Monday, January 4, 2010

Riding up a Mountain

My mom and I took the big plunge a few days after Thanksgiving; we rode the horses up Taylor Mountain. We have lived in the area for well over fifteen years, but I guess we have never felt a need or reason to ride these trails. Well, my friend had ridden these trails for quite a few years and had brought me along on a ride this fall. What wonderful trails! They are very well kept by members of the Backcounrty Horseman chapters in the area, so I thought we should take advantage of them.

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:

Star seemed a little more interested, at least giving the water a quick sniff:
A little way up the trail we met a couple who had been hiker and taking scenic pictures. Mercy could not let the cameras out of her sight. She REALLY wanted to see them. I had to insist quick roughly that we move on, but she continued to look back until she could no longer hear them. We took one more switchback up the mountain. Almost at the top we met a nice man and his dogs taking a rest on the side if the trail. After exchanging greetings we finished climbing the mountain. Proof:
Both horses enjoyed gazing off into the distance, looking for their barn no doubt... My mom and I remarked that it would have been smart to bring the binoculars. Oh well, next time. We could only speculate where our house was, along with the surrounding towns. If the now sprinkling clouds weren't there, we could have seen Seattle and Bellevue. Again, next time...
On our decent down the mountain we decided to take a switch back that takes us to the gravel service road, which leads us back to the trailer area. It was a quicker route down and at that point in the ride we wanted to make going down easy on the girls. Neither my mom nor I was looking forward to riding the slick clay trail back down, so the road it was. Once we got there, we met a few other riders and chitchatted a little. We headed down and let me tell you, Star was hiding a little something in the back burner. She was walking out so fast that Mercy couldn't keep up! What?! This never happens, ever. Until then. She knew the trailer was up ahead:

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.
What a ride. For all of us.


jrosey said...

Wow! Looks like a beautiful place to ride! Such views! Thanks for sharing this cool place with us! :)

Shelly's Stuff Jewelry said...

Wow...what a scenic place to ride. That's the one problem with elevation changes!