the barn & a bring-home dinner in the oven!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Riding More~

Remote controlled airplanes in the field~
It seems with days like these, that anyone with a horse would be either riding, or wishing they were!  I'm one of the lucky ones, I rode.   Joyce & I again planned to get out & on the trail to take full advantage of the sunshine & last of the longer days that will soon be shortened not only by the tilt of the earth, but by the time change too.  Since the mornings take longer to warm now, with the sun moving south in the sky - we've been meeting late morning & riding into the early afternoon.  Perfect!
Target & Joyce at the Tin Bridge
 Today we went on the Whitehorse out of Arlington, just incredibly beautiful along the river & Targets first time over the Tin Bridge.  The water was the lowest I can ever remember seeing it~
The Stillaquamish
We caught the scent of rotten Salmon too, but didn't see them.  I'm still not a fan of the galvanized chain link.  Do think that painting it either black or green would be a better option.  Will see what's up with that at the next trail committee meeting.
The east end of the trail for now~
Two gentlemen had just finished flying their electric, remote controlled planes as we rode up.  Really big wing spans & one only weighted 8 oz.  They'd had to quit for the day, due to the breeze that had come up.

It was so beautiful riding with the leaves filling the air in front of us!  In places they were so deep that it was almost like trotting through snow - but the sound & smell was even better!

With all the debate & discussions that occur on our local endurance riders Facebook page, I can't help but wonder what all these people did before the advent of electronic media?  Where do they find the time to ride?  Or are all their horses exercised on hot walkers, going round & round?  No, probably just those of the "semi-pros" with more horses than they can ride.

Regardless, if you want to find out what works for your horse, the best way to do that is to ride the horse!  A horse will tell you when he's fit, when he's sore, even why he's sore if your eyes are open to see & your ears open to listen & your seat able to feel.  I've seen a horse or two lately who look as if their spirit was broken by owners/riders who's ego's seem to supersede the well-being of their horses & all that implies.
Of course age has mellowed me, I see things differently than I did even a few years ago.  Off the soap box now - I guess if there was one piece of advice I'd give to anyone who rides, or wants to ride - it would be to just take the time to listen.  That's always a learning experience in itself & you don't need a computer!  :-)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Sunshine Award~

As the recepitiant of this very nice award, I need to thank Tara of http://collieful-living.blogspot.com

The Sunshine Award is for people who "positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere." The nominee must do the following: thank the person who nominated her, nominate ten bloggers of her own, answer the ten questions given to her, and post them and the Sunshine Award button to her blog.
There are so many very nice, beautiful, informative, interesting & creative bloggers out there - that it literally boggles the mind!  If we had worse weather or I could find more time - I would do way more reading than I do! 
Our Backyard~
Here are my top picks.  There are not ten, as I said - I don't do the reading I should, but a quality eight should work!  :-)
#1 - http://distancederby2013.blogspot.com/  This is the first blog page that I've found that incorporated a virtual horse race with just your typical (not) horse trail riders!
#2 - http://www.horsetrailriders.com/  In that same vein, is the originator of the Distance Derby.   Horsetrailriders was a wonderful idea that became a useful tool for uniting riders in Nebraska.
#3 -  http://160kminoneday.blogspot.com/2013_08_01_archive.html  A newcomer to the blogging world with a goal oriented blog about her entry to the world of Endurance!
#4 - http://karenshorsetales.blogspot.com/   From the opposite side of the Endurance world, a wonderful blog, straight forward & common sense from an accomplished author & rider.
#6 - http://travelingmoonranch.blogspot.com/  My riding partner from way-back-when - who has made her dreams into reality!
#7 - http://theequestrianvagabond.blogspot.com/ Another accomplished blogger & incredibly talented photographer & writer.
#8 - https://jraphotographyblog.wordpress.com/   Here's a young & very talented photographer who hopes to expand her business - while pleasing the rest of us with her incredible photos of us & our horses!

