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

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Long & Almost Longer!

Heading out the trail Linda cleared~
I wanted to get in some miles on our own today, so headed up to Victoria with the plan of doing my long loop & finding all the miles I could.  So we started out this way - then headed up the climb to the Monument.
Thistle Everywhere
The Thistle has just gone crazy with the heat!  Where all the seed comes from I have no idea - but it proliferates in ALL the clear-cuts.
Sending out more seed~
When you see the huge amounts of seed that these plants send out - it's crazy.  An interesting look to a hillside.
From the Monument
Once up on top, the sun started trying to break through the cloud cover...  I didn't want it!  I was so enjoying the cooler temperature - even if the humidity was high.
Farah hears something?
Once we turned into the deep dark woods, the sun did break through - turning the landscape almost Farah's color!  She was alert & I was too, but we didn't see or hear a thing.
The Ridge Trail south of the overlook
I love this trail & let Farah decide which way she wanted to go - she chose trail two different times - but on another - took the road for a gallop, with a buck thrown in :-) 
View from the trail - Mt. Washington to the right~
Heading down, down, down, I had to try again to get a photo of the old growth Cedar Stump that's off the edge of the trail.
Amazing that it's still so huge after all the years since it was cut.
When we headed down the long stretch of road - I had to make several stops!  The blackberries were just too ripe to pass up & eating them is the only thing on earth that they are good for!
Ripe for picking!
Farah is the only horse we've ever had that doesn't seem to like them!  I picked a handful of ripe ones & tried to give them to her - she chewed, but spit them out!  Once we'd ridden through our green mile & the trails down to the Scott Mainline - it smelled like Fall!
Leaves down from the dry summer~
We were clipping right along on this stretch - it was coming up on 3:30 & I was figuring just over an hour to get us back...  Wrong!
Track Hoe
This was the place where I'd seen a small dozer working on the road a few months ago.  Today - this track hoe was coming right at us down the road, with the boom in the air & the grappling hook swinging back & forth!  Lucky for me - the operators truck was in front of us - so I dismounted & put Farah behind the truck.  She was watching - but didn't show signs of wanting to bolt!  The operator turned up the road you see, turned it off & got out.  He said that we could continue on to the road that would cut us back up the hill & back to the parking.  Whew!  Otherwise we would have had a long ride back the way we'd come!   
Logs waiting to be hauled.
The last truck load pulled out, headed down to Hwy 9 - so things quieted down in a hurry.  The corner I was watching for had changed - but we had no problem getting through.
From the top of the cut~
Things looked really different, but this was just a small section & I think that's all they're going to do here - I hope so anyway.  Up the big climb we went, trot, canter & finally - near the top ran into a couple bike riders.  Farah did another nice gallop, then we took the trail through the big trees & were back at the trailer, the only one left in the lot.  We covered almost 20-miles & it was 77 degrees when we stopped in Arlington for a pizza on the way home!  At least Way better than the high 80s! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

We are Where?

At the creek~
We started out about 10 & headed down the trail to the creek crossing.  On the way - Farah Again whirled & tried to turn back on an open trail - brush down both sides & a pile of poo in the middle.  I couldn't believe it!  Neither could Joyce.  I turned her back & again she whirled!  This time I told her;  "Either you go - or you get the stick"!  Joyce mentioned in Farah's defense - that with all the blackberries ripe, a Bear could have easily crossed the trail before us.  I hope that's Farah's excuse.  She was on alert for the first few miles.
Can you see Joyce & Jesse?
Joyce asked if I wanted to do some exploring & that's what we did!  Going on trails that I have never seen - technical, muddy (even now) but really beautiful with some huge trees!  I tried using my phone camera today- but the results in the woods were no better than with the Nikon.   It was hot, humid - but much cooler in the shade & that's where we were most of the ride!
You see it Jesse?  You see it Farah?  What are we looking at?
These two feed off each other & it was almost comical at times :-)  When we came in off our wanderings to a trail that was familiar - even then, the two of them were still somewhat on guard.  In spite of it - we again enjoyed some really nice stretches of trot & the breeze felt so good.
Trees thinned
The tree farms have been busy places this season...  The selective cutting here, then this thinning - to allow the remaining trees to grow.  It's eerie looking - almost like a scene from some scary movie.  But then - if you ride far enough out & we did - we found some truly beautiful places too.
Jesse gets a cookie :-)
The photo doesn't do the area justice, it was like riding through a forest of green lace, the vine maples with their bright green leaves are protected from the sun here & it was still spring like.  In most other places they're turning their fiery fall colors!
Butterfly Bush
Finally - I took this photo today of a Butterfly Bush.  Yes, they're pretty - but NO - we don't want them!  It's originally from Asia - invasive & toxic to Butterfly's!  Please read the link that is also the caption of the above photo.  Pass this information on to anyone you know - who has one, wants to buy one etc.  There's nothing that riles me more than nurseries who knowingly sell invasive plants.  There are so many beautiful native plants in this state, there's no need to propogate those that do harm to the environment.

