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

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Rainbow Falls - Day Two~

Saturday dawned overcast & cool.  The rarity of spending time in an old growth forest wasn't lost on us...  So sad to know that this remnant is the last remaining, of the once vast expansive forests that covered this part of the state.  Of course - there are only remnants left everywhere - small islands of trees that have lived longer than any of us ever will.  Hanging on - even as the environment around them has been changed forever by rampant logging.
Willapa Hills Trail
We did some hiking & some exploring.  I was surprised to find that there are two horse camping spots here.  When I asked about trails, I was told that the trail above was accessible just across the road from the park.  Since it's a lineal trail - it wasn't what I would have hoped to find - but definitely worth bringing Farah back sometime to ride it!
Rainbow Falls~
 Since we hadn't found the actual falls yesterday - today - that was the goal.  We found the right trail - there weren't that many & soon the sound of the water guided us the rest of the way.  
Butch, Nika & Rascal
It wasn't the type of waterfall that I would have expected, but it was certainly beautiful in it's own way.  I'm sure it's much more impressive when the river is higher in the fall or spring.  We hiked all the trails we could find.  The park felt small to me - at the edges the light from the clear cuts bled through the dappled shade of the old growth.
The native plants that comprised the ground-covers were truly amazing!  I've never been in a place so heavily used & yet with such diversity of plants!  Salomon Seal, Trillium, Vanilla Leaf, Huckleberry, just about every plant in my Native Plant books!   Seeing how they compliment each other in the wild was so beautiful.

We toured the small fuchsia garden, then spent some time relaxing in the large open space in the middle of the campground.  Skyla & Josie showed Papa & I how very fast they can run!  Skyla - fast as a Cheetah - Josie - fast as the Wind!  In another year or two they'll be neck & neck!  Rumor has it that their Daddy has to hustle to catch them!  :-)
Two little beauties~
With no internet service - people at the park were playing ball - kicking back & enjoying each others company - it almost seemed strange to not see everyone looking down at their smartphones!

Another perfect evening - cooler - so the fire felt good!  Somemores with Big marshmallows hit the sweet spot!
The weekend was over way to fast - it was hard to say good-bye for now... Ben came home with us - he had a job interview on Monday.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Rainbow Falls - Day One~

With the camper loaded - when Butch came home Thursday afternoon - we were soon on the road & heading south.  We'd planned to meet our youngest daughter & her family for a Summer camping trip for months!  Of course as time went on, it seemed that we'd need at least three of this particular weekend to do all the things that we were either invited to or could have scheduled to attend.  When it comes to time with three of our favorite Grand-kids though - there's no question as to where we'll be!
  I'd somehow managed to think we were heading to a park in OR - we'd planned on stopping for dinner on our way.  By the time we reached Chehalis - we were hungry!  Shortly after we were back on the road, Grandson Ben called - checking on the status of his bike :-)  Thankfully - when I told him we were leaving Chehalis he said;  "Great!  You'll be here soon!"  I said;  "What?!"  Whereupon I was informed that I had the wrong spot in mind & indeed we were only one exit past where we needed to turn to reach Rainbow Falls State Park.  We pulled into the park & here was Ben & his Mom waiting for us with flashlights to guide us to our spot.  It was pitch black - but I could see that we had Huge trees all around us!  Stars sparkling in a black sky!
It was So quiet, just the sound of the wind in the truly amazing old growth trees!  Friday morning, Butch was out ahead of me - I saw why when I went over to the kids camp across the way :-)
Josie & Papa~
Soon, we were on the trail to find the river!  Friday was a very warm day & cooling off sounded perfect!  The Chehalis River is truly amazing - it's destructive history of flooding is extensive.  Photos at the Kiosk showed all the damage just within the campground - where a beautiful bridge was swept away.
This river was very different from others I've seen, with layers of bedrock under the water.  The water level was summertime low & very warm.
Grandson Ben makes a splash!
It was the perfect place to spend a warm Summer weekend!  Rascal had been in the Sauk River, so walked along the edge & didn't mind getting his feet wet.  Nika - wanted nothing to do with it!  Finally, I put her in & with a lot of coaching from Butch she stood in the water :-)  No way did she plan on going in any further! 
Nika in the water :-)
 We all had some good laughs at her expense :-)  We watched as the sun moved lower in the sky & eventually the kids were ready to dry off & head back to camp.  Dinner was yummy - as it always is when you're camping.  After dinner we celebrated Josie's fourth birthday!
A Ballerina Music box!
  The Chocolate cupcakes were a big hit!  Sitting around the fire was the perfect end to a perfect day.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

One More Time~

Since the rest of my week is busy - today was my last chance to get Farah out before next week.  The temperatures were supposed to be cooler today - I was all over that!  The morning was overcast & cool as predicted.  I had the idea of stretching my mental photo of the southern trails at Victoria.  

