Tuesday, July 19, 2011

camping: day two and three

I didn’t get much sleep, I needlessly worried about the horses, and woke a few times to shine my flashlight at them, I’m sure they were completely annoyed (“Hey, we're sleeping here!). But both horses laid down in the night, ate most of the hay, and were much more awake than the humans in the morning. The campsite is pretty close to the road, and the logging trucks all night were tough to sleep through. I’m used to true silence all night, but after some breakfast and hot chocolate, I was revived.

these woods are lovely, dark and deep...
We really wanted to do a long all-day ride, maybe to a destination, eat lunch, come home. I was in charge of navigating, but the maps we had and bad trail signage made me nervous about finding the right trail. So a couple shorter rides would have to do. On our first ride of the day we thought we’d try a different trail, maybe something on the map, even though we knew it wasn’t accurate. The Omega trail sounded intriguing, and after a fun charge up the hill, we found the trail! For awhile. Then we ended up on a super-rocky access road. Major had his boots on but Friday is barefoot, so that is no fun (and not even if your horse had shoes on, it was the big jagged-type of rock). Then we were lost again, but I had a better sense of where things were, so we wandered a bit, saw more random “trail” markings, and headed home for lunch...and a nap.

forest view
Our second ride of the day we thought about exploring, but remembered the rock experience then how nice some parts of the other trail were, so we went a similar trail to the first day. And this time cantered quite a bit, including Friday and Major neck-and-neck up the big canter hill. They were having so much fun (as were we) but when we asked them to slow down they listened nicely.

We also finally found some cell service. Phones don’t work in camp, so we both checked in at home, let them know we were alive, and said they couldn’t reach us, so don’t try calling back! I am admittedly addicted to my technology, but it was nice to have a break. (Of course, I did use the GPS and the tracking software, but that was much needed so we didn’t get lost!)

Back at camp the horses settled in, having a sloppy “trail mix” snack of beet pulp and timothy pellets. We were hungry and tired too, ate dinner and sat by the fire. I was overly happy at finding some vegetarian marshmallows, and burned a couple to a crisp (campfire marshmallows must be caught on fire). The same gooey/disgusting/yumminess I remember!

The horses eating happily, sleeping bag and tent extra comfy, I didn’t worry as much, even resisting bothering them with the flashlight.

Our last day. Camping for two nights is as much work as a week! With a better trail map (or a guide, or general directions) we could ride here for more days, but we were ready to go home. But not without one last (shorter) ride.

By this time I had a better sense of direction, so we went the opposite direction and when we came upon an access road with the trail splitting on the other side, we chose a good long canter up the road. It was really nice to find such a long stretch, I was able to canter all of it on a loose rein. I think the horses can get the silliness out in the beginning, see the long road ahead, and just settle in. Add more horses though and I’m sure that situation would change!

A wooded trail to the left looked intriguing, and we followed it along a ridge. It seemed to go higher and higher, I looked at the GPS, we were heading the right direction, just needed to get down into the canyon! But my sense of direction was rewarded, and an hour later we were back in camp to finish packing up. Both horses curiously watched us loading truck and trailer, a bit impatient as we didn’t give them any more hay. They got more hay to munch on for the trailer ride home, which was as we like it: uneventful. Major did whinny as Friday unloaded and we drove away, calling a few times, but back home was content with some green grass and a good roll in his paddock.

I was content to sleep in the next day! Horse camping was great fun, though tiring, and I can’t wait to find some other new places to explore.

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