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

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Our Finish~ On a High Note!

1,625 feet up Mt.Washington
I was so hopeful of another ride before year end.  I wanted a little cushion between me & the fifth place rider in the Derby.  It was dark & raining when I left home yesterday morning.  Joyce had wanted to do this ride again this year & as long as it didn't start pouring - she decided this would be the Day!  The rain had stopped & the temperature was maybe 40 when we started out.
At the edge of the woods~  We climbed to 1,700 ft. in 4-mi.
It didn't take Farah long to realize where we were going!  Our last time up here was on June 22nd - it was a Totally different kind of day!   Both horses had to dig in & did some grunting as they pushed up the tiny, twisty, steep trail.  I always want to stop for photos the minute the views open up.
Mt. Pilchuck to the south - high point 2,200 ft.
By the time we'd climbed up to the road, we'd gone five-miles & climbed to 1,700 ft.  With the heavily overcast skies - it was great to have such clear air beneath the cloud cover & I was very happy to have the views!
Almost 1 p.m. & a low layer of clouds moves in~
We decided to see just how far we could go, Joyce wanted to at least get a feel for that section to see if there might be anyway to loop around.  We decided to go out another five-miles, then - if we couldn't orientate ourselves - head back.
Joyce & Target
We climbed to Barbara's Bench, then kept going.  There was up, more up & yet more!  We saw fresh logging, which explained the heavy use of the road.  Again we went around the little valley & over to the Stimson Hill side.  We took the lower fork of two roads - where it ended -  we could look down at the Stillaquamish & 530 heading to Darrington!
The Stillaquamish River & 530 to Darrington
The Google Earth image below, is as close as I could come to reproducing the above photo.
Looking East toward Darrington~
 The day would have been oppressive, dark, brooding, quiet - but we both think that we were about drowning in the negative ions!  At ten-miles & by after 2p.m. we knew we'd have to turn back or run out of daylight.  We didn't want to be out on Grandview after dark!
Whitehorse Peak
I had to zoom in & get this last image of Whitehorse Mountain.  On the way back, there's of course...  Lots of down!  Lots!  We got off & did some jogging along side our long suffering mounts!  :-)  Both found growing fresh grass & plenty of water so were doing just fine!
Clouds moving by below us~
It started cooling off a little, we were doing a good trot - when around a corner came two ATV's going like Bats from Hell!  It seemed forever before they looked up enough to actually SEE us!  Joyce had jumped off Target, Farah was holding her own - when they slowed down & the noise level dropped.  Good adrenaline rush for us!  Otherwise - we hadn't seen a soul.
Our fearless Leader!  We'll go That Way!  :-)
It's always so hard to head back from up there - feeling like we've miles to go & wanting to ride them!  By the time we'd climbed back to Barbara's Bench, the sun was starting to set!  Joyce had a dinner to attend & time was running out fast!
View from Barbara's Bench 2015 ft.
We kept moving right along, knowing that we were racing daylight.
Almost 3:30 p.m. - Stunning Sunset over the Olympics
All too soon, we were back onto the lower trails.  I say lower - but we were still just over 1,000 ft.  We dropped below the cloud layer & again saw the sun as it came through the clear-cuts, turning the air & all it touched golden.
After 4 p.m. My golden girl~
We set a speedy trot down Grandview heading for Joyce's!  We beat dusk by a few seconds at least!  :-)  I think Joe was ready to get in his Sheriff's car & come looking for us!  So glad he didn't have to!
Our Route

Our year-end Derby miles total;  1,423.  (Not including 44 miles I rode in January - I signed up too late for those to count.)  Then, only one ride I forgot to log :-)  Garmin Connect recorded;  1,478 - 360+ hours & 120 rides.

 As my last ride of the year - it's time to thank my good mare - for taking me along for all those miles!  I believe that she's the highest mileage horse in this years Derby.  Riders finishing ahead of me were riding multiple horses.  Farah never took a lame step, never quit,  gave more when I asked her & has gained so much both physically & mentally!  Now - I'm dealing with an over abundance of self-confidence.  We tried a lot of new things & ended up coming back to the place we both enjoy most - trail...

Heartfelt thanks to the friends who helped me with my goals;  Joyce, Linnea & Linda - for the miles they shared with me!  A special Thank You - to Justin Foss for keeping the shoes on the mare that carried us 100% sound over all those miles!  To Dean Essex, DVM, James Bryant DVM & Brandi Holohan, DVM - all of whom contributed to our cause!  Finally - & yet again to - my husband, who supports every mile, while keeping the Bronco & trailer smoothing running along - for the many, many miles we spend on the road to get to the trails~

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Lookin' Like Summertime!

