Friday, January 23, 2015

in a fog

 The fog comes on little cat feet.
stable kitty Bonnie's new trick: stand up to be petted

I kept hoping it would clear. I waited till almost noon. The drive to the stable had little visibility.

yes, I safely stopped to take this photo. The nice thing about almost deserted country roads.

And out on the trail it wasn't much better.

a tiny sun tries to peek through the gloom

Usually the fog does not work its insidious way this far north into the valley. It is wet and cold and just gets into your bones. So what better way to stay warm than to trot.

which path to take
the road less traveled
not all is pretty: mud pit
Major took that idea and ran with it (literally). It had been awhile since we'd been able to go out at a quicker pace, and he took full advantage. I admit I didn't mind either. Down at the lake the usually submerged remains of old building foundations and rocks stood witness.

eerie lake
old foundations, and much older rocks!

During the ride I did not see the sun. Or anyone else on the trails. It was cold and damp…and a little bit magic.

Friday, January 16, 2015

the wrong ears

chestnut and tiny, the wrong ears!
These are the wrong ears! My friend E went out of town, and wanted her horse to get out. I somehow volunteered. A few years ago riding an unknown horse would have never been something I would try, but I've been on the trail with this silly little thing, and figured why not?!

what's in here? I could probably climb in!
Tux is tiny, maybe a bit over 14 hands, I felt like a giant. His ears are so close! But we walked down the road, he was happy to be out, though we had a few discussions (Yes, you have to stand still while I mount. I don't care what your mother lets you do.) He is smart, and figures things out pretty quickly.

After spooking at the white cat of death and weird new trailer construction stuff, we headed off into the forest, bouncing along. I had to get used to his much more vertical trot, but then we motored along, up and down, having fun. (Yes, we can canter here. Ah ah, don't even toss your pretty little head at me!) He is much more rateable than Major! (Yes, you can slow down over these rocks.) But also more reactive, and he almost succeeding in dumping me over a terrifying branch laying on the trail. (Yes, I'm now going to make you walk over the scary thing. Because you're an idiot.)

skeptical ears wonder what I am asking

survived, but sweaty
He was unsuccessful at leaving me behind, and we emerged from the forest through the big puddle (yes, you have to walk right through the middle, because I say so) and got home before dinner. But he did get to stop for a snack. Maybe he doesn't think I'm so bad after all.

so delicious!
you're not so bad...have any more treats?

Monday, January 12, 2015

before and after

Before the ride: I'm still asleep Mom, why is it so early?
The best way to try something new is to just jump in…with all four feet. Major got a present from Santa for being not-too-naughty (notice: not "good." I think Santa is slacking...): four new boots. Today we tried them out in glorious 60 degree weather (sorry for everyone who is freezing out there. Maybe these pictures can warm you a bit...)

a quick snack of luscious new grass

always love a good trail challenge: tractor, tarp and pipes, oh my!

I met my friend C and her adorable Connemara/Arab at the staging area. The day did not start out well when C's phone fell in the outhouse pit! No hope getting that back, might as well ride.

The trails are barely damp since we've still had no more rain. But the horses were fresh, the air clear, and the trails surprisingly empty. The lake was still as glass, and the sky dotted with clouds.

even in drought there is beauty...
I enjoyed the views and the ride too much to stop and take many pictures. The Pioneer Express trail (named because it was most direct route from Sacramento to the American River gold fields) is simply special: technically difficult with lots of rocky footing, then some lovely dirt areas perfect for higher speeds, a few small streams to cross, and always the views.

15 miles later we were back, Major was seemingly just warming up, with all four boots still firmly attached. I then took the time to sponge him off, hose his legs, wipe his sweaty face...and watch him roll it all dirty again in the muddiest place in the pasture. That's the after picture I should have taken!

After: Let's do that again! With kitty photobomber

Friday, January 9, 2015

detour: stinson beach

The New Year started off right: with a traditional uneventful ride. Then Major got a break, while I went on a mini-vacation to the beach.

first 2015 view (yes, that is a burned truck pushed over the cliff to Major's right. Classy.)
January brings weird weather to northern California, often very dry and cold, but no rain in sight. Perfect beach weather. I usually prefer beaches farther north, something about stark cliffs and rocks speaks to me. But this time a simpler beach was calling.

Stinson Beach is just north of San Francisco, and often has the crowds to prove it! It is near Muir Woods and great hiking at Mt. Tamalpais. But mainly it is a gorgeous long stretch of sandy beach, perfect for walking and exploring.

I hadn't been to Stinson for a few years. Then my SO and I counted: it had been when we first started dating, almost 15 years ago! OK, so it had been awhile. But not much changes at the beach.

found a sand dollar treasure: this was smaller than a dime!
But I can't sit on the beach all day, the mountain was calling, "Up, up!" And up we went, at first a tough switchback and stair trail, before leveling out on the coastal trail with spectacular views. 

green trail

up, up, up

hinting at views

ferny trails
worth it, view north-west towards Bolinas Lagoon

coastal trail

above it all

What comes up must go down, down, down a steep fire road with no switchbacks, killer on the legs! (note, next time just go back the other way!). In time for sandwiches on the beach, and an early sunset.

Do as I say, not as I do: don't go down this trail! Up would be better.
Stinson sunset
The next morning we had a coastal miracle: no fog. So hot chocolate in hand we walked the beach to see what the tide brought in.

sunrise over the sea cliffs

long winter shadows
someone built a cool castle we were lucky to see, the next wave took it down!
lovely sand patterns
sea treasure at sunrise
black turban snail shell
Winter might be here, but I'm going to take advantage of the few benefits: uncrowded beaches, sunny weather, and the time to enjoy it.

winter  perspective