Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Tevis fun ride

Every other year, Tevis has a fun ride. This is on the Tevis trail, but is a casual ride (unlike the Ed Ride, which has mentors, costs a lot, etc). I hadn't done this part of the trail (I've done the first 30 miles, and the end 11 miles, but not much in the middle!), had a free weekend, so why not!

hi-tie happy horses

Taking along a partner in crime (C and Friday), the drive was uneventful, and we found a good spot where both horses could be on their high tie but in sandy footing. (FYI: Love the high ties! Both horses had complete meltdown moments over the weekend, dancing and spinning, no problems!).

thunderheads threatened, but stayed away

Day 1
There were going to be two marked trails, so we decided on the first day to try the shorter one. This is from Foresthill to Michigan Bluff. We'd be riding it as an out-and-back, though Tevis riders just come in on that trail.

Before we started off we heard that two horses were already lost! They had gotten free at the creek crossing, which was very close to camp. We'd be on the lookout for them! Someone (ahem, Major) was a little fired up, so there aren't many pictures. He led a group of three other horses most of the trail. Down down down, cross the rushing and tricky footed Volcano creek, then up, up, up. A little level bit of rusty earth, then Chicken Hawk Staging area (filled with tasty grass). We decided not to continue on, as there isn't much to see in Michigan Bluff (and I've already crewed from there before). So we headed back to do it all again!
Paragon mine heading into Volcano canyon

nice trail outside Chicken Hawk


blurry Volcano canyon creek

This is the smallest canyon on Tevis. Most people will do this in the light. There weren't the drop-offs like in other sections, but some tricky, rolling baby-head rocky areas, steep climbs and descents, and a seriously tough trail!

Heading back we went up one last big climb…and lost the two people with us! We waited a bit, but went back after them. They had found the lost horses! One was catchable, the other followed. Back up the hill, now on Bath Road, their relieved owner found us. Thank goodness!

We went about untacking and cleaning up the horses. Sadly, the taco truck that was going to stay until 7pm (it was only 6pm) had already left! So I snacked on stuff I'd brought, and that's why I always bring too much food!
night snacking

Day 2
The trail wasn't open until 9:30am, which was a bit late, then we waited for all the faster folks to leave. I did not want Major thinking this was any sort of race. And it worked. He was good all day about passing and being passed by others, and since he was with his buddy Friday, it was "just" a trail ride in his mind.

We headed through the town of Foresthill, with people out and about, cars backing onto our path, etc. Two hands firmly on the reins, even in boots I don't like riding on the asphalt road! We turned on California Street and once on the trail I could relax: almost entirely singletrack, much of it green and leafy (not so much in August for Tevis riders).

heading into the town of Foresthill

looking out at those canyons we'll be riding!

Dardenelles creek, cool and refreshing area

After crossing Dardenelles Creek multiple times, the trail hugged the canyon edge, with lots of switchbacks, and even a few unexpectedly big climbs! (I assumed we'd be just descending all the way to the river). There was plenty of small stream crossings, with was good, because it was warming up and both horses drank admirably! This section of trail has a lot of steep cliffs, and switchbacks, and Tevis riders do it in the dark. And after 60+ miles. Kudos to them, I'll keep it as a day ride!

down in the canyon

blurry twining snake lily, they were everywhere!

A short detour at Ford's Bar led us down to the river. Where we encountered something the Tevis riders don't have to deal with at night: rafters! A few horses near us did not handle that well, but Major just looked up at the rafts floating by, kept drinking, and even got his picture taken by enthusiastic rafters.
hi rafters!

don't bother me, I'm drinking (and playing)

Good thing we'd cooled off, because there was a long climb ahead. At least that was a wider trail…the next section got very narrow, rocky and not for the faint of heart. I thought it was awesome. The section called Sandy Bottom was next, which is exactly how it sounds, sandy. After miles of dirt and rocks, it was unexpected and fun. We did encounter two horses having a melt-down as the rafts below whacked their paddles in the water, the rafters just having fun. (It does sound like gun shots.) Major and Friday did not notice it, so we continued. You never know what you'll encounter on the trails!

7+ miles to go

ruck-a-chucky rapids, with guide raft going down!
After staring down at the treacherous Ruck-A-Chucky rapids (rafters, except the guide's raft, have to portage around this section) we were almost at our final destination. C was getting a bit of sunstroke at this point, I'd almost run out of water (forgot the my lifestraw for river water, damn!). I was glad that the previous day I'd consciously decided to drink lots and lots extra (even if that getting-up-in-the-night thing isn't so fun). We stopped at a creek crossing the trail, where I declared that C had to use the horse scoop to cool herself off. Ice cold water helped for her for sure! What I didn't realize was that the ride photographer was just ahead…looking a bit disheveled after 18 hot miles, I smiled for the camera anyway.

coming up the trail (used with purchase)

still happy ears! (used with purchase)
 We did detour from the Tevis trail here, and instead of going into the Francisco's Staging area, we headed up the long, dirt road to Driver's Flat. Major lost all hope at one point, but as we neared the top the horses somehow knew the finish was close! At the top we were greeted with alfalfa and water troughs, both of which the horses enjoyed! We all got a ride back to Foresthill, a long, hot ride complete.

