Thursday, December 28, 2017


I arrived at the stable, saddled up, and went to put my phone in my leg holster. Where was my phone? I had gone to work, then home, then the post office…nope, it's at home on the counter.

It felt weird. And unsafe. I ride in really remote areas, maybe only a few miles from civilization, but the only access would be helicopter or boat. Should I just change my plans and ride in the arena (ha, not gonna happen) or just up the road?

Nope. Life is too short. Some would decide otherwise, that it is too short to take the chance. I tend to go the other way: too short to not enjoy the moment.

So Major and I headed out into the forest. I couldn't turn on my GPS tracker per usual, we just started up the hill. At the top, the trail meanders. And a fluffy coyote crossed the path, then watched us warily. Instead of stopping and staring, and getting out my camera, we just rode slowly by. He watched us, not threatened as we moved along. Cool.

Closer to the lake, three deer grazed in a clearing. As we came around the bend, one startled and raised its head. We continued to ride by, they dropped even their wariness, and returned to munch the green grass.

At the lake, tiny birds hopped and twittered through bushes. Major ate grass. I looked at the lake, quickly rising, yet smooth and quiet under the blue sky, but there are no photos.

Later we startled an entire flock of turkeys. They ran, well, because they're turkeys. But I stopped and watched them go: smaller, almost toothless velociraptors, running through the green grass.

I don't use my phone when I ride, except to turn on the GPS and take the occasional photo. But I learned something this ride: having it seems to cause an impatience in me. Riding without it is not safe, but I'll work on evaluating my attention skills, being in the moment, connected to something larger.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

solstice morning

Dawn light in the persimmon tree on the shortest day of the year. Now is time for my solstice celebration: that the daylight will increase, that darkness will be held at bay while the light returns. It is still cold and damp and dark, but there is light. A minute more every few days, I am counting.

Happy Solstice. Stay warm and enjoy the incremental light my friends.

Friday, December 15, 2017

conversations with major: crazytown

You’re certainly full of it Major.
I know!
Why all the prancing dude? We're just heading down the road right now.
It's cool out, and I'm cool too, let's go!
Oh boy, I think I'm in for it today.

crazy hair day

Lets find it!
Find what?
I have no idea what you're talking about, you need to chill.
If I go super fast, we can get there.
Um, no, let's pay attention to the slippery trail in the shade.
It's dry here, run!

I've got my naughty ears on

the last of the fall leaves

Major, we need to slow for runners. 
But they're running.
Nope, we slow for hikers, and that upcoming Scout Troop too.
But they're on the side.
Doesn't matter, blasting by is rude.
I only did it once, to the runner way on the side.
Don't care, you weren't listening, it's not acceptable behavior.
trails getting green with first winter ferns
happy ferns frolic too!

Maybe it's up here Major!
It is? Let's go! 
Oh, too bad, not here at the top of the hill. Go back down.
We'll find it, I'm sure.
Let's look again from the top of the hill.
OK, let's go!
Gee, not here again.
Wait, I just went up and down the hill three times. There was no Crazytown. That was tricky.
Sorry not sorry buddy.

Glad we survived that one, what got into you?
The search for Crazytown, I'm sad we didn't find it.
Sorry buddy, will this rice bran help with that painful sorrow?
Oh, yes, for sure!
You could keep it in the pan dude.
I'm still a little sad.
Why now?
My pan is empty.

I love this tree

sadness is an empty mash pan…with a hoof in it

I've heard of another place to visit!
What's that? The dam site, the river?
No Major, just, no.

Thursday, November 23, 2017


I almost forgot to be thankful the other night. Maybe because I had to ride home in the dark with only one intact pant leg…

Fitting in a desperate ride after work, Major and I shoved our way through the overgrown trail and up Barking Dog Hill, and as I ducked to avoid large branch, I didn’t see the one sticking out at saddle level…and stabbed my pants!

Guess the first reaction:
A: Oww, that really hurt!
B. Damn, these are my favorite pants!
C. Damn Major, why’d you let me do that?
pants sadness

 (It was definitely B, I loved those tights. I'm determined to try and fix them.)