On to the questions~
1.  Mares or Geldings - mares rule!  :-)
2.  English or Western - whatever works!  Have ridden western for a long while now~
3.  Younger or older horses?  Either - a good horse is a good horse!
4.  Do you prefer riding or groundwork?  Riding!
5.  Have you started a horse from the ground up?  Tried, gave up & sent him Out!
6.  Board or keep at home?  Butch said I couldn't have one until I could whistle out the back door for it!
7.  All Natural or Commercial stuff?  A little of both - whatever works~
8.  Tacked up or bareback?  Tacked 
9.  Do you have an equestrian model?  Tough one, many, many admirable horsemen/women out there - but I'll go with Monty Foreman - he was ahead of his time.  A close second is an incredible horseman - Jack Brainard.
10.  Your main goal in the horse world?  To ride as far as I can -
Ain't nuthin like ridin' a fine horse in a new country - Augustus McCrae – Lonesome Dove

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Shrooms!

The Fog...
Highway 9 heading north - fog.  I left home on a gorgeous sunshine morning - but on the far side of Arlington the fog reappeared.  Joyce & I had planned a ride at Bracken Rd.  I was hopeful that it would burn off.
Mushrooms Everywhere!
We were talking about all the mushrooms I'd seen at Victoria, so Joyce, working on a solid state of one-up-man-ship duty :-) - took me over to where she'd seen a cornucopia of the fungi when riding there last weekend!  The numbers, variety, colors that were growing was almost surreal!  I had to dismount & take a photo - it gave us that "Alice in Wonderland" feeling, especially in the fog.
Perfect growing environment~
Farah really seems to like Target, he prefers her in front of him, as do most of the geldings we ride with :-)   This day she was in a very good mood, a change from earlier in the week - when she was a little ornery.  I had an incredible ride this day!  My mare was on her "A" game, acting like a well trained horse.  When she opened up at the trot - we were flying!  Showing more strength than I was aware she had gained over the summer of miles adding up on top of miles.
Right in the center of the photo above, in the left "track" is a Big Coyote!  So big - that he could have been a Wolf.  He was so handsome & made eye contact with us as we stood to admire his looks.  Joyce had her dog with us, but the Coyote didn't show any interest.  As we moved further away, I looked back & watched as he circled then laid down!
Golds in the valley`
The sun finally burned through & the woods were covered in yellow & golds.  By the time we arrived at the river it was a perfect Fall day!
Joyce & Target
We're maintaining our position in the Distance Derby, but with the shorter, darker, colder days to come - will be interesting to see if my motivation continues.  When we have friends to ride with - it's easy, but saddling to ride on our own as often as we do - does get lonely on some days.  I know we're lucky to have all the places to ride that we do, but I've picked up a couple maps & would like to explore to see if I can find somewhere new! 

The sun was nice & warm when we returned home, it was earlier in the afternoon, so I gave Farah a warm bath, which she always enjoys & had her dry before the sun set. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Sun!

Linda & Count
Linda & I had a ride planned.  When I woke to the fog - I almost wanted to cancel, but within a 30-min. period, the sun started breaking through for the first time in four days!  That gave me all the motivation I needed, so headed north!
"Lake" of fog below us~
I drove through fog, clearing fog, & arrived at Linda's to sunshine!  We couldn't get out on the trails fast enough :-)  The plan ended up being to try to retrace my ride with Sandy - when I got so turned around.   It worked & I finally figured out where I went wrong - as you can see from the photo above - with Linda's guidance we found the clear-cut & even the trail that I thought should be there!  It was, but is pretty overgrown & hard to pick out.  It needs more riding to re-establish.
"Fog Lake" below the Monument too~
By the time we reached the monument, it was actually Warm!  We'd stripped layers & the sunshine felt so darn good!  It was very humid though & I'd worn warm pants.  By mid-afternoon & wasn't feeling too good.  Tried a peanut butter & jelly at lunch - just a small one, that probably contributed to my crash.  Linda was worried whether I'd make the last few miles back.  After laying flat on the ground at the parking area, then eating a cheese stick - I decided to walk a ways, which seemed to get the blood flowing & revive me.
Views clear & crisp~
It was just a stellar afternoon, overdue & deserved.  We only ran into two other riders & one guy on his bike.  The mushrooms were so abundant - we saw so many species, many that I'd never seen before.
One of the prettiest ever!
I need to find out what this one is, but they were growing in several places & looked as though they were trimmed with lace.  It was after 5 p.m. by the time we were back at Linda's.  I ate a yogurt before making the drive home.  It was getting cold by the time we got back, Farah got brushed & blanketed, I made a big mug of hot tea!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Fog...

