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

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Darrington Days~

Mule Barn
Today we were on the road early, heading to Darrington to set up the information booth for the Centennial Trail Coalition.  Our first stop was the Mule Barn, near the Darrington end of the Whitehorse Trail, to pick up display easels.  We found it locked, so on to George's garage for our inventory.
The "early birds" helped with the awning covers~
We arrived at Old School Park - it was still early.  Blue sky, light breeze, moderate temperature.  It was a friendly group, mostly volunteers - with plenty to get done.  It wasn't long before the covers were up & we were setting up our tables with brochures, display items & t-shirts.
Our booth~
 The Forest Service had one end, hikers next, B.I.K.E.S & then the CTCSC.  There were different spots all over town with a variety of displays, crafts, etc.
There were several speeches by local dignitaries~
 We had a steady stream of visitors throughout the afternoon.  Everyone happy to hear about the improvements taking place on the Whitehorse Trail!  Many people had already been out on the trail & were asking when this or that section would be completed.
New Wood Carving~
  This amazing wood carving was donated to the city of Darrington.  At 3 p.m. we were done for the day, so packed up & decided to see what was going on with the bridges on the trail for ourselves.  First we picked up shakes & fries at Burger Barn!
Cicero Bridge
 The Cicero Bridge decking is done!  Just some bollards to be placed on the far end, fencing to finish & it's done!  The trail both directions has been brushed - things are moving forward!
From the bridge looking over at 530 bridge~
It's another beautiful bridge, with beautiful views of the river.  There were people sitting in lawn chairs down in the water.  Levels are so low, more like late Summer, rather than late spring.  Thinking back on all the years that we worked to get the Centennial Trail through - many times it seemed an impossible task.  Now, the Whitehorse Trail - years ahead of anyone's dream...  It took a terrible disaster to get things rolling - but what a tribute to the tenancy of the people of this area, combined with the hard work of County Parks -  that this trail too, will open far ahead of projections!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Whitehorse Improvements!

Pat on Khaleah, Dena & Bella
Pat & I had planned to ride today, it had been a long time since we'd gotten out.  Then Dena texted - she had a rare day off & wanted to ride!  Tomorrow Butch & I are manning the Centennial Trail Coalition booth up in Darrington.  Usually, we just promote the trail, but then I received word that the local bike representatives planned to share the booth with us, handing out their informational brochures.  It was too late to get all the BCH brochures I would like to have, but Scott was kind enough to leave a stack of Cascade Chapter brochures at the shelter for me to pick up!
Pat leads the way on the Whitehorse~
It was already getting hot by the time we were on the trails.  I was thinking shade - in a big way! 
Friends No More!
Farah & Bella used to be VBF - but No longer!  Every since Bella, for some unknown reason kicked Farah at the beach last year - Farah has decided that she no longer trusts Bella!  Bella can't figure out why Farah isn't responding to her friendly gestures?  :-)
Cleared out!
Pat & Dena were game to go see if there were any changes on the trail - just past the infamous "hole".  The lady in the house, came out to tell us that we couldn't go past her yard, but I explained that there was a sign saying that this was the future trail & that's the way we were going.  (On the return, we went up the driveway - out past the big barn, through the man gate & around the edge of the yard at Cloverdale - to avoid the issue.)
The trail has been brushed!
I'd heard at the last meeting that a section of the trail had been brushed, but Russ wasn't sure where.  Well - it seems that it's the direction that I've been waiting to go for a long while now!  Towards the newly decked bridges!
To the first of the newly decked bridges!
This was really a Wow moment for me!  The last time I got this far on this trail was with Diane, years ago...  We walked the horses across a bridge that was full of holes, hoping it would get better as we went further...  It didn't & we had to turn back.  This was before there were even sides on Tin Bridge!
Lunch spot
We stopped here for our lunch break!  Cool, breeze off the river, just a perfect spot to enjoy a perfect afternoon!  I would have gone further~
Continued brush cut back!
I'm sure that the clearing must go on at least to the second of the bridges - & two more past that are now decked.  Soon, very soon - you can bet I'll be out this way again to see just how far I can get!  From here - we turned back.  Dena had managed to loose her phone...
She had planned to do a video of us crossing Tin Bridge... So I used my camera to take this as we were crossing back.  Back at the shelter, there were several other riders - Dena hardly got the words out - when they were responding "YES"!  They'd found the cell phone!  Yippee!

