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

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

River Trail @ Moss Lake & Beyond!

Moss Lake
Well, we knew it was supposed to get Warm!  Into the 80's & the weatherman wasn't wrong today - as we were over 20 degrees above normal for the date!  Since neither us or our mares are used to this kind of heat - we picked a place where we'd be in the forest & Lynn wanted to explore the trails that were on the map - but new to us both!
Farah survey's the river~
River Trail was first on our planned route & it was technical!   I would venture that it was the most technical trail that Farah has done yet & she did it amazingly well!  I was very proud of the way she sat down, slid down & made the tight turns - thinking about what she was doing.  At the bottom, there was only room for one horse - so we moved into the river to give Lynn & Sophie room to get down.
In the creek~
It was gorgeous!   Warm, humid, buggy, but we didn't mind.  Once across we had a climb up another trail - a really Good Climb!  At one point, the trail got instantly narrow, angling down & below was a large cable coming off the side of the hill.  One mistake here & you'd have a horse caught on that cable & my mind couldn't even comprehend that!  A place where you say a quick prayer & keep going forward...
No idea what this facility is~
We came out at the facility above - neither of us know what it is - but it must usually hold water.  Here - we crossed the road & were on the Tolt Pipeline trail.  We followed it until we found a gate that we could get around to head up into the hills there - that had been logged.
We start the climb~
 Originally there were trails on this side, but we couldn't find any - if they still exist?  It was getting darn hot in the sunshine but we wanted to see where we could go!
White cap mountain views!
As we went up - the views opened up!  Magnificent with snow still on the Cascades.  Then we turned & behind us were the Olympics!
They too are still covered in snow - but with the next couple warm days - that snow will be melting quickly!  Moving on - we found some nice old logging roads & a sign saying that we were on Hancock Timber property.  Just from what we rode - there must be miles & miles of old logging road.  How much of them are open is the question.
Mt. Rainier
We ended up going back down the road that we'd come up on.  But on our way - the view of Mt. Rainier greeted us.   According to my Garmin - we did 1,594 ft. of elevation gain on this ride & it felt like it!  The mares were covered with sweat, but they both kept right on truckin'~

By the time we were back to the parking area, still the only trailers there - the heat of the day was oppressive.  We'd covered almost 15-miles in just over four hours.  Another amazing day in the Great Northwest! 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Cascade Trail Point-to-Point

Skagit River
It was one of those stellar days - a day that if you could have a wish for a perfect day - this day would have fit that description.  I met Lynn & Jack at the Northern State Recreation Area parking area late morning.  Our plan was to again ride the Cascade Valley Trail from there - just outside of Sedro Woolley, to Concrete.
Typical Bridge on this trail~
The black lama that has been the bane of this trail in rumor & fact for years now - was at his post.  Lynn warned me that we were coming up on his pasture, but this day - the fence wasn't hot - so the lama charged the fence, hissing & unnerved Farah enough that she 180'ed.  Lynn had her hands full with Sophie too.  I got Farah going forward - then the lama charged again & we whirled again.  This time I Really got a hold on her & we went forward.  Next thing & heard Lynn yell & turned to see her on foot & Sophie taking off down the trail at a good trot!  (We were only just over 2-miles from the highway.)   I turned Farah & started in pursuit - knowing that it's a tricky business to catch a run-a-way without pushing them faster & farther.  Seeing a man on foot up ahead of Sophie - I yelled at him asking if he would try to grab her.  He made a vain attempt - but she took off around him.  By now the distance to the highway was shortened...  I picked up the pace - figuring that if all else failed I'd come up on her in a rush & try to cut her off.  One more jogger was in her path & this man who was tall & fit - managed to grab her up!  Sweet relief & our adrenalin rush for the day!
Beautiful in the Spring too!
We walked the horses past the lama with a nice lady who was walking her dog in front of us.  Both mares thinking - I'm sure - that the lama would eat her first :-)
Beefalo Herd
Next up the trail was the nice herd of Buffalo/Bison & part-breds.  Such majestic beasts!  A really cute calf in the middle & nice big bull.  This was a more "normal" looking animal to our mares - no spooking here :-)
Herd of mules & horses
Finally - we came to the very large pasture full of mules & horses - some really nice looking stock!  They too thought of us as their excitement for the day - so all raced the fence to check us out :-)
Fun to see them & watch them gallop across that large field of green.
Beautiful trail coming up on Concrete
 One of the prettiest sections of the trail is close to Concrete - we enjoyed it so much & I was surprised to find a beautiful patch of Vanilla Leaf.
Vanilla Leaf
I've tried to get this started in our woods without luck - they are really a "niche" native.  Next is the Winery, with the grapes just leafing out~
Cascade Valley Winery
Again - one of these days Butch & I will have to stop to check out the wines here!  As the photos show, the day was just so spectacular, with the white capped mountain peaks all around - that it would have been easy to just keep riding...   But...
Jack was waiting with the horse trailer for us in town & we were getting hungry!  We'd made it to the end of the trail!
A "mare" moment  :-)
Even after over twenty-miles of trail - our two mares are pushing each others buttons :-)  After a short break at the park, we drove over to the local burger joint for a quick meal before the drive back to pick-up my trailer.
Ms. Farah
Farah was really great today - Butch had removed the old rawhide nose-band from her bit & replaced it with the flat piece.  She really seemed to like it better.  She's feeling good, going good & Linda's saddle is working really well for us!

