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

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Riding with Lynn~

It was not from lack of trying - but it's been busy out for me.  Finally - we found a day that worked for us both to ride!  It had been way too long!

Waking to cool temperatures & cloud cover seemed strange after the string of sunshine days!  I even took my jacket.  We decided on Lord Hill - one place that isn't too long a drive for either of us.  It was only my second visit this year.
On the trails~
 It's easy to forget how lush & beautiful these trails are.  Both mares were in season, Farah giving Sophie snarky looks - I smacked her for it.  Lynn was a perfect trail guide.
On the newer trail~
The string of wetlands through here are so beautiful & the quiet of the morning was wonderful.  Besides a few birds, all was serene.  Taking one trail early in the ride, Farah came to a quick halt.  I looked down to see where a very large hole had opened in the trail, going all the way across into the Salmonberry.  It looked deep - so we backed the mares up & went a different way.  It will take a Lot of rock to fill it in.
At the River~
On the way to the river, Farah was walking down the middle of the old road, when I felt her drop & a front foot had broken through into another pretty deep hole.  I was thankful that we weren't trotting!
Connie & Farah
The Snohomish River was So low!  We could see fish jumping.  Farah waded out quite a distance from shore before she started yawning :-)
Lynn & Sophie
Sophie was totally distracted by something in the distance - No swishing tail!  Both mares had a nice sheen of sweat by the time we'd started looping back.  I could feel that the humidity was high & was surprised when I downloaded my Garmin that we'd done over 1,400 feet of elevation gain.
Falling leaves!
Leaves were already starting to fall from the huge Cottonwoods!  It even smelled like Fall!  Of course the cool, cloudy day contributed to the feeling.
Our route~
I had to ask Lynn to cut our ride a little short.  We got in almost ten-miles & if I'd had more time, Lynn said we could have squeezed in about 13.  The only place we missed was the lookout.  Hopefully - we'll do that next time!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Round & Round We Go~

A beautiful, cool day with a perfect breeze.  After another busy weekend, everyone else had the same idea I did - Ride!  The parking at Victoria was full except for one spot, but the trailer at the far end was leaving so I waited. 
Full parking~
I'd seen a small white car out on the road coming in, but didn't pay any further attention until we were leaving. As we walked up to the mounting rock, here was the little car, taking up the last space in the lot - driver & passenger gone.
Small car - big parking spot~
 I have to admit that I was stuck speechless.  I can't imagine how anyone could be so thoughtless - but someone was...
Past the lodge~
You can just see the Glass School lodge in the far background.  Now the mess from the logging is piled - whether to burn or what I don't know.  Sure not the beautiful view from the lodge that they had - I'm sure.
Farah hears the equipment~
When I think of all the years I've ridden here - I've probably been around this mountain too many times to count - yet it's still a gem of the lower Cascade foothills.  Before we reached Fast Trail, we heard riders coming down a trail & met up with Leigh, Marsha & Linda.  Linda was leading a trail tour & we had fun catching up.
Mt. Washington~
Farah & I headed on up the mountain, I had to be home early & wanted to cover some ground.  I was amazed at the bikes on the trails.  Everyone pleasant, we could hear one guy coming for a mile - he was playing his music loud!
Farah at lunch~
Up at the Monument - it was almost like a social club!  We all chatted, Farah had her photo taken & on we went. 
In the Deep Dark Woods~
Farah likes the trail through these woods, I have no idea why.  She always likes to stop at least once & just cock a hid leg & listen...  She's done this since our early days together & I enjoy listening to sounds of silence as much as she does.  Even without the peaks out today - it was stunning.  Super fresh air, clouds blowing by - maybe low 70's - just my kind of a day! 
Heading down~
We took the trail down from the lower intersection, Farah wanted to go further - but we took the upper road - then had our run up the long hill.  I love the sound of her steel clad hooves striking the ground faster & faster!  Again - at the top she backed off the pace within a couple strides - taking the turn for the trail in one smooth move.
In the big trees~
Farah remembered before I did, that our last ride that a tree had been across the road, so we took the trail through the big Cedars.  So beautiful there & a nice way to end another ride.