I'm ready for the Dog Days of Summer to be done! 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Fun at the Fair!

As the sign says;  "Fun Games"!
We always try to go the first couple days that the Evergreen Fair opens.  Everything is fresh & new - the vendors are friendly, the food is outstanding & it's usually not overcrowded.  I left from up north, Butch from Ballard & Monroe was about in the middle - but Butch had the wait for the train.  Now parking is $10. We used to complain when it was $5.  Entry was free though if you brought 3 cans of food each - & we did.
Behind the scenes~
It's great touring the horse barns!  First to see all the 4-H Clubs with their stall decorations, informative posters, curtains, horses etc.  The kids are always so bright, courteous & friendly!  Every kid we saw asked if we had any questions!  We did & they were quick to answer :-)  There was even one poster on "Endurance Riding"!

In the draft horse area, we loved visiting with the owners of the Spotted Drafts!  Such beautiful animals!  The one above was a rescue from an Amish farm.  He would shake like a leaf when touched anyplace below his mid-line.  This made working with his feet, grooming etc. very difficult.  He was especially afraid of men.  Over time, he's now a much happier horse & enjoys his work without fear.
This photo does Not do Prince justice!  He has the most beautiful head, hands down of ANY draft I have ever seen!  Not only a handsome head, but nice eyes & the Look of Eagles - which is how he got his name!  To see him in harness at a full trot - is a thrill!
The six-horse hitches are the highlight of the show.  This year was no exception.   The work that goes into showing these large teams is immense in every way!
Harness shined & ready~
The harness for each horse weighs over 80lbs!  We entered the drawing for a free yearling!  :-)  Before the show, about 12 of the 4-H kids - rode into the arena bareback for a "Bucket Race".  Also, one guy on a Percheron!  When the music stopped, there was a dash to reach a bucket, dismount & stand on it!  Each round a bucket was eliminated - along with a rider.  Finally it was down to one bucket - a girl on a paint & the guy on the Percheron.  The music stopped - both horses were flying at the remaining bucket!  Seeing that huge horse coming at him head on - the paint wisely gave way & his rider retained her seat!  :-)  Guess who won?  :-)

Our favorite stop for food is Kaleenka's - where the stuffed bread is the best thing at the Fair, next to the Indian Fry Bread!  For many years we'd occasionally drive down to Seattle on a Friday night for dinner at the restaurant.  In/dinner/ back home all within just a couple hours.  Can't be done now with the traffic...
Carved Bench
As is the case every year, I plead my case for the wood carved horse bench :-)  It would look amazing in the entry of a huge house with high timber ceilings.  So maybe the house first?  :-)

We came home with new pillows & a Helios Heater.  I'm not really giving the product much of a plug - it does get hot & stay hot for quite a while, but to re-generate the crystal liquid inside - you have to boil the pad in a towel, in a pan of boiling water for 12-15 min.  That's pretty energy wasteful.  Even so - it's soft, pliable & makes my neck & shoulder feel good!  :-)

We had a great time, talked to some nice people & really enjoyed our visit.  If you don't mind the time in lines of traffic to get in - it's a great place to enjoy a late Summertime day!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Equine Mind ~

