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

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Wrap Up~

Sunset - Mt. Pilchuck
By the time Justin was done with Farah's shoes - I was frozen to the bone & the temperature had started down again - from our 30 degree high to 28.  The ground is so hard now, it sounded hollow as Farah walked up to the barn with her new shoes - the last of this year!  :-)
"What ya doing Justin?"
New shoes nine times this year - so roughly every six-weeks.  Not bad for a mare that carried me over 1,000-miles.  Less than the last two-years, but still a very respectable number.  We had some amazing highlights in 2015.
Trip to Southern, CA - 3-14-15
Our trip with Patty to Joshua Tree National Park & Pioneertown in Southern, CA was a trip-of-a-lifetime for me.  Riding in new country would be all I would do if I could.  If you get the opportunity - go!
Columbia River~
 The days we spent the end of April at the Ancient Lakes area - was another I won't soon forget & hope to do again!  More new country - new to me - new to Farah & nothing more fun than enjoying it with good friends.

May - Mt. Adams!  Farah's first win & a really great ride for us both - the only ride we did this year.
Butch trots Farah~
June, the yearly beach trip!  This year was special, since Sandy came & brought Farah's sire Ody with her.  The two of them are a perfect pair - they walk, trot & gallop side-by-side without any issues at all!  Sandy & I reap the benefits - with some incredible riding.
Farah & Ody ~
Summer arrived!  We camped with the kids & grand-kids, lost Rascal & then found him!  Grandson Ben started driving his new truck - Thanks Joyce!  Farah & I tried saddles, several saddles & finally - just a month ago, our new one arrived & it works!
Grandson Mason, David, Nephew Chase, Grandson Ben & Butch
Family visited in Aug., Butch took the guys in our family on a fishing trip to Canada.  They were gone a week & came home with huge smiles & lots of fish!
Butch with Josie & Skyla
September, we made the drive south to visit the Wrights & our two littlest Granddaughter's - who moved to the Astoria area.  No fun to have them so far away - but it could be farther!
Farah checks it out!
Farah & I attended a Saddle-Up Meetup at Fire Mountain - fun obstacles & good time with our friends.
Connie, Farah, Linda & Count
October, camping up at Harry Osborn's with Linda!  Our first camping trip together in probably close to twenty-years & we enjoyed every day.  Perfect riding weather & my only trip up there this season.
Sauk River
November, we made several trips up to Darrington - watching as the Sauk River took huge chunks of land - putting it's main flow right up to the edge of the Wrights backyard.  They moved out November of 14, when it became too scary to stay.
December Cold!
December, well - who isn't busy during the holidays?  Hottest Summer in history, rivers lowest ever, second rainiest December in history - plenty of records were broken this year!
Here's to a Bright, Shiny & more moderate 2016!
Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Nature's Wrath~

Wrights & the Sauk
Our youngest daughter asked us to take a drive to see what was up with their abandoned property outside Darrington.  My first trip on November 2nd, I was shocked to see how much of the land between the yard & the river had eroded away.  During the course of the month, we made four more trips & with each - the river had taken more & more of the shoreline.  Our last trip,   November 22nd   it was obvious that the course of the river was changing.
Current toward shoreline~
Even though the level of the river was way down, the current was pointed right at the NE corner of what's left of the backyard.
Where the NE corner was~
It was impossible to even get photos from the same spots that I'd stood before - they're now gone!   With several inches of snow on the ground, we were careful not to walk too close to the undercut bank.  
Looking South upriver ~

 The raw look was only accented by the gray, cold December day.  Word is Seattle City Light may take over what's left of the property to include it in their conservation easement & do some planting to try to stop the erosion.  I find it doubtful that anything will stop this river from going where it wants.
Hopefully the house will sell soon & be moved somewhere far away from this river!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Past & Present~

Every year since forever, I've sent out a Christmas letter & photo card.  Originally it was a hand-written letter!  Once we moved to the Homestead & computers became the norm, in the workplace anyway - I started typing our letters.  I've kept copies of them all in a notebook that we enjoy going through once a year. 
It wasn't until I'd sent out this year's Christmas card that I started thinking that it wasn't the first time these three Grand-kids had been in our Christmas photo.   The notebook came out & I started going back through the years ~
2003 - Kitt, Mason, Grammy, Abby, Ben, Papa & Cassidy
How quickly twelve-years have flown by!  The kids are so big now that we'd never all fit on the swing!  Our Grand-children For Sure have been that "Gift of Old Age"!  All five of them - make each day we get to spend with them Merry & Bright!

