Friday, July 21, 2017

detour: cooler mountains

Fleeing the week of 105+ degree weather, the mountains offered little respite. But 90 degrees at 6500 feet still sounded better, and camping, swimming, kayaking and hiking sounded like a great plan.

how much can you cram in/on a Subaru? A lot.

First things first: launch the kayak for the first time this season. The rivers have been running too fast and cold for casual kayaking, but now it's just right. There is something about water and granite and blue skies (and no cell service) to make you stop worrying about all those projects you left on your desk...

just breathe

old, cut tree with logging marks

tiny tree among granite

I didn't take any photos of our lovely camping spot, next to the creek, with a short walk to the lake. But I took full advantage of putting my feet in the creek, and a comfy chair, with a 800+ page new book, (the last in one of my favorite trilogies): now that's a great weekend.

a lovely start

meadow of mule's ear, not blooming quite yet!

But I guess I should put down the book for awhile (and it was way too heavy to put in my backpack) and hit the trails. For a short hike, no monsters this weekend. Except in the lake! I had really wanted to swim after our couple-mile excursion to the lake, but it was filled with catfish, swimming along the surface, intensely interested in whatever. I don't like fish that I can see. I got my feet wet and that was all.

perfect Salmon lake

too many catfish

But we continued, there were many lakes along the trail, and eventually there was a great one to take a lunch break, read my secondary (much more lighter-weight) book, and breathe the cool air.
granite trail
Sierra phlox
The trails are mostly granite, interspersed with giant boulders to climb around and over, and this year, still snow! The lakes were all full, there were fallen trees and a lot of debris on trail, but hidden flowers were everywhere.

pretty in pink, mountain heather

removing some jammed-up debris (and singing Toad's "Dam Would Break" for awhile after this...)

Sierra fawn lily

it wasn't that hot out, but I couldn't resist laying the snow/ice.

Back in the campsite, I hefted my book, ate marshmellows and looked up at the trees. And then back at my book, because honestly, what's going to happen next?

along our camp creek

Thursday, July 13, 2017


The same trails. The same trees. The same easy-access staging area. It was all getting a bit dull. But it was too hot to trailer far, I wanted to start early!

pretty, but boring

different day, same staging area

So time for a new perspective…I put it in reverse! I trailered to the usual staging area, and decided to just ride home from there (and my trailer would be driven home by S.O., awesome!). We are very lucky to have such an amazing trail system. Major thought he was in heaven! He always wanted to head home from these trails, but I had been too focused on elevation and distance, to just have a fun ride.

barrel trail: Major didn't care at all

giant piles of leftover gravel
Stu the Dog's trail!

Hidden water trough: lovely water, Major disdains
First I wandered up and down the hills a bit, just to get some elevation training (since it's all downhill going home). I finally rode down the strange hanging barrels trail, Major didn't care at all. We waded into the water, then stormed back up the hill…and towards home. Major couldn't contain his excitement, 'You mean we really are going home, not fooling me and turning around soon?" Nope, let's go!"

A little river play time
then back up the canyon and back down towards home

While it might be steep cliffs for a bit, it is what we're used to. So no worries as we trot along. It was a great, different look at the same trail. Panoramas opened up ahead, that had previously been hidden behind me. Boats on the lake (where we could walk across last year!)

the vertigo photo! (yes it was that green right here, weird I know)
I'll take this view

After the cliffs, it's an easy trail. And no one was out! Early + hot = empty trails. I'll take it.

haha, nice ears on the bridge of death
another disdained trough...sigh...
It's a sparkly!

We were home before noon. I think Major was pleasantly surprised at our turn of trail. And even better, my trailer had already been parked by my great S.O. I think I could get used to this new perspective.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

d.i.y.: fly veil

The flies are terrible this year. I’m assuming from all the wet weather? Even trails far away from stables and animals are inundated with the nagging vermin. Poor Major tossed his head and I flapped my reins in his face (he knows I’m helping) through 10 miles last week.

I’d seen fly veils online, they’re cheap to buy. But why buy something for $6.99 when you can spend hours doing it yourself? (Plus, I’d end up buying even MORE stuff, because that’s always how it works.)

lacking in the forelock department
Ha! Actually I spent less than an hour. And all with stuff I already had. And customized. Win!

Gather supplies. I got together random string, velcro, elastic, scissors, thread, measuring tape. I ended up using just the velcro and paracord, but you could use elastic, shoelaces, baling twine, etc.

I measured the browband of my old bridle (my current bridle has no browband). I added a couple inches for good luck because it seemed sensible.

Make the velcro strips, making sure scratchy side doesn’t touch the horse. I took the two velcro pieces, attached so you have one scratchy and one fabric, stitched them together, and then attached them to the piece I used as a browband.

Cut the desired length, mine were 20”. I cut 10, some black and some orange, because it is what I had. I’d probably do a few more, but you can add more later too. (Now that I have tested it, I would add a few more.)

Tie them on by making a loop under the brow string, then pull the ends through. Arrange semi-evenly. And you’re almost done!

