|Map of the area~|
This was the ride that took us by surprise! The day had been really hot & bright - so we decided to take another hiking excursion into Joshua Tree. (I may eventually post some of our hiking photos too - but really want to get these ride stories written.)
|Not far out!|
We'd heard "stories" about this loop - it was the most difficult & the most beautiful. It was just 3 p.m. when we were saddled & heading out. Ten-miles? No big deal - should be able to knock that out & get back before dark - right? Well - great plan - until you start oohing
& Connie has to stop every 50-feet to take photos!
|Burned Joshua Tree & "root" system~|
It was the perfect time of day to be out! A soft, warm breeze, amazing light & the most incredible country we'd yet seen! I could fill pages of this blog with just photos of the wildflowers, but will refrain...
Soon, we were climbing & I do mean climbing! Once we were in over four-miles - we had to make the decision whether to turn back, or continue on & plan to get out before dark. It's as treacherous as it is beautiful & anyone would be a fool to think otherwise. Of course the unanimous decision was to continue on!
The trail was deceptive, first a good climb up, then back down through a gully & again back up even higher! The last - almost two-miles were straight up! Switchbacks, over boulders, around boulders & between them. Both of us thankful for breast collars & tight girths! Toward the top - we were pretty sure there would be a territorial view & we were NOT disappointed.
|Farah surveys the world from the top~|
With Freebie in the lead, the mares had to scramble cat like
to get up the final push & over slip-rock to the top! Both were covered in sweat! It truly was a "Rim of the World" view! Sadly - now, we were pushing the limits of how much daylight there was remaining.
What goes up... We were now going down, down, down... slipping, sliding & we even found an area with beautiful tall grasses growing & one tiny spot of moist soil. No stopping for photos though - we pressed on.
Well, maybe a couple more stops :-) I couldn't resist "Toad Rock" as we named him.
Then, here was this beautiful stone, with the flowering shrub growing right in front as though planted.
|Far end of town up ahead~|
The trail used to connect to this end of town & it would have been very nice to have gone that way... But we think that landowners in the area decided that they didn't want riders going past - so it's all be fenced off with barbed wire. The trail stops at the wire, so we had to turn & follow it back to the trail that we'd come in on. Freebie was setting a great pace considering the trail, rocks etc. & we were flying along - with Farah throwing in a buck here & there to voice
her displeasure at being in the rear. She has yet to figure out that pitching a fit over it does nothing to contribute to forward motion!
We rode back into camp just after 6 p.m. with enough time to wash the mares down & blanket them. The sunset & was glorious as they were most every evening while we were there. Then - there were the incredible sunrises - that I usually saw from the warmth of my sleeping bag & Patty enjoyed when out walking her dogs :-) Perfect end to a spectacular day in the high desert!
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