Stillaquamish from the Whitehorse Trail
What an incredible seasonal gift of a day!  Almost 50 degrees in December?  The day after Christmas?  Joyce & I had planned to get in a ride after the holiday - as we usually try to do - but what a pleasure to enjoy yet another sunshine day in the Winter!  We parked at the Bracken gate & by our noon meet-up time the lot was full, with trailers still coming & going.  All those riders & we only saw two sets of two on the trails.  We decided to head down to the Whitehorse & walk along the river - such a perfect day to enjoy it.  The heavy footing soon did it's job & both horses settled in for the walk out to the Centennial Trail Arch.
Target & Joyce
The one place on the trail where there's a high bank - a nice sized boulder had broken lose & rolled down the hill to land on the trail.  The large hemlock that's been perched on the very edge is leaning back - soon to break free & slide root ball first down the bank & maybe across the trail.  If it does - it will have to be cut out.  It's a Big one!    You can see the base of it's truck in the upper left corner of the photo below.
Sliding bank~
Once we were out to the arch - we found the Centennial Trail to be a busy place!  Families walking along enjoying the sunshine & warm temperatures.  We turned north & planned to go all the way back to Grandview - it was Targets first time out on a public multi-use trail.  He did amazingly well over the bridge & past bikes, walkers, joggers etc.   The grass on the horse path was still slippery & Farah almost went down - too intent on being ornery rather than paying attention to her feet!  :-)  We turned in on Lake Armstrong road & went back into the tree farm from there.
Creek on the tree farm~
  The footing was really good for so late in the year, not much mud at all & the area's been getting a lot of use!   Today, we reached my mileage goal for the year of 1,400 miles!  Yippee!    As I told Joyce, all those miles & my gold girl still has me riding every stride!  It's a constant give & take with her, I give - she takes!  :-)
Our Ride~
 On our way back though - Farah was dialed back as we headed to the trailers.  At a nice steady trot - Joyce said;  "Nice pace."  I looked & we were doing 8.6 +/-.  With only a few days of this years Derby to go - we're still in fourth place by a few miles!   My Garmin Stats tell me that it's taken 121 rides for us to hit this milestone!   We're hoping for at least one more before year end! 

Friday, December 20, 2013

First Snow of Almost Winter~

Cottage in Winter White
How wonderful it is to wake to a world covered in white!  The first snow of the season is always special - just because it's the first.  Annika was thrilled at the snow - already on the run as I came out the door!
Nika on the fly!
Of course it was a day that I had errands to run, so I warmed up the Bronco for the trek to Arlington.  The roads were covered in snow, no sanding out our way - but as I went further north - some sand had been put down & that turned the snow on the roads to slush.  I decided to err on the side of caution & set the Bronco to 4-wheel drive.
Downtown Arlington
I always love dropping down the hill into Arlington - from my direction.  It always looks like a postcard perfect small town from fifty-years ago.  A town that's served as our hometown for many years.  I had a vest that I'd bought from Nordstrom & never worn.  This year - it's in fashion - but was way too big.  I stopped in at Sunshine Cleaners, to ask if they would have time to do the alternations while I was in town?  The answer?  Yes!  That's a small town & small town service!  An hour later - my nails were done & I picked up the vest - ready to wear!
Heading home, the roads were actually worse, some melting & a combination of sleet & rain - making more slush out of the snow.  While I do love snow, especially powder snow - I'll be happy to see this one melt away!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What Are Friends For?

