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

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Fine Fall Afternoon~

Stanton Farm
When you wake to gray overcast & light drizzle - it's hard to get in the mood to ride!  But then - the day again clears off & it's just incredible!  The trailer wasn't hitched, I've been busy playing in Linda's big back yard - so saddled up & headed out!
Heading toward the construction zone~
I decided to try to get out to the south again.  It had been a while since I'd had the run-in with the Russian who was at the job trailer & could hardly speak English.  We got around the ecology blocks & downed tree.
Houses going in~
Amazing how fast a housing development can spring up...  There was a excavator working farther back - tearing out trees etc.  All the original signage designating the area a "Native Wildlife Habitat" were - of course GONE!  Sickening...  We went on out the road, through the gate in the fence that locks it off & out to the power lines.
Trail still here~
 There we went further south & picked up the last trail that goes to one of the beautiful wetlands.  The sun coming through the moss on the trees was so pretty.
Busy Beavers!
I was really surprised to find two trees taken down by the Beaver!  They were quite a way from the wetland, so it will be interesting to see if they get cut up & moved as time goes on & if I can still get here to see.
A magnificent Eco-system...
I climbed down to get my photo, then we turned back the way we'd come.  I decided to turn in on the first trail, where the construction people had cut trees to block it from the other way.
Little Pilchuck Creek
We did get to the creek & across it, but the trees were still there & no way around - I wasn't going to do a repeat of trying to fight my way through...  So again we turned back & went out to the power lines & back through the development.
Bright red!
Did see this little bush along the road - I don't know what it is, but it was sure pretty & stood out from all the surrounding hard-hack.
Creek flows under~
On the paved roads, the Beaver have almost blocked the culvert yet again & the water is backing up!  Looked so pretty in the sunshine.  Once back to the convergence of our trails - I decided that we had time to trot up to the north power line trail & watch the sunset before we turned for home.

I'd just dismounted to let Farah graze when we heard a ATV coming slow.  It was a hunter in blaze orange & I'd forgotten ours this day.  He pulled up, turned off his motor & said;  "Connie Hoge?"  It was getting dusk & I thought it might be the Tom that I'd met in the jeep.  So I asked;  "Tom?"  He laughed & said;  "Yes, Tom - but not the one you met a week or so ago - that's my neighbor!"  We both laughed but I had to ask how he knew me?  He replied;  "Google Earth"!   Too funny - he uses the program as a lot of us do - to check out places we've been or want to go to & he'd looked at the photos I've posted in Panoramio.  Really a nice guy & we had a good talk about how our open space is being reduced & destroyed...  Notice we say;  "ours"...
Getting dark~
It was getting late by the time we said our goodbye's - nearing Farah's dinner time & that always puts her in a hurry!  :-)  I swear she has a sixth sense of knowing when Dad has beaten us in getting home!  She hit a Great trot & in no time at all we were back!
Yes!  Butch was home ahead of us!  He'd done my chores - but I surprised him by having a roast in the oven & the smell made it outside!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Haller Park to Nakashima - Centennnial Trail

