Friday, August 28, 2020

disaster fatigue

I'm am overwhelmed between covid new normal, heat wave, hometown area on fire (again), smoke inundating the area and not riding, so there is much complaining in the next few paragraphs!

yucky smoky skies

The amazing fire crews have a better handle on the Walbridge fire, caused by the crazy lightning storms, that was decimating the area near my hometown. Other areas are still under threat from the same lightning complex and damage assessment will begin. (A favorite state park, Big Basin, has all the infrastructure gone, though luckily the redwood trees are amazingly resilient!). And now hurricanes (luckily not here!). Flood, fire, plague…I'm afraid to ask what next?!

neat river rock lichen
manzanita bark

 The air quality has been terrible, and even when it doesn't smell like smoke there is so much particulate matter in the air I can't see the other side of the canyon one mile away. I thought the river air might be cleaner, but it is at the bottom of the canyon, and I was really wrong, it was worse! At least I was then cool and smoky, instead of so hot!

hiding under olive tree, not wanting to go home yet

my usual view

Major has been cantering up to the gate to meet me…all because he is desperate for a real ride. He drags me down the road as I tail him, but I can't handle more than about a mile of walking in the disgusting air. He seems fine, but I know strenuous activity is out (a walk is good for our mental health). We did a ride one evening when the air felt better, but I cut it short after half an hour, unable to breathe. He was very good after no riding for a week and a half, and only took off cantering in one sandy trail stretch where he just couldn't take it any more. I understand buddy!

smoky fire ball, sinking

It's been hard to find a silver lining, so why not re-watch British Bake Off? Such a pleasant show to lose yourself in, and I even finally tried one of the "basic" desserts, and it turned out amazing. Now layer cakes and strange icings and pastry are too much, but this was lemony-perfect. 

Mary Berry's Lemon Drizzle cake

The air quality is now in orange, and not red or purple warning, so I'm hoping in the next few days it will get even better I can can burn off some ennui on the trail.

from my favorite Edward Gorey series

And the sunrise was pretty. Sometimes it is the little things.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

early morning

I thought 6:30am was early enough to beat the heat, but not by much! (This is just before all the lightning fires started, now the air is too smoky and my go bag is packed…) Damn does the sun rise quickly to become the searing ball of fire!

morning shadows

Taking advantage of a day when no cars are allowed in this part of the park, Major and I explored the rebuilt Birdsall boat launch. The road goes down about a mile to the river, but a huge portion of the access road was washed away a couple winters ago, but is now repaired! This boat area is really just for kayaks and rafts, though no commercial rafting companies use this section of river (not interesting enough I think!)

we only went about 8mph!

what's over there?

Birdsall launch access road

It is a long way down, so I hiked most of it and Major dragged walked along, continuously distracted by noises from the other side of the river. Those "noises" are hikers I explained, but he was just too curious. 

no really, what's over there?!

used to be a crossing here!


At the bottom there is no safe river access, though this used to be where the diversion tunnel and coffer dam were (destroyed by flood in 1986), and you could cross the river! Wish I'd ridden here then, now it is a multi-mile detour to No Hands Bridge, and I doubt they'll get a bridge through anytime soon.

yes Major, we have to go UP

So back up we went, and decided to go down to the other river access just for a bit more hill work. But Major really wanted to ride home from here! I tried to explain there was a tree down blocking the trail (I'd reported it after hiking on Friday) but the rangers with chain saws just finishing made a liar out of me! I profusely thanked them, sometimes it takes a long time to get trail work done and this trail is the only access through this area. The rangers only go to the sign, then it is the next park's responsibility. On my sign fanaticism: The sign is really wrong (it is probably 12 miles, not 5, to Granite Bay). I worry that someone is going to hike/ride it and end up exhausted and stuck in the canyon with no cell service! 


Major still thought we should ride home, and was undeterred by my explanation that the trailer was only two miles away at the top of the hill.

reported on Friday, fixed on Tuesday!

sorry, no safe water access

But up we went, with one last view downstream, both of us happy to fit in a quick morning ride (and thankful for the rangers too!)

one last view…

Monday, August 17, 2020

monday moment: moonlight

The August full moon is the perfect time to ride. Usually the full moon would have been spent doing some sort of Tevis adventure. But since I wasn't, it was perfect for a moonlight ride. I took along C and we had a quiet ride to a lake overlook, the moonlight reflecting off water, distant city lights. Photos in the dark are next to impossible, and unnecessary. Just one for the memory…

Anyone else up for a moonlight ride? I'll be going out again in September…

Friday, August 14, 2020

oh boy

 An unlikely cool day (only 83!) in a week of hot made me jump in the truck, and Major in the trailer, for a ride out at Cronan ranch. Cronan is hot and dry all summer, but I hadn't been able to go all spring (BLM land closed for Covid) and hoped for a semi-cool adventure.

I'm ready. are you?!

When we arrived Major was not about to settle down with his haybag, he was READY (yes, all capitals needed!). All hopes for a quiet ride were put aside as I put on my gloves and headed out. One foot in the stirrup and I could tell…oh boy…hold on…

But Major was required to walk (though he attempted to jig) for the first part, until we crossed the bridge. Then there is a big hill climb, and I let him choose his pace. He regretted his choice of cantering/trotting about 3/4 of the way up when he figured out he wasn't in the hill shape he thought he was!

At the top we encountered the burn scar from earlier this year. Firefighters luckily got this under control quickly, and it did not reach the trees. Down, down the big hill and into the valley floor. Lovely, open roads for speed (and every time this view, highly suggestive hills, in my head I hear, "huge tracts of land!".

huge tracts of land…

What is great here is the variety of trails. From these open roads we went down to the river and splashed around a bit, then up on the far ridge for another big hill. Heading down through the pines, at the bottom we detoured for the trough Major promptly would not go anywhere near. But I used my scoop to cool him off, very handy!

ignoring the trough but didn't mind the water scoop!

Back in the valley floor there were highly dangerous rocks to snort at (you must not be too tired then!) and then the little cabin (left over set from a Michael Landon TV movie!) to give the stink eye. But while Major was still pretty up (dude, it's been 12 miles!), I was getting hot and tired, so we headed back.


First past fence 5, (I always wonder why the number is on this fence and no other on the property I have seen) and then to the (always annoyed at the misspelling) Connector trail. (Hey, I get it, I spell stuff wrong all the time, but not engraved on a sign. I swear I should just not ride here because it annoys me every damn time and I need to get over it!)

there, fixed it!

Back at the trailer Major was none the worse for wear, and gobbled up his beet pulp/salt mash. I was hot and tired though! Back home he was happy to roll and then ignored his open gate, trotted past me, and began to eat from Beau's hay bag. So much more delicious than the full hay bag of exactly the same hay in his own pen!

We won't be doing another long ride for at least 10 days…the weather forecast is going to be meltingly hot, even for here. Those golden hills of California don't get that way from summer rain (which doesn't exist at these elevations!). I think when Major seems me coming with his hydrating wet mash he'll just say "oh boy!"

we've had twice as many days over 100 than last year, and that was before this heat wave!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

conversations with major: mask monster

I'm not talking to you…

Hey Major, I got you a new mask, since you rubbed a huge hole in the old one.

this is so embarrassing

This is so embarrassing.
What’s wrong?
I look like Cthulhu.

No you…well, yes, you do a little. How do you know this stuff?
The internet, duh.
Umm, ok. You can pretend and scare the other horses, but we're keeping the mask.
The things I put up with…

Monday, August 3, 2020