Only two trailers at the parking area.  We left out the back - did a short trail - then as we were crossing the main trail - here came a buggy!  The driver pulled up a way off - but I think a Norwegian Fjord was in the traces!  The driver had a flag on a pole in the back - Farah had to do a double-take!  Way too fun!
Big Cedars, Vine Maples & Huckleberry
I'd found such a handy way of getting back from the river when we last went that way the first of June.  I told myself then - that I would remember it - for our next trek that direction.
Can you tell what this is?
We didn't loop the top of the mountain, instead I took the shortest route I knew, down the big hill, to head south. 
Port Blakely Sign
Again, I thought this would be good way to stay in the shade & it worked out really well, except for the humidity, which was higher than yesterday & heavier in the lower forest tract.
So cute~
We ambled on & eventually came to this sign, which told me that we were not going the way I'd hoped.  I'd found the other end of this same trail one day when I was looking for a trail back north & became direction-ally challenged.   
Farah in the Creek~
Once we came out on the road - I recognized where we were.  It wasn't too much farther to the trail that goes to the creek.  By now it was almost 2 p.m. & we'd not had our lunch break!  To make matters worse, I'd forgotten Farah's carrots!  She walked right into the creek & started her usual yawning.  For a mare who used to be terrified of any water at all - she really enjoys standing in it now :-)
Ripples on the water~
I made a serious mistake though - I looked down to take this photo & in the next instant my vertigo hit!  No reason for mine has ever been found - it's been a lifelong problem, so I can't even attribute it to aging - which it seems can be blamed for almost any health problem one might have!  Not!  Needless to say - we left the water fast!  I walked for over a mile until I felt better enough to mount back up.  Farah was unhappy about this & kept urging me forward with her nose in my back :-)
Today's route~
Just to give you an idea of all the trails through this area - the Google image below is from three different rides.  I wonder how long it would take to overlay them all?  Way back when, when we were younger & cleared even more trail than now...  these trails were only a part of the two-day, fifty or 100- mile Competitive Trail rides.
Southern trail tracks~
 Back at the parking, I was disgusted to find a Gatorade bottle, trash & my least favorite - cigarette butts tossed everywhere.  There was also a sheet of paper with a Google earth image & directions as to how to get here - all laying where the trailer next to me had been parked.  That sheet also showed where those riders lived, which wasn't that far?   What would they have said if I'd taken all the trash they'd left back to them?  Fun to contemplate - but I get in enough trouble without making more.  I hope if I do see them again - they'll remember to Leave No Trace!

Monday, July 25, 2016


We worked at home most of the weekend - on just one small section of our woods - under the huge Black Cottonwoods.  Butch chainsawed all the big limbs, I did the smaller stuff & we both hauled it down to the burn pile.  Since I hadn't ridden - today was the day!  The heat is finally On...  Never my favorite time of year to ride - nonetheless - I got all the watering done early & drove north.  I was surprised to see several trailers at the parking area & cars parked along side the road.
Cleared Trail~
We took the trail through the woods & found that someone had cleared the last 100 ft. or so that always gets overgrown. 
Vine Maples
I decided on our usual loop & planned to find all the shade I could.  On these long days - the sun filtered through all the trees is so Beautiful!  Coming up the road where Farah had thrown me Post~  - I noticed this stump off to the side.  Dug into, chunks of bark scraped aside - no doubt about it - the bears were looking for grubs.
I wasn't going to take Fast Trail - especially with a short sleeved shirt on, but I love the views.  Fast Trail is no longer fast :-)  Overgrown is a perfect description.  The birds were eating the Thimbleberries, but the blackberries aren't ripe yet.
On Fast Trail~
A nice breeze made the day bearable, but I could feel the temperature climbing.   I did the short video below of a short section of the trail to the Monument.  Carole - this is for you :-)

 There was one young guy at the Monument, sitting in the shade.   He didn't look our way or want to be social - so we respected his privacy & stayed away until he left. 
View of the Islands to the Northwest
Someone has mowed & everything looked great, except for a few small pieces of trash that I picked up as we left. 

