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

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Parade Pony~

We head for the Parade Route
What a Spectacular Day for a Easter Parade!  No nicer old-fashioned town than Snohomish to enjoy it!  Butch was busy helping with the work involved in having over fifteen horses going through a downtown at maximum capacity with spectators lining the streets!  So... didn't have time to take photos.
Farah & Bella!  Photo by Janelle
Janelle, did her usual fantastic job at organizing,  this Saddle-up event, watching her running up front ahead of the horses, giving a loud whistle - to alert all the throngs of people that we were coming through was impressive!  Once up onto the main street, we again moved down to a quiet area by the river to wait until the signal from another volunteer - that it was time to move into our place in the procession.  As I've experienced before with Jas, that first view of a street lined with so many people was a real shock to Farah!  When the the horse next to us, started having issues - we found our friends Dena & Bella & just moved over during one of  our drill-team maneuvers to pair up with them :-) 
Our route through town, also where we started our CT ride on Thursday.
Many thanks to my friend Joyce, owner of Seamstress Unlimited - for sewing Farah's rump rug & paddle pad cover!  Also to my cousin Jackie of Quilter's Fix in Sheridan, WY for finding the bandana fabric - our Saddle-Up logo!  As always - a Huge thank you to my husband, the very best horse husband in the world!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Centennial Trail, Point-to-Point~

Farah & Connie - Snohomish - Start of the trail~ 9:07 a.m.
I'd decided with the opening of the north end of the Centennial Trail, I wanted to see if it was possible to ride the entire length of the trail.  There is one "No horses" sign in Snohomish & a two-mile section without any shoulder for horses.  By the "Pilchuck" trail parking on Machias Rd. -  it opens with a shoulder for equestrians.   We parked at McDaniel's & I was anxious to "get-out-of-town"!  Butch took a day off to follow us on our route & crew!

My ride plan was pretty simple, just trot & make time everywhere I could!  I had no idea how much time it would take, but was only figuring on an overall pace of 4 mph.  We hit the trot & within 50-ft. we had bicycles beside us!
Our new friends :-)
We were moving right along, bike riders have it "down"!  They set a good speed heading for intersections.  Drivers see them coming & pretty much know those bikes are not slowing down!  Most looked surprised to see us trotting right along side & we literally blew through town!  :-)
We've crossed Three Lakes Rd. & you see the start of the horse path~
To pass the couple behind us, we were on the shoulder, but moved over to the paving because of the sloppy footing.  I'd asked Butch to pull in at the parking, good thing & I had dressed Way too warm, so removed my thermal shirt replaced it with cotton!
9:21 - Farah spots Butch!
This was a quick stop/go - I left my thick pants on & figured I'd just suffer through until our planned "VC" further up the trail.  This section of trail had mom's with baby strollers, a few kids on bikes & the traffic that came from Lake Stevens.  We kept moving on, past the Machias Station, the ball fields at 16th & reached the 20th street trail-head by 10:16.
Coming into our mobile camp!  10:16
Farah polishes off a pan full of slop!  We get the "royal" treatment from "Dad"!
10:35 & we're back on the trail!
We met a Mom with her two cute kids who wanted to "pet" Farah, she was sweaty & we were on a "mission" so apologized & were on our way - this time through the edge of Lake Stevens & headed north toward "home" & the Getchell Rd. trail-head.   When we were just a couple hundred feet from the Hwy 92 underpass, we saw the Bronco & trailer fly by!  Butch on his way to Getchell!  :-)  Was so funny to see Farah's reaction!

