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

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Third Day~

Driving up to Victoria, I pictured another parking area full of trailers - but not!  Given the choice of nice trails, or rock roads - the choice is obvious.  Victoria is also further north - so a longer drive for riders coming up from the metro areas.
The only one!
 Another incredible day!  I sat out for a while this morning with my tea - then did some chores before going up to groom Farah.  No more shedding blade!  She's sleek & shiny!
Youth on Age - or - Piggy Back Plant
 The ground covers are busy doing what they do best!  Soon we'll be enjoying the blooms!  After our Tue. ride - my mare in season, not paying attention & bucking up a couple of fits...  To yesterday - on our own, but looking for excuse to spook at everything & anything...  It was a surprise to be greeted by a nicker when I walked up to the barn.  She was totally relaxed while I groomed & saddled her. 
 Once on the trail - I could tell that I finally have my partner back!  Looking around when I unloaded her - she couldn't have been better as we started out.  Super nice walk, smooth trot & hand gallop.  We made great time going up the climb to the top.  No more shoulder lifts & head shaking after four-months with the Stonewall Saddle!  It took a while - but her comfort is obvious.
Hawk sailing over Whitehorse~
 There was a light layer of haze in the air, you could almost see the snow melting off the high peaks with the record breaking warm streak.  Over 70 degrees today & the first time since mid-Oct. that we've enjoyed temperatures like this.
Yellow Wood Violet
These bright little violets were blooming along the trail to the Monument.  I dismounted to get the photo while Farah waited.  There was nothing for her to graze on, she was being very patient - until - I looked up to see her quietly walking away - on towards the Monument & lunch!  I said;  "You'd better wait for me & you can have a cookie."  She looked over her shoulder & stopped :-)  Yes - she got the cookie.
Stunning views of the Sound & Olympics
 The sunlight had a hot quality today.  Bright & brilliant - I actually sat in the shade while Farah grazed.  There was a Facebook discussion going on about healthy eating.  I had to share a photo of my grapes & cheese stick :-)
Good grass~
Too soon, our break was over & away we went, back to the east side of the mountain.  I zoomed in to get the photo below - of some far peaks.  The clear cutting continues to expand exponentially.
Clear-cut patches~
 Looking east toward Mt. Washington, while it continues to be stripped - still seems wrong beyond words...  I did contact DNR.  They replied & asked;  "Which Mt. Washington?"  To which I plan to respond with a Google Earth image.
Mt. Washington
On any other year, I would have made at least a couple climbs up to admire the views.  One steep trail, with many switchbacks, put you right into the Big trees!  Looking out through them, down the valley is something I'll remember forever - since I'm sure I'll not see them again...
 I've been watching for my first Trillium of the season for a couple weeks now.  Even last week when riding with Linda, we both commented that we'd yet to see one.  Today was the DAY!  This beautiful example was right off the edge of the road & shaded from the hot sun. 
Mt. Rainier ~
 On our up-hill gallop, we matched our run-a-way speed from the first week of the month :-)  Much nicer to feel like I had some control.  Farah slowed for the turn, then dug in for a second burst - before we crested the top.  It would have been so fun to go to Tiffany's ride this weekend :-(   But Butch is determined to learn about his new volunteer duties & I'm along for the ride!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Somethin' Like Summertime!