The Olympics have been so stunning all weekend & today too.
Southwest down the Sound~
The edges of the little hillside that hosts the monument - are now growing the wild Sweet Pea.  They're so pretty when they're blooming - but depending on your preference - can be considered a weed.
Sweet Pea
The sky was such a deep rich blue, with the high white clouds, the wide open views of Summer.
Summer Sky~
When headed into the deep dark woods, a lady on a bike came at us so fast that I thought we were going to crash - but an evasive maneuver by Farah helped, along with my shout!  She mentioned something about Farah being the color of the shade.
Far Peaks~
These far peaks are so stunning, low clouds floating by.  
Whitehorse & Three Fingers
 As we started down, I dismounted, took off my helmet & walked a mile or so.  Farah was so good today - the Magnesium supplement we started her on over a year ago, along with the Vitamin B supplement that Cassandra recommended - seems to be doing the trick.  Spooking at bicycles was not a good thing!
Above it all~  Mt. Rainier
 Besides an unexpected leap over a muddy spot - we really had a great ride!  We never did see another horseman.  We did see a young guy with his phone out in front of him, just past the gate - clueless that we were anywhere around - playing Pokemon Go...  Where this craze will GO - is anyone's guess!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Whitehorse News!

Upon reading the Herald Article about the continuing work on the Whitehorse Trail near Trafton, I wanted to ride out & see if anything had changed since our last visit.  This has been the spot that I've lobbied to get completed since the bridges were decked.
East toward Cloverdale~
 It was a truly beautiful day, warming rapidly - with enough of a breeze to keep it comfortable.  Every time we trudge out on the rock, I think of how very nice it will be once the loose rock surface is mitigated.  I'm hoping that it will end up being something similar to the surface of the Snoqualmie Valley Trail.
Farah halts!
 I saw the dust up ahead before Farah did!  She was moving right along - looking forward to her grazing time during our lunch break - when she realized something was up.
Punching through!
 I can't tell you how excited I was to see this happening!  Finally - after what has seemed like a very long wait - work is beginning on the Arlington end of the trail!
Excavator at work~
 With trucks coming & going, all the noise & dust, Farah was still Determined to have her lunch!  Pulling me right past the huge root balls below & over to the tall grass.
Roots of two huge Big Leaf Maples~
I let her take a few bites, but it wasn't our usual peaceful spot & our presence was slowing the trucks down, so we headed back.
Over Tin Bridge
 Once over the bridge, we stopped again - I ate my lunch & Farah was happy to graze before we started back.  I was anxious to get home & share with Butch the latest news!
At the project~
It's still pretty strange to have my husband arriving home earlier!  It hasn't even been a week & Butch is still adjusting to a 20-min. commute :-)   I wanted to see the changes at his project, he wanted to see the changes on the trail!  On the way, we stopped at Nutty's Junk Yard Grill for a hamburger & shake! 
Rock going down~
 We parked at Cloverdale & walked down to the trail.  Things were quiet & it was such a nice evening.  It's incredible how much rock it's going to take to re-build the old rail bed.
Further on~
 The hillside is being graded & all those organics have to be removed.
To 115th~
 This work goes as far as 115th, from that point on - there's another year's worth of brush to clear to get to bridge #702.
Very old signage - where the trail will continue~
 Below is how this section looked June 3rd of last year.
Trail from 115th - heading to Bridge #702
On that ride, we made it through & across Hwy 530 to the Cicero Bridge that had just been decked & was yet to open.  Post~ 
Where we went through~
The Google Earth image above shows clearly the area of construction now.  We walked on through to the end of the grading work.  Butch & I had hiked out this way from Arlington, Sept. of last year - Post - wondering how much longer it would be until we'd be able to reach the next of the bridges!  (I still remember the day Diane & I were stopped by a bridge with a rotting deck after having fought our way out from Tin Bridge.)
Looking back toward Cloverdale~
 At the Stillaquamish-Sauk Tourism All Action Team Meeting I attended this Monday in Oso, I again had the opportunity to talk with Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe, Tribal Council Vice Chairman  J. Kevin Lenon.  Kevin is a fellow horseman, who's working to establish a parking area at the east end of the trail.  He shared the translation of Whitehorse - so-bali-ahli.

