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

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Movin' On Up!

11:30 a.m. Blazing Sunshine
Today was the day, with bow hunting open - Joyce wore an orange vest, Farah wore her orange rump rug - at least until I had to roll it up to let her cool off! 
Sweat under the rug~
Most of last week was really wet - Fall moved in & with it the rain.  The weatherman was correct though - clearing & sunshine!  So - as we do at least a couple time each season - we headed for the high country.  The 90+ humidity along with the steep climb, soon had both horses in a full body sweat.
Fireweed in it's fall glory!
  We continued up - taking a different route from our usual one.  By the time we'd reached the old quarry - we were higher on the mountain.  The clouds rolled by overhead, but sunshine predominated.
Part of the old quarry~
It was a hunting expedition of sorts, Joyce wanted to try some new trails that we hadn't explored before, so once we crested the top, we started taking right turns & got out quite a way over onto Stimson Hill, before starting to find blocked roads.
Three Fingers peeks through the layer of clouds~
At one of the logging turn-rounds - the clouds opened just enough to let us see the views that were semi-obscured by a low hanging layer of cloud cover - drifting by as slowly as cold molasses.
Taking a break at the Viewpoint~
We waited a while, hopeful that the view would improve, but that wasn't the case, the clouds were actually trying to thicken.  It was blissfully quiet - the only sounds were from two large crows or ravens that sat at the top of one of the larger snags.
Mt. Rainier too peaks above the clouds~
On our way down - Mt. Rainier too - decided to peak it's head up & say "hi"!  It's pretty awesome to be up here.  Our high point was 2,247 ft. - the highest we've ridden to date.  Only a few feet lower than Snoqualmie Pass!
The view of the peak-a-boo clouds~
We turned back, took a left & again found a blocked trail - but now we've narrowed down the places where we're stopped & the places that look like we'll be able to explore further.
"Eye" to the world~
Even heading back, the views try to convince us to stay longer.  The horses didn't mind - water was flowing everywhere after last weeks heavy rains - plenty of water & they did plenty of drinking!
Mt. Baker
We tried one more trail & found one more dead end - again with the partial view of our other large volcano - Mt. Baker.
Down anyone?
 Finally, it was time to head back - the downhill is actually harder than the up!  Farah likes Jesse to go in front, she stays behind & tries to intimidate him - which he has learned to completely ignore!  :-)
Mt. Rainer gives us a last glimpse~
Funny to say that we were going lower - when by the time we'd gotten back to Barbara's Bench - we were still over 2,000 ft.
From Barbara's Bench
According to my Garmin stats - our elevation gain on this ride was just over 3,860 ft.  Yes - I think either of our horses could do about any distance we put them to :-)  It may be close to the end of the Endurance ride season, but to those of us who enjoy riding here - we'll continue on as long as weather permits!
Joyce with Farah & Jesse
When I was coming down off the trail up to the bench, Jesse had forgotten I was up there & spooked - so Joyce had to remind him that it was just "me"  :-)  The day was cooling down just a little, we went through a couple spots where I swear the temperature dropped 15 degrees in 100 ft.
Timber going down~
On our way back, much lower on the mountain - we found this area getting cut.  Sadly - it closes off the access to one of our "short-cut" trails down.  We'd tried taking it from the bottom up early this year - but the brush had grown so thick that we couldn't get through.  Glad we didn't waste the effort to clear it - at least until we see what's left of the "trail" once the logs are hauled out.
Ride Route
It was a gorgeous day - I got a kick out of Joyce mentioning that the air got "thicker" as we descended lower on the mountain.  I told her that she would Love Colorado :-)  Where the high country is really high!  :-)  Only a couple more thousand feet & we'd be at Boulder's elevation :-)

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