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

Friday, January 31, 2014

Last Day of January~

Gray afternoon~ 3:30 p.m.
Linda & I had Finally planned a ride for today!  Linda's schedule has been more than crazy - but it was time, more than time to get her back in her saddle, on Count & on the trail!  It was cold & drizzling when I woke.  We talked & decided to see what the day would bring.  By 11 a.m. when Linda called, she was seeing blue sky!  That worked for me, so I loaded Farah in the drizzle & we started north.
From the Monument
Even as we left the house, the sun was disappearing & clouds were moving in.  We took our time, Linda hadn't been out since Oct.!  Count was feeling fresh & had new shoes, so that slowed his progress when we were on the roads.  Farah was in season again, so when she was in front, it was a slow go :-)  
Looking North~
When Count was in front, Farah just put her nose in his tail, which makes him nervous - he knows that it's a love/hate relationship with the gold girl :-)  We mostly walked along & the longer we were out, the colder it got!  Our toes & fingers were going numb - so we started back.
Linda & Count
Even though it was gray & cold, it was dry & that's worth a lot this time of year!   We took a short-cut going back, slid down a slippery hillside & past a downed tree - breaking through the salmonberry & blackberry to get around it.  It was a Good Ride!  Good to be out with Linda again & a very good way to end my least favorite month!

Centennial Trail News~

At last nights council meeting - we had exciting news!  The Centennial Trail Southern Extension - will now become a reality!  The corridor will extend an additional 12-miles of trail -  from south of Snohomish to Woodinville!

Please come & join the celebration.  I was told that ALL trail users are welcome!  It will require some logistical planning for horsemen to attend - but I plan to!  One hour after this celebration - there will be another at the Machias Station.  I doubt I can ride that far & get there in time - so we'll trailer up. 

The idea is to have as many people there as possible - in a show of support for these incredible trail systems that so many have fought so hard to attain.  Future generations will thank us for our forethought.  Personally - we all realize that it's the Equestrians who really need to keep in the front of the "news" - otherwise it's all to easy for larger user groups to try to push us aside.

Please mark your calendar & attend - either on foot, bike, or better yet - Horseback!

P.S.  I've been elected to the position of Equine Representative for the trail - if you have questions or concerns feel free to contact me.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Rediscovering Old Trails~

Gated paving of future development
Instead of taking our usual route out, I decided to go south,  through the paved future development & back to the area of the removed fencing & access the power line trail further south than I had been able to.    I knew there was a way around this gate, so we headed down the paved streets.
Our paved trail~
The major features of this area now, are the "Drainage Basins" which I've mentioned several times before.
Drainage Basin - on of three in just a short distance~
So ugly, so wasteful, of what had been an area so rich in natural flowing water, salmon streams etc.
Doesn't this look like a "Natural Area" to you?
Even the Beaver have returned in the years since they were first "removed".  I hated having them either killed or moved.  It took away some of the "life" in the area for a long time.  Now that they're back - they are taking full advantage of the bridged road over the creek.
Newly forming Beaver Dam under the road~
Some water is still getting through - but the area is flooding out -  becoming another "new" wetland!  :-) 
Another ugly Drainage Basin - nothing too natural looking about this...
I always get a little sickened going through here - but it might be one of the last times, so I wanted to record how it looks "now".

I had another surprise though, as we headed toward the removed gate, I saw another of our old trails - looking like it had seen some current use.  I'd checked it out months ago & it was blocked by downed trees.  Even so, trail is trail - so we took it.
Old Trail
 This was a trail that Butch & I cleared years ago on the Fourth-of-July - so that became the trails name.  Felt really strange to be on it again - all the way out I was wondering if it would still go all the way through.   It did!
Our old "Clover Hill"
In days of old, this was "Clover Hill", covered with clover & fresh grass, the creek flowed beautifully through here & we would take our break at this spot.
A beautiful Creek flows through it~
Every time I come into one of the areas that are still somewhat "natural" I am amazed at the diversity of this area.  It is a water producing Narnia - even in a dry year.   Now I knew that we'd be back out on the power line shortly & we were.
Out to the lines, looking NW
We turned south yet again -
Power Lines - going south
Easy traveling out here, the day was getting colder, but I wanted to see just how far we could get & there had been another set of trails.  We found them, the ATV's had made the way easy to find.
More great trail~
Riding along this section, I remembered the day that Butch & Jas were leading the way as we had explored this.
Another Spectacular Wetland
Just stunning beautiful water all around us!  At one point the Beaver's had dammed things up enough that the water was flowing over the trail & Farah went right through.  I was pretty sure there had been an old bridge up ahead & soon we came to it.
Gone...  we weren't going any further~
So, with the rest of the trail inaccessible, we turned back - out to the power line & south.  Once out there again, we tried a trail to the west, but it was blocked.   Then came to the "end" - where we could see horses in a corral.
White roof & horses~
For whatever reason, this is where Farah lost her mind.  She started puffing herself up & gave out a huge SNORT!  I could feel a whole LOT going on under me, so decided to dismount.