 If all goes well, the trail will open March of 2017.  Parks has published a Whitehorse Regional Trail project page that will be updated as projects are completed & funded.  In the Herald article, there's mention of a bike event already planned.  Horsemen in the Darrington/Arlington area are also making plans for a large group ride - to celebrate the trails opening!  On the Whitehorse, unlike the Centennial Trail - Equestrians will be able to enjoy the entire 27-mile length!  Parking is still a major limiting issue, but plans are still in negotiation for a parking area big enough for trailers at Cemex in Arlington.  We hope to leave from Arlington & ride east to the Darrington Rodeo Grounds.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

MHC Adventure~

When I was passed by the loaded logging truck out on Grandview, it was my first clue that logging was still in progress on the tract of the tree farm that hosts the Morgan Horse Club.  It was obvious from out on the road - logging just to the left of the road going in.  The gate was wide-open & the excavator was stacking the logs.
Excavator at work, off Scouten Loop~
No one was around & it didn't look like anyone had been there for a while.  No wonder - since the sounds of the logging operation shattered the usual quiet.  It put us both on edge.  The little section of wooded trail behind the barn was fine out to the road, but there we found the track.
Trackhoe "prints"  :-)
 I couldn't hear anything ahead of us, but I was really watching as we rounded each corner.  Just past the clear-cut - where the trail to the gravel pit starts - the track-hoe had continued up the once beautiful trail.
Now plenty wide~
 This trail was widened all the way up to the new clear-cut.  Stumps pulled up & thrown off to the side - deep holes that had been graded over.  It was still enough that I watched every step Farah took, not wanting her to step into a hole.
At the new clear-cut
 Here, as with my last visit, we found the trail that circles round & enters the clear cut.  It's had enough use that it's pretty easy to find now & some of the debris had been cleared.
Heavy rock
We came out on the heavy new rock road that goes around the expanded quarry.  Instead of going out to the power lines, I turned east & rode up the old road.  There I found the gravel pile & could still see the sticks with white ribbons above the tall weeds.
The "White" trail~
 We took the white trail, I didn't remember where it went, just planned to see how far I could go.
View from the White Trail~
 The views are beautiful, the day was clearing & warming up.  We entered the woods, wound through them & came out on another road.  Following it north - there was a fork - we took the left.
Looking overgrown...
 We continued forward, as the trail got narrower & narrower! 
Above us~
 Just above where we were, I could see the tall trees & kept thinking that we were just a little way off from where I thought I remembered we should be!  I dismounted to beat the blackberry down - so we could keep moving forward.
 Finally, my smarts kicked in & I realized that it was a lost cause...  With Farah right behind me - there was no way to turn her around.  Before I could say a word, she started carefully backing up!  Just a step at a time - I was amazed at how she managed to miss most of the blackberry that I'd beaten down!  We came to a wide spot & turned back.
The view!
 Back at the only intersection we'd found - we turned on the other trail - the correct one!  I remembered clearing it a couple years ago - post~, shortly after Farah & I had fallen off the bridge. Post~
 After winding through the beautiful woods & enjoying the views, we came down a heavily overgrown section of the trail - past where we'd cleared & found a trail marker.  Again - we pushed our way through & into the next section of woods.  By now, I had no idea where we were, but we'd turned & I had the feeling we were going south.  We soon came to another section where the blackberry vines had closed the trail.  I dismounted again - to see if I could knock the vines down enough with my stick to get through.  This time, when I was ready to give it up - Farah put her nose in my back & gave me a little push!  Then another!  I figured if she was still game - so was I :-)  No fun to think of turning back.
Looking back at where we came out!
 Soon, we were through & back in the woods & Farah was a mare on a mission!  Up ahead I could see the yellow of the clear-cut where we'd started out on the White trail!  Yes!  We were right back at the pile of gravel!  We'd made a loop! 
Coming out of the woods~
  I was going to take the road back, but when we saw the blue/white ribbons, I decided to take the trail again.  It really wasn't much of a surprise when another clear-cut came into view & with it - the gravel quarry!  
Quarry - greatly expanded!
 I'd known that the trail had to be here, but coming from the other side, it was hard to spot.  Now, I know where to look & how to get there.
 Once up the hill, we went on up to the high spot.  The road didn't go on, but it was worth a look.
Great breeze!
Though the day had warmed, the nice breeze had kept the bugs down & cooled the sweat from the high humidity.  We took the longer way back, through the lowest clear-cut & past Uncle Tom's Cabin.
The old Cabin~
It was a little spooky, riding along on the overgrown trails - here.  We passed the one that goes toward the bridge we came off of & Farah instantly recognized it.  One of these day's we're going to go that way again.
Our route~
Now, if I can just find a way to the higher roads, without going out on the power lines!