As we started our ride~
Friends are those people who make you do things that you otherwise wouldn't do!  :-)  It went something like this...  Charlotte's schedule has changed, Joyce & I have missed riding with her...  So - since an early start was needed & this was the day that worked for us all - my friends pressured me to get up before the sun, load up my mare in a cold fog...  & head up to Bracken.
See how pleased they are with themselves?  :-)
The sun came out!  The day warmed up!  I removed my jacket & when I did - accidentally shut off my Garmin!  Those of you who follow this blog - know by now that I've logged my miles all year & am in the home stretch of the Distance Derby!  Not a time to lose any miles!  Lucky for me - Joyce had hers on - so I had the stats to back up the ride!  Of course I didn't realize that it had shut-off until we were on our way back to the trailers.
Proof of my two departures & returns!
Since we'd had that early start, it was only 11 a.m. when we were back & Charlotte headed home.  Joyce too - had to leave - she still had chores, before she would need to head to work.  Lucky me - I didn't have any time constraint, the sun was shining & I decided that it would be all too easy to head back out.
Farah on Tin Bridge
Since I've gotten lost at Bracken several times, Joyce told me how to stay on the road & get in a few more miles.  Once I was out there a way, I remembered how to get to the bridge.  We're not supposed to access it from the tree farm, but it's been done many, many times without any problems.  As Farah stepped on - I realized how incredibly slippery the wood planks were!  The nail heads are already worn smooth to the shoe, so no traction there.  She carefully got us across.  Since I've been elected as the equestrian representative for the Centennial Trail, I'm going to mention this at the next meeting.  Something will have to be installed to mitigate the wood planks that will only get more slippery as the wet season continues.
Stillaquamish River - WAY down...
 It's almost shocking how low the water levels are in the rivers & streams.  As much as I'm enjoying the incredible December weather - I know that we need the rain!

Farah was as on task as she could possibly be this ride - we had FUN!  We did some short, fast gallops, some nice trotting & it was great that the trails were as dry as they were & no longer frozen.  We did run into a lady with at least six loose dogs - they all came running at us.  I told her that Farah had just kicked the heck out of my friends dog - she said;  "OK - if they get kicked - they'll deserve it!"  I asked Farah to "be nice" & she didn't kick out - sweet relief.  Joyce told us today that poor Jackson not only has a shoe shaped gash on the top of his head, but also another beneath his jaw!  The only way we can figure that happened - was if Farah hit him with both hind feet.
Farah, Sunshine & rain!
 I was so glad that we went out again!  It was good for us both - she finally had a chance to take the edge off & we got to ride through sunshine & rain at the same time!  It was just a gift of a December day!  Many thanks to our friends - for keeping us on task, in our quest to be the highest mileage horse in the Derby!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Ridin' TNT!

A thin sheet of ice over the wetland~
We were ready for a ride!  The temperatures had dropped down again overnight, to the low 30's this morning, but the day was clearing & warming - a perfect opportunity to get in a decent long ride!  I met Joyce at the Morgan Horse Club & we headed out.  It only took about five seconds in our saddles to realize that we were both riding Very Animated horses!  Very!  Farah was as tight as a wound clock & Target was the same!  Joyce said;  "Hill!...  We're going to head for the hill!"
I did smile :-)
We did our best to keep to a controlled trot as we headed that direction.  Our hands were full!  Both horses were feeding off each other's energy & we were both wondering if we were crazy taking them out!
Joyce & Target
Farah is in heat again & it's a strong one.  Joyce had brought her dog Jackson & he's gone with us before, so that was nothing new - except - one second we were trotting - the next - I felt Farah collect & in an instant she'd struck out & kicked Jackson!  Hard!  He howled in pain, fell back - then came back toward us - still able to walk, but blood dripping from his tongue & swollen knot on the top of his head.   Having been around dogs most of her life, this was the first time that she's struck out...  We had that bunch of dogs run at us a couple weeks ago at the Watershed & even then, when I actually wished she had - she didn't kick.

Jackson was following close, but that was still no excuse.  Now, I'll need to be on guard to be sure she doesn't do it again!  Poor Jackson...  & he was having such fun being out with us...
Today's Ride~
Though we didn't have time to do the Big Climb - the one we did do improved the temperaments of both horses.  As we looped back on trail - we were sinking in over 4" in places.  The ground had frozen, been raised by the ice, then when the ice melted, the soil stayed raised.  For no more rain than we've had, it was muddy going here & there.  We finished the ride with two horses who'd had an attitude adjustment!  :-)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Another Cold One!