Vine Maples showing off their color!
It was a perfect day for riding!  Joyce & I met at Bracken to get in a faster little ride.  Farah was happy that Joyce brought Target today.  The overcast was high, it was very quiet, we left a little later than usual - noon, but it seemed like it was earlier in the day.  Every year when we ride these trails, the vine maples above light up the day!   It's an early harbinger to the coming season - Fall!
Under the power lines
Today, we were in a grove!  So darn much fun!  The two horses trotting along 11-mph - side-by-side, both on a lose rein.  The miles were whizzing by & we both were wearing huge smiles!  The temperature was so cool that the horses hardly broke a sweat.
I don't know who made this sign, but every time I pass it I say I'll take a photo & today I did!  :-)  There were several trailers in the lot & we ran into a few riders.  It was quiet too, no logging going on - but plenty of reminders that it has been.
A few logs left~
It's not pretty - but it's the purpose of the farms...  Without them & their welcoming policy toward horsemen all these years - where would we ride?  I'm just hoping that this cut will be Very selective - keeping enough shade from the tall trees to prevent the influx of invasive weeds.
Target shows his consternation :-)
On the way back, Target decided that he'd not cross the bridge unless Farah went first  & then - he wanted his nose at her tail!  Joyce said;  "No, we're going to stay here!"  As I turned to see - I had to laugh out loud at his expression!  Then - the final trail back to Bracken Rd., Farah in the lead - walking her big walk - suddenly stopped!  The giraffe look happened as her attention concentrated on a fresh pile of poo in the trail.  One millisecond later she did a complete 180 & I was facing Joyce!  UNREAL!  I smacked her Hard with the stick, turned her back & dismounted.  I picked up a piece & put it on her nose while using my most severe tone to chastise her for her stupidity,  whereupon she let out a huge sigh!

So, we wonder & wonder some more...   Just what does go on in the equine mind?  :-)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

More New Views~

First - more Clear Trail!
I left early, anxious to get out on the trail on a cooler day!  I was stopped almost to Linda's - a work crew was replacing a culvert & had closed the road!  Oh no!  Me... back up & turn the Bronco & trailer around...  not a pretty picture...  I called Linda & she said;  "Have one of the crew turn it for you!"  Now that sounded like a better, quicker idea!  As I started walking that direction, one of the crew was walking toward me!  He said:  I hope you don't mind - but you look like Joan Jet!  I had to laugh - this is the second time this year someone has told me that!  A very nice guy - he had me all turned in about 2 min. flat & laughed, saying that his wife was the same way!  What a nice thing to say!  :-)

If I'd been coming from I-5 - there would have been plenty of signage, but I come in from the east & that direction there were No signs!  Linda was running late too - so it all worked out.  I wanted to see where the logging had been going on, so we took trails that I hadn't been on in a while.  Beautiful.  Linda said she'd been out clearing trail over the weekend & one rider had offered to pay her - rather than work on the trails himself.  Another rider that we both know, did offer her time to come & help.
I love this wetland - so calm, quiet & tucked away that most riders don't even know it's here.  We rode past, onto another overgrown trail & into the woods along a deep ravine with huge Cedars along the slope.  Not too much further along & we could see an opening ahead.
We'd arrived~
We followed the access road - to the place were it was cut on up the hillside & took that.  They had brought in a lot of heavy rock, but it was compacted.
Heading up
Talk about open up a view~
On top
There were wood cutters loading up all the left overs from the cut.  We continued on & it was fun to see the mountain that the Monument is on from a different side.  There was a large planting of young Cedars on the trail we took off the top.  So much is planted with Douglas Fir - the Cedar's take a lot longer to mature.
Looking Southeast
Linda eventually wound us back around to Baby Bear Trail.  From there we headed on up to the Monument for lunch & completed our elongated loop!  Now we have new ideas for trails to re-open & I'm going to go & do what I can do & at least I will feel like I'm doing a small portion of my share :-)

