Sunday, May 31, 2020


Major practically threw himself into the trailer, we were going somewhere, oh boy!

We've been on the same home trails for three months, and while there is almost infinite variety, I guess we were both ready for a change. So when the equestrian staging area opened we were there two days later. I expected a crowd.

early bird gets any parking they want!

Maybe I'm just an early bird? But at 9am I was the only trailer there. Social distancing not a problem, everything I needed in my own truck and trailer, and I tacked up and headed out. Where to go? I decided on old faithful, down from Auburn, up to Cool, and return. Not too much for our first longer ride with elevation in awhile.

Major surveying our trail choices

Major wanted to trot the minute his feet hit the trail, but we warmed up and walked down the first hill, saw a couple runners, but the trail was quiet. It was so great to be out, we were both so happy!

and trot!

Major chose to trot almost everywhere he could, I slowed him a bit as it is almost a 16 mile trip! Down we went, past the empty waterfall, and under No Hands bridge there were a few people already swimming, be careful! (The river looks smooth, but is dangerous, swift and cold).

ears say "why are we stopping on the troll bridge?!"

too cold and early for swimming

We headed up to Cool where the wider trails begged for a canter, but I also like the staging area that has a good trough (ignored by Major) and I can refill my water bottles (appreciated by me!). Now usually when we leave here Major lags a bit, like he expects the trailer to be here (never has been). But today he charged out a bit too willingly, some halt-halts needed!

love these Cool trails

canter time!

Back down the canyon, I often tail Major on this trail, as we usually walk it and just go slow. But Mr. Pants-on-Fire thought otherwise, and actually did a (mostly) slow controlled trot down the less steep areas, only walking when needed. Who is this horse?

no cars parked all over, nice while it lasted!

At the bottom of the canyon it was strange to see the parking along the sides of the highway empty, as those lots hadn't been opened yet. But it was nice not to wade through hordes of people on the bridge (seriously, there are so many other, I think better hiking trails, but people like this easy river access).

just a few people ahead (one hiking in a bikini!)

Major turned on the after burners and wanted to canter all the straight railroad-bed stretches. I let him (within reason) but warned him he was going to tire at Robie Point. And he did, halfway up the last steep Robie Point stretch, he brought himself down to a walk. He caught his breath as I got off and walked him down the hill, but was back in fine form for the final two miles. (Yes, I let my horse think for himself, when he isn't making stupid choices. Even if I know he will be a little tired, it is a better balance for us as a team to trust like that sometimes.)

so classy Major, looking good!

Back at the trailer Major got hosed off, and he looked great, and was all clean and shiny, until I let him roll in the weeds. Then he was covered in grass, and looked a mess, but happy. I think I was the same (not covered in grass, but a dirty mess and happy!)

I'm going to stay off that trail on busy weekends (now that the lower parking is open), and mostly go to the places I know that are quieter with easier distancing. But it was sure great to get out, and it was fun to see that Major agreed.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020


grasses already drying up

Staying local has led to exploring a few trails I haven’t seen in awhile. This time on foot! The only problem: all trails lead down the canyon. It was not too hard to hike down to Tamaroo Bar, following the path along the river, and I do this trail (when I can trailer out) with Major a few times a year.

maybe a geocache? Pokey thistle surrounded it!

that straight line/trail above the river ahead: one of the final Tevis miles

But what goes down must come up…and up! On my own two feet. Damn, the first climb (on a human-only trail) just keeps going and going. Good thing there were plenty of places to stop and catch my breath take pictures of wildflowers!

yellow flower on tough succulent

twining snakelily

Then it goes down again, and back up! What kind of hell is that? Halfway through a riverside picnic was in order, complete with books to read and a lovely breeze.

lovely lunch view

The last part was almost too much. The breeze had died down and how does 80 degrees feel like 95 in the beginning of the season? I was very glad I had started with a full camelbak bladder in the backpack as I slogged up the last of the hill. The regular uphill gradient felt like easy street compared to the steeper sections!

old train trestle supports

huge alligator lizards: mating or fighting, couldn't tell!

I must have done about 15 miles…damn, my GPS says only 6.5. It was the 1000+ feet of elevation that made it seem so much longer (and lack of recent hard hiking for sure!)

I really do need to start hiking up those steep hills I make Major carry me up! But for now I’ll catch my breath, take in the views, and enjoy the hike.

fiddleneck with a view

Saturday, May 23, 2020

rocks and water

fading flowers
Major and I are fortunate to have access to so many trails, right from the stable, but with two things similar to all: rocks and water. I can do a two-mile easy forest loop, or ride all the way to Auburn and beyond. I’m staying off the really technical section (where I could be stranded, etc!), so my farthest ride has been 14 miles round-trip to Belize.

ears are annoyed that I am taking a photo and not letting him charge into the water
wind, sun, waves, water, sand, rocks. Oh, and horse.

