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

Friday, January 30, 2015

High on Mt. Washington~

On our way~
When Joyce says;  "Ride!" I'm always ready :-)  We left from her home & had a mile or so of roadwork before getting to the trails.  We started out in layers - sunshine but chilly afternoon.  Soon - we were stopping to remove layers!
Joyce & Target
Farah was in a good mood & really forward - we've ridden quite a few miles this last week.  Joyce lead us toward a trail that is the fastest way to the higher roads.  It's Very Steep, with many switchbacks that require not only making a shape turn - but then the horses have to jump to the next level at the same time.  It's a Workout!  Farah stopped a couple times to catch her breath before tackling the next step.   That's where I took the first photo - about half-way up.
Suddenly - trees!
Suddenly - one last leap & we're in the trees!  It's tight - we look around, Joyce finds the trail & we're on track!  It winds through the trees & is so beautiful...  But - we didn't have long to admire it - until I heard Joyce exclaim; - "The trail is blocked!"  A staging area had been added to the side of the road, where the trail comes out.  It had been used to stack many piles of cut logs - with others tossed off the side, blocking any possible way we might have found - out of the woods & to the road above.  That left us looking at the stacks to see if there was any way we could squeak around.  The thought of having to go back down that trail - wasn't one we wanted to entertain.
Where we took the horses through~
Joyce started moving limbs, I got my saw off the saddle & started cutting & tossing.  Finally - we both thought that it was clear enough for us to get through.  Joyce lead Target - who paid attention & they were through.  I tied Farah's reins up & sent her on her way - amazed at the way she watched where she was putting her feet.  I followed behind her just in time to hear Joyce say;  "Oh no!"
Logs everywhere!
We'd made it to the landing only to find that we were still completely blocked off the road by stacks & stacks of logs...  Since these extreme rides seem to be what Joyce & I end up doing fairly often - we were not going to stop.  I got out the saw again & started hacking, tossing & clearing another path.
My debris pile on the right!
 Again - we just made it past the end of the logs & out onto the road!  I had to stop & eat some trail mix, we mounted & continued up the mountain - as the views opened up!
Mt. Rainier dominates the skyline to the south~
We were heading up around a curve when I thought I heard something...  About a second later, a red pickup truck rounded the corner - saw us & hit the brakes!  Skidding to a stop just ahead of us!  I rode over & asked him if there was anyone else up ahead?  He replied yes, one more operator coming down in another red truck, but no logging equipment.  (After my scare last year on North Mountain, I didn't want to take any chances of meeting another loaded truck on that downhill grade!)  We were just about to clear the next corner when the last red truck came at us, braked, stopped & confirmed that he was the last person up there.  Whew!
Target & Joyce
Continuing on to Barbara's Bench - I had to climb up for photos~
South from Barbara's Bench~
Looking west~
 With the sun getting low in the sky - it's amazing to feel like you're on the top of the world.
Toward the northwest~
A new road was being cut across the side of the front slope of the mountain - we took it.
New logging road~
It wasn't far to the end, so we turned back - the afternoon was winding down & the sun was getting lower in the sky~
Equipment parked~
 Mt. Pilchuck is far in the distance - south.  We found both excavators & were not surprised to find yet another road being cut up into one of the few stands of nice timber left on the mountain.
Another road gets cut in~
 I don't think these mountains are part of the Tree Farm properties, but I'm going to find out.  I've wanted to make the calls for years now & after seeing this - maybe it's time to ask a few questions.
Our route~
Joyce took us the quickest way up, but we still covered over 12-miles & climbed in that distance to over 2,000 ft.
Upper section~
As you can see, the spot where we had to break through & the new road along the side of the mountain both go through the final stands of decent sized timber.  No more of riding up here during the week.  Now - we'll have to go on Sunday's when we're sure the trucks aren't running.

By the time we were down, traffic was really picking up on Joyce's road.  We trotted into Joyce's driveway just as another huge string of traffic whizzed by.  Sweet relief.  My husband called - to tell me that he'd be working late yet again...  Joyce offered a beverage, I took Farah's saddle off & we turned her out into one of Joyce's beautiful pastures.  She took off with a HUGE trot!  Covering more ground in one stride that I would have believed possible!  Transitioning to a smooth canter - she was a joy to watch.