Update;  My tree was supposed to be in a box ready to ship to Mr. Olson the end of last week.  If it arrives in Ellensburg soon - we hope to have it boxed with the rest of the saddle & on it's way to Mike in ID by weeks end.  I'm not holding out any hope that Mike can get it done & shipped back in time for our ride, so at this point - will probably be riding in this one & won't complain - just thankful to have it to use! 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sunshine & Thunderstorms!

We head back toward that For Sale sign from yesterday~
I've had to amend this post to include mention of Earth Day!  Our first on the Homestead - we planted trees & still are!  :-)

I really didn't expect to get in a ride today...  But the early afternoon was so pretty & even though the clouds were moving fast, there was plenty of blue sky.  So - I saddled up again & had a plan to check out the trails to the south - since we'd gone north yesterday.
Pilchuck Creek
Though it's hard to see under all the green - the creek flows through here from it's headwaters further up.  This land is home to the headwaters of no less than three different creeks - along with the numerous wetlands that I love so much.  Coming to our old "Clover Hill" the creek was beautiful!
Farah gets a drink~
 Pilchuck creek used to be full of Salmon.  In the fall - the banks would be covered with dead fish.  We were wading through one year - when one splashed unexpectedly & spooked our horses.
The creek flowing~
We went down the two trails that I re-discovered a few months ago to the place where the old bridge has fallen in - or been removed.
Farah was just Great!  She went through water up to her chest, then dropped down into a small ravine full of flowing water & a small waterfall!  The entire ride she worked on a loose rein & even in the middle of a heat cycle - used her head.  From this point - we made the turn to go back.
Caught by the rain!
Back in the future development - the rain hit!  One big dark cloud right over our heads - small hail pellets too.  We parked under the trees until the worst of it blew by...  Then started up to the power line & north.  The rain let up, the sun returned & my shirt actually started drying out!  Farah hit a good trot on our way back & I got chilled from the breeze :-)
Rain is Moving IN!
By the time we'd crested the hill - it was obvious that our good time was coming to an end!  It's just so gorgeous these spring days - that I'd spend All my time out riding if I could!  It seems so many riders get wrapped up in the conditioning aspect of riding...  For me - it's all about the Ride!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Another Amazing Day~

Looking south along the valley~
After mowing in the rain on Sat., then enjoying just a beautiful Easter Sunday with family, I was ready to go riding!  The weather report wasn't too promising, not promising enough to plan a ride with Lynn.  Instead, I decided to head out from home & see what changes there were on my northern route.
Elderberry Blooms
It is without doubt Western Washington's most beautiful time of year!  From now through May - it becomes so richly green & growing that the negative ions immerse you in happiness.  My enjoyment is only increased when I'm riding  Farah - who's becoming a great horse!
Trillium's still blooming!
In the deep, dark woods - I found this amazing Trillium.  It was almost a foot tall!  From the woods, we headed down the steep, rocky hill.  Everywhere were signs of dirt bikes.  The trails were torn up & when I went to go around the locked gate - a "new" trail had been dozed through the bushes & around the gate - making it very easy for us to get out to the power lines.
Looking up the way we'd come down~
Once down, we crossed the creek to head west & north toward the spot where we take our break.  It seemed sudden when I heard the sound of dirt bikes - Roaring - through the silence of the day!  It sounded like they were coming up behind us & with maybe only a 75 ft. line-of-sight, I put Farah in a gallop to try to get to the wide spot before they caught us!  Scary!
The loudest of the bikes
I'd dismounted & Farah was grazing when two dirt bikes & the quad above - crested the small hill & came at us.  Farah whirled in a circle, then stopped to face them.  When they spotted us, they stopped & shut the engines off.  I walked up to talk & the three of them were nice enough.  So we made a plan & I reminded them that I'd been riding here for a Very Long time & that they'd need to be a little cautious.  They agreed!
Final surprise
My final surprise of the ride, was to find this For Sale sign where I go around this gate & head for home.  It looks as though the original owner/developer is now trying to sell the parcel just to the south & west of the Homestead.  It hasn't had any of the improvements done that the other section has, so I can still hope that it will sit.
The view from the top~
The storm clouds were gathering & the sky darkened as we headed for home.  At the bottom of this hill - a pair of Goldfinches were flying across the road & into the trees!  The male was so bright - but too small & quick for a photo :-).  We met Butch at the gate - just as the rain started!  Good end to a good ride~!