This section is one of my favorites!   Beautiful, quite & cross-country.   We were really moving out & enjoying the morning when I saw the big, white arm of a lift & flashing red lights up ahead - right in our path on the trail.  PUD tree pruning crew at work!  As we drew closer, I hailed the guy in the basket asking if we could get through?  These guys were Great!  They instantly started running around, moving branches, moved cables & motioned we were clear.  Farah didn't hesitate a stride!  Going right under the basket, over the cables & past the running trucks!  The crew asked about our "hurry" & gave us cheers of encouragement when I told them we were headed for the Skagit County line!  :-)
11:10 We see Butch waiting!  We've reached Getchell!
The ride was going so much better & faster than I'd imagined!  Farah again was so happy to see Dad waiting for us!  She actually was "expecting" him by this time!   Again, we didn't waste anytime, Farah ate, drank & kicked up a hind leg for a short rest.
11:25, we've crossed Getchell & headed for Armar
 This stretch too we've done & were both familiar with.  But - I've decided to take up Duck hunting!  Just as we trotted by a wetland, a pair had to fly up at us with wild quacking, flapping etc.  Enough to give us both a rush!
11:50 we trot into the Armar Trail-head!
 Here again, Butch was ahead of us & everything was ready for our break.  This was the longest break of our ride, we let Farah do some grazing & I ate.   Next...  was Arlington...  Which I knew would be the most challenging part of our quest.  We only had a mile of trail with shoulder before we came out onto the sidewalk just a block shy of the big traffic interchange at 67th & 172nd. 
12:24, we leave Armar, heading to Arlington
 Butch came up beside us on 67th, just as Farah & I approached the intersection. This was one of the longest hold-ups of the entire ride, I think the light must have cycled three times before we got the white hand & second counter to cross.  Farah was so uptight - she had to stop & take a dandelion with her :-)  People were rolling down their windows to talk to us.  Farah was constantly complimented;  "That's the prettiest horse!"  Followed closely by;  "What kind of horse is that?"  :-)  Once across, I mounted up & we started north down the sidewalk.  Butch got ahead of us, then pulled in where he could to be as close as possible.
12:50 & we're officially "in town"!
Now, Farah had no clue as to what on earth we were doing?  She'd never been there of course & there were manhole covers, signs, cars, noise etc.  No fun for either of us.  Butch driving by as he maneuvered was a real comfort to us both.  Thankfully, it was possible for us to jump up onto the railroad track berm & that got us a little further away from the traffic.  We dropped off the berm just before we had to cross the track & go under Hwy 9.  Once cars were stopped every direction - we crossed onto the welcome green grass along the trail as it winds through the side of downtown Arlington.  Here, we met two ladies who'd passed us out on the road & come into the park to find out what we were doing & wish us well!  Too fun!   It seemed to go really fast & we were crossing the last road to Haller Park!
1:23, down the road to Haller
This was another quick stop!  We were on the last leg of the ride & more than anxious to leave town behind!  Farah had a quick drink & couple gulps of her slop & we headed out!
1:41 We head across the trestle~
 Now we're rolling, Bryant just a couple miles ahead, one more crossing of Hwy 9 & on the last leg!
2:05 as we near the Bryant trail-head
Butch had pulled in & met us out on the trail, but walked us right up & past the Bryant store before sending us on our way north again!
2:08 we've crossed our LAST road!!!  Red Barn here we come!
The last section is just so beautiful, we heard the honk of the Bronco's horn as Butch drove north up Hwy 9, for the Nakashima Barn!  The horse path here though was the worst of the day, wet, slippery, sloppy in places & our speed went down accordingly.  In many places we just moved over to the blacktop to make any time at all.  Luck was with us & we only saw two bikes on the way.
2:41 - Galloping to our Finish!
 Even with the footing, we were moving right along & what a welcome site to see that big Red Barn & Butch out on the trial waiting for us!
We finish!  At the Nakashima Barn.

This is the current northern most end of the trail.  There is about one more mile that is unimproved & very pretty!

In the news!

Our Ride Stats~

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Out & About~

7-mi. at Lord Hill
Good friend to me & my favorite "Trail Boss" Janelle managed to squeak away from her busy schedule & find time for a ride.  It had been forever since the two of us had been out.  Farah said;  "Hi" to Duke, Duke said;  "Oh - it's You Farah..."   Duke had done a wonderful job of babysitting Farah on one of her first rides on the SRT when we had a Saddle-Up ride from from the Red Hook Brewery to Farrel-McWhirter park back in November of 2011.

Janelle & Duke
 Today we just cruised around & had some good views of the construction on 522.  The trails at the park were in beautiful condition considering the time of year.  The new drainage pipe & gravel bridge are working great, super solution to what had been a very boggy area.

As much as we're enjoying our rides on our own, it was nice to ride with a friend!  Tomorrow - our "Great Adventure"!  Centennial Trail - point-to-point!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Successful "Hunt"~

Our Ride~
As you can tell from this somewhat "different" route map of the Bracken Rd. tree farm, Farah & I went exploring again after her lesson with Sandra.  I wanted to see if I could make it to the river & maybe even find the route to the bridge on the Whitehorse.