I was happy that I handled the heat much better today, after my mini meltdown on Monday.  No change in my routine - so I'll just go with feeling OK & glad of it!  Perfect day - if warm!  Great ride, lots of chuckles & stories too!  :-)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Duvall to Snoqualmine - Point-to-Point

New Signage
The sign above greeted us as Lynn & I started down along the SVT.  We both knew the exact spot, it's been washing away for a while now.  But to close the trail during the busiest time of year & for so many months?  We were lucky to get in our ride today!  (Our first point-to-point ride.)
A Long Straight Stretch~
It was kind of an unappealing morning - overcast, but warm & humid - the bank in Monroe said 70 when I drove by.  The trail had been recently graded, widened out with the brush cut back & a new layer of gravel in places.
Snoqualmie River - Low!
 The Snoqualmie too, is low - the lowest I've seen it - especially for so early in the year!  For the day after a three-day weekend, it was a busy day!  Lots of people on the trail, a brush cutter out, another crew working on the power lines etc.  (They stopped work & turned off the equipment as we rode by.)
More new signage~
Since I'd spoken to King County about this highway 203 trail crossing, new bright signage has been installed, traffic to slow to 40 heading into Carnation, already moving up to 50 toward Duvall.  As we were waiting for a break in the traffic, a truck came by - doing at least 60+.    Amazing - since we have to go under 530 for the Whitehorse trail - here - everyone just dodges the speeding cars!  (The little new sign - is a warning to trail users that the traffic "Does Not Stop!" 
Lynn & Sophie crossing the Tolt
The Tolt was less than half it's usual flow.  I can almost imagine this going dry by Summer...  With Jack's help, we were riding all the way to Snoqualmie Falls, where Jack would be waiting in the upper parking area.
The pretty part of the trail~
Once we were outside of Carnation & heading toward Fall City, the trail becomes more "rural" except that we both noticed the heavy tracks of bikes.  By "heavy" - I mean solid bike tire marks from one side of the trail to the other!  Also - the trail was as hard as concrete!  The most compacted ever, I was glad that Farah still has her pads on!  Then - suddenly - Boom!  Gun fire!  Lots of Heavy Gun fire!  Enough that both Lynn & I jumped in the saddles!  Enough - that anyone riding less experienced horses would have probably been thrown.  The several times we've been here - this was a first & lasted for a couple miles.
Over Toluk Creek - The Big Bridge :-)
Crossing this bridge is always so fun!  :-)  The gun fire had temporarily stopped as we rode across, but started up again as we cleared the far side.  Going this direction - of course, it's a gradual climb & we had the mares trotting for a few miles.
We arrive at the tunnel
I'm going to have to look back to see if this tunnel has been improved - as I think it has, since our last visit.  We didn't go on up to the Kiosk - since we were running late to meet-up with Jack.  We found the little trail through the woods, then the old roads & finally the other small hiking trail that took us to the parking.
Our ride awaits!
For whatever reason, I didn't feel myself this entire ride.  I was using my electrolyte tablets, Farah was being nasty with Sophie & the feelings are mutual...  But Sophie just moved down the trail ignoring Farah - which I wish I could have!  But when she's tossing her head & lifting her front off the ground at every other stride - it's hard to ignore!

Heading home, we got behind a piece of farm equipment that caused miles of backup...  With heavy traffic in the traffic circle just before you get to Duvall - one driver in a hurry almost caused an accident right in front of us.  By the time we were dropped off  at Taylor Landing - I hoped that the line of cars would be gone...  not...  We followed it most of the way back to Monroe.  I was late getting home, happy that Butch was already there.

Both Lynn & I enjoyed what's become a rare day of riding together!  With the busy schedules we both have this summer - we're still going to try to get in a few more!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Seven Years, To the Day~

This morning I was adding a Mt. Adams photo to Farah's Facebook album, went back to look & realized that my very first photo of her - was taken seven-years, to the day - before our win at Mt. Adams.  One of those strange coincidences that can happen in life & leave us wondering?  Was it preordained?
My first photo of Farah, May 16, 2008
My niece purchased her from Amy Lynn Durga - in January of 08, as a long-yearling.  When I tell people that she was a pale palomino at birth - they don't believe me...  (Farah's breeder, Renee - had traded Amy straight across; Farah, for a four-year-old Thoroughbred gelding - September of 07.)
Probably a yearling in this photo
We were returning from a trip to Colorado, it was supposed to be a vacation - but ended up being more of a working vacation.  We'd helped my mother do some downsizing.  On the return, my niece asked if we could go through Greeley to pick up some personal possessions she'd left behind at her brother's, prior to her move to the Portland area.
Nice Stride! 5-16-08
With the back of the truck full & towing a u-haul trailer behind, we arrived in Portland more than ready to ditch the stuff & the trailer!  Of course we had to go see the new horse!  It was late afternoon - I took my camera & was really surprised at the filly we saw!  I gave some advice on hoof care etc. & we headed home.
8-8-08 - Almost 2-1/2 years old.
Early August, we were again in the area visiting friends & stopped by to see the mare.  There was just nothing about her that I didn't like.  She hadn't had much done with her - just a lot of handling.  She was already friendly by nature.
No date, but probably 3-years old
A couple years went by, we saw a few photos of her~
Four-years old - dorsal stripe visible~
By four, there were changes!  The mane had darkened & her coat had almost silver highlights!  Circumstances had changed & the mare was put up for sale unsuccessfully.  Eventually, she was leased out to a couple different people.  May of 2011, we got a call asking if we could haul her up here & board her.  I had Khari, we'd hit a sour note in our relationship & I kept thinking about Farah...
One evening I got up the nerve & asked Butch if we could make an offer?  There was just something about her...   Being the great, supportive husband he is - he agreed & a deal was reached.  As I mention in an earlier post, after my first ride - there was no question which horse was going to be sold & which would stay!
May 16, 2015 By; Jessica Wynne
So indeed!  Seven-years have passed since that eventful day that didn't even seem eventful at the time!  Farah - coming at a point in my life where I have the time to devote to her, is something I'm very thankful for.  She's already carried me many miles, given me some of my most memorable moments & become a full fledged member of our family!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mooove Cows!