If it took standing on her head :-)
I'd wanted to ride the Centennial Trail earlier this week, but it was just too cold & frozen.  The weatherman kept saying that each day was going to warm up - sure...  Lynn & I decided with the report last night - to ride today.  When we both got up to sub-30's it was obvious that the warming had yet to happen.  There was sunshine though & that made the difference :-)   Lynn had a last minute horse change happen - so was a little late.  Farah didn't mind - there was a Lot of grass at the trail-head!
Our ride out~
First we rode through the little town of Hartford, under Hwy-92 & up onto the trail itself.  Within only a few strides, we knew that the longer ride we'd planned wouldn't happen.  The ground was frozen solid & very slippery.  All the little creeks & wetlands were frozen solid.  The mares were slipping even at a walk & the ground was humped in places from all the hard freezing.
Looking like Winter!
It was strangely quiet & very beautiful though!  This is one of my favorite sections of the trail & it was easy to enjoy the muted colors & watch as the clouds again started to cover the sky.
Dock at Lake Cassidy
The day stayed Cold!  Very cold & even a slight breeze off the lake made it colder & left lots of frost on the leaves further up the trail.  The plan had been to ride to Armar Rd. - but time was running out - there was no way to make any - so we regretfully turned back at Getchell.  I'm going to post our stats here - when I downloaded them I had to laugh at the difference on our ride outward-bound compared to the increase of speed on the return :-)  The turn-back point was at 1:40 min.  Needless to say - the mares knew this was not a point-to-point!
Today's route
It was just so darn good to Get Out again!  The last seven days have been the longest I've been out of the saddle for a very long time.  Farah was full of energy - but besides some nasty looks at Sophie (who was happy to return them!) she seemed happy to be on the trail.

Now that it's actually December - it will be the weather that dictates riding...   Don't you love it?  Not!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Final Shoes of 2013!

Front hooves freshly trimmed
Seems hard to believe that we're coming to the close of another year - a year that Farah & I have spent mostly out on the trail!  Justin had wanted me to pull shoes for a while this winter, but understands that I want to continue riding in December - at least when the weather permits!
Hinds too
I felt pretty lucky - Farah actually had some decent growth to trim off in the six-weeks since her last shoeing on Oct. 30.  Since we had that - I felt OK in setting new steel.  We were lucky that today has warmed up to 33, warmer than yesterday's high here on the Homestead of 29!
All done!
Within a short time - with both Justin & Tony working - Farah's feet were all done & look Great!  Fingers crossed that this shoeing & these shoes will take us over my mileage goal for this year & across the finish line of the Distance Derby on December 31st.!

Ride ON!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Night Lights!

It's dark early!  It's Cold all day long!  It's frosty & the frost lends a touch of white to early mornings & late afternoons!  All this is our clue that it's time to light things up!  Of course - we do keep some lights up year around - I enjoy the glow.
Cottage & Bridge at Squirrel Tail x-ing
The lights on the wood shed are called "Celebration" & they actually twinkle.  Not the obnoxious twinkle that is more of a blink - I can do without those.  We've not been able to find any more like them.  I found them in the bottom of a box of lights - never used until we put them up last season & they're still working!
The red bucket above was one of those real finds that you're always so happy that you went ahead & bought!  We found it years ago in a junk store in Arlington - I think we paid maybe $5. & I've never seen another like it.  Every year it goes up on the wood shed.
Barn & Sequoia
We planted the Sequoia for our 25th wedding anniversary.  It's first year in the ground, it lost almost half of the new growth - we were so worried about it's survival that we checked back with Machias Nursery.  They assured us that it would survive & thrive.  Now, it's getting large enough that in another few years, it will own the hill!  They are almost impossible to decorate, the limbs are so soft - but Butch managed it & the result can be seen over the top of the cedars at the bottom of the pasture & down to the main road.
Twig Tree
Finally, the little twig tree with it's antique bell ornaments lights up the front porch.  The wind sock we bought in Redmond back in the 80's.  Since it only flies once a year - it's held up well.  I hope you've enjoyed your night time visit to the Homestead during the holidays!

Friday, December 6, 2013


It's not often in this state that we get freezing temperatures for long stretches.  This December is the exception.  The temperatures started dropping over last weekend - by Monday our high was only the mid-30's.  Today, we woke to 18 degrees & more of the blazing sunshine that has accompanied the cold, along with a breeze that seems to be coming from the north.  That breeze creates a good wind-chill & I don't want to know what that might be!
Santa looks festive on the Barn~
I did put our Santa flag up on the barn - when I went up to do chores this afternoon.  Farah was Very Full of herself & used watching me walk/crunch down from the woods, as an excuse to do some running & bucking & even flagged her tail!  (Something my 1/4 Arab doesn't do often!  :-) 
Coming my way!
Fun to watch - but not when the ground is so hard, frozen & slippery.
Half-way through her seventh year~
Luckily - it didn't last long & she was smart enough to keep it under some control.   Once that was out of her system, she snorted, blew - then walked up for attention :-)  I'm really starting to see maturity in her face this winter.  Now...  if it would ever warm back up a little - we could get out on the trails again.  Instead - I'm relegated to house work, more decorating & baking! 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Bridle Trails to Kathryn Taylor Park - Point-to-Point