I had all afternoon, so we could explore anywhere that looked either pretty or promising.  Way down into a a beautiful wooded trail, we found a tree had fallen from the hillside & blocked the trail.  I climbed up the hill & moved all the broken limbs.  I stood by a tree up there & asked Farah to follow.  What she did was so beautiful that I wish I'd had the camera ready.  She sat back on her haunches, lifted her front end off the ground like a Lipizzaner & in one graceful move leaped up the 5' embankment to my side!  I guided her around my tree & showed her the steep drop back down to the trail.  I let go of her reins & she made the jump down look as easy as the one up!

Finally we could see the Cottonwoods & I could hear water.  We went down, down & found the creek.  Crossed it to the far side, where there was a clear-cut, then followed what was left of a trail.  It too headed down again & this time we were rewarded with views of the river!  We made it right to the bank, but it was too steep to go down there.  The trail finally disappeared into the Salmonberry that looked like green lace tipped with bright pink blooms.

I knew we were So close to the bridge~!  Continuing on, I found it!  When we got there Farah knew right away where we were & was ready to either cross the bridge or go toward Arlington on the Whitehorse!  We started back.  At the river I took a couple photos, thought I'd put my camera back in my pack & we crossed.  I gave Farah her head going back & guess what?  She took us right back the way we'd come!  Just as we were coming back to the parking, Butch called.  He was home & wanted to take the bikes to ride the Centennial Trail from Snohomish - so I could familiarize myself with it.

Once home, I went to get the camera, it was gone...  So - it's either on the bank by the creek, or in the creek...  An excuse to get back out there & it was a ways out!  We headed over to Snohomish & rode the trail at dusk.  So very nice out there!  A pretty flat stretch so we cruised along at about 10-mph.  Only about five-miles - but workable on a horse - which is what I needed to know.  We had dinner at Fred's Alehouse.  Another gorgeous Washington State Spring day!  Feel so lucky to have been out there enjoying it!

Monday, March 25, 2013

All in a Day's Ride~

A convoluted 20-miles!
Farah...  her only "excuse" was that we didn't get out as much as usual last week.  Friday afternoon I opened the pasture gate to let her up to the barn.  Instead, she ran through the gate I'd left open out to the yard & raced up the hill into the woods at 90 mph.  I stood helpless as she ripped through my trails, jumping ferns in a single bound, sinking into the trails 6" with every step & knocking over an old rotted stump!  Finally she came back down the hill, slid across the paving on the driveway & raced back into the paddock for a big nice drink!

I was furious!  So - since the weather was to stay nice, I tried to find someone that was heading out on Sun. for a nice long, fast paced ride.  Dory agreed to let me tag along with her - which I knew would be a very fast ride!  When I arrived at the Bracken Rd. parking to the tree farm, it was packed with trailers, horses, more than I think I've ever seen!  Among all the people there were some endurance "friends" who invited me along with them, since their plan was for at least 15-miles at an endurance pace.   Another rider was accompanying us.  Once on the trails, I was told to go ahead & lead.  Away we went - but after less than a mile the lady behind me said;  "Wait, we've lost the others."  I turned around to find that she & I were the only two riders on the trail?  Where were the other three???  We turned back, looked, hailed, called - no answer.  

I have NEVER been able to ditch endurance riders any faster!  I'm going to have to remember the trick!  I wasn't introduced & had yet to know my pals name.  She mentioned that she was to meet her other two friends at the potty in less than an hour.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I am directionally "challenged" & cannot remember my way around - but now I had the added, unwelcome responsibility of getting this lady back to her friends.

Luck was with me, the first riders we met were the friends she needed to meet!  I passed her off to them, Farah exploded up the trail & away we went!  One way or the other - I would get in my ride!  Again, more luck - the next riders were Dory, Dean & Linda!   I was welcomed & we had a FUN, fast good ride, completing the 20-miles in just 2-hours.

Once back at the trailers, I headed home, gave Farah a bath, I cleaned up & Butch & I headed out for dinner at one of our favorite spots in Antacortes.   The bikes were on the back, so on our way home we stopped at the Bryant trail-head of the Centennial Trail & rode north up to the Nakashima Barn, then back at dusk.  So very beautiful out there!  My weekend ended with 10-bike miles on Sat., 20-horse miles on Sunday & another 8-bike miles on Sunday!