Full Parking Lot
 It seemed crazy today to look at the Calendar & still see the month of March!  With days like these, it's hard to do anything but ride!  From the trailers at the Bracken parking - obviously other riders were of like mind!   I have to be so thankful that I have the places I do to ride.  Not as many as I'd like, with the foothills we have - especially with the heavy logging that's keeping me off the higher roads.  Enough though - that we can mix it up.
Bridge over Harvey Creek~
 We didn't see anyone that we knew, this ride was on our own anyway.  Bracken isn't that large, but large enough that we only saw two other riders.  I hailed, think I recognized one rider - they continued on at the trot :-)  With all the buds opening - the woods have become a wonderland of pale greens.
Tree broken off~
 With the work party coming up in another week, there are still a couple trees to be cut.  It's easy enough to get around this one.  After doing the heavily used section of the Centennial Trail yesterday - it was much more relaxing to be in the woods.
Farah checks out the water~
 I decided that I was plenty tired of Farah spooking each & every time we come to the water tank.  I made all the noise I could hitting the tank with my stick & boot, scooting it around, then pushing the button that starts the pump.  After dancing, prancing, snorting, blowing etc.  she realized that I wasn't going to go until she gave it up!  She finally played a little in the water - I splashed some at her & when we were done, she shook like a dog :-)
On the Whitehorse~
 We did eventually go to the Whitehorse.  Big thanks to the Park Rangers for getting all the trees cut that had been blown across.  Once at Cloverdale, I let Farah graze -  the grass is so thick now that she stayed within 20-ft of me & never lifted her head. 
Horse Heaven~
 Absolutely no one around, just a light breeze in the trees.  The dandelions seemed to glow in the bright sunshine.   It was Very warm too - I knew it had to be well above 70.
Cloverdale Farm~
We went over to the far side of the field & on through the woods to the river.  It was lower than I expected, but beautiful.  The land to the east, is being cleared, trees uprooted & piles burning.  Heaven forbid for development - but with proximity to the Whitehorse Trail & the river, I can see that happening...
North fork of the Stillaquamish
I am So anxious to get the trail pushed through east - to at least 530...  It's on the CTCSC agenda, but getting any official commitment to a completion date, is a on-going struggle.  Now that we have the bridge at French Creek to replace, at a huge cost - a date is further on the horizon than ever.
Heading back~
It was almost 4:30 by the time we were back at the trailer, only two others still there & two cars with bike racks.  Lucky we are - getting this extended break in what's been a very wet spring!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Another Two-fer Day!

Amanda & Cato, Lynn on Sophie
 After the morning fog burned off, the day was as stellar as the weather man had promised.  I was up early & on the road to Lord Hill to meet-up with Amanda & Lynn.  It had been way two long since we'd ridden together & now that the weather is cooperating - we have no excuses!
Cato & Amanda
 Farah was thrilled to see Cato again & I think he felt the same about her :-)  Sophie got extremely dirty looks if she made the slightest attempt to get between them.  Lynn graciously took up the rear & saved me from having to work harder than usual to keep Farah's mind on the trail.
Amanda & Cato~
 The new trail was built by Snohomish High Seniors to fulfill their community service requirement.  It's beautiful & well engineered.  For the first time we get a perfect view of the wetland - on the far side - where we only had a glimpse through the trees on the original trail.
Lynn & Sophie
 Sophie looks as great as ever!  Every time I see her on the trail, I'm in awe of her soundness & Lynn's management.  I can only hope that Farah does as well into her 20's!
Farah admires another wetland~
 As you can tell from the Google Earth image below, Lynn directed us on a beautiful loop.
Our route~
It seemed early when we headed back, but both Lynn & Amanda had things to do in the afternoon :-(  I was disappointed - but we've made plans for anther longer ride next week & lunch too!  I'm going to hold them to it!

