Sunday, February 18, 2018

lone grave

Do you know where we're going? Nope, do you? Nope, do you think they know? I don't think so!
I kept hearing people talk about the trails up at Lone Grave* like they were something special. Then I looked them up, it's the staging area for the midpoint of the Wild West endurance ride! But I'd never ridden there other than that, so on an unseasonably warm February say (yes, the lack of rain this year is awful, but I might as well take advantage while I can) Major and I grabbed friend C and Friday and hit the trails.

clear skies, alfalfa hay net, all is well

Everything said "there's a trail map at the staging area." Well, I'd never seen one, the Skillman area is notoriously difficult to find a map of, we had a sketchy hand-colored piece of paper, that'll do! We headed off towards the deli, it was noted you can ride there and eat your lunch.

not the best map, they tried!
I take awesome photos of my friends

What I didn't note was it was only 2.5 miles to the deli. It was a 1/2 hour ride! Maybe for some folks who walk really slow it's an all day thing? But we weren't even traveling that quickly, and it was 10am when we got there. Oh well, let's explore more trails.

pretty trails

We found a zig-zag downhill trail that Major liked, but wasn't particularly interesting. I was a bit confused by a mountain biker who commented to us at the bottom of the trail that we shouldn't be riding our horses on the trails when they were wet, it ruins trails. I totally understand that, but we weren't leaving any hoofprints, and then shouldn't he also not be riding his bike? I'm great with sharing the trails, but we honestly thought we were being good stewards. Confusion is for sure what creates trail strife.

cut logs need a hard stare

We kept wandering. Let's not take the gray trail turnoff, it goes straight back to the staging area. We took the red trail the opposite way. And still ended up on a trail marked gray. Hmmm. But the trails were pretty, the sun was out, and we even found a tiny bit of snow! Major had seen snow at home, when dumped out of a pickup truck, but not on the trail. He was not impressed.

what's this? not impressed.

After a couple hours meandering we were done. We could have ridden more, and connected with the trails over by Skillman, but the trail parallels the road and isn't very peaceful. I think it would be best to find someone who knows the other trails, and then we could have a real adventure!

*And why is is called Lone Grave? A very sad story about a pioneer child.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

conversations with major: personal ad

Hi Major, I hope you had a good Valentine's Day yesterday!
I did! Remember you gave me carrots AND alfalfa, and I ate grass, and it was a good day, but…
But what, you got everything!
I think I need even more friends. They would bring more treats! How about a personal ad?
More friends, really? All about the treats, I see. OK, I'm game, but how do you know about these things?!
The wi-fi reaches out here to the pastures, I mean, I heard the ladies talking, yeah, that's it.

personal ad profile picture

Well, let's think of what you want to include, what do you like?
Running around! Trails! Even the rocky ones!
So, "rugged outdoor type."
Yeah. I like my mash and hay net and pasture.
I'll write "cozy nights at home."
I REALLY like grass and alfalfa and carrots and apples.
Sure, "healthy eating and lifestyle."
Oh, and when you give me peanut butter sandwich!
I'm not including that.

posing for "healthy eating"

rugged yet sensitive type

Well, we have to write other stuff. What don't you like?
I like Friday and Beau and Bleu, but not really Rosie cause she’s crabby.
I get that, "Looking for a long-term friendship, no drama."
I don't like bananas. Or flies. Or when it rains and I'm trapped under my shelter. Or celery. Or when dinner is late.
Major, I can't include all the things, let's move on.

really Major, no drama?

What about leisure activities? Like relaxing?
I don't really like relaxing.
We have to put something!
Oh, I know, I like to chase bikes and runners! 
That's not really what I meant, but I'll write, "athletic pursuits."
Oh, and splashing in the lake!
Sure, "water sports."

action photo

I need pictures too!
I have lots of pictures.
Only use the ones that make me look cool. Sometimes you laugh. That is not a good picture.
Oh, but it is. I'll try Major.