Today?  Goofing off!  Enjoying the warm sunshine!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Our Local "NO Hands Bridge" ~

Today's "V" shaped ride!
Art was early, he put new shoes on Farah's front feet!  The backs are only a week old & we were back on the trail.  The day had stayed mild, but heavily overcast.  I wanted to park at Haller, go over the Trestle bridge & head north at least as far as the Hwy 9 crossing where we'd stopped on our ride down from the Nakashima Barn.  
Looking South from the Hwy 9 crossing toward the Bryant Store
 It was 3.54 miles from Haller Park.  I thought about going on up to the barn, but had forgotten my rain coat, so decided to turn back & go explore the Whitehorse again at the Arlington end.  Back to the arch was 3 miles & our speed went up almost 2 mph!  :-)  
We're almost back to the arch!
I'd heard at the meeting that the bridge over the Stilly from the Whitehorse trail was again open.  Diane & I had ridden it years ago, but shortly after - it had been cabled closed.
The start of the Whitehorse
The trail here is a somewhat "heavy" rock surface, it had compacted a little from the last time I'd ridden it, but still nowhere for speed if you want to keep a sound horse.
Views of the river abound~
Even with the heavy going, it's so beautiful & fairly quiet, just some noise from 530.  Before long I knew we were coming up to the bridge.
Crossing Tin Bridge~
Tin Bridge is #1 on the Whitehorse, leaving Arlington & going toward Darrington.  It crosses the north fork of the Stillaquamish river.  Far & away our favorite. Beautiful, historic & challenging if the Salmon are jumping!
Our GPS track over the bridge & back~
 It's like going through a gate to a different land!  From the dark high cuts on the side of the trail along the river, to the wide open green fields on the far side!
Farah see's excessive grazing options here!
I knew that unless the County had been spending $ I hadn't heard about, that we would come to the temporary end shortly, we did in 3.35 miles
The "end"
The first time, Diane & I had found a way around, but now the blackberry that had been cut then, had re-grown over the trail.  It was only maybe another mile past this point - that we'd found the first of many bridges with rotten planks.  All will need repair before the remaining portion of the trail can be opened.
White pins show the distance between completed/ open trail portions
After a short grazing break, we started back.  There were places where the rock was so heavy that the only safe speed was a walk...  but before long we were back at the bridge.
Bridge from the east end~
Farah checks out the river~
 About a mile from the arch, we could see a jogger up ahead.  Farah picked up the speed of her trot & we caught him!  :-)  Really nice kid & he knew he was being run down!  :-)  Again our pace on the return picked up almost 2 mph!
Back at the Arlington Trestle
A couple was admiring the view just before mid-way across.  Farah was so nonchalant that when they spoke to us, she stuck her head in the mans chest to see if he might have a cookie?  I'm going to have to remember to keep her back from people a bit further - since she is so people friendly!  :-)

Back at Haller, we felt the first of the rain drops.  We'd covered just shy of 14 miles - the gold girl hadn't broken a sweat.  We're ready now!

Monday, March 18, 2013

One of Those Days~

Farah after her bath~
The morning was cold, rainy & not at all pleasant, I thought about riding, but am waiting until tomorrow when Art is coming yet again... to see what's up...  Farah started forging again, after we re-shod the rear.  Now...  those front feet will be re-shod!  If new front shoes don't help, we'll be knocking toe off the hind feet.
Still wet, but her color is getting darker~
  Sandra thinks & I do too, that since Farah is learning to move up under herself properly she may be over striding as she can now reach farther forward with the hind leg.  I do know that she feels more powerful than ever & love having her moving in a more rounded frame.

My friend Liz is going to Home On The Range with her young gelding & we would have had such fun riding the 25-mi. together - but I can't make it.  Last year I missed Skyla's first birthday to go to the ride.  This year the ride date had changed & Jentry changed the date for Skyla's party to the same day - so - I'll be attending a Fun second birthday party instead!