(When we'd first left home, we were down to the bottom of our place when I remembered that I hadn't put Nika's electronic collar on!  Back up the hill to do the deed.   Then - when I was on the trails - & remembered that I had forgotten my stick!  Sure wasn't going back again...  Then - I went to take the first photo - with the new little camera & bought from Linda's store close out.  I'd forgotten to put the newly charged battery in it!  It seems in life, when a day goes sideways - it usually does it in a big way!)

Without my stick I just let her trot around me in little circles, then she'd stop - look that direction & let out another HUGE HUFF!  Finally - I gave her a cookie - food takes her mind off about anything else & began walking back the way we'd come.  Once mounted, I started for our far north trail home.  It was already later than I liked.

We got to the trail & found it BLOCKED!  A new gate installed, locked - three t-posts next to it, covered with barbed wire.  An attempt to keep the ATV's back out.  This seems strange though - since the lower gate has stayed wide open.  Whoever, had also cut down a large Alder on the inside of the gate - branches everywhere...  No way to get around & dark coming quick - we had the entire way to retrace to get back in & head home!  In the dark, on the paving - we were trotting - when two small lights popped up at the Beaver dam under the road!  The two people that I'd met last week, out walking in the dark.  Farah did just GREAT on our first night ride!  The trot stayed consistent, I tipped my head down so that my bill would deflect the branches that we couldn't see.

It was completely dark by the time I went through Pat's - she came to the door to tell me I was out late!  We were home just before 6 p.m. & Butch again came in right behind us.  No... he wasn't happy about us still being out, me wearing back & no reflective gear.  Guess we'll have to put something in the saddle bag in case we're caught out again.  If I'd gone my usual route, we would have come to that north gate first!  Now I want to call & see if I can have a key - since it will soon be my only way to access the lines...  Ah... Progress...

Friday, January 24, 2014

Ridin' Into Sunset~

Mt. Rainier 4:51 p.m.
Another incredible day in January - did I write January?  With temperatures warming into the low 50's - it sure feels more like mid-spring.  Of course the mornings hover just below 30 & it takes until about noon for the sun to warm things up. 
Doing the Climb~
I hadn't ridden at Victoria for quite a while!  Ready for some high country & the views I loaded Farah - with her brand new shoes & was looking forward to sunshine on the mountain.   In the shade of the trees, it was still cold & a little frosty.  With the lack of rain this month - the trail that I took to the top was in super condition - better than it usually is mid-spring.  Otherwise I stuck to the roads as we're supposed to in the Winter.
Coming out to the view point
It was such a bright day that the contrast coming from the shade of the heavy trees into the sunshine was too much for my smartphone camera.  It was so clear that the Olympics looked like they were cut from glass.

We covered just over 15-miles - I wanted to go further but once the sun starts going down, it gets dark & cold quick.  Farah decided that she wanted a run & run we did :-)  She has one particular hill where she likes to dig in & attack.  Today she did just that!  First time in a while that she's had a chance to open up.  She was solid, straight & true - firing on all four cylinders up to 23mph :-)
Farah at Sunset
 Still with her winter fur, she worked up a good sweat, so we headed back.  I had to work the combination locks to the trailer doors by the light of my phone :-)   I've ridden more than twice the miles this January as I did last - wonder if the weather has had anything to do with that? 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tolt Pipeline to Moss Lake

The Tolt Pipeline Trail
It may not look like it, but it was just after twelve noon when I took this photo.  The morning started out with 28 degrees on the thermometer when I woke.  Lynn & I had planned to meet-up earlier, but decided to delay our ride to give the day time to warm up.   Rather than try to cross SR 203, we took Big Lake Road from Duvall & easily found the parking area.
The view east!
Seeing all that trail heading into the distance is really something.  Miles & miles of hills either direction.  We'd wanted to do this ride for a while & today was a perfect day for riding.    We had a couple road crossings, but no traffic at either.  
Our route
We did some sight seeing - passing a couple "Paradise" on earth type of horse farms...  Amazing places these.  Farah enjoys seeing how other horses live too :-)  She sometimes will stop to check them out!  It didn't seem like long before we saw the road going in to the Moss Lake Trails & two riders coming out.  We were careful to watch our corners, since it was only Lynn's third visit there & my second.
Moss Lake
This time, I actually got to see the lake!  It is a very pretty place, with a thin layer of ice over most of the open water.  We picked up the pace going to the parking lot.  There we found a large group of people working on the trails & putting in a new one!  I'm wondering if these are paid employee's, volunteers, or a combination of both?  We made a short stop before heading back.  Farah was not at all surprised that the trailer wasn't there & when we turned to head back - of course the pace picked up!  :-)
Nice new signage~
We took the short way back to the pipeline that Lisa had suggested to us, so we ended up making a nice loop.  Once back on the Tolt, we moved right along - meeting a few people out walking.  Daughter Courtney & Grandson Mason called, they were at our trailers & had hoped to see us - but we were still too far out & they had to get home.
Looking west toward SR 203
Once back at the trailers, we rode west a way toward SR 203 & the SVT Trail - probably another mile or two from where we stopped.  It was almost 4:30, getting dusk & the temperature was already dropping.  We'd covered almost seventeen miles & ridden through a beautiful winter afternoon.  Incredible weather for January - no complaints!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Hoof Prints = Bad News~