I like to try new things: like this moss

I'll finish this up later Major, let's go for a hike.
Oh, I know, I like long walks in the forest!
That's a good one Major. Me too. 

Major's personal ad: Rugged outdoor type looking for a long-term friendship, no drama. Likes cozy nights at home, healthy eating and lifestyle, athletic pursuits and water sports. If you also like long walks in the forest, please let me know!

sunsets, long walks, and alfalfa

Friday, February 9, 2018

lost, not lost

I went out on some trails and got "lost, not lost." How do you get not lost? You know where you are (in general). You know what direction it is to get back (in general). But you don't quite know how to get back. At all.

what the trail system is like, really!

There is a spaghetti of trails in the canyon outside of Auburn. The canyon is 1500-2000 feet deep. There is a layer of between 4-7 trails horizontally along topo lines, and an unknown multitude which connect those. I'm sure some people know all the trails. I know a lot on southern side, not so many to the north…as I discovered.

room to move!

looking down on the river water station and old dam site

Tamaroo Bar trail marked, anxious horse won't pause for a photo!

We headed out for a change of scenery. I think we were both tired of the lake trail, no matter how lovely. The nice wide trail becomes rocky as it descends to Tamaroo Bar. I know not to continue on the Tamaroo Bar trail, I've hiked it, and it is NOT safe for horses. So after a little playing in the water, with no one else around, we headed back up, and took a right on an unmarked trail.

downstream view from Tamaroo Bar

a horse walks into an empty bar…there is a joke there somewhere...

back past the cool barrels

Up and up, we traveled a bit, finally getting to another horizontally running trail. Hmmm, right looks good, it's not towards home, but let's explore. Major was game. Lovely trail, no one around, and the trail got smaller and smaller, more pine-needele covered, until it petered out. Oh well, turn around.

pine needles cover the trail

a bit rocky

We're going home! Major decided. With that energy to deal with (but manageable) we headed back down the trail. It continued straight past our previous junction, and after a bit, managed to intersect with a major trail, yeah! I looked back to read the trail sign: "no horses." Damn! I NEVER poach trails. I always respect all the user groups allowed, and am so glad I didn't run into someone and have to apologize for my ignorance. (I have also sent a note to the park, to please mark both ends of the trail, so no one else makes that mistake).

But we were back on a multi-use trail. Which one? I had no idea, but we were not lost, and trotted on, as we were headed in the correct general direction! Then a sign for a trail I recognized: "Overlook Trail (steep)." Uh oh, usually around here when they say steep, they mean it. But Major was game…

if it says "steep," pay attention

About half way up Major needed a breather: it was steep! There was a pretty little waterfall, so we rested, then headed on. At the top was a revelation: I know exactly where we are!

resting at the tiny waterfall
old train abutment along the trail

We followed our standard trail web back, but they were the known spaghetti of trails. Major was a bit more tired after this ride, as we hadn't done anything with elevation in months. Made him think a little bit, which was good, and I learned a few new trails and completely enjoyed being lost, not lost:  I think we'll try it again...

almost home, looking back where we had been

Monday, February 5, 2018

monday moment

Because every Monday should have something nice to start the day, I'm going to randomly start this feature, with a random photo from the week.

This week: Enjoy Major needing a tin-foil hat, though I wonder what he's thinking...

Friday, February 2, 2018


I spoke too soon (in my last riding blog). My last ride was the polar opposite of uneventful! To sum up:

illegal motorcycles
crazy horse
sliding and then bucking
cantering in place
hill charging
prancing, oh so much prancing.

green grass yummy (it is a swamp underneath)
OK, a few more details: After calling the lake patrol on the illegal motorcycles (not only do they tear up the trails, just so dangerous on all the blind-turns!) we turned right to do a short loop, and come back through the forest. I asked for a trot, and got surging silly horse. Circles, etc, brain please? A bit of brain returned. We walked on.

see that left ear cock, that is a sign

that is the I'm not really listening ear cock!