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Glory of Green!

Down the Trail~
After days & nights of pouring rain - it was so great to see the clouds part & the blue sky appear!  Both Lynn & I were itching for a ride - so met at Lord Hill about noon.  It was still cool & the clouds were stubborn - but we didn't mind!  In just a few days - the buds on the trees were opening & the flush of light green assaulted the senses!  Then - there was the smell!  Of fresh air & fresh green & growing everything!
A new trail!
The BCH & Boy Scouts - along with other volunteers have been working on a new trail!  We took it to the point where it stopped, then turned & found another section to follow out.  It led around the lake & past a beautiful, full wetland.  Here though - the smells were of Skunk Cabbage!  Lots of water was flowing everywhere & the river was Full!
Green & glowing Wetland~
At times Lynn wasn't too sure exactly where we were - or where we'd come out - but we didn't care!  Farah started out ornery - but I'm paying attention - staying on task & letting her know that I'm not going to allow it.  Soon - she settled down & gave me a really nice ride.  In places she sunk deep into the freshly plowed dirt - but each time lifted us up & out without any fuss.
Lynn & Sophie
We rode down to where Lynn remembered an old homestead - the trees planted way-back-when were in full bloom!  The grass is so lush that each time we stopped all the mares wanted to do was graze!  The bugs were terrible though - swarming us any time we were anywhere close to water. We'd sprayed the horses down, but next time I'll be spraying me too!
 Ah Spring - how sweet it is!  We both felt truly blessed to be out on the trail on such a glorious day~

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mustang! Fifty-years Young!

My 78 Mustang
Proudly considered an "All-American" Car - I grew up admiring the Mustang!  When I started commuting to work & had to shop for a car - the Mustang above caught my eye!  After the test drive - it was a done deal :-)  We purchased this bright orange beauty in the early 80's used - with a 302-cubic inch 4.94L German made port & polished engine.  Before long it became obvious that the engine needed work, so after discussing options with my Dad - we decided to have the heads bored, replace the cylinders & increase the power.  With the removable t-tops - it was a blast to drive!
1990 Badlands
 We made several long distance trips in "Sunny".  But one of my favorites was when Jentry was on summer break & we drove to Iowa to visit my Grandparents.  On the way there & back we made stops at every interesting site we could find.  Devils Tower, Custer's Battlefield, The Badlands, Corn Palace, etc. :-)

"Sunny" was famous too!  Appearing in the 1984 movie Starman with Jeff Bridges at the wheel!   I drove Sunny many miles through the 80's - but by 1992 - it was time for a change!  We'd moved to the Homestead - I was working in Bellevue & on the road constantly visiting my portfolio of Condominium properties & attending board meetings.

I tried several different cars - but Finally one day a friend who'd noticed that I was driving a different car almost every day asked;  "Why don't you just try another Mustang!"  A light bulb went off!  Before Butch knew it - we were not just car shopping - but shopping for another Mustang! 
Smokey & Sunny - rear view
When we found the 86 GT with the 5.0 engine & I took it for a spin - literally - almost doing a full circle when I hit the gas... in the middle of Harbor Point Blvd. - it was love at first drive! (Sunny was sold to a guy I'd worked with - who'd long admired her.)
From the front~
"Smokey" was FAST!  I just love fast :-)  I would race my drive-time on some of my trips home.  My favorite long-haul was from Mercer Is. to the gate at home - with a record of 42-min.flat.  That was leaving Mercer Is. about 9 p.m. & was back in the day - when you could actually drive on I-5 & be one of the only cars out there - especially in the express lanes.
"Smokey"  86 Ford Mustang GT
But - there was the day I was coming up out of the south - turning onto the newly re-done I-90 bridge heading for the office & cruising...  when I caught the blink of bright red flashing lights behind me!  As I pulled over, the biggest, meanest looking real "Smokey" I could have imagined got out & approached my window.   I gave him my biggest, but sorriest smile ever & apologized for letting my foot get ahead of my brain.  He cited some sobering statistics about how speed kills & let me off.  By doing that - he's forever reminding me to slow down!  Way more effective than a ticket would have been!