We were walking back to the house when I felt a presence beside us!  I looked over in the deepening dusk to find Pumpkin (Joyce's rescued doe) walking along beside us!  She is so silent & blends so well into the dark that it was almost surreal!  Pumpkin now has a boyfriend - a nice three-point buck, who she spends most of her time with - but she still visits a couple times a day :-)  It was the perfect end to another amazing ride!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Finding an Old Road~

Cascade Peaks~
Yet another stellar day, Linda & I had a plan to our ride today.  We both miss riding the trails so much - but are thankful for the miles of logging roads that we can use through the wet months.  There are now plenty of hoof prints, even if we've yet to see a single trailer in the parking area.
Going down~
Years ago, when Linda was hosting Competitive Trail rides on a regular basis here, there were many trails that are now either gone, or so heavily overgrown that they're almost impossible to find.  Logging too, contributes to the landscape looking so different, that again - trails disappear.  This clear-cut has been done for a while now & is replanted.  We took it & Linda was hoping that she'd find some remainder of a trail that went to the base of the mountain & to Hwy 9 - near the north end Centennial Trail.
Lake McMurrary
We Found it!  It had originally been a road, we started down & got over half way before the water running off the mountain - found the trail to be the path of least resistance & turned it into a small creek.  It has been a small creek for many years now - but when things dry out - we plan to come back & see just what would need to be done to re-open it.
Going back up!
Farah is in season, Count was in rare form & the two of them about wore us out!  Even with 1,987 ft.  in elevation gain on this ride & being out for five hours, they were both full of themselves when we headed back! 
Linda's trail~
The final hillside that we go down, to get back to Linda's is always so pretty in the late afternoon when the sun slants through the Salmonberry's with it's golden glow~

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sun Lovin' Ridin'

Between Bizy's Ears :-)
Today - Lynn again came up to ride with me & I was happy that she did!  The day was another - so incredibly beautiful that no one would believe we're still in the month of January.  It had been a long time since Lynn had ridden Bizy with us.  The two mares recognized each other & both stayed calm on the trail.  We took it easy - since Bizy is recovering from her latest outbreak of hives & hasn't had much trail time. 
Lynn & Bizy
  We decided to meet at Bracken, so we headed out to the valley on the Whitehorse trail - which is where the first photo was taken.  To get here we have to go over Tin Bridge - it was slippery!  I for one, will be happy when the day comes that the new non-slip grates are installed.
Heading over~
I thought about going out to see the work that Jerry did cutting up the trees & brush that came down with the mudslide, but it's heavy going & too much work for Bizy at this point of her conditioning.  Instead, a snack in the sunshine, watching the mares graze worked just fine.  Both of us more into enjoying the sunshine than anything else.
Hum...  plenty of fresh grass here :-)
It seemed a shame to have to head back - I think the four of us would have had no problem spending the afternoon :-)
(As I was getting in the Bronco to leave today - I heard a lot of chirping & looked up over the roof of the house to the tops of the Aspens - full of Robins!)  On our way back, we again heard birds & saw them flying between the big trees.  We stopped to watch at least two Woodpeckers - flying among the big Douglas Fir & pecking for insects.  I'm sure the birds are as confused as the rest of us over this springlike weather!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Breaking Through~

1 p.m. Mt. Rainier
We left from Linda's & about half-way up the first stretch we came to the first tree snag down.  Linda had already made a way around it, so we continued on.  The sun was warm, but there was a good wind blowing & we both put jackets on the back of our saddles.
The "far side" of the clear cut we checked out last week~
With this clearing, they'll be more windfall - no protection for the existing trees lower down the hill.  We'd decided on a longer version of Linda's working winter loop.
Huge logs~
The skidder that was parked in this area, last time through - had done it's job & these huge logs are waiting for pick up.  All afternoon we commented on the weather.  Sure unusual for January!  Usually we can get a week or so in February that teases us into thinking that Winter is over - but Not this early!
Whitehorse, Three Fingers~
 As you can tell from the photo above - the snow pack that was so beautifully white has been melting rapidly!  The rivers are running full & no wonder, even without rain in the last few days.  It felt so good to be out & not be freezing cold!  Even the humidity was lower than usual.
Another tree down~
We were hungry - heading to the Monument & found the tree above nicely blocking the trail.  Not to be deterred, Linda broke through the brush around the base of the tree - got out her saw & had to cut through a smaller dead tree that would have prevented us from getting around.  With it out of the way - we could get by & get on!
Farah enjoying the day~
I've not been riding enough to suit Farah, she was like riding an animated circus pony for a while, a couple times jumping with all four feet off the ground!  We took turns in the lead - whoever was in the back taking the abuse :-)  We figure that if we do it enough - they will finally get the idea! 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Mudslide on the Whitehorse~