The tail says it All!
Finally, it works out that we meet-up with our friend Janelle, to introduce Farah to cows!  Arlene has done this before too!  Graig & Julie Ohm have a beautiful ranch where they host occasional classes, within just a few miles of us.  It was late afternoon, I had to wake Farah from a nap in the sun!
The three of us warm-up
Craig suggested we warm up in the arena first, Farah recognized her long-time friend Duke & he her!  Duke is the most experienced cow pony we know!  He & Janelle have entertained us on our beach trips with his amazing spins!
Janelle & Duke make it look easy!
Farah watched with amazing intensity!  (Butch met us there & took all the great photos!)  Soon, it was our turn to go out!
You want me to do What?
When one calf jumped up on another - I managed to retain my seat for the fast 180 spin!  But with Craig on Louie near by - she did walk into the same pen as the small herd!
Hum - they're not moving?
Craig said that some horses can take a couple sessions to walk into the herd!  I think we'll leave that for next time!  :-)  Below is the video Butch took - the tail tells the tale!  Farah would stomp her hind foot if I asked her to move further forward that she wanted to!
I should have given her more rein, but had to keep enough control to try to stop any fast action!  :-)  I wish I was built more like a long-legged Cowboy!  The swishing tail made it perfectly clear that Farah was Far Out of her comfort zone!
Time to relax~
She watched with rapt attention while other more experienced horses took there turn, then - suddenly - enough was enough & she started backing up.  I moved her over to the arena & asked for a little trot, but got a buck & a grunt!  I know her well enough now, to know when it's time to quit!

Really fun to play!  I would have Really had fun riding Topsy!  First time in a long while that I remembered those days as a kid galloping after Grandpa's herd!  I don't know how much fun Farah had - but I do know it was good for her brain!  I hope to see improvement next week!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Farah Wins the 55! @ Mt. Adams~

Our camp~
Again, we had to leave on Friday morning - traffic was heavy but moving.  With only one stop for fuel & a break for Farah, we made good time. 
Waiting to Vet
I wish I'd been quick enough to get a photo when Butch was trotting Farah away!  She did Everything but trot!  The Vet asked his scribe if there was a box for AAA?  :-)  Coming back toward us, she at did at least show that she could trot!
 The Big Tree!
Once the vetting was over, I wanted to get Farah out on the trail - heading out the start, to check the turns, most of which we flew by last year when following the front runners.  The wind was blowing pretty fierce, but otherwise it was a stellar afternoon.
Blooming Vanilla Leaf
Farah was higher than a kite!  Spooking at the cut evergreen branches on the trail to the point where I got off, took a piece & brushed it over her head!  We were out about 2-miles when we ran into our friends Marie, Leslie & Julie!  Always good to see those friends we see so seldom.  They left, we continued on - a huge branch came smashing down - another Big spook & we turned back!

Ride meeting, dinner & to bed for us!  4:30 a.m. came too darn early for me!  Our plan was to lounge Farah rather than me trying to ride her for the warm-up.  (That almost had me bucked off last year!)  Butch said she did plenty of bucking on the line, but by the time I was ready to mount up, she stood solid as a rock - eyes on the starting area.