Friday, August 19, 2016

It's HOT!

As I walked up to the woods this morning - things were already warming up!  Even in the shade, it was warm, without the nice breeze we had yesterday.  I made the circuit - picking up branches on my way around.  By the time I was back at the Cottage, I checked to see if there was any sign of the bindweed that I've been working to eradicate at the edge of the creek.  The weed had established itself at the base of the Salmonberry bushes.  The soil is moist &  rich - so the vine winds it's way up to the top of the Salmonberry branches & blooms.  Sure enough - there were two places where sickly looking vines were growing up. 
From the Cottage~
I sat down my cup, my phone & went for the pruners & weed spray.  Soon I was cutting, chopping dead Salmonberry & spot spraying the bindweed.  It's crazy how quickly this area can get out of control - or maybe it just seems quick!
The entire area has gone through many changes.  I've tried different shrubs & flowers, most are unsuccessful.  The Big Leaf Maple grows, casting more shade, the reed canary grass, that I've fought forever got started in the ornamental sweet flag.  Now, I'm faced with killing the sweet flag to get to the reed canary grass :-(
Grass filling in~
I ended up working my way all around the edges, even finding, the hard way...  Blackberry!  Yesterday too, I worked most of the day just to cut things back off the trail past the south end of the house.
Everything cut back!
It doesn't look like much - I should have taken a before!  The Sycamore Tree has grown so much that the Smoke tree doesn't get enough light.  I cut it way back & will probably take it out.  I've had Farah five-years now & during that time - gave up all my yard work for riding a lot of miles!  Working on the landscaping moved down my to-do list.
Results of my labor~
When Butch pulled in the gate last night - he took one look at me & said;  "We'll go out for dinner."  :-)  Worked for me!  Now, we have all the mess above to cut up.
Coming back to the house at lunch, I found my trusty Beagle boy laying on the cool concrete, waiting patiently for the cookie that he'd expected hours earlier :-)  I hope it cools off soon, so I'll be more willing to haul out & hit the trail!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Seeking Shade & Whitehorse Update~

Yesterday, when I was driving west on 84th toward Marysville - I was the only car on the road.  That doesn't happen nearly as often as it used to!  Up ahead I saw a logging truck start to pull out - loaded with the logs from my trails :-(  Sickening...

Today - with higher temperatures on the way - I had to squeak in a ride!  Normally, I would have ridden out from home - no longer...  Bracken it was~
In the cool of the shade~
Only a couple trailers in the parking area & we ran into two ladies riding out as we were going in.  Harvey Creek was our first stop.  Even before she took a drink - Farah was yawning :-)
In the creek~
We did what's become our usual circuit that gives us just over ten-miles, unless we take additional detours or short cut back.  It was warm, but with a nice breeze that kept the bugs away.
Once a beautiful trail~
Deciding that I'd like some fresh blackberries, we took the hill down through them.  No luck there - the weather has been too warm & dry for the second crop.  At the bottom, we took what was a beautiful trotting trail - one of the best here, until the tree farm did some logging.  The deep track from the Excavator was never repaired.
Farah feasts on Reed Canary Grass~
I've posted photos & information on these two horrible invasive weeds several times.  If you take time to read the link - you will understand the importance of eradication.  It's such a shame that Snohomish County doesn't have the funds to do more...  Private landowners could help - but most  don't.
Japanese Knotweed
The knot-weed is in full bloom - it's really beautiful stuff - too bad that it's SO invasive!  Roots that can go 90 feet deep!  What's worse is to see it gaining a foothold - spreading over a larger area of the shoreline than it had even last Summer.
Farah's windswept profile~
Even if it's not one of those long beautiful manes, it is thick!
Farah's sleek profile :-)
We'd already had our lunch at Tin Bridge, I didn't want to go out into the hot sun for the trek to Cloverdale.  There is good news though!  Last Sunday, Butch & I stopped to see the progress on trail.
The Whitehorse!
How sweet it was to see the infamous Hole no longer an issue & the trail has been pushed through!  Rumor was that the hole was declared a wetland - if you can imagine that!  The area was dry.  A large amount of work now completed - since I'd been here on July 20th.  Post~
The Hole is to the left~
The slight re-route did make a little curve through here.  We walked all the way to the end of the work area.  The blackberries have again closed off the trail - just since I rode all the way through last June.  Post~
Where the trail will continue~
Today, we walked along the river bank so I could take a photo of Tin Bridge. The river is really low, probably near the same as it was this time last year.
Tin Bridge~
We went all the way under the bridge, there was shade there after all!  I looked up to see what was left of the branch that had been stuck here since the first time I took Farah over.  Post~
Stuck under the bridge~
Just as we were leaving, I looked down & found a large bolt that had fallen off the bridge!  It weighed at least 3 lbs!  I contemplated trying to fit it in my saddle bag, but instead started carrying it.  I love rocks & have quite a collection - always looking down while walking in rocky areas.
My next find!
How could I miss this?!  Some type of man-made brick - but the incredibly interesting thing - was the chunks of marble that were embedded in it!  I have to wonder where it came from & what it was?  I did some checking & was surprised to find that marble has been mined in Washington.
Upstream - North Fork of the Stillaquamish River~
Now, I'm carrying a 10-pound brick & the rod & bolts from the bridge!  After we climbed back up, I decided to hide both until Butch & I can hike in on foot to collect them!  I want to give the bolt to Parks - the bridge might need it :-)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Lord Hill~