I think one of the hardest things about horses, but a good thing too, is that their care comes first. As hot and tired as I was, Major got sponged and cleaned and a delicious mash before I had even taken off my sweaty chaps. Then I could sit with a lemonade and can of Pringles (guilty pleasure ride food), and relax. Until I had to shovel some poop, or fill a water bucket! C was feeling better after cooling off, we spent a quiet night where we went to bed extra early!

Going Home
People could ride Sunday, but the camp was clearing out quickly, And so did Major's brain. Both Major and Friday danced around, calling to unknown friends, while they were each on either side of the trailer. Sigh. At least they looked good and sound after that tough trail!

ridiculous horse is miffed at something

Credit to Tevis riders even more, that is one hard trail. In the dark, or in the daylight, it's still tough. This did not increase my interest to ride it, I'll stick with crewing and sweep riding, to support those out to compete in their dream.

Monday, May 21, 2018

monday moment

Found this hitchhiker: he looks like a bit of a punk. Who knows how far he's traveled? I gave him a lift and left him at the nearest oak tree.

Western tussock moth caterpillar, hitching a ride…

Thursday, May 10, 2018

conversations with major: birthday

Happy birthday Major! Damn, where's that birthday hat...I can’t find your birthday hat.
What a tragedy…
I remember using it last year...
Gee darn, let’s move along to the grass now.

Oh wait, here it is!
I’m thrilled, can’t you tell?

Pose and smile for your birthday hat photo!
This is my birthday smile. 

Major: this is my birthday smile

Me: please, try a bit harder?

Hey, it's not all bad. Look, some presents! A new, clean 12 foot lead rope!
That’s not very exciting, but at least it’s orange.
Look what else you got! A new saddle pad. It’s so nice and clean and fluffy…
Not for long.
OK Major, you could at least pretend to be happier on your birthday, maybe grateful?
Fine. What else did I get?
What else do you need? You have a nice pasture, and friends, and don't work very hard…

fluffy new pad and bright leadrope

photo outtakes: awkward, too close, crabby, distracted: being a model is hard!

Oh, I made you a new stall sign!
But everyone already knows who I am.
They do?
Yeah, I’m hard to forget.
Gee Major, and so humble.
Yeah, whatever that is, I’m that too. 

hmm, I can't chew on this one…

Are you sure that all I get? 
Well, maybe there is one more thing…
OMG, carrots! A whole bucket, all for me!
Well, no Major, you have to share with the stable.
What? I couldn’t hear you, I was chewing MY crunchy carrots!

bucket o'carrots!

I'm 15, I should eat them all!

Happy 15th birthday, Majestik Mirage!

Thursday, May 3, 2018


Where to take the Spring dragon horse today? The sun was shining, the horse was shining, there were no trail races planned, we had all the options. But I had training in mind: mental training. So we rode from home, always a more difficult choice,

Spring dragon horse
Heading out, the trail goes though a very squishy marsh area. It takes until at least June for this area to dry out. We were startled by a flapping of wings, a hawk on the ground! Oh no, was he hurt? I stopped Major and just watched the hawk, he appeared stunned, but managed to climb onto a low branch. I decided to wait to call bird rescue if the hawk was still there when we returned.

The green is overwhelming the trail right now. I turned a corner, onto a section we call rattlesnake gulch (there was once a rattlesnake there, we're not that creative) and we could barely see the trail! In a few places Major was a bit nervous, you couldn't see past the wall of green!

wall of green in rattlesnake gulch

But we headed down the trail, trotting but not silly, then we climbed the hill, his happy hill, where he took in the view. He loves climbing that hill, it is an old road, with dirt and crumbling, rutted asphalt surface, that goes nowhere (dead-ends in a fancy house). But he always pulls to go there, and occasionally he gets to choose!

taking in the view

Then we got to the beach, and there was lupine! I had thought it was all under water, so Major had to stand while I tried to take pictures. That was less than successful, so then we had a standing lesson (but not while was trying to take photos!). He didn't want to rush home, he wanted to rush out to the lake! But he did not get to go in the water at that point.

lupine ahead
oh so lovely

We continued, seeing no one else. No runners, no hikers, no fishermen at Avery Pond. But we did get to see, and hear, the fist pissed off rattlesnake of the year! The snake was sprawled across the trail, then crawled into the bushes, rattling away, as we came by. Always cautious, but the snakes that warn us are the safer ones!

leftover trail ribbon, and the snake was just ahead!

Across the bridge of death, with rushing waters, and finally a hiker! The canyon trail opened up with river in full view, beckoning. But it was about time to turn around, Major was losing hope we'd ever get home, and 85 degrees was feeling way too hot. Was it time for the battle/conversation/who is more determined to begin?

I'm not posing for any more stupid flower photos

and miles to go before I sleep...

A little. Major's intention is to trot as fast as possible for home. (well, anywhere for that matter). My intention was to have his brain join his feet. And I think it was successful! After a previous frustrating ride, this was much less so! A few circles, backing, remembering that's I'm up here moments, and I had a fast, but rateable, horse. The rateable part, that is the momentous moment. Major sure doesn't make anything easy. (We won't discuss right now that two days later I had another ridiculous ride, sigh, it's all training)

We walked (also amazing, not jigging!) back the last mile, and through the marshy area. I got off and looked everywhere for the hawk, but I didn't see or hear him. I hope he just had a bad moment and was back soaring. Maybe for us all.

good hair day, playing in the river