My plan now, after riding several sections of the Centennial Trail, is to ride the entire 30-mile length in a day.  Starting at McDaniel's in Snohomish, we'll go north all the way to probably the Armar Trail-head at 172nd for our Vet Check.  Butch is going to take a weekday off work to crew for us & ferry us through from there or maybe 204th in Arlington, to Haller Park, where we can again access the trail.   With road crossings, obstacles, etc. it's really hard to figure how long it will take us but I know that we'll have to make time where we can. 

So - back to shoeing - that has to be worked out first, since the footing is very heavy in places & that's where we have the problem.  Tomorrow - shoes!  Then - check out the long-range weather forecast - pick the day - & do it!

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Whitehorse Trail~

The Whitehorse Trail~
There are not words to describe the beauty of this trail on a perfect sunshine day!  I was determined, regardless of the weather to go up & see what the open portion of the trail looked like.  I'd visited a spot here & there - but never actually ridden the six-miles of trail that are open.

Lynn had mentioned that she wanted to do this with me, so she made the drive up & we were there by noon.  As we drew close to Darrington, the sun broke through the clouds & seeing the mountain is always such a awe inspiring site.

Farah checks out the newly improved Trail Head
 We parked along the side of the road that goes past the IGA market.  Plenty of room to get off the roadway & we were patting ourselves on the back for picking such a gorgeous day!
Whitehorse from the trail~
We hadn't gone more than a 100 ft. when this view greeted us!  It was hard to make any time - since we were stopping for photos more often than I had imagined!
The trail went along the river~
We reached the six-mile mark way sooner than either of us wanted!  It was so beautiful that we could have ridden all day long.
At least the sign told us where we were!
Since the trail was still open & well marked, we continued on for just under another mile, until we came to a bridge that was unsafe for the horses.
Plank bridge & our turn-around point
On our ride, we crossed two other bridges over some absolutely beautiful creeks.  No wonder Grandson Ben likes some of these areas for fishing!
From the bridge, upstream
Our ride time was just over two-hours.  I don't know how many years it will be before all the bridges are done & this trail is open over it's full length - but I sure hope I'm still able to ride it!  The footing was perfect for horses!  The way long sections of the Centennial Trail were before the improvements.

Once back at town, we stopped in the local Burger Barn for a snack, before Lynn headed home.   Since we were so close & Jentry had baked a chocolate cake...  I decided to stop by for a short visit before heading back.  Farah found the grazing in their yard a perfect snack.
Looking innocent?
You can just see the corner of Jentry's garden on the right side of the photo, Farah was innocently heading slowly but surely that direction - since Joe had just tilled the soil!  In the next second, she was down & doing her best - saddle & all - to have a nice roll!  :-)  I caught her lead in the nick of time - so only one side was covered with dirt :-)  She did give Skyla a ride around the yard before we headed home. 
P.S.  Next goal - to ride the Centennial trail from end to end in a day!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Getchell Road to 172nd

Today's Ride on the Centennial Trail
I'd been wanting to get out on this section of the trail again.  I used to ride it fairly often with Khari, until the place where I used to park the trailer - a little out-of-the-way - was designated as a handicap accessible parking spot.  With rain moving in today - there were only two cars in the lot, so plenty of room to get in & park!
As we head north from Getchell Road
 At last nights meeting in Arlington I found out that the trail had been completed from the point farthest north on 67th Ave., to the intersection at 172nd.  This was exciting news for me - as I still have hopes that somehow I can make it with a horse from trail on the south edge of town, through & to where the trail again picks up just north of town at Haller park.
Bridge Crossing
 We walked the two bridges, Farah was unsure as to whether she should step on the horse & rider?  :-)
Horse path curves toward the Armar Trail Head at 67th
To this point was five-miles & even with the sloppy footing & slow downs for bridges etc. we made in it 45 min.  We took a short break, the grass is growing after all, then started on up the new section that does not have a horse path per sea along side.  The paving widens for the bikers, but the room on the shoulder for horses is much narrower.
Light at the intersection of 172nd up ahead
Traffic was picking up & so was the rain, we turned back.
There are several of this type of crossing on this section, allowing homeowners access.
Going back south, once we were back on designated horse trail - we picked up the pace, averaging 9.6 mph for final five-miles.  I've always liked this section for putting the pedal down, the footing is pretty good even when it's wet.  It's also the kind of straight somewhat flat going where you can move out & get a real feel for how your horse is moving & if everything is working.  Round-trip 12.30 miles.

Next - the Whitehorse Trail~