The morning started off cool with some fog.  As I loaded Farah, I thought about going back for a jacket, but with 80+ forecast, I just couldn't imagine I'd need it.  The spotty fog continued through most of our drive to Snohomish.  Traffic was light, it didn't take as long as I expected to arrive at the Lord Hill parking area.  I was surprised to be the only one there - just cool enough that I would have used that jacket - at least until about 5-minutes later when the sun burned through!
On the main trail~
Within just a short time - two more trailers came in, along with our friends;  Scott, Karen & Jeannie.  Farah's attention was diverted by the sound of sheep baaing from the neighboring farm. :-)  It wasn't long before we were all out on the trails.  It was so much cooler in the dappled shade of the forest.  Farah was totally relaxed & happy to be out with her friends.
On the trail~
I was somewhat unjust - when I wrote that Farah chomps the bit & is unhappy going on slow rides.  Not true.  She's done many, many rides with other horses where she's acted like a lady.  Sometimes,  I think she makes her own assessment of how competitive the other horses are.  As long as her dominance isn't in question - she can be just fine.  It's only if another horse wants to go fast past her - that she lets me know that's not what she thinks should happen.  Or, if we're behind a horse walking slowly for a long period of time.  We're working on that!   Of course after riding Khari for years - who didn't mind in the slightest being last - it's been my challenge to keep Farah's forward without the ornery.  Today - she was great!  Not bothered by letting Sherman or Rico lead.  Dash is such a nice mare, the two of them seem to have an understanding.
Karen & Sherman, Jeannie & Dash, Scott & Rico
 As were were coming back - a hiker told us that a truck hauling a large trailer - had broken down half-way up the Big hill!  Back at the trail-head, there were horses everywhere!  The trailer had been unloaded & there were probably fifteen horses tied to the hitching rails.  Our impression - was that this was a group ride that included Veterans.  I was standing at Scott's trailer when a lady with the group headed toward Farah, taking photos.  I asked her not to approach & was rebuffed by her comment;  "If you're going to ride a sliver bay - you might as well get used to it!"  She also commented that she had fifteen horses!  I replied that I only had one & her color was chocolate.  :-)  I Googled silver bay - if you follow the link - you'll see a lot of beautiful horses of every shade!  Lots of reading on the genetics of color, none quite like Farah.

