Tuesday, October 5, 2010

More Canyonlands

I stir in my sleeping bag as I hear a soft nicker. Followed by a louder nicker. I hear a hoof pawing. Stomp! Stomp! A bucket makes a clang against the corral panels. Stomp! Stomp! Another whinny calls out. There is no doubt in my mind. It is Thunder, calling for room service! "Hey Lady! Breakfast time!"

"Ok Ok" I call to him. "I'm up!" As I step outside the moonlight is casting shadows everywhere. I don't need the flashlight as I give the boys their hay. Thunder continues to paw until I give him his soggy beet pulp with a bit of grain. Then all I can hear is "Slurp! Slosh! Slurp!" Oh yes and the thumping of Molly's wagging tail as she gets her dog food!

At a multi-day ride a routine quickly develops. Feed the horses and the dog. Breakfast. Walk the horses and the dog. Saddle up, pack the water bottles. Get the dog settled for the day. Bridle and interference boots. Ditch the jacket. Strap on the helmet. Mount up and get outta Dodge!

Each day at the Owyhee Canyonlands is a brand new adventure. Promises of old cabins, remnants of wagons, gorgeous vistas and a whole lot of trail! The Castle Creek ride on Day 2 offers some gorgeous views of several canyons where the rock walls harbor caves belonging to some citter. The first part of this ride is pretty hilly and rocky. We took our time, rode easy and got to the halfway vet check in 4 hours. After an hour of letting Thunder suck up all his food and my peanuts, we were ready to circle around back to camp.

It's hard to pick a favorite day because each one is beautiful in it's own way. But I do think my personal favorites were the 3rd and 4th days, Oregon Trail and Sinker Creek loops.

Merri Melde rode Blue on Day 3 and she took this shot of Thunder and I. T
The Oregon Trail 50, goes NW to the beautiful Rio Del Sierra Ranch. The owners amazingly welcome us each year and allow us to invade their pasture for our vet check. And it was our vet check not just once but twice as we had a circle of trail from the ranch that took us over the Oregon Trail. This section was quite rocky and went up a narrow ravine that makes one wonder how they ever got wagons through there. Up on top are some stretches of wagon ruts cut into the rock slabs. We traveled on out to a canyon lip that overlooked the glsitening Snake River far below. It was definitely a WOW moment! The route took us back to the Oregon Trail and the ranch for that second vet check mentioned earlier. Afterwhich we traveled across the varied terrain to Oreana and the Teeter's Ranch once again.

Day 4 is Sinker Creek, where we ride west of camp, with some good trotting ground before dropping elevation and passing through the rocky gates as the canyon walls come together. We crossed the creek about 30 times as we just kept looking up into the gorgeous rock formations and cathedral spires of the canyon walls. Later climbing and climbing back out and topping out on a plateau with yet another amazing view! One vet check on this day and then back around through Pickett Creek drainage and up onto the Hart Creek Rim trail. Thunder was so full of it along the rim that I was tired of him pulling on me. He knew where he was and wanted to go. So I led him for awhile until he settled down. Four days and still frolicking!

Day 5 used 2 loops out of camp so no vet crew bag to pack since we would return to camp halfway through the day. The loop went out across the highway through The Birds of Prey lands near Rye Patch and returned to camp for the first 25 miles. This was easier for crews and vets but a bit hard for the horses because so far each day, once in camp they were finished. But not this day. After their hour hold in the vet check they had to go back to another loop. I didn't want Thunder to think he was done for the day so I left him saddled. The plan seemed to work as we left camp and went out to Hart Creek. The trail took us through an old homestead and a neat dugout! Then farther up we interrupted a napping rattler who was pretty cranky after he almost got stomped on.

Thunder was really strong the last few miles in. I was with another 5-day rider, Drin Becker, and we were both certain our horses could have done another day if it was there. Thunder was just full of it! I think he was doing his "happy dance"!

Multi-day rides are so incredibly wonderful. You begin the week camping with a few friends, and before you know it everyone is your friend. It's hard to see the week end. You know that some of your new friends you won't see for a long time, or maybe not at all.

But the magic has to come to an end. And the sun sets on another adventure that goes into my treasure chest of fun and savage amusement!

1 comment:

harnessphoto said...

Stunning photos. As an East Coast endurance rider, I'm jealous of the very different landscape out there. Your writing style is beautiful. I'll be following :)