We head up to the trails~
I woke to more fog...  socked in... & cold - 30.  Not too exciting...  So - caught up on chores, then - after lunch - the Sun broke through & the day turned Beautiful!  Saddle-up time for sure!  I was looking forward to a ride from home, it had been awhile since I'd seen our trails.
Hoof prints!
It had also been a Very Long while since we'd seen any hoof prints - besides our own!  I was flat out amazed!  We followed them for quite a way - they were heading up to the power lines.  It was cold up under the trees, but the air smelled fresh & sweet.
Our trails~
As we made the turn on the trail that comes out on the power lines - I was still following the prints.  Once under the lines though - the rock was so heavy that I couldn't tell which way they'd gone.
Out into the Sun~
We turned north, I wanted to see how one of my favorite wetlands had fared.   There were a few trees down from the wind & rain, but nothing that we couldn't easily get over.
Wetland~  Still as a mirror
It was gorgeous, almost warm out in the sunshine.  Farah found some green grass growing, so I let her graze for a while before we turned back.  I decided to head all the way down the hill on the power lines to see if I could pick up any trail.  Once there, we made the turn onto the paved roads of the future development that's been fenced off for several years now.  Surprise!
The gate & fence were GONE!
The gate used to be just where you can see the "leaf line" on the paving.  We rode forward & spoke to the couple that live in the house on the right.  I asked about the fence & was told that it was taken down last Fri.  Also, that people from there had ridden their horses back the way I'd come - so that answered that question.  They'd come in from the south - now that it's no longer blocked off.  Rumor has it that the development will start this year & all of the proposed housing developments that have been on hold due to the economy are now going to be built.
Our shadow photo :-)
Needless to say - I felt sickened.  Now that it's open & open up to the continuation of the power line trail again - I'll have to go back & ride where I haven't been able to in forever - until it is gone...
I felt subdued on our way home.  Listening to the silence, the birds, absorbing the aloneness that I crave & will miss from the center of my soul.   Twenty plus years we've ridden here - in the days there were just tiny trails through the blackberry, through the years of logging & ecological disaster, then through the years of  reprieve that have Not lasted long enough...
Heading home~
I've heard older people say that they feel they have lived beyond their time & never really understood it until lately....  Thinking of it all gone, going to yet more homes, yards, streets, noise & clutter.  People have to have places to live - but to see the sprawl come closer & closer...  Makes me want to find somewhere farther away...  When we moved here - our friends asked "Why"?  Why would we want to live so far out?  Now...  it's not far enough...

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Square Round-Trip!

On the top of Redmond Ridge
That Lynn!  We'd planned a ride from Moss Lake to the Tolt, to see how far we could go.  Fog is far from my favorite weather to ride in, I start feeling claustrophobic...   So, since Lynn has told me many times that Redmond Ridge is always free of fog - we decided to go there.  Guess what?  As you can tell from the above photo - it was foggy.  We decided to take the Tolt Pipeline & head down to the Sammamish River Trail, then from there - if time allowed - return by the Powerline Trail.
Our 19-mi. "Square"
On the way out, we enjoyed sightseeing all the beautiful homes, barns, playhouses, etc., that are the norm in this area.  Even so high up on the ridge, once the fog burned off a little, we had cloud cover & the day stayed gray.
Lynn & Sophie head onto the Big Bridge over the roads~
There were a few people out, joggers, dog walkers, but we didn't seen any other riders.  When we dropped down the hill to the trail, I told Lynn that next time we're going to plan lunch at the Redhook Brewery - (The brewery Butch built :-) so Farah & Sophie can use my hitching post & we can eat!  :-)  Instead, we turned south on the trail for a few miles, before the turn that would take us back up the climb.
The Sammamish Slough
We were rewarded by seeing a big Eagle sitting in the Cottonwoods along the river, but otherwise - besides a few friendly people - like us - determined to make the best of a cold, gray day - it was pretty quiet.  Heading back, we had to really pick up the pace, as sunset is around 4:30 & after that it gets dark quick.  We had a lot of roads to cross to get back!
Lynn & Sophie cross Avondale
It's so nice to have to crossing lights!  There were only a couple crossings when we were back into the Trilogy area where we really had to keep a close eye on the cars to be sure the saw us in the fog & rapidly approaching dark.  Once back on trail - we hit a good trot & maintained it all the way back!  Fun!  First time in a while that we've been able to do that kind of trotting - the trails, though wet in places were in pretty good shape!