Bracken Ferns in Fog~
I didn't want to saddle up...  Do you hear me say that often?  The fog hasn't let up for four days now.  My ride on Fri. was the last time we saw the sun!  Over the weekend we had a lot of plans - had fun doing them - but it would have been So Much Nicer with sunshine... 
Neighbors Sign~
This ride would have been too!  But I was determined to get out & get out we did.  I finally took a photo of the neighbor's sign above on our way by.  Anything to deter thieves is what I say!  Once we were up on the trails, the views stayed gray~
Up on top, the fog was just a little less~
We did our usual loop, adding in the new trail we'd found last week.  Farah wasn't too inspired, but was happy that we made our stop for her lunch :-)  I'd dressed warm, long sleeves, vest & jacket.  The jacket was off within a mile, too humid.
Farah enjoying the break~
My hands started getting so cold, the slight break in the fog didn't last long & the afternoon was going quick!  By the time we finished the upper section & started back, the fog was thickening up.  When we returned to the power lines, for whatever reason, Farah started threatening to buck.  Dropping her head every third stride - finally she grabbed the bit & tried to take off & buck at the same time!  I managed to pull her up - got off & she took off in a circle around me!  I finally calmed her down, checked her out - nothing wrong...  so started walking!  I walked to the start of our trail home & remounted.  She was fine from there on.  No idea what was up with her - she doesn't often have brain fade.  We'd had one short gallop - which she always likes & I let her have another - she was good the rest of the way.
No mountain today!
It was just before six when we got home & getting dark already.  Very happy that Butch was home to greet us!  When we pulled her saddle, she hadn't even broken a sweat!   At least when it's dark, you can forget the fog!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fall on the Whitehorse Trail~

Leaving the trail-head
Another sunshine Fall day!  Grandson Ben was planning on a weekend visiting us - so it gave me an excuse to bring Farah & ride the trail.  The first glimpse was nothing but golds, reds & yellows!
The colors were so outstanding & it was warm!
The Stillaquamish River~
The river & creeks we crossed - were Way down!  No wonder the fishermen are complaining that the salmon aren't coming up.  Not enough water & this after all the rains we'd had earlier.
One of the three bridges ~
On the six-mile section of trail that is currently open - there are three nice bridges, two with wide, thick wood planking & another with concrete.  The wood bridges had a nice layer of sand over the top - so no slipping at all!
Gold lace through the white trunks
With some of the trees already devoid of their leaves, it gives the vine maple room to shine.
Whitehorse in the background~
For only a six + mile stretch of trail, it's a photographer's paradise.
Heading back
The only downside of these days are the length!  The shadows seem to get long well before they should be!  Farah set a nice pace - averaging 6.9 over the full distance & as you can see - we did make a lot of photo stops!  :-)

The best part of the day's ride though - was when we found some little gremlins on the trail!  Two little girls & their mommy!  Mommy had peddled her bike & the girls had a Great ride in the back!  Farah recognized them right away!   These were Our Gremlins!  :-)
Skyla gets a ride back!
Skyla was fine with getting a ride on Farah back to the trail-head, which lightened the load for mommy - peddling on the uphill direction of the 3% grade :-)  We met brother Ben who had walked over from school!  What a fun day we had!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Farah meets her Sire!