But that was not fast enough. And I understand he wants to move, so small trot please? Yeah, no, so the bucking was because he was pissed off that he couldn't go as fast as he wanted. Well not if he is not listening is my policy! The sliding and bucking happened after I let him trot, he didn't listen to my slow down cue, slid in the mud, pissed himself off, and had a fit.

Sigh. We did not go back through the forest, as it is more slippery. We stayed on the sandy lake trail, plenty of room for circles, backing, etc there! And just standing, dealing with life, it's just so hard being Major he thinks!

yes, you have to go through the whole puddle

The last mile home is next to the road on a gravel trail. I'm sure the drivers were seriously impressed by my lovely prancing horse. I was not. I did manage to get a four-beat walk as we were almost home. Circles, side pass, and that was after eight miles. True, not that far, but surely something for an out-of-work horse? I guess not.

oh so sparkly

But know what? It still boiled down to the fact I like being with my idiot (many more names were said during the ride) of a horse on a beautifully sunny winter day. And my next ride had considerably more for him to think about…

a moment of stillness (though not zen!)

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

detour: again, the sea

I live in the foothills. And travel to the mountains often. And ride in the valley. But the sea always calls me. So many of my trips I feel like I don't have a choice where to go: the ocean, sea, the shore, by whatever name, I am going.

Shamus (my parent's dog) is holiday tolerant

It was no different this time. A difficult few months of work, the busy holiday season, all make sea and sand and waves and redwoods beckon. Even if it was cold and foggy…to me that IS the sea. No sunny southern California beaches with soft sand, or sunrises on the east coast, or even lovely quiet tropical beaches. I want waves and wind and brutal nature and a feeling like I don't really matter (because honestly, to this shore, we don't.)

raven watches ominous skies

tiny tidepool dweller

ogre face rock!

Ravens watched over as we walked the cliffs, and later hiked down to uncovered tide pools. The sky threatened (it was just the fog rolling in), but whether it was the threat of rain, or the wind or cold, we had the whole area to ourselves.

path to secrets

under ferns are generations more

follow the mushroom path…magical

orange mushrooms?! I don't dare…

redwood sorrel

ferns alight

Later the coastal woods where I uncovered treasures of mushroom and fern, and even saw the sun for a moment! I counted more than nine varieties of mushroom, and that was just what I could see from a few miles of simple trail. What tiny marvels.

sign leaned on this tree for years, on a path to nowhere

historic building and encroaching floodwaters

But always, back to the beach. Where river flooding threatened an historic house, morning spiderwebs hugged the ground, and our shadows stretched before us.

good morning spider

long shadows on a clear morning

Before long we were home again, to all those comforts and familiarity. But the coming storm feels a bit like wind off the sea, and the river below sounds like the constant waves. It is always within me.

shell and steel, who survives the sea?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Right now, we're about as exciting as creeping moss.

creeping moss is creepy
New Years Day ride

The first of the year was sunny, and allowed for a nice, uneventful ride (always the goal for New Year!). Then it decided to give us a months worth of rain in two days. So it got very soggy.

Then the fog came in (on little cat feet) and sat in the valley. Cold and clinging, the fog ride was damp and made everything quiet, except for the soft snorting of Major as we headed out. Two weeks off may have been too much even for a pastured horse, but he has learned to mostly behave himself, and we came home, uneventfully.


always better share with friends
So Major and I go hiking after work (hills are much harder from the ground). And he eats grass and I watch the deer graze. The tracking app I use sent me my 2017 statistics, but even that wasn't motivating enough to make any plans. I should probably prune the last of my roses, and clean my tack, and...

we climbed enough to be in the stratosphere!

should prune, but so pretty after rain

Sorry, I got distracted by this good book, cup of tea, and comfy chair (or some football games, great fun lately). There will be time for some more adventures later. Until then, I'll savor the uneventful (because it always changes…)

muddy face looking for change