Totally worthless on snow or ice, especially on Bellevue's hills...  The day came, I was working closer to home & actually had time to ride my horse.  Butch wasn't there to take us out with the horse trailer.  I didn't like driving the full size truck - so - I made the tough decision to trade Smokey in on a 4-wheel drive Jeep that would pull the trailer & get me somewhere in the winter.  I knew it was a Big mistake when I heard the squeal of the tires as the lot guy drove it off :-(  The Jeep's transmission soon went out & I decided that I wanted a Ford back!  That's when the Bronco entered my life...  It's Not the same - but it does the job & does it well!

One day in Snohomish though - I saw a black Mustang - with a leather interior the exact color of my saddle.  So - you never know - one day...  one day... :-)  In the meantime - I can dream about getting one of these!  50th Anniversary Edition.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Saddle Time~

Heavy clouds, cool breeze~
I was very happy to be heading north today to meet-up with Linda for a ride.  I was hoping that saddle time would help.  There is the healing process that occurs whenever you lose someone - it takes time, lots of time & each day has to be taken at face value.  Riding is invaluable to anyone who appreciates just how much good a big, warm, horse can do for our soul.  Count did his best!
Count & Linda
Linda managed an almost smile & we enjoyed every mile.  At least as long as Linda's phone didn't ring with another problem that she was supposed to solve for someone.  Funny - when you need people to step up - it seems you end up giving them a hand anyway.  Regardless - we caught up on the local news & enjoyed what ended up being a decent day.  No rain!
Farah enjoys her fresh Salmonberry leaves~
As I took this photo - Linda reminded me that no indeed - this was not random browsing...
Count too~
It's "Trail Clearing"!  OH!  That makes all the difference - it's your state-of-mind!  What great horses we ride!  Not only do they take us miles & miles - they clear trail!  With all the use the trails that are supposed to be closed are getting - it's a good thing that someone is doing some clearing!  :-)
Prunus emarginata
 Today - we enjoyed the Wild Cherry trees!  Now in Full Bloom & smelling so sweet that they fill the air with their richness!  This time of year it's as if Washington explodes with Green!  You think this state is green - then comes Spring & you learn that what you thought was green - really wasn't! 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Should have been Ridin!

Instead, Farah has her new shoes!  We'd gone six-weeks this time & the shoes were worn!  Time for new Eventers.  We might have squeaked in a ride this morning - but Rascal decided to dig out between the time Butch left for work & I went out & noticed him gone.  I grabbed a leash & went looking for him.  He wasn't far - just across the road checking out the neighbors barn.  He never takes off, but wasn't in any hurry to come to me either!  The invisible fence is out - so that means walking all the way around to find the break & make the repair.  Rascal spent what was left of the morning on his cable - barking...
Farah watching Justin work :-)
Both dogs get put in their kennel while Justin is here - makes it much easier for Justin to get the job done.  Once he leaves - I open the kennel door - it's a race to see who can get to the trimmings first!  Justin hardened the shoes a little more than usual - so we'll see if they hold up any better.  As usual we're wearing through them quicker than either of us would like.  There was hoof to cut off - soon we should see the spring growth burst.
New front shoes!
Farah was really good - so nice for us all to be out in the magnificent sunshine!  Even a breeze keeping any flies away!  Justin would still like Farah's heels a little higher - she likes the toes off in the rear - but there's enough shoe there to protect her toes. 
Hinds too~
Our next shoeing will be for Mt. Adams.   I've done the ride five times on three different horses.  Yes - I'm one of the many who love this ride - especially on a good year - when the course incorporates all the incredible trail that's there - rather than logging road.   Jasrada has the speed record for my 50's - at 7 hrs. flat for a 14th place finish in 2002.  Khari - the slowest - 8:34 for 24th place in 2010. 

I'm going to try Equi-Pak instead of traditional pads.  Since we'll be putting shoes on the week before & they'll stay on for several weeks - I don't want to have the pads on for that long.  I've always felt that they hold in too much moisture in our climate - which is wet enough most of the year.  With this - I'll be able to cut them out once the ride is over.  Farah isn't bothered by the hard rock roads - but I like having protection when we're heading for a ride.  Here's an interesting video on the technique.

Next - hoping for riding weather during the upcoming week of forecast rain!