We loaded up the trailer on that cold Sunday afternoon. I think it may have gotten to 32* by the time we reached the parking area. After saddling up the girls and activating our toe and hand warmers we headed off. We entered a wet forested area that slowly started heading up the hillside. The ground is very clay based on this mountain, making the trail slick with all of the recent rain and snow. I think I had just got done telling my mom I hope we didn't meet anyone coming down the hill when a group came around the corner. It took a few minutes to get our girls turned around and back down the slick hillside to a safe place to turn off the trail and let the other riders pass.
I was still working with Mercy on her speed control, and this included going up steep hills. I really wanted her to walk up the slick hill, but at some point I realized we just needed to get up the hill to firmer ground or the horses were going to loose their momentum and have a hard time getting the rest of the way up. So we trotted. And this was the view from the first rest stop to let the girls air up:
We zigzagged across the mountain making our way to the first 'peak.' The ground was still a little shifty, but not too bad. At this point we kept things at a walk. A few parts of the trail were pretty steep and I didn't feel like making my way back down the hill doing back flips... Mercy responded well when I practiced placing her feet around soft spots or rocks on the trail. Star was doing pretty good for being out of shape; she kept up with Mercy-the-speed-walker for the most part.
After reaching the 'peak,' we headed down into another forested section of the trail that had been recently renovated by the BCH. Gravel was hauled in to make the hill stable. As we made our down we had to dodge massive old growth trees hanging over the trail. At the bottom is a creek that, I have been told, runs even during the hottest of summers, making it a great place to rest up and water the horses. Mercy wasn't impressed:
We were all really worn out by the time we returned to the trailer. Both horses stood like statues to be unsaddled and brushed. Starlett got here new pink cooler thrown on her and into the trailer they went, happy for some hay and happy to be heading home.