Trail Closed!
Today was one of those changeable days that start out overcast & gray - but by early afternoon it was warm enough that I was thinking that even if it did rain - it wouldn't last long.   Butch has to work  some nasty hours, trying to finish up the project he's been on for over a year.  Today, he left early & will work through the night - meaning - no need to cook dinner!  I did chores, gave Farah a good brushing, loaded her up & we headed to Bracken Rd.  The parking lot was packed!  I didn't recognize anyone, but on three-day weekends, we get people driving up from everywhere.
Soon to be solar powered water pump for a water tank~
We rode up to check out the new addition to the tree farm, funded by our local Back Country Horsemen Chapters.  It looked almost ready - will be such a nice addition & in a good spot too.  On we went, out to Tin Bridge.
Winter Woods~
 It was a beautiful afternoon, big white thunderheads rolling around, some looked threatening - but we stayed dry!
Lots of water flowing down the North Fork~
I wasn't surprised to see all the water in the river - I love the sound of it flowing by~
Looking back~
I wanted to ride toward Arlington & check out what the quarry is doing just past the start of the trail there.  Riding along the river is so relaxing & it's a nice quiet section - just a little noise from 530 in places.
Farah sees something~
Someone in an orange jacket had managed to get down the hill on the far side of the river!  No trail & nothing there - so have no idea what he was doing.  With the heavy rock on this portion,  walking is tough enough - but I was surprised at the way the rock has actually packed down some from what it has been.
When we saw the brush & fallen trees over the trail, we were a mile west from Tin Bridge.  I stood up on the saddle & got this shot of the section of hillside that had slipped.  I don't think the mud itself reached the trail, it's the trees & brush that will have to be cut away.  As we were discussing in the meeting last week - taking on this trail is a Huge Challenge!  So many places were the banks are high & the soils crumble easily.  Just as we found this - my phone chimed with a message from a friend - who'd found the slide from the far side.
These chunks are what the sandy mud looks like as it falls off the hill~
It's easy to see how an entire mountain side slid...
By the time we got back to the trailer parking, there was only one other rig besides ours.  Farah looked up as we were getting ready to leave & here came Kathryn!  She told me about some of the clinics at Rhodes River - sounds like fun - so may have to sign-up for one :-)  We need two more riders to get a really decent price for three days of riding.  If anyone reading this - who lives in our area is interested, let me know!

It ended up being a beautiful day & perfect ride for mid-January!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Where Trails End~

Where once a trail was~
Linda & I had a plan for today - since the trail she uses to access the tree farm was wiped out by recent logging - we wanted to check it out from at least one end.   On top of that - Linda is on her new property & still has a driveway to get put in.  I can't get my trailer in there, so we have to meet up on the farm.

I've been fighting with something - not sure what...  But if anyone can get me in the saddle, it's Linda. I pulled into the parking area just as two friends - had just finished their morning ride, in the sunshine.  I left the first time without my helmet - went back for it & on our next attempt - Farah was in her Full Trot mode & we were cruising.  I swear she knew we were meeting up!  As we rounded the final corner where I expected Linda & Count to be - they were!  So we headed over to see what one end of the new clear-cut looked like.
Linda in the middle~
If you haven't experienced it first hand - it's incredible how different a landscape that you thought you knew - looks like after being logged.  We thought we might "find" the trail & ride through - but after Farah almost went down, we decided that I would hold the horses & Linda would scope it out.
Linda "Scoping"~
It's rough - very rough - but we're already making plan to figure out a way though.  At this point, we turned back & headed up to the Monument.
The fog rolls in~
It was chilly in the sunshine, but let me say that when this fog came in - it became bone chilling!  We ate a late lunch anyway - then started down.
Sunshine trying to break through the fog~
We kept hoping that the sun would win out & it finally did, just as we were about back to the trailer parking!
Lake McMurray under fog~
Linda still had another three-miles to ride to get home.  I loaded Farah for our drive home.  Farah thought it pretty darn strange that Count was leaving without us!  :-)  Count would have preferred a trailer ride I'm sure!  :-)
Our track
 Next, re-establishing the trail!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

2015 - First Ride!

Mt. Rainier - 12:23 p.m.
Finally, Lynn & I managed to arrange a ride!  We'd hoped to go on a long point-to-point, but with all the flooding, the trails that we might have done this on - were under water in many places!  Instead, I talked Lynn into coming up to Victoria, where on the mountain, the roads are dry.
Our lower loop
During our much enjoyed time off the trails - I called Garmin & finally figured out how to overlay my routes onto Google Earth - again!  Not only that, but now I can go back & save images of the rides I did last year - happy - happy me :-)
Lynn & Sophie
It was really nice to have company on the ride - it had been too long!  Lynn & I had plenty to catch up on :-)  Every time Farah tried to act up toward Sophie, or started her bucking routine, I just turned her around, walked her back the way we'd come - she would sigh & we'd turn back.  All in all, a pretty successful way to manage her & she did seem to enjoy having company with us as much as I did.
Plenty of water~!
All the little streams were very full & we could hear them before we saw them!  It was cool in the shade, but so warm & wonderful in the sunshine!  When I was going through Arlington about noon - it was 44.  Coming home this afternoon - about 4 p.m. it was again 44 - with fog moving in.
Mt. Rainier 3:10 p.m.
There was an amazing view of the mountain both as we started out & as we were returning!  Heavy cloud cover or fog over the lowlands~
Farah's "Saddlebred" look :-)
Just after I took the photo, we saw a horse far up the hillside - which put Farah on alert :-)  Thanks for the photo Lynn!  A really stellar day for early January!