Our overland route~
This ride was a collaborative idea between me & Lynn.  I remembered that we used to ride from Woodinville - along the Sammamish River Trail to Marymoor Park.  Then - when Butch was building the Red Hook Brewery, a friend & I rode from there to Bridle Trails State Park & then back to the brewery.   I mentioned those rides to Lynn - she & Jack went down & did some recognizance to see if indeed we could get through the Marymoor area - since horses are no longer allowed.  My new friend Chris, who works for the DOT & is a self-described map person - also checked out the route & gave us a "go"!
Corner of Bridle Trails Park
  It was So Cold when we arrived at Bridle Trails, that we didn't take a before photo!  Instead, we jumped into our cold saddles as fast as we could & were heading through the park by 10 a.m.
Old Signage
In under 2-miles we were crossing the street above & had found across the way - the Bridle Crest Trail.   This started with a steep downhill - with Farah's favorite - sheep - at the bottom!  No worries about rushing or slipping on the down - since we had to stop & look at those sheep every few steps!

We rode the trail past backyards, nice, quiet neighborhoods & we were really enjoying the morning - but the sound of traffic was getting louder, so we both knew that the 520 overpass was coming up!
View from the overpass!
This too had changed!  On my first trip, it was just a pedestrian/equine/bike overpass.  Now, a regular road overpass has been built right next to it.  Instead of seeing off in both directions, you can only see west - there's a concrete wall on the east side.  You can hear the road traffic - but not see it.
Farah & Connie between Sophie's ears!

Google Earth image of the overpass
Once over, we rode for a block or two through a neighborhood, then found this park.  We stopped long enough for the mares to take a few bites - but it was too cold to tally for long!  The ground was frozen in many places, so we were talking it easy.  The mares were in no particular hurry either.
Lynn & Sophie @ Westside Park
Picking up the trail again at the bottom corner of the park - we rode right into a nice wooded gully area that could have been up in the mountains - rather than the city. 
In the woods, we found - a sign!
We knew we were on the right track when we found the sign above & dropped down the hill to cross West Lake Sammamish Parkway NE.
Once at the edge of Marymoor~
Welcome sunshine!  It was about 11:30 when we reached the river trail & things had changed!  Now, the equestrian trail runs along the opposite side of the slew from when I used to ride it!
Beautiful Morning!
You can see the concrete wall up ahead.  The trail isn't finished through that area, so it's narrow with blackberries along both sides & a homeless person living in a tent that's backed up to that wall.  Once through the trail widened again & was beautiful.
Here's where we crossed the slough~
Next, there was a new to me bridge ~
Connie & Farah
The temperatures by now were probably the warmest of the day, (No!  We weren't removing any layers!) there were a few dog walkers, a jogger or two, but we were the only horsemen & certainly got noticed :-)  On the far side - I finally again recognized where we were, from my last ride here with Janelle & Saddle-up in 2011.
Powerline Trail
Now, we were heading up the Powerline Trail!  Back into country more familiar to us & the mares too!  But - that's not to say that we didn't have more busy road crossings!
Almost 1 p.m. - we're ready to cross Avondale Road
Avondale was busy one, but having the crossing lights make it as safe as possible.  We were happy to be across & it wasn't long before we were into Farrel McWhirter!  Time for a welcome potty & lunch break!   Here we could have added in miles to the trip - but since we'd been out in the cold for a while now & Jack was hoping to get home before sundown - we decided to just carry-on & head for our final destination!

We were in the Redmond Watershed when we ran into two other horsemen!  Brandi & John!  I'd not seen Brandi since Renegade - so we had to take a few minutes to catch up!  They were the only other two horsemen we'd seen all day!   We were still on our mission though - both of us even under all our layers - starting to feel the cold!
We've Arrived!  Kathryn Taylor Park~!
It was Wonderful to see Jack parked at Katheryn Taylor waiting to take us home!  We felt like we'd really squeaked this ride in.  December - the cold snap - holidays, etc., it was still so darn wonderful to spend a sunshine day in the saddle!   My GPS recorded the trip at 15-miles & we took just over four hours.