With another Holiday season well under way;  Butch & I wish all of you - a 
Very Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Winter War Zone~

Farah;  "Dad was here!"
Two rain bursts came through this morning.  Finally - the sun tried to appear & it looked like we might have that window of opportunity to get out!  We only made it part way along the muddy Alder trail when I heard the sound of an engine.  Two guys on a 4-wheeler saw us & came to a stop.  They work for my neighbor to the north - who owns this property & told me they'd been asked to come up & cut out the trees over the trails.  I told them we'd done our share & they agreed!  I'm sure the  property will be easier to sell to another developer - if they can drive them through. :-(
Farah & her branch~
When I think of the issues this mare had with water early on - I have to laugh now :-)  Here, so much water was running over the trails - we were splashing along for half a mile.  (We'd had rain all night.)  Farah decided that this branch was the one & chewed on it for quite a while.
Up every trail~
We would have never made it to the power lines.  I had No idea how many more trees had come down!  All the rain over the last weeks has saturated the ground to the point where it was easier for those high winds to topple them.
Snapped off & blow over too~
Western Red Cedars, Hemlock, it didn't make any difference, every way I looked & everywhere we went more were on the ground.  Some of the largest - thankfully - had missed covering the trails. 
To the power lines~
Today, I used my Woolback pad.  The binding on the pad from Stonewall had rubbed & broken the hair over Farah's loins.  I should have know when I saw that binding - but since so many riders seem to use them successfully - I took a chance.  I prefer a pad that covers the drop-down rigging & the Woolback does.  What I don't like is how the saddle slips when I mount from the ground.
Yes - mud~
We went north to check our little woods loop.  The tree that had been blocking it since the Nov. wind storm was cut out!  It started spitting rain & I swear the temperature dropped several degrees - I was getting cold.
Huge tree down :-(
Coming back toward home, we found this huge root ball - attached to a huge tree.  You can see all the standing water.  The little Wrens were everywhere!  For a way - they tried to stay in front of Farah & pick whatever it was from the trail in front of us.  So very cute!
Water flowing out of the Wetland
So much water in the Wetland, that there was a small waterfall over the Beaver dam!
The snow keeps dropping lower & lower, but still we haven't had it on the ground at home.  The day didn't get any brighter, nor warmer.
Pat's horses~
Back on the trail behind Pat's, we were greeted by three of her horses.  Rao is taking care of the two pregnant mares & it's pretty exciting to think of new foals on the farm next year!

We traveled the last few miles to roll-over 1,100 year-to-date.  (The last three-years our total is over 4,000-miles.)  We weren't pushing - probably a good thing since we spent most of the year waiting for a saddle, then - waiting for a saddle.  Speaking of saddles, every ride I'm liking the Stonewall more & more.  I've asked for a photo of the tree, I still want to add bucking rolls.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

More Changes~

No rain!  Sunshine!  Our first opportunity to go up & chainsaw all the downfall that's blocked my trails out for two-weeks now.  The first change was obvious - someone had driven a backhoe through the trail - breaking off the small Alders along both sides. 
12-9, Where the backhoe must have come in~
This is the closest access - so I know the tree above has been cut out.  I should be able to loop through the construction again.
Gosh - guess they had to turn around!
 At the end of this trail - is the log that was down just before the drop to the outflow of the Wetland.  That stopped him, steep & extremely wet.  Of course - I could add that it's supposed to be illegal to go within a certain distance of the wetland...
Butch & the Mcculloch's last hurrah~
As Butch worked to start his notoriously hard to start McCulloch - the pull string broke.  Hike back to the truck, trip to town, visit to Glens & out he came with a new to us - used Stihl!  I did ask about the McCullough - it went to the bone pile :-)
On to the big stuff~
The Stihl is lighter & did a really nice job cutting through the big stuff!  I was amazed at how much the big one above moved as Butch made the cuts.
Further up~
Further up toward Cottonwood Cathedral - there was this one.  We'd gotten over it, but since we were here - it got cut.  Our final surprise came at the Cottonwoods, where someone had cut them out.  They'd come in the other access gate from the Development.  Now, I'm interested in riding out to see if they've done anything else, since this is not their property.
Butch's work on our way back~
We didn't make it pretty this time.  As we discussed, I may have this access for another week or another year - who knows.  Either way - no purpose in doing any more than necessary - since It could all get dozed anytime now.  It's impossible to reach Planning & Development by phone...  I need to make a trip to their offices in Everett & I dread that.  Just to remind them that the Wetland is here & find out if there's any chance that the Native Growth Protection regulations will protect it?   Not that they care - how could they - when they approved these Rural Cluster plans originally?  To keep from being sued by the Developer - from what I've heard...   Soon, we'll be down to the last tree standing...

Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Happy Place!

Tea Anyone?
Linda had been telling me about the amazing decorations & displays to be seen at Skagit Gardens in Mt. Vernon.  I usually make a trip south to Molbacks in Woodinville, or to Wights in Lynnwood with daughter Courtney for my seasonal fix.
Santa's Truck?
This year, Courtney was busy with her Duvall Market, but we may yet get a day out.  With days of rain & waking to slate gray mornings - Linda invited me up for lunch at Skagit Gardens!  Who would have thought that they'd have such a nice little place to eat?
Great Combination!
We enjoyed our first lunch so much, that we've continued to go the last couple weeks for our holiday attitude adjustment!  Not quite the same as the saddle time that we both usually require - but really fun to walk in to such a bright wonderful place, even on a pouring rain day!
A Beer Tree!
Really a great place to buy those unique Christmas gifts, or something to brighten up your porch planters during the Winter months.  In the barn off to the side is another great gift shop with a nice selection of clothing, purses & jewerly.
 Santa shops here too!
So, if you're looking for a bright spot in an otherwise dreary day - take a drive up north & spend a little time drinking in the ambiance!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Whitehorse Trail - Arlington

I'd hoped we'd get my trails open over the weekend, but with the pouring rain, we sure didn't feel like hauling the chain saw up there.  Instead, with the trailer hitched & ready - if the weather sounds plausible at all, I just plan to drive, to ride.
Filtered sun through the fog~
The Whitehorse sounded good, no mud there & I wanted to ride to the Arch in Arlington.  A check to see how it's holding up & look at the area where the homeless keep trying to move in.  As we were leaving the trail-head, the day didn't look as promising as it had in the sunshine at home...
On the Whitehorse
But...  before we were very far out, the sun burned through!  Riding into the sun was so bright, the river running gray with silt.  Things warmed up, everything was dripping - the rock of the surface - the crunch, crunch, crunch - the sound of Farah's feet almost rhythmic.   About half-way to the Arch - our goal, we stopped for lunch.  
Farah & my shadow :-)
By now, it was warm!  My jacket came off - the stop was short & we went on.  Walking along the river is one of my favorite places to ride anymore.  It's still remote enough that it doesn't get much use, there were a few tracks from bike tires, but we didn't see anyone.
Not rock, old volcanic soils~
Water was seeping out of the hillside, shining in the sunshine like tiny sparkling diamonds.  One of the prettiest sections of the trail, also one of the most unstable - since these hillsides could easily slide, or crumble - which a section did last year.
Ramp from the Quarry
Out at the Arlington end, this is the ramp that may become access for horses to the Whitehorse Trail.  I'm hopeful too that the County can work through all the paperwork that's required for us to have trailer parking here on the Quarry property.  The Quarry is willing, the County Engineer is working out the details & I hope to have an update shortly.  The underpass you see in this photo is where the Centennial Trail goes over the Quarry entrance.  Parking here, would give Equestrians a perfect spot to access the Whitehorse at it's beginning & also the north end of the Centennial Trail without having to cross the Haller Trestle.
At Resilience Arch
The new bricks that have replaced the old ones, are so much nicer!  The etching is deep & the bricks themselves are a better product.  Bricks are still available for purchase with personalized engraving!
Our brick~
We turned back from here~
Looking East~
This is the section of trail, close enough to Arlington - where homeless people have tried to set up camps.  They've been moved out a couple times now, over the past two-years, but still return.  This private property is between the river & the trail.
Homeless camp~
The thing that gets to me the most - is the mess...  Trash Everywhere!  Homelessness is one thing - leaving trash everywhere is something Else!  Our Park Rangers are busy enough - without having to continually pick up all the mess.  The hope is, with more access for Equestrians & use of the trail - they will move out & move on.
Wetland along the trail~
I'd expected to see more water in the river after the days of rain, but the level was about the same as the last time we where.  A Bald Eagle flew over us on our way back.  We'd returned to Tin Bridge when I realized that I'd lost my sunglasses...  When we'd stopped at our break spot on the way back, I'd shook out my jacket & put it back on.  That was the clue that we had to turn back.  This time, it was more of a trudge than a walk :-)  Found them, at the side of the trail in the leaves.
Looking upstream - North Fork of the Stillaquamish
It was getting late by now, clouds had moved in & our sunshine was gone.  We did a lot of trotting to get back to the trailer & made it just after 4 p.m.  Driving home, the sunset was spectacular - in our gate & just enough time to do chores before dark.  I think we're all counting down to the Winter Solstice - looking forward to the longer days on the far side!