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?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

long shadows

(Thank you everyone for you kind thoughts about my home area fires last blog. The fires are out, the rebuilding will begin, but it is with such a great sense of loss.)

shadows at the lake
The days of long shadows are here, and the light is golden, glowing in the short evening. We head out in disappearing sunlight and then cast shadows on the now-open lake trail. The trail was hard hit this winter, and just has been exposed by the receding lake. Amazingly, a work crew cleared the largest debris sections, and I've gotten off to move a log or two myself. The Quartz Hill access is even more rocky than before, since the rain and waves of last winter washed away more dirt. And there is one large log that has some people stymied, but we've been able to just step over (yeah for versatile trail horses!).

a quiet photo: the ride was not!

Quartz Hill, sadly no gold was found in these rocks

lake trail gully
 The lake trail feels like a race track in comparison to our usual trails: sand and rocks and swooping corners, coming around the bend to an exciting flock of geese! There have also been a few memorable whoa dammit moments, when Major remembers how much crazy fun he can have while trotting along. But it's been a welcome break from months of technical trails, for us both!

"my" rock is exposed!

I can barely fit in a loop ride down to the lake this week after work, just enough daylight. We come home with the setting sun (and Major behaves like he's going to turn back into a mouse if we don't get home by dark/dinner). Next week after the time change it will be dark, but that is what glow sticks and backup flashlights are for. And also for taking it easy, bareback rides and short hikes, and sometimes hiding from the rain.

last of summer's leaves

golden view

golden hike
Please remove your Halloween costume from me, I am not a Guardian of the Galaxy!

A new season, with different goals. And the rides might be shorter, the trail muddier, with warmer clothing, but the trails still beckon. And for as long as I can, I'll defy the gathering dark, and ride anyway.