No use in turning around, I continued down to the lake, where it got dark more quickly than I had thought. Stupid Daylight not-savings time. Our side of the lake was dark and in shadow, the golden sun was just leaving the far side. I was feeling desperate, no extra miles today, I wasn't prepared for a night ride.

worth it

Then I took a breath. And Major just stood there. And we looked across the lake. He put his head down to graze on the new green grass emerging from the dirt that had been patiently beneath the water for months. And we rode home quietly (though my leg was a bit cold).

So in the last week I've reworked my darkness anxiety. And found that hiking with Major is still satisfying. Rides with friends and peanut-butter sandwiches are perfect. Weekend trails in fall sunshine are wonderful (even when your horse is being a dragon). And green-glowing paths are delicious (and so are mandarin milkshakes).

Major sees all the food!

buddies patiently waiting

epic views

mandarin deliciousness (worth the cold hands!)

I just needed some transition time. There will be time enough for more adventures, but now I am reminded to be thankful for friends and family, books and fireplaces, short trail rides and warm mashes. And yes, every year I do the same thing to myself being anxious about the season. Maybe one day I'll remember (and also come home with intact pants.)

be thankful and feed me

fall sunset…before 5pm (sob!)

Monday, November 20, 2017

detour: coastal secrets

A few months ago, I visited a magical land. I think unicorns roam here. There was scant evidence, but decide for yourself.

I found dense impenetrable fog and perfect blue skies. 

Secret cave-like trails and hidden vistas.

Alien lichen and bees buried in thistle.

Shipwrecks and spiders.

Jagged rocks and delicate shells on smooth sand.

A dancing tree in a dancing forest.

Straight paths on land and water.

Hidden trail markings and secrets behind fences.

And evidence of baby unicorns, who shed their first horns in the sea. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

detour: autumn leaves

Fall flees, and winter comes early to the Sierras. So a quick trip up into the mountains was necessary to catch the last of the fall color. While I love the foothills, we lack the colorful displays that Tahoe puts on.

the view doesn't get old

Turns out we were a little late. An early snow storm blew down the last of the aspen leaves, leaving empty groves of white bark, and some trails covered in a fine dusting of snow, just enough to crunch through.

a little late, but still lovely

hiking trail: no one else seen all day

a tiny plant warms the snow around it

late season flower
After hiking, a trip to the lakeside. The lake was snow free (and often stays that way) but the icy water was best viewed from the shore. In the lee of a warm stone, I watched the lake and read my book. That is a pretty perfect fall day.

through the water

old one of the forest

until next year

We were the first footsteps in the snow of the weekend, and our steps were soon covered by the next storm. Now we'd have to get the snowshoes out, but that is an adventure for another day.

Monday, November 6, 2017

old friends

I visited some old friends this week. I hadn't seen them since last summer, and boy have they changed! They had moved I think, for I found them harder to find. And they'd let themselves go a bit, but no one else had come to visit, so I understood.

They were still the amazing, adventurous type I remember. But I was a little saddened that no one else had visited, so I'm hoping to remedy that…with some pruners.

I'd originally I set off on a ride with no intentions, but after deciding to navigate the mess that was Stabby Hill (the bushes and trees are so tight they stab you) I decided to make visiting my old friends the goal.

Sacrifice rock

favorite wiggly branch
what's your sign trail

elephant rock

The trails are overgrown, but I missed some of those rocks, trees and vistas.  Major was game for it, maybe a little too much. He will put his head down and push his way through trees and shrubbery, but I have to fit too! So there was ducking and scratches and cursing, but the views were worth it.

Circle Tree (you can practice riding in circles around it, great for misbehaving horses)

Inspiration Point (much cursing needed to get here though)

Three Oak Knoll

Mystery Trail comes out at Enchanted Forest (not so enchanted right now, but in spring it is amazing!)

There used to be many more riders who used these trails, and knew the lesser known paths. Many landmarks were named by these earlier riders, and it is fun to remember that. But people have moved on, trees have fallen, the weeds have grown up. Some trails were harder to find (Mystery Trail has almost disappeared, and Major also tends to misbehave on this trail, so maybe I'll change the name to Misbehavior Trail). I truly was the first person this year on some of these lovely, unused trails.

dinosaur back

bread rock (everyone on these trails knows this one though!)

very large, slick rock, rarely traveled
But I hope I'm not the last. I'll keep riding the forgotten trails, compressing the overgrown grass, and I'll be back with some pruners, to help others find the way.

this pinnacle doesn't have a name, I can only think of naughty things...any got a better idea?