Driving down the hill on our way out - we passed the truck.  As we'd been told, blocking the uphill lane, mid-point in the climb.  With an unobstructed view - we could easily get by.  At the bottom of the hill, another rig was blocking the road, waiting for a gate to be opened. 
A short delay & we were on our way - really a fun ride!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Special Moment~

Farah uncertain~
This morning I was looking forward to another visit at Karen & Scott's.  It was again cool & misty - more like late September rather than early August!  Farah is in the middle of a hard cycle.   I unloaded her - totally distracted - not listening & yanking me around in her haste to visit her friends!  As I expressed my displeasure to Scott - his reply was;  "Good!"  "Very Good!"  I have to admit I just stood there baffled until he said;  "Now she will learn that no matter how distracted, the same rules will always apply."
Calm & paying attention!
Once in the arena, she started what has been her usual "routine" of trotting like a crazy horse with kicks thrown in - but - the Big change was how quickly she stopped!  Within just a few minutes, she was reading Scott's body language & was walking around him - changing direction with very little fuss!  Instead of the hours that Scott had spent with her last week, this time it only took a few minutes to see her relax & pay attention.  A horse that was responding to cues - rather than reacting to what was going on around her.
A good girl!
 Once Farah had settled, Scott asked me to take over.  I couldn't believe how much easier it was to pay attention to what I was doing - as well as Farah's position - at the walk - rather than her flying trot!   With coaching, we did some nice, quite changes of direction.  I asked her to move to the trot & it was a nice medium trot - with her attention on me.  Scott asked me to drop the stick & drop my energy level to nothing.  The instant I did - Farah stopped, then turned & faced me!   It was quite a moment for me - to have that feeling of calm control!  :-) 

Later, Karen rode Sherman, as I rode Farah.  We took turns passing each other - first in the arena & then out & around the pastures.  Calm!  Farah was perfectly calm!  No pinned ears, no chomping on the bit because Sherman was in front & again - paying attention to me.

I feel like we're making such positive forward progress in reducing the stress cycle that I've been trying unsuccessfully - to overcome for ages now.  For Farah to finally understand that being with other horses does not necessarily make it a horse race is huge!  Next, we'll be going on a calm trail ride!  :-)

I am So appreciative of the mentoring both Farah & I have received from these two! 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Perfect August Day~

It was raining when we left home.  I've yet to write the post about my trails from home...  I needed saddle time - badly.  We did check out Lime Kiln yesterday, the parking lot, even late in the day was full enough that I couldn't have parked my small trailer.  Victoria it was~
New Views~
 As we headed northwest from the trailer parking - I decided to take the road that drops down to English Grade, just to see if anything had changed.  Boy had it!  A new clear cut, trees still on the ground - had opened up some truly incredible views.  It seemed as though the breeze was coming right off the water!
Mt. Erie
 I believe we were looking across to Mt. Erie, just a stunning early afternoon!  Farah was feeling good, we hadn't been out on the trails for about a week, a long time for us!
Blackberry Blooms~
Some of the blackberry are ripe, but many more need a few more days of heat.  Still blooming - this year we're going to have a bumper crop!
Up Fast Trail!
Linda had mentioned that she'd taken the tractor up & mowed the trail!  Wow!  Huge improvement & I'll have to buy her lunch :-)
Cascades - under clouds
The day went from warm sunshine to cool as the clouds moved over.  No peaks to be seen today!  As were were galloping up - we passed a couple on bikes.  By the time we reached the Monument, they came in right after us.  We introduced ourselves & all agreed that our area, so loved for so long is feeling the pressure of the increasing population.  Michael & Val also want to help with trail-clearing so I of course got their email address!
Lunch over~
Farah grazed & had her carrots before we continued on.  We didn't go down to the bottom of the hill, but instead did our gallop on the short upper section.  My girl was So good!  She burst into full speed in a stride, then gained momentum until right before the crest, when she dropped it down a notch without my having to ask!   New shoes seem to be working fine!
Tree's down~
We were on the final leg back, when we came up on this blow-down, just at the edge of the clear-cut.  We turned back & took the trail through the big trees.
In the big trees~
Every time I ride through this amazing section of trees, I'm thankful for the experience.  Our pace over the loop was faster than it has been on the warmer days - we both appreciated the cooler temperature.  It was 71 as we went through Arlington on our way home.  About as perfect as an August day can be!