Farah & Ody Meet
With many thanks to Sandy for making the Very Long & traffic filled drive to make this meeting happen!  We were planning for a Sunny day & I was filled with trepidation as the morning dawned yet another with heavy fog.  I'd picked Victoria for the ride - hoping to show off our "views" from the Monument.  The thought of that long drive, then riding in fog...  So I called Butch at his job site in Ballard - the weather word - "fog".  Ugh...  Then I called Linda's - spoke to George - Good News!  Clearing!  Relief!

Sandy called when they cleared Everett & I left home heading to Arlington.  We both arrived at our scheduled meet-up spot within minutes of each other!  Driving right on up to the glass school parking - I got the thrill of watching one gorgeous palomino unload!
Ody surveys his surroundings
Once he was tied to the trailer & while Sandy was busy - I heard noise & looked over to find someone lifting a front leg to paw!  Gee!  Where had I seen that before?  :-)  Then - there were the swirls - lots of swirls - all matching those of his daughter!
The most striking feature - very striking when we admired the two of them together -  the golden eyes!  Like Father, Like Daughter!  Such a deep, striking golden amber & beautiful.  We saddled up & headed out.  Sandy said she rides anywhere from a couple to five hours at a time & after that drive was more than ready to spend a day in the saddle!

Farah & Ody were both very mannerly around each other - Ody exudes a presence & Farah felt it.  Once on the trail though - she was Very Intimidated & heaven forbid if Sandy even considered putting Ody's nose in front of us!  In rare form, she was bucking, tossing her head, threatening him - etc.  All of which he totally Ignored!  :-)

I will Never Again laugh when someone stops me & asks the way to the Monument!  Why you ask?  Because it happened to ME!  :-)  I honestly thought that there was no way I could get lost on those trails - but after taking some turns while we were busy talking - I did!  Linda to the rescue - but I even had her stumped!  No worries - such a beautiful day & all day to ride there was really no wrong way!  Finally - after doing a long, technical trail we came up on a clearing that I didn't recognize.
Unknown clear-cut
I didn't see a trail around it, or though it - but the road - headed the direction I wanted.  It wasn't familiar either?  It was narrow, had a little fresh gravel - but?  Next - we passed a beautiful little cabin!  Now - I knew where we were...  At the Glass School!

Soon, we ran into a couple nice guys.  I apologized & asked for...  yes - that Very Embarrassing Question...  The "way"?  They laughed & guided us to the pond, then explained what gates to use to get out to the trails.  It had been Years since the days we used to occasionally ride through & things had changed!  What a beautiful place - cabins that blend into the landscape, with small neon "address" signs at the doors of each.   Though unplanned - it was a really fun tour!
Art in the Woods~
Going along the road & seeing the view above in the trees was eerily cool!  This got me thinking about something similar I might try in ours!  But finally - finally - we went through a gate & walla!  I KNEW where I was!  :-) 
Ody & Sandy
Though not as clear as it could have been, it was certainly a better view than some I've had up there!  Ody was a little unsure about the Monument - but otherwise was so at home on the trail!  One of those horses who actually looks for a trail & is always ready to take it!   A spectacular mover - gee - where did Farah get that? 
Ody & Sandy admire the views
It was late afternoon by the time we started back to the trailers, not really wanting the day to end.  Farah & Ody by now were getting along well, they'd grazed together at the monument - with absolutely no problems at all.  When we got back, I grazed both of them side by side.

 As little as I sometimes like Facebook - it's ability to network people together who otherwise would have probably never found each other, is yet another reason to maintain an account.
Sandy messaged me when she made it home, almost a 300-mile round trip!  Next time will be our turn to make the drive & see the Green Mountain trails!  I made a wonderful new friend & Farah really seemed to enjoy meeting Ody...   I do think that both of them knew there was a connection?