Monday, September 15, 2014

skillman, anyway

Many friends were heading to a lovely local endurance ride this weekend, I figured I'd keep with my quiet calm year and just go camping with the horse and a friend. However, also in keeping with the rest of my year, my quick camping vacation didn't go as planned.

C and I were all packed and ready to go up to Skillman Horse Camp for a nice relaxing weekend of riding the trails. Until C fell and badly twisted her ankle the night before! No riding or vacation for her, damn. I was all packed, but wasn't in the mood to go alone, so I dragged the ever suffering SO with me, just for one night.

After an easy drive, we arrived under the lovely pines, no crowds. We even got a spot with a corral to try! I tacked up and headed out, figuring a leisurely Pioneer/Hallelujah seven mile loop to start us off, then back to camp. Major was on fire, loving the trails, motoring along, he loves this place. We zoomed along the trails, powered up Hallelujah HIll, and trotted across the top of the undulating old flume. And were back in camp in 45 minutes! Damn, that was some low flying!

trail blur
much better marked than previous years!
love these pines, and green

more lovely green trails
best sign ever: no low-riders on trail

 So we took a breather. And I ate lunch while Major stubbornly tried to dig the little bits of alfalfa out of his mostly grass small-hole hay bag, and did not drink. Sigh. But we headed out again, this time out the back side of camp, up the hill, past my favorite sign of all time, and out on the trail. Major was being so good I let him decide where to go. He's an idiot. He turned toward the hot, dry Omega trails, and I thought "They can't really be as bad as I remember, right?" Yes they are.

really Major, this is your choice?

more rocks

plodding the road

the only other horse I saw on trail

Dry, hot, rocky, did I say hot? I was seeming extra hot, I'm usually pretty good in the heat. I reached up to adjust my helmet brim, and realized the problem: I'd left camp in a baseball hat! I haven't ridden without a helmet in forever! Luckily we were plodding along, all spirit sucked out of my horse by the dust, rocks, gravel and heat. Once back into some nice, shady trails we headed back to camp, I was extra cautious of low hanging branches!

cozy camp

Camp was already set up (!!!) by my awesome SO, Major got to relax in his pen. He was a little lonely, we took a walk around to see the few other horses around camp. There were maybe eight other horses and mules scattered about. I usually see this place packed during the Wild West endurance ride, when they somehow shoehorn in a ridiculous number of rigs and horses into this tiny campground. I made Major some crack-mash (regular mash with some equine senior feed sprinkled on top) to get some water into him, and he finally ate it up and drank too.

All night I could hear him pacing around the corral, stop and eat, walk around some more. On the high-tie he just stands quietly and eats. In the morning Major started a conversation (annoying whinnying) with the other horses across the campground. Who then left, and Major paced around nervously. And did not answer the lonesome whinny/bray of the mule. Snob.

anxious Major (with his cool reflective ID necklace on!)

So I tacked up my distracted horse, and we headed out. I think he thought it was an endurance ride and everyone had already left! He was a handful for a bit, but then settled down to some serious motoring, doing his consistent get-it-done trot, about 8mph, up, down, over and around everything. I love this horse.

There is a nice reroute of the Pioneer trail I did the first day, but it was really dusty, as they have literally just cut the trail and it isn't packed down or anything. It was early in the ride and I thought "I'll just try the old trail, it wasn't so bad." Yes it was. Rocky ugly. So I'm just as bad a judge of trail choice as Major! But after that we got a lovely view of distant Scotts Flat Lake on the way to White Cloud Campground, then looped back to again demolish Hallelujah Hill on the way back to camp (damn this horse likes to climb).

my bad trail choice. When they reroute a trail, it's probably for a good reason.

more blurry zooming

Scotts Flat in the distance

more pretty distant lake views
sparkly sun and tree tops

a calmer, green trail view

We finished packing up, I cleaned up the horse, and went for a final walk around the camp. Major found an alfalfa stump he was quite happy with, then found the three-inch-deep dusty, silty parking area as a perfect rolling spot. He was disgusting. But I'll put up with it, because overall, it was a pretty awesome trip.

coveted alfalfa stump

Yes, please, totally clean horse. Please find the most disgusting place in camp. Thank you.


  1. What a wonderful outing!

    Tons of lovely through the ears shots + a no-low-rider sign (!) + an alfalfa stump. Val would think he'd died and gone to heaven if we ever found one of those! ;D

    1. alfalfa stumps are every horse's dream...

  2. What a beautiful weekend! I'm glad you still got to go with Major!

  3. Sounds like fun despite the last minute change of plans! I always mean to go camping at Skillman when it's not Wild West and so far I haven't..but it would be the perfect spot for a Sheza camping weekend, I must do it.

    Had to laugh a little at the poor choices of trail, I so do that. Nah, THIS will be better horse! Oh wait... well we can but try.Glad you got to enjoy your power house boy on some (mostly) nice trails.

    1. It would be a good spot for Sheeza camping, there are some nice shorter loops. The corrals are really nice and sturdy.

      Glad I'm not the only one making poor trail choices! I think it's the grass is always greener concept...

  4. sometime the impromptu plans are the best and it looks like this turned out great .. sounds way better than the stress of a ride! Glad the SO was a willing participant and he definitely gets an A plus for his contributions with camp! Its still very green for this time of year it seems?or is that typical??

    1. It is green (and mostly shady) in this area as the trees are all either pine or understory trees (just starting to turn yellow for fall). There isn't any green groundcover (as Major would tell you, nothing to eat!), but the evergreen shrubs and trees in this area are very hardy, and survive the 5+ months of no rain.

      But a rain dance would be appreciated anyway, to maybe help the firefighters on a giant scary local fire!