Only 14 miles to get to Belize? Well, that is what we call this almost white sand beach at Folsom Lake. The water is so blue-green, the sand so clean (I've never been to Belize, it is just what I imagine it to be!), and the perfect place for Major to play. I had to drag him out of the water after 15 minutes, we had to get home! We share these trails with lots of, shall I say, enthusiastic cyclists, who are not as keen with sharing the road. Good thing Major is bike proof! I was happy to get back on the non-bike single track!

vetch trail

good place to play!

twilight time, looking at our absent trail

Our other trails are changing: The lake trail is going underwater, but that makes it even more fun. We’ve been splashing through until the water gets too deep: Major says chest deep is far enough thank you! Then I can cut up to the upper Pioneer trail, where Major has to think about his feet a bit more, but the monkey flower (native honeysuckle) has been amazing this year, gold-yellow glowing meadows, photos don’t capture it.

rocks of bones

meadows of monkey flower

love this tough rock section

The pond is as high as I’ve ever seen it, and the power station creek at Mormon Ravine was rushing, I only made Major cross it and then turned around, just a teaching moment! (Past this part there is no cell service and the single track becomes very narrow and steep. A rider in this area recently had a harrowing experience after a rattlesnake bit her horse, hiking her horse out, who fortunately survived! I’ll stay off this section for now, though it can happen anywhere!).

Avery Pond, full of water and lots of algae!

playing in the water at Rattlesnake Bar

looking down and ears wanting to go home!

Major has been happy to be out and exploring, and we've been working on his, um, enthusiasm while heading home. He has worked off a bit off that winter/rest weight, but is still disappointed that the bucket is empty (there was a tiny bit of outlast before the ride!).

fill up the bucket and no one gets hurt…
I am grateful for where I live, that horse riding and horse care was always considered essential, and that I've been able to access Major safely. Our adventures are small right now, but still satisfying, and there are always more to come…

Canal wall, aka "Hadrian's wall"

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

detour: Point Reyes

road trip!
On the day the world stopped I was on an anniversary road trip. Literally it was announced that the county I was in was shut down right after we checked into our cabin (here in Nor Cal that was March 16). So, no going out for that anniversary dinner, we got a few extra supplies at the grocery store and tucked into our cozy retreat for a couple days.

iconic much photographed launch

The parks and beaches weren't closed (they would be in a week), but everyone was home. It was a strange ghost-town feel. During the week Point Reyes is pretty quiet anyway, but it was eerie…and awesome for this introvert, who thinks someone on the beach 100 feet from me is too close!

new to me, yeah!

I had a good book, but there is too much to explore. The roads are rough in Point Reyes, but this was a first road trip for my new-to-me car! The exact same car I had, just 17 years newer! So many "fancy" features, like syncing your phone to the stereo, nice! Other than that, it is much the same (literally, it is still silver, with a sunroof and seat heaters, my main desires, but without a funky transmission, yeah!)

empty beaches

sand reflecting clouds

wind and sand create art

riders (how fun, but please wear helmets!)

Empty beaches beckoned, a brief morning walk along the beach turned into 5 miles of beach walking (that my legs felt the next day!), but we also sat in the sand to eat a picnic lunch and just enjoyed the quiet (as we would any other time, just with a hint of worry behind it this time).

sea pearls treasure

aliens among us

sea stars await dinner

One afternoon the tide was negative (I always use my tides app, so handy!) and I love exploring tidepools. I caught a few hermit crabs but mostly tried not to fall in and be cut by the sharp mussels while taking precarious pictures!

poppy path

the huge National Register of Historic Places barn

lichen on old fence

Out on the peninsula is the Pierce Point Ranch and tule elk reserve. We hiked the narrow trail down to the beach, and also around the historic hay barn, an immense structure, 65 by 180 feet, it was a 300 stall dairy barn! The elk are contained in this peninsula since their reintroduction, but there certainly seem to be a lot. A huge herd were all by the roadside, and I was just watching them from right outside the car when they all decided it was dinner time on the other side of the road! It was awesome to watch them streaming across the road, clattering hooves.

just quietly watching the herd

It was a strange vacation, and it seems so very long ago. But I know we'll be back, because sometimes there is something about a place, and this is one of those places.

Monday, May 18, 2020

monday moment: purple

on my own two feet for a lupine picnic
out among the rocks and lupine
There are years with wildflowers, and then there are lupine years. This year is LUPINE in all caps year for sure!

the best purple field

Seems like every 3 or 4 years is a banner year, and we were able to go out and ride just as it got wonderful. This year the biggest fields were in a different location, but still amazing. Major had to put up with standing still while I took photos too many times to count.

the annoyed to be stopping again ears

I enjoy the purple, he wants to go home, that way

It is a time so fleeting, and now the flowers are fading, seed pods abundant. On to the next season.

fading flowers and rising lake