North end of the Haller Trestle Bridge
I'd been wanting to ride the north section of the Centennial Trail & with all the rain I was hoping that the footing would at least firm enough to do some trotting.   I parked at the far side of the gravel parking at Haller & we started over the trestle.
North fork from the bridge~
 As I expected, the north fork was full of silt. The Stillaquamish - both north & south forks converge here & the water level was way up!  When you hear it rushing below you - it's a rush :-)
Convergence of the Centennial Trail & the Whitehorse Trail
It's just a short way from the Arch, to the elevated bridge that goes over the road the Quarry uses to access Hwy 9.
Looking down at the Quarry road, Whitehorse trail through the trees~
The Coalition thinks that this area would be great for horse trailer parking.  Easy access to both trails - but it's still a working quarry with trucks coming & going on the road.
Hwy 9 parallels the trail going north
It's noisy along this section, with the traffic that goes by on Hwy 9, but the footing is good & so is the scenery - especially this time of year with all the leaves coloring & falling!
Picnic table at the side of the horse path
 There are several areas where the horse trail actually splits away from the side of the paved path & it's really nice - but there aren't enough of them :-)
It's three miles from the bridge to the store at Bryant with car parking & a potty.  Just a short way further is the Hwy 9 crossing.  It's well marked with a Hawk system crossing signal that activates the flashing yellow lights.
The Sun came out!
Once across - you're on one of the prettiest sections of the trail.  Four-miles to go to the north end at the Nakashima Barn.
Heading north
It's a great stretch for moving out!  A homeowner along side has moved in some Alpacas' but they're on the far side of a small wetland.  Farah looked, but wasn't worried :-)
Just so beautiful!
It was just one of those days!  Even with the clouds, the fresh air & fresh country after all the rains was like riding along through a video to promote our state.
Crossing the creek~
Just as we were heading across, a Bald Eagle flew over our heads!  He was very low & circled us once before turning upriver & landing in a tree.
Pilchuck Creek
The creek is really going now too, I'm sure at one time it would have been full of Salmon, at least the Eagle was hoping for some!
We're at the Barn!~
I promised Farah our lunch break at the barn & again the sun was trying to break through.  I couple riding bikes had gone past us a way back & were resting at the barn too.  We had a nice conversation about the correct way to come up behind horses & they were very receptive & friendly.
From here, there's just one more mile of unimproved trail that ends again - at Hwy 9 & the Skagit County line.  It is what some sections of the trail used to look like before it was improved.
More of that Sunshine!
When the next sun break opened up - we were at the perfect place to enjoy it!
North end at Hwy 9

I'd thought about going up the road & through the gate to the tree farm, but Farah heard the truck about the time I did & I was happy that we didn't do that on this day.
Trucks coming out of the farm~
Looks like there's another area getting logged & hauled - though I didn't see it when I was up there last week.
Heading back~
We turned & started back - again - it's nice because the views are just stunning from either direction :-) 
Clouds moving in~
We were just back to the trail-head when the clouds started rolling in.  I almost thought I'd need my rain jacket.
Horse Crossing
Farah is so trail savvy now - that she crosses without my asking :-)  "OK, Mom, here's where we're supposed to go over there!"
Elevated section of the horse trail
There's a long section here, raised & seperate from the main trail that's nice for moving out.  I was amazed at how much the ground has settled in the past couple years since it was finished.
Back to the creek~
All too soon we were back, almost to the creek.
The creek~
I stopped here & sat on the bench for a few minutes, while Farah looked for clover.  My favorite spot on the trail.
Back at the arch~
 We stopped to check out our bricks - yes - they were still there!  Available for anyone who wants to purchase one & help to support the trails.  From here, I wanted to go down the Whitehorse a way to see how it was looking.
Homeless hut
Just 3/10ths of a mile down, we found this...  No one seemed to be around, but it was a mess, with trash everywhere & a fire pit dug into the trail again...  Now I've got to call to see what can be done about it.
Whitehorse heading east to Tin Bridge

The trail really needs work now, with the blackberries taking over, one tree down & another that's going down.  We turned back here.
Back over the trestle
On the stretch before the bridge, we'd stopped to talk to a man with the cutest Border Collie puppy!  Only ten-weeks old & So Darn Cute!  While we were talking, I felt Farah go on high alert!  I looked toward Arlington to see a group of at least 15 boys running toward us!  Farah was ready to bolt!  Never having been confronted with this kind of thing!  :-)  I dismounted & raised my voice to ask the boys to slow down & say something!  :-)  They finally realized what was up & dropped to a walk.  Farah let out a breath & deflated :-)
Hwy 9 bridge over the Stillaquamish
Once back at the park I checked the time & was amazed that it was already after 5 p.m.!  We checked out the river there too, before loading up to head home.

Long post - sorry - but I do what I can to promote these trails.  The more horsemen we have getting out there & in the public eye - will help us to keep our right to ride!  Join the Facebook pages for either or both trails & be sure to stay aware of what's going on in our neighborhood!

