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

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Ancient Lakes Area ~

Away we Go!
Scott & Barbara are experienced trail riders, with one of our local Back Country Horsemen chapters.  They do more than their share of trail clearing, maintenance, etc.  So when they go riding for fun - you can bet that it's going to be fun!  The area we were riding into the Quincy Lakes Unit -  where Ancient Lake & several other small lakes are to be found.  On this day - Scott mentioned waterfalls, lakes, high places, views!  But after we hit the trail - I started to wonder if he'd been telling tall tales!
The Waterfall~
 We could hear this waterfall long before we saw it!  I wish I'd thought to do a short video, just for the amazing sound - the water almost echoed as it hit the the basalt rocks below.  This roar of water in the middle of the Scablands was not something I expected. Continuing on - it was easy to feel like we were 150 years in past.
The first of the lakes~
Soon, the first of the lakes appeared.  I've always enjoyed & admired water...  Rivers & mountain lakes, were all I knew - besides one trip to see Lake Michigan in the 70's.  I'd never even seen an ocean until we moved here in 1980.  After the trip to Southern, CA - I appreciate it all the more - the liquid of life in the otherwise barren landscape.
Another waterfall
 Around the corner & two more lakes.  Scott said that there is usually three times the water flowing down this fall - so, as we're all aware, it's going to be a dry year.
Last of the lakes~
 As we climbed the rim-rock, the last of the lakes fell away below us.  Distance is so deceptive in this land of wide-open vista's.
Here too - the wildflowers were blooming!  Spectacular pinks, purples & blues.  We were getting hungry - we were heading to the spot that Scott promised would be perfect for our lunch break!
The "Perfect Place"!
The saddle in the photo above is that perfect spot!  It took some climbing to get there, then we had some branches to trim - to be able to tie the four horses on the steep hillside.  Once that was done, we grabbed our food & hiked up to the rim - that dropped off steeply on the back side to reveal the view below!
Another lake!
I found a long spar shaped stone, narrow, knife like - with three sides that were as sharp as any knife.  With a handle - it would make one.  It went into my pack :-)  We slid back down to where the horses were waiting in the shade & saddled back up.
Heading down through the cut~
 The downhill that we were heading for - was extremely steep & rocky.  The basalt was loose & sharp.  Each horse seemed to understand that this took some extra skill to navigate & I was holding onto the front of my saddle with one hand - it was that steep!  I was relieved to reach the bottom!
Basalt outcrop~
This basalt outcropping certainly looked like it had been molten at some point in time!
Our Route
It wasn't long until we were back under the huge power lines & almost back to camp.  The day had gone by so fast!  Scott was already tempting us with tales of the ride we'd do tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Going Away Again!

Going over Stevens Pass
We'd planned this get-away with our friends Scott & Barb.  Scott asked if we'd be interested in accompanying them to one of their favorite hide-a-ways?  To camp, socialize & best of all - ride in a new place!  Of course we said;  "yes"!
We caravan over~
It's the drive that I usually dislike, since traffic isn't my favorite thing - especially when we have Farah with us.  Leaving mid-week was a super idea, no traffic to speak of & perfect weather too!
It wasn't long until we stopped at Coles Corner to let all the dogs take a break :-)  Yes, we all brought our dogs!  Soon we were past Wenatchee - not too much further & we turned onto the gravel roads that would take us to our destination.  We pulled into the private ranch, where we were expected by mid-afternoon.
Our view~
The view?  Yes - we had a magnificent view!  We camped on grass, with a great fire-pit area, picnic table & pipe corrals for the horses.  There was one issue...  A Thoroughbred mare was loose in the area of the corrals & she instantly went to Farah's pen & tried to eat her hay!  That - of course - was Not going to work!  Next thing we knew, Farah was rearing into the air & screaming like a stallion...  The Thoroughbred was bigger than Farah & when she reared the two of them almost came to blows...  NOT!
Farah, relieved to be away from the mare~
 Being the resourceful people we are - we just set up our hot-wire corral & moved Farah away from the mare & closer to us.  A better arrangement all-round, since she's our one & only - she's used to being near us.
Dinner time!
By the time the sun was getting low in the sky, we were all set up, comfortable & very happy to be in such a beautiful spot!  I was excited & couldn't wait to see what the country would look like from Farah's back!  Ride stories to follow!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Warmest Day of the Year!