It was 4:35 p.m. when we returned to the trailers, fog so thick that we could hardly See them!   All in all - we'd ridden on three different trails & through three parks!   Cold, damp & dark - time to head Home! 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Hazy Day Sunshine~

Joe with Jesse, Target & Joyce on Tin Bridge
The day started out looking cold & foggy, but within 30-min. the sun was breaking through the clouds & I was to meet-up with Joyce & Joe at the Bracken Rd. trail head.  The sun felt So good, Farah was happy to see her friend Target & knows Jesse - but prefers Target :-)  Much better behaved today - thank heaven!  She'd worn off her own edge yesterday.  Ten days off, smart enough to not go ripping around the pasture to release her extra energy - she'd just bottled it up!  I did have a little talk with her this morning - but what fun to do some nice trotting all three horses working so well together!
The Stillaquamish - With WATER!
Joyce wanted to ride over to the river & see what the water level had done since the week + of rain.  It was up!  Really good to see - not where it usually is - but a really good flow.  Lots of fresh snow showing up on the mountains too
Grazing break~
We hadn't gone far when the clouds moved over the sun & the temperature dropped.  We went to the current end of the Whitehorse as it heads east toward Darrington.  The valley is so beautiful, it was very quiet.
Our way back toward Tin Bridge & Arlington
Joe was telling us that in years past, this valley was used for Civil War reenactments - that would have been fun to see!  We made good time, stayed on the dryer trails & covered some ground.  Once back at the trailers - the sun returned :-)

I'd failed to schedule Farah's first of the year vaccinations - so called Dr. Essex as we were leaving on the chance that he could do the deed today.   He could!  So,  we headed to the farm, for the first time in a while, to find it humming with activity.  Lots of horses home from the track, Kisses flying down one of the big pastures - tail flagged!  Our friend & top track groom Manuel, soon had Farah ready for the "pokes" as Grandson Mason called them!  That done - Polito asked if he could sit on Farah so that his wife, (visiting from MX) could get the photo of him on her - that he's wanted for a couple years now.
Polito on Farah
Farah was happy to oblige.  Dean said that the way Farah draws attention is similar to the way men feel about blonds with large chests :-)  Well...   We all decided that analogy would work - since she is blond & does have a nicely developed chest :-)

A note regarding vaccinations - I asked Dean today about people who say they've had a "bad reaction" with vaccinations & no longer vaccinate.  Part of what he shared with me was to say that the drug companies have refined many of the current vaccinations - that they are safer & more effective than ever before.  You not only protect your own animal - but help to protect all the animals that come into contact with yours.  With proper vaccination protocol, the track has dramatically cut the amount of horses that get sick.  It's the responsible thing to do~

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I'm Back in the Saddle Again!

Are those Sheep Still over there???
We met up with Lynn at Lord Hill. We hadn't ridden there since the first of November.  I could tell that Farah hadn't been out for over a week!    Talk about a wild-child!  She about drove me to distraction with her antic's!  Sophie tried to ignore her as much as possible, but Farah was lifting herself off the ground, tossing her head - making me work every minute I was in the saddle!  At one point, I just asked Lynn if we could stop, I dismounted - took a deep breath & short break before climbing back up!
Wetland from the new bridge
It was what I'd call a typical January day - mild, gray, overcast & about perfect riding weather.  The trails though - had taken some abuse during the ride that was held there on Sat.  Lots of mud, new holes opening up & exposed rock.  I enjoy Lord Hill, but no real places to move out when the trails are wet. 
From the hill top
Farah had worked herself in to a good sweat & it took just about ten-miles for her to Finally settle in & behave herself.  I even decided to circle her once, make her stop facing the wrong direction & stand until she took a deep breath & relaxed a little.  Heading back, we decided to do one more loop & go over the ten-mile mark.  That really gave both mares an attitude adjustment!  :-)
Track at Lord Hill
We covered a lot of ground, mostly at a animated walk :-)  Finally - we did notice that it was getting a little dark out?  What time was it?  After 4:30, yes - it's staying light longer!