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!

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