Our first loop was Snow King. Riders were leaving on the open trail almost before we knew it!  Farah was on the make & within the first mile or two things sorted out as they usually do, with about six riders leading & arriving at the first water tank together.  Soon, we were down to four horses, then three.  Dick, Becky & me.  We discovered that our three traveled well together, Farah leading on the flats & hills, Becky's great gelding on the downhills, Dick's mare Ali - anytime she could find a way around the other two!
We arrived back in camp at 7:42
Butch was waiting when we arrived, Farah was the first of the three to pulse down.  Our routine now is for me to help cool her down & get the pulse check - then Butch vets her through & meets me back at our camp.  There Farah can eat & drink without distraction - same for me!  :-)
8:18 - waiting to head out on the 2nd loop!
This mare is so smart - she has the game down now & was anxious to get back out!  Loop #2 Gotchen is my favorite - through the big burn area.  I didn't even put the camera on the saddle, I knew I'd be too tempted...  As Dick said;  we could finally enjoy our horses, the trail & the day, since the first loop craziness was over!
Becky & I coming in at 9:55 & 31 miles
Now for our lunch break.  The day was warming up - I was ready to change shirts & Farah was busy eating everything Butch put in front of her.  (The three horses had pulsed down within a minute or two of each other.)  Dick was camped right next door, I could see Ali out our window - Dick & I headed down for the start of our third loop & met Becky there - leaving together - the Three Amigo's!
Away we go headed for the Ghost Loop!  10:47 a.m.
The three of us were having such a fun time of it - our horses too, by now they'd figured out who was better at what & we never had an argument over who was going to lead :-)  Farah would pull away like a freight train on the flats or hills, but Becky's gelding was a pro at the down-hill & twisty turning trails!  Ali, just went about her business - very professional!

It was this loop we had a huge laugh at my expense!  Farah was cruising along in the lead when around the corner was a water tank, manned by two of the ham radio operators.  She literally dove her face into the tank - with such a sudden stop that I almost went off over her head!  In the next second, Ali ran right into her butt & again I was almost sent flying into the tank!  Dick was laughing so hard he could hardly apologize!  :-)  
Coming in off Ghost Loop 12:10 p.m. 10 miles to go!
Once we came to the common trails at the back of camp, Dick would usually be the first to dismount & walk in,  Becky usually second & me - finally last :-)  Our speed throughout the day was just over 10-mph. these three horses were working as well, even better than we could have hoped.   This loop is deceptively difficult with short very steep climbs.  There were a couple times the horses walked to recover from the effort.  Farah knew right where we were & lead us in for the final VC!  Again, all three pulsed within a minute or two of each other.  The 30-min. hold went quick - but I was looking forward to that final ten-miles!  Dick & I were waiting for Becky - when suddenly...
Leaving for the final loop - Morrison
There she went!  Dick said;  "Well, I guess she's going for it - but I'm not going to sit back!"  He'd told us earlier in the day that his goal was to finish with a sound, happy horse, not go for a win."  Very gentlemanly of him!
12:42 p.m. - Dick & I head out - with the well wishes of the volunteers!
I sure didn't plan to take it easy at this point in the ride!  Dick had caught Becky by the turn onto Morrison loop, but Farah held back.  I knew she was tired, we'd gone way more miles than we'd trained & it was after all - her first ride of the season!  I didn't push her - I knew that if she had what it took - she would soon show me, one way or the other.  It was hard to see our companions disappear from sight - the only sign that anyone had been this way was what was left of their dust...

I shouldn't have worried, because suddenly - Farah's ears went up & she moved right up into her trot, then leaped up a section of rock & into a gallop!  Around a corner & there they were at the water tank!  Farah stuck her nose in - before whirling to lead the way!  We again had that long stretch of road & we FLEW!   All three horses galloping along easily!  (I was so happy to have those pads on her feet!)  She remembered where we were & knew how close we were to finishing!

Becky said her grand-kids were going to be waiting at the finish line - they of course thought of it as a horse race & Becky was hoping to give them a little excitement :-)  I told her that a race in was fine with me, but that I planned to take first.  Our agreement was reached! 
1:25 p.m. Here we come!
We were pretty excited!  It had been a fantastic ride, we were all so thrilled at the way our horses had performed!  So - we threw caution to the wind & galloped in!  Fun!  (Happy that racing in hadn't been mentioned at the ride meeting!) Even so, there's really no place to go - so you have to be pulling up when you cross the line!
We Finish!
We were all laughing when we finished :-)   The laugh was on us - because now we had to wait for those heart rates to go down!  :-)  Not to worry - all three looked Great!  The three of us were all going to show for BC - even though Dick, who probably weights 300 lbs. (NOT!) would have us on weight!
Butch trots Farah for BC
Farah's scores were her best ever all day.  All three horses looked amazing, especially when we realized that they'd finished the ride over an hour faster than last years finish time.  We'd completed in 5 hours 24 min.  I couldn't have asked for finer traveling companions - let alone fellow competitors.  Thank you Dick & Becky!
In celebration of my Twentieth year riding Endurance, my horse-of-a-lifetime presented me with a Win~  Our gold girl has more than proven herself!  She can move from trail horse, to parade pony, to cow horse, to arena horse, to endurance horse with ease & has covered over 3,000 miles of trails in two-years.  I just hope I can continue to do her justice!