Heading home from Snohomish, I found myself looking over at the Centennial Trail.  Why not I thought?  It was the three-year anniversary today of my point-to-point ride.  Really hard for me to believe that it's been that long.
Leaving from the 20th Trail-head
 We parked at the 20th street trail-head.  Lots & lots of cars in the lot, along with one other horse trailer.  Heading north - I was amazed at the changes.  The industrial area seems to have grown or expanded, or both.  Noise coming from every direction.
Further along~
 The first section is far from scenic & far from quiet, with Machias road running parallel.  Farah was less concerned with the traffic, than with all the big yellow boxes :-)
Underpass - Hwy 92
 The underpass cost so much - but got the trail through!  It's not bad at all, unless a big noisy truck goes overhead as you're going underneath!  :-)
Farah spots a horse~
 Farah going by was probably the most excitement this old guy had seen in a while :-)  We continued on - about mid-way to Lake Cassidy, we found a new paved trail going to a new subdivision of homes being built somewhat adjacent to the trail. 
Gate to Thomashire~
Their access gate has a access pad & will be handy for the new homeowners.  Prices start in the mid- 700's.  At Lake Cassidy, we had our lunch break.  So many people were out enjoying the day & Farah drew attention :-)  That gave me the opportunity to promote the trail & invite people to our monthly meetings.
Eagle on a nest~
 At the end of the dock, you could look back toward shore & be rewarded with the view of a Bald Eagle sitting on his/her nest :-)
Lake Cassidy~
 The lake was as deep a blue as the sky!  People were fishing off the end of the dock, while others took a break at the picnic tables.  I tied Farah to the hitching posts while I walked out to see the Eagle & visit the potty.  Very handy!
Heading back~
 This four-mile section of the trail, boasts several places where the horse trail splits off from the main trail - it's so nice to have that separation.  Just enough for a hand gallop.
Bleeding Hearts!
 Bleeding hearts are popping up everywhere, almost overnight it seems!  The sunshine brings out the best in people & plants too :-)
Making new Friends~
When we came upon this group, the baby's eyes were as big as saucers when she saw Farah.  Taylor, the young girl, was as thrilled as her little sister - who reached out & had touched Farah's nose!  Very brave!

The only downside to our ride, happened when we were more than half-way back.  Walking along, around a corner up ahead, came two flags - attached to a fast moving motorized Trike.  He was coming so fast & of course those flags were moving around.  Farah lost her marble, bolted, whirled & I instantly lost a stirrup.  On our second rotation, I yelled the first thing that came to mind;  "WHOA!" The gentleman got his trike stopped, I'd regained my stirrup & dismounted.

I introduced myself as the Chairman of the CT Coalition,  the rider apologized, saying that he knew he was going over 14-mph when he saw us... & that he had met the right person.  As a Veteran, he explained that the Veteran's Admin. has a new program where they will pay the cost of one of these trikes for Veterans who qualify.  This gentleman is thinking of opening a shop in Lake Stevens, since currently these bikes are only available somewhere down south.  (Farah, in the meantime - decided he was very interesting & tried to put her nose in his beard - which she loves to do with Butch :-)
Centennial Trail
The trail is not for motorized use...  I will have further questions regarding this issue.  Of all the people I greeted, the bike riders were the least friendly.  Maybe 30% returned my greeting.  They all looked to be on a mission...   A trail courtesy that was common in the early days of the trail, was to always make the comment;  "On your left, or - on your right"  When passing another trail user.  The bikes come whizzing up - almost silent.  That tends to give other users a start or scare!

On days when the trail is so busy - it seems that everyone needs to be a little more considerate & that speed should be reduced for the safety of all~

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Making New Friends~

From a chilly early a.m. - the sun burned through the clouds & the day warmed into the mid-60's!  Farah & I were on the road early, to meet Linda & Elizabeth.  Linda planned to ride Elizabeth's very nice buckskin gelding.  I was the first one to the parking area - we attracted the attention of three people walking their dog.  Introducing themselves, the two ladies - from Taiwan - had never seen a horse in person, or touched one :-)
Farah & her new friends~
 It's always so much fun to introduce strangers to the Equine species :-)  We discussed size, vs. a dog - strength etc.  They both held their hands flat to give Farah some of her peppermint treats & giggled like kids when her lips touched their hands :-)
Trailers & horses~
 Soon, Linda pulled in with Count & shortly after Elizabeth with Tony.  Trying different tack & saddles took a bit, but we got it done!  The morning was just so beautiful - we weren't in any hurry.
Tony ~
 Tony is such an easy going boy - for as young as he is.  Elizabeth owned his dam & looked at several Quarter Horse Stallions before picking Tony's sire.  His training is really solid, his personality is friendly & you can tell he's always been treated as a member of the family.
Tony & Linda
 Linda was all smiles, as we left the trail-head.  Our plan was to do the loop around the mountain & take Elizabeth to the Monument.  With Farah in the lead, Tony was happy to follow her silver tail.  When I moved her to the rear, he looked over at us, but with a little urging took the lead.