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Thousanth Mile ~

Unnamed wetland~
Today was finally THE day!  I just couldn't get up much motivation last week to ride in the heavy, oppressive overcast & humidity that each day brought.  We were busy all weekend - but Joyce had a ride in mind for today & I was totally looking forward to it - even when I Knew it was going to be hot & humid yet again!  At least it was sunny & beautiful!
Looking across to the spot the first photo was taken!
There's part of a trail that we're sure used to go completely around the lake, but it's way overgrown now.  We did get far enough around to look back to the far side.  We saw several piles of fresh bear scat - the blackberries are ripe!  We took every off-shoot trail that we could find!  Hoping to figure out some kind of a new loop.
Off another road we found ourselves on the back side of Mt. Baldy
We did more climbing that we thought we would & found a beautiful trail into some Very large timber!  There was a Douglas Fir that was one of the biggest I've seen in a very long time!
The end~
It was so much cooler in the shade of the tall trees that we were sad when we came to the end of the trail & the end of the coolness.  We're both pretty sure we were looking north from this spot.  Turning back - we followed another trail & followed it to what used to be a view point that looks up Grandview Road, but the young trees are taking out the view now.  There's a house not far away - so no way to go past.  There were more blackberries for our lunch though!
Joyce & Jesse
Finally we'd about reached the limits of any other trails in the area - so started back.  Found another large, fairly fresh clear-cut, with nice views of the mountains.  About the only white left on Whitehorse is the saddle in the middle! 
Whitehorse & Three Fingers
We did some galloping on the way back - Jesse & Farah powered up the power lines neck & neck :-)  We were both standing in the stirrups to make the turn back to the quarry!     Again - this year we have plenty of tough competition in the Distance Derby - with Diane having locked up #1 :-)  But with this ride, Farah & I have again crossed the threshold of 1,000 miles to date!  One month to the day earlier than last season!  We'll take it!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Beginning of the End~

My "trail" out~
It was hot & muggy, but not like yesterday - so I decided that I wanted to ride out from home & see what, if anything was going on.  The road above used to be about 10' wide...  now the alders have about filled it in!  We did get through.  Then we came to the ecology block & gate - someone had cut down another large alder & almost completely blocked the path around.  We made it...  Next - we headed out down the paving toward the creek.
Someone removed the blockage~

But the Beaver have Not been deterred!  A new lodge!
 I was sad to see that the surrounding Cedars had died off from too much water...  but always happy to see Beaver at work - even if they spooked Farah :-)  As we crested the short hill - the next view, made me sick...
Construction trailer~
More trees going down...
Mind you, this entire area had signs on posts saying "Native Growth Protection Area"!  I have photos from previous rides here over the years.  What a Waste!  Taxpayer dollars yet again...  So - we didn't go that way!
Trees cut across the trail~
Instead, I thought I'd just take our trail & head south toward the wetlands there...  We were only in a few feet when we came to the first of the trees cut to block the trail.  Farah jumped this one....  The next one I got off & managed to Move... The third set - I gave up & we turned back.  Out to the paving & walked out to the power lines & again headed south.  This time we managed to make it to our goal.
The creek was so low you can see the old bridge supports
Here was our turn-around spot.  We took a short break - then went back, happy to be on a trail through the woods - even if it may be one of the last times...  We went back out onto the power lines & back to the road that leads into the Development.
The gates have been re-installed...
With the gates back, I wanted to be sure I got back before they left & locked them for the day.  I wanted to go to the construction trailer & ask why they'd cut the trees?
Nice little fire burning - during a burn ban...
No one was around the trailer, but a guy was riding a mower along the edge of the roadway.  I hailed him & he shut the mower off - he was Russian & told me that he had no business card nor contact information until "tomorrow".  I'll go back for it!
I'm not the only one who's unhappy...

The trail we'd cleared last year - on our way home.
On toward home, you'd never know that we'd cleared this trail over 7' wide last year...  At the Cascade Horse Club meeting tonight, I spoke to Alan - who did think that I should contact the county about the tree cutting etc.  Think I will.
You can see how this view is changing...
As we crested the hill - I was actually shocked at the amount of logging that's going on east of Granite Falls...  Feeling a little sick, beaten by the blackberries & beaten by the rampant development & logging...  Before long - this entire state will be one huge highway I-5 - with solid development as it is going south...  Scary stuff.

Next time, I'll head north & see if I can still get through that way.  If I can't - no point in clearing my access trail anymore...  Saddened...