Farah & Target
Gray & drizzle was the word for the morning - we delayed our start time by 30-min.  Pulling out of the yard, the sun was shining & it was still drizzling!  We were the only two in the parking lot, many local riders were at the April Daze ride this past weekend. 
Still snow on the peaks~
Joyce was short on time, but wanted to get in a good loop - so we rode what's now become the usual route for conditioning.  I say conditioning - Joyce may go to Klickitat, I'm still thinking about Mt. Adams.  For someone who was burnt out with endurance, here I am - still planning a ride or two.   (With Jas - it was always about her feet.  With Khari - it was about trying to get her to do what I knew she was capable of.)  The draw to the sport for me now - is with Farah - rides are actually fun :-)
The pond is So Very Green!
  At a ride, having the marked route & being able to travel at whatever speed you & your mount want - I see as something of a reward for all the miles we travel.  The sport is changing though - as the population grows & we share the trails with more & more users...  Loose dogs attacking horses, bike riders, hikers etc., make it hard - even during a sanctioned ride - to let our horses go!
Mt. Rainier dominates the skyline!
We had a great ride, Joyce brought Jackson, we had to wait for him a few times - he took advantage of every puddle!  :-)  I put my supracore inserts into the woolback pad & that seems to really help our borrowed saddle fit.  The sheepskin on the bottom is long worn away - so I've tried several different ideas to keep it cushioned.  This seemed to be the best option so far.  More calls to the saddle maker...
After her bath~
Once home, Farah enjoyed her warm bath - I enjoyed getting wet!  Another great ride ~

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Over the Pass - Again

Light dusting of snow~
Another day trip to Ellensburg to pick up yet one more ton of hay.  Grandson Ben enjoys these excursions - he likes visiting with Everett & Carolyn too :-)  I picked him up on Fri., we stopped for Bar-be-Que to go at the Barbeque Bucket in Granite.  We were on the road again by 9 a.m. this morning & arrived before noon to a blowing, cool wind & sunshine!
Ben gets a ride!
We were taking the last of Everett's second cutting & some really nice hay it is!  It really didn't take long to load.
Butch manhandles the last bales!
Once we were done - we enjoyed a short visit to catch up on the east side news :-)  The biggest story of course, is the lack of snow pack & the worry over water - with allotments already cut 50%.
Ben hands the bales off to Butch
With all the bad hay now gone, one hay room full & the other cleaned out & full - we've got enough for the gold girl to last a while :-)  Her weight has stayed so consistent for two-years now - between 1,070 & 1,100 lbs.  She's on the trail year-round & that really seems to contribute to her health & vitality.
Our Very Best Helper!
By the end of the afternoon, it was time to take Ben home :-(  I sent him off with a big piece of pie that we'd picked up in Cle Elem!  He's always such a big help to us & we're always so happy to have him visit - whether it's a working weekend or not!  Thanks Ben!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day Ride~

Out on the trails~
It started out overcast, but cleared early!  I hadn't planned a ride, figuring after yesterday's clouds that today would be the rain - not!  Rather than waste the time to drive somewhere, I decided to ride from home - it had been weeks since I'd been up there.
Down to Star Creek, then back up the far side
The first thing I noticed, was how Green everything was!  It seemed like there had been an explosion of green!  With the temperature cool - we could enjoy the day without the bugs that have been hatching in swarms.
Native trailing blackberry~
It was another very, very, nice spring afternoon.  A lucky break between the cold & wet evening we had yesterday & the next round of rain that's supposed to come in tomorrow.
Far north end of my "loop"
I originally thought it would be a short ride, but it was too pretty out - so we kept going.  Over the years, I've enjoyed discussions with a variety of horse people on what the "perfect" age is for a saddle horse.  By "perfect" - the age that their brain actually kicks in & they become a reasonably sane ride.  Farah has matured mentally more this last year - than I expected.  Always a basically good girl, she still had issues - the bucking, the head tossing etc.  All that - at least when we're on our own - has disappeared this spring.  Another ride on a loose rein :-)
Beautiful blue flowers along the trail~
 We were trotting along when this bright blue patch of flowers appeared!  So pretty in the sunshine!  No idea what they are?
Busy Beavers!
I was amazed at the size of the trees the Beavers are taking down!  They're determined to get a decent size pond going before the dry summer!  I hope they get to stay!  Many years ago, they were all trapped & removed when the development was imminent.  When the economy stalled, my open space was saved yet again & the Beaver have had time to return.
My favorite wetland~
Someone was cutting down a few trees on the hillside at the far end of this wetland.  I pray that they stop...
Mt. Pilchuck
Seeing the ever increasing areas of clear-cut - sickens me.  Every hillside that I view from home & when I drive north to ride - is getting stripped.  One would think that this state would wake up & put a stop to it before it's all gone...