You can put a little glue if you feel your cord will come undone. It really depends on what material you’re using. I put a drop of gel superglue (best stuff ever) since the paracord wanted to slip around.

You can trim them all exactly, if that’s your thing. I just left it: close enough!

Carefully burn the ends if using paracord/nylon/etc. (Do not under any circumstances touch the smoldering cord to extinguish, therefore attaching molten nylon to your finger, leaving a nice burn. Yeah, don’t do that part.)

Now you’re done! Install on your bridle, and install on your horse. (Really though,  make sure your horse is ok with flappy string around their face. I take no responsibility if your horse freaks out because the tentacled monster is attacking him.)

Bonus: custom caterpillar! I found this little guy while working outside on this project, and he matches. So awesome.

Major was very bored with the whole "posing" thing. I did a test-ride in the super-fly zone (no, not superfly like “cool” but too many bothersome creatures). It worked great!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

sun worship

The longest daylight, and hottest day of the year. We were out early, though the sun was already rising quickly and strongly hinting at the predicted 108 temperature. A balmy 75 at 7:30am, finishing at 9am and heating up quickly. A cold hose bath, extra sloppy salty mash, a shady structure (though he'll just stand in the sunny pasture). 

I think I'll worship another day, and today try to stay inside, in front of a fan, and dream of cooler summer evening rides, and mid-summer cool 95 degrees!!

Monday, June 12, 2017


"To be, or not to be, that is is question."

Not to be.

My endurance ride hopes in three weeks were dashed when I arrived at the stable to find Major with a swollen hock.

I'm not usually a freak-out horse owner, having had enough bumps and bruises. So I figured to just cold hose this and see what's going on. He was flinching away from the hose, and not letting me near his leg to poke or prod what looked like a tiny scrape. My normally stoic horse was hurting.

Sigh. Normally I might wait and see a bit on the vet. But a painful  injury over a joint? And me leaving for the weekend? Major was loaded into the trailer (which was packed with all my tack for a long training ride the next day, sigh..)

With heavy sedation (no lightweight this boy!) vet was able to poke and prod. And not find a deep wound or any joint involvement (probably, always a caveat). Just an infection and pus and swelling, the wound needed to be enlarged a bit to flush it all out. Glad it was "just" that, but damn!

(There are no pictures. I just held Major's lead rope. I do not do well with wounds. Or needles. As the vet who picked me up off the floor after they stuck a needle in my old cats eye will attest.)

Wound cleaned and bandaged, Major stood groggily at the trailer. Back home he got a mash with 14 antibiotic pills, which at least he gobbled all up. Twice a day for two weeks. He doesn't care, I mixed it in with a bit of senior feed and he's super happy about that!

Later he said he was sorry. Me too buddy, me too. But there are other rides, and days to train, and only one Major.

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them.
   —William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Monday, June 5, 2017

play time

Where did May go? I guess I was busy with horse play time. Did you ever run around the house pretending to be a horse? Ride your plastic bounce horse on a wild chase (almost straining the springs to their breaking point!) I had an awesome 1970s hop ball (I think it had a horse shape, or I pretended it was at least!) anyone with one of those? Remember how fun it was?

So I spent May recreating that as an adult. There has been too much adulting (ok, I seriously hate that word, but it works for this) in my life lately. I figured I'd condition for endurance eventually. Maybe. It takes so much time and planning, this many hours/miles/elevation this week, when's the ride, plan and plan some more).

Nice face Major.

So I had fun just playing. Explore a little, ride with friends, see old buddies and new trail. It's just some fun.

loud helicopter ruins a ride

There was watching (and hearing) a helicopter lifting logs at Folsom Lake to clear debris (incredibly loud, even in the distance, and seems super inefficient, but obviously I'm not an expert!).

There was coming down from Auburn to the dreaded waterfall bridge, normally packed with people and feral children, instead with just one actually polite guy, wow!

Hi Tux!

An actual arena practice (oh, it was NOT pretty) then a visit with Major's not-friend Tux. (But they were polite, Major didn't bite him this time!)

piggy-back pig

Days for found squeaky pigs, giant horse-eating puddles, too much energy and just snacking.

giant puddle needs inspection
snacking in the overgrown lot

In the last couple weeks I figured I should do some conditioning if I want to do an endurance ride this summer. But we still explored some trails not traveled in awhile, watched the grass turn golden and the lake rise higher and higher, found a pond we'd never seen before and encountered snakes (the good kind!).

Is that buckeye or are you happy to see me?

golden grass

rising lake

discovered pond!

Tevis-bound friend exceeding the speed limit

California King snake
But it has still been fun, and not work, so my goal is accomplished. Major is my modern day bounce horse. Luckily we can travel a bit farther than the living room, and he's pretty non-spooky. I swear bouncing on the shag carpet was unpredictable!

Now we're more serious about adding some miles, but I still plan on keeping it fun, for both of us! So if that means extra time spent snorkeling at the trough, that's what we'll be doing.