Friday, October 24, 2014

First Snow~

Whitehorse & Three Fingers
It was 57 degrees when I drove through Arlington on my way to Victoria.  The sun was shining & it was a magnificent morning.  Since this time of year - once the storms start rolling through - I take those breaks in the systems when they come!
Looking NW from the Monument
Farah was on her "A" game this day - once we warmed up on a short stretch of slippery trail, she hit her trot & we were up on top in no time at all!  I think she understood when I said;  "Lunch break on top"!  :-)  I absorbed the sun & hiked a short way down the hill to get clear of the trees for the photo above.
Farah enjoying all the still growing grass~
I wanted to do our big loop, so we didn't stay long, but did go through the dark forest & over to see the view from Lake McMurray.
Pure white fresh snow on the far peaks~
 I wasn't surprised to see the fresh snow on the high peaks. All the rain we've gotten in the lowlands, it's time to expect to see it higher up.  I jogged down the long hill to the bottom & we picked up the trail that goes to the "green mile".  There we found that a couple small trees had fallen over the trail.  One I managed to push out of the way - the other I broke off.  Now the saw has to go back in my saddle bag!
On the Scott Mainline
By the time we came out of the woods & onto the old road, the sun was long gone & clouds had moved in.  The temperature seemed cooler too & I almost wished I'd taken a jacket!  We trotted the whole way to the latest clear-cut & there tried a new road that looked like it might head up the mountain.
The clear-cut
It ended well short of where I'd hoped we might tie-in to a road to the water station, so we had to turn back.  It was getting later in the afternoon by now & we had the big climb back to the top ahead of us.  Farah took it at a steady trot & was in a full sweat at the top.
Vine Maples in Red!
I did finally end my quest to find red Vine Maple leaves though & had to get the photo!  In the higher elevations this is their fall color, here they usually only turn yellow & fall off before it's cold enough to turn them red.

Farah enjoyed her gallop up the hill & we'd just turned onto a trail heading back when we both heard another horse!  Through the trees we could see a big chestnut with a man in black trying to catch us.  I stopped once out on the road & met Mr. Lutz on his big Tennessee Walker.  We made introductions & he said he'd been trying to follow our hoof prints for a while.  It was nice to have company on the way back to the trailer.

Once back in Arlington, I stopped for pizza & the temperature still read 57 degrees!  I was surprised since it felt colder - or maybe it was just me!  Once home - Farah got a warm bath, it was dark when we finished.  Yes - a sure sign that the seasons have changed & Winter will be here before we know it! On this ride we topped 1,300 miles-to-date!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Oh That Smell!

The last of the leaves~
From a rainy morning, the day gradually got better & by early afternoon I thought that if I took my raincoat, I might get in a dry ride!  We were busy over the weekend, I'd cleaned out the greenhouse on Sat., then Sunday we stopped by Linda's & ate chocolate cake!  :-)  Well, we did do a few other things that Linda found helpful.  It was so beautiful - a great place to enjoy the incredible weather, but we both would have rather been riding.
Our neighbors jack-o-lantern :-)
Today I wanted to go back up & see if I could find my orange bandana that I managed to loose my last ride.  We headed out taking the same trails all the way.  From gray & cloudy - the sky started clearing off & patches of blue opened up!
Old road out to our newly discovered clear-cut
It's so beautiful out this time of year - everything so fresh after all the rain & the smell was incredible!  The deep, rich smell of Fall!  A few chickadees were flirting through the trees, but otherwise it was quiet.
We see Pilchuck!
With the clouds lifting - today we could see the mountains that are to the east of the ridge that we rode over to get where we were.   Next - the sun broke through the clouds - very pretty!
The end of the trail~
Farah was full of herself today - too full!  We were heading back when she started some of her antics & I yelled at her!  We rounded a corner & here was a hunter setting in his jeep!  As I rode up, I apologized for my yelling at the mare :-)  Tom laughed & introduced himself.  He's lived in our area for 30-years & said that a few people think that there might be a Cougar in the area.  Farah stuck her head in the jeep & I gave him a carrot to give to her - even if she didn't deserve one!  He told me that bow hunting is over - he had his rifle on the seat beside him.
Almost surreal~
It's so beautiful that it's easy to almost zone out as Farah cruised us back with her big - "We're headed back!" walk!  :-)  Once they switch us back an hour - these late afternoons will be shortened!
Last of the day's sunshine~
The grass is still growing!  Of course Farah's mind is on all that fresh green stuff!  I kept her moving - sure looking forward to seeing my new saddle one of these days - so that the last excuse that she may have - i.e. not a perfect saddle fit - will hopefully be Gone!