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

It Was One of Those Days~

Elderberry blooms are magnificent!
Where I was smiling for miles!  I mounted up, not expecting anything special - just a nice ride.  Instead - Farah gave me special!  For whatever reason, on this somewhat gray day - my mare was on her A- game!  Loose rein from the get-go, it was one of those times where I just sat back & enjoyed the ride! :-)
There were a few rigs in the parking area - more than usual again - especially since it felt cold - after yesterday's stellar, warm, sunshine.  I met two riders on their way back, as we were going up to the monument.
Farah enjoys "lunch"
Setting a super nice pace on our way up, trotting along at 8.3 + it didn't take us much time to reach the top & have lunch!
Over Lake McMurrary
We continued on - I didn't plan to be out too long, but since Farah was on a mission, maintaining our pace & increasing it as the miles ticked by - we went on down to the bottom of the big hill & out the long road to the gate at 300th.
From the bottom - looking back up~
 By the gate, I was at 10.15 miles.  The climb back up to the top of the hill was just over two-miles.  We did our run & I was surprised there too, since our top speed increased :-)    (There's been a lot of discussion lately about the accuracy of a Garmin GPS unit vs. a smartphone app.  The Garmin wins for accuracy.  I know riders who use their smartphone apps & always show more mileage than I do over the same route.)   Over the years & the miles I've logged - I've found the Garmin to be reliably accurate - matching stats with other Garmin users & over the same route, on different rides.  If you're interested in recording accurate mileage - the Garmin - or a dedicated GPS unit - is the way to go.

Monday, April 20, 2015

On the Fringe~

Farah waits  & watches!
It was another amazing day.  Not the weather that we used to have in April - not the weather we used to have at all...  But you'll hear no one complaining - we're all too busy out enjoying it!
Joyce, Target - Mel & Jesse
I met up with Joyce & Mel at Bracken.  We were surprised to find the parking lot again Full!  Unusual for a Monday!  On such a day - it's hard to do anything but enjoy each stride, lucky ladies we are - indeed!  Mel plans to attend some rides this season & Joyce will be heading over to Spokane be the timer at Gail's first ride of the season :-)
Bright yellow Skunk Cabbage
Moving out at a good clip - all three horses energetic & taking turns in front!   We'd covered about 8-miles when Joyce & Mel turned to head back.  I decided to go on out to the Whitehorse, check out the river & head over to Green Valley~
The River is LOW!
It's far from usual to see the Stilly so low...  but with no snow pack to melt off & our usual spring rains - yet to arrive - we certainly won't have the water to send any to CA!  I find it a little scary - already - to see this.
Thimbleberry blooms~
Once over the bridge, the thimbleberry was in bloom - all along both sides of the trail!  So pretty & cooler in the shade of the tree canopy.
Farah knows we're going for lunch :-)
I think Farah loves this area as much as I do.  Sometimes I think we both feel like we're on the fringe of things...  We're the odd horse out most of time.  Farah walks big, trots big & moves big - I love riding this mare!  
Where the Whitehorse goes~
 We wandered on a way & did make it out onto the unimproved section of the Whitehorse.  It's going to take so much work & the funds that are getting the trail done up in the Oso & Darrington area, don't seem to be stretching far enough to get the work that needs doing - done - here.
There is the sign though!
From here - 
Here is the Whitehorse Trail...
It gets worse...  totally overgrown all the way to the first of the bridges that have been decked.  Funny actually - we now have four bridges decked, then Public Works went off to do another bridge, that isn't included on the trail.  When that's done - the hope is that they will return to the trail bridges...   Still - getting the bridges done at all - is a wonderful thing - but it would be way more wonderful if the trail could be brushed, the hole filled & this section open.
Lunch spot
We found a beautiful place for our lunch break!  I actually laid on the grass & admired the wind blowing through the tops of the trees...

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Tack Sale!

Our Booth!
Well, it started like this...  I bought a saddle from a friend - that I didn't need, wouldn't fit - but was so darn pretty, old & original by Colorado Saddlery.  After keeping it for a year - we took it up to the Bony Pony to see if we could consign it.  They - in turn - mentioned their yearly tack sale to be held at the Skagit County Fairgrounds.  For $50. we could have a booth & not have to pay any commissions on anything we sold.  Really?  We thought about it on the way home & decided - what the heck - we'd do it!
Headstall - sold!
I spent last week digging through the tack room, tack trunk & scrounging up everything I could find that I thought might sell.  We ended up with more than I thought!  We were up early & to the fairgrounds early & set up on time!  There were people lined up & waiting at 10 a.m. when the sale started.  We really had fun - seeing a few friends, meeting people, talking tack & horses!  Always favorite topics.  :-)

It felt really good to see people walk away with things that they really wanted & could use.  A cute little girl bought the headstall above & her smile said it all!  We had four old helmets - one was my original Range Rider!  It sold, as did the small Troxel!  We gave Butch's old Lidlocker away to a guy who's wife had talked him into five-acres & a couple off the track Thoroughbreds!  (We figured he might need it :-)  My Numnah dressage shaped wool pad from New Zealand was purchased by a lady who also took Joyce's contact info.  She's going to have Joyce trim it to match the new saddle she purchased!  It had been in the track truck for almost 20-years!

Finally, just in the last few minutes of day - a lady came back & bought that saddle!  She said it was the nicest in the sale & it truly was.  I doubled my money on it, which worked for us!     Now that I'm motivated - I'm going to get the rest of the blankets & one Very nice saddle pad listed on eBay. All in all, the day was a great success - we made enough to put a big dent in the cost of the saddle I ordered almost a year ago & still hope to receive one of these days!