The peaks were stunning against the clear blue sky~
  Tony has been on trails, gone horse camping, a been there, done that kind of horse.  What he hadn't done for a while, was much work.  He was willing, but more than happy when we would stop for short breaks.  Count was good for Elizabeth - she was enjoying the ride.  We all know how much fun it is to see our own horse with someone else in the saddle.
Linda, Tony - Elizabeth & Count
 Count did give Elizabeth one of his trademark dirty looks & she got a real kick out of it :-) I - on the other hand, am one of Count's best friends.  Tony figured out why - when he got cookies too.  Farah was having a rare, calm day - I enjoyed it. 
Usually when in cycle, she'll go slow - hoping Count will get close...   This day, she set a beautiful pace, walking out well over 4.- up to 5.1.  If we got too far ahead, she'd slow or we'd stop to wait for our companions.
Linda on Tony
 Tony showed that he has that Arab toughness.  His hind shoes had been pulled two-weeks ago, so he was tender on the rock roads.  Linda put him into a good trot going up fast trail & he hung in there - even when we all knew he was tiring.  Not a wrong move, no spooking & a good attitude.   I put Farah behind both horses, she didn't like it, but didn't argue.
Mt. Rainier, under clouds~
Both Linda & I enjoyed Elizabeth's company, I hope she enjoyed the ride as much as we did.  When we returned to the trail-head, it was full of trailers!  Not the only riders out taking advantage of such a amazing Sat. after weeks of rain!

Friday, March 25, 2016


I wanted to ride today & would have ridden with someone - if anyone - had wanted to ride with me.  But since I'd been wanting to get out from home all week - today looked perfect.  I love what trails we have left, especially so - when the landscape is coming alive with buds & blooms!  The birds were singing & flirting between the trees :-)  I must have been Dreamin'  though - since after the last big wind storm, I should have realized that the chances of getting to where I wanted to go - were - well, slim... 
The first one was hung up~
 No problem getting past the first one, nicely hung up between two trees.  Farah is still in her non-stop spring cycle - we had a couple discussions by the time we'd reached this point.  I've never seen things so wet & the trails were slippery too. 
Trail to the development gate~
 I didn't plan to go this way anyhow, it would have been jump-able.  Instead we went the usual way that takes us to the power lines.
Not looking good~
 I love this section of trail, we usually trot or gallop it.  Today though - the view was not good...  Farah easily jumped the first smaller one, but the next was huge!
Big Tree~
 Not only wide, but long - the root ball on the far side of the creek & wet area.  The top, hung up on the hillside & continuing up the hill unbroken.  I decided to try to clear enough limbs that it might be possible to take Farah up the hill, maybe find a place to get over the trees, then drop back down.  I'd done a lot of tossing, got up the hill quiet a way - just to realize that the ground was so soft, wet & littered with debris that it just wasn't work the risk.  As I was jumping back down - I slipped & caught myself just before making contact with the sharp end of a broken off limb.  Stupid & getting impaled would not have been fun :-(
Here you can tell there was a gap between the two trees~
 Farah was perfectly happy to be grazing, while I worked!  The grass is always greener don't you know?  I think she could have jumped them, but a mistake might have resulted in a hoof going between the two trees.  Instead, we did the wise thing & turned back.

I finally got bucking rolls last week from Gary Winckler.  Butch installed them & they work great!  No one had the black leather needed for the base of the rolls, but it will darken over time.  I kind of like the little bit of accent. 
Can't identify this one?
 There were many of the above Shrooms, sprouting up all around the area near the Cottonwoods. 
 The salmonberry blooms were glistening with rain drops...  The air was so full of negative ions - smelling so fresh, clean & springlike!
What is this?
 I don't care how many things you desensitize a horse to, there's always something :-)  We were coming down the edge of our neighbor's yard, on our little trail, when Farah stopped cold to check out the yellow float.  The wind had blown it from the yard, over to the trail.
Rain over Mt. Pilchuck
The sun was out most of our ride, it felt so warm!  But every now & then, a big dark cloud would roll overhead, the temperature would drop & we were drizzled on more than once.  One of our shorter rides, but the weatherman is promising that next week we'll enjoy days & days of sunshine & warmer temperatures!  Overdue I say!