Tuesday, May 25, 2010

200 Miles of Trail

Tuesday May 25 2010

It's a community effort, marking 200+ miles of trails for this coming weekend's 3-day Owyhee Fandango endurance ride: friends, neighbors, horses... even the dogs want to help.

Steph's been out on the ATV (and several miles on foot) all day the last several days.

Tom Noll and Carrie Thornburn chose the nastiest day of the entire Owyhee spring to mark the Whiskey Traverse on horseback along the Snake River... Tom mentioned something about frostbite, but that's endurance riders for you!

I went out on an ATV Sunday (slowly, and only on good roads because they scare me!), and then hoofed it a few miles to flag trail. I would have driven to another area and marked more trails on the ATV, but there was this wee little thunderstorm I would have driven into. I may not be able to hear thunder until it's way too close (i.e., right on top of me), but I can see thunder, and there was thunder in those clouds.

Yesterday Carol and I marked part of the Hart Creek Homestead loop with Jose and Suz.

Trail marking from horseback is great for teaching Whoa to those horses that can't stand still. Your horse must learn to stand still, (and brace himself), when you lean waaaay out of your saddle and to the side to reach down and tie a ribbon onto a low sagebrush.

You get on and off a lot, so your horse gets it in his head that it's not all Go Go Go. Now is especially a good time for this kind of training, because the more your horse Whoas, the more grass he can eat. : )

We walked and marked part of the trail on foot where the bushes are so low you'd have to be either much younger, or a contortionist to be able to do it from horseback (which we aren't). This part was all uphill for a mile or two, so we got our exercise for the week.

Smart people would have marked this loop in reverse - walking down the ridge to the creek while tying ribbons, but we had to double check the trail in the correct direction that I'd marked on foot the previous day. Good thing we did because we added a lot more ribbons to make it easier to see.

There is so much grass, particularly cheat grass (some of it starting to turn a pretty magenta), out right now that some of our regular trails are somewhat obscured. Riders may have some problems pulling their horse's heads out of the grass so they'll keep going down the trail.

We got enough rain/snow/sleet last Saturday, and there are enough showers in the forecast (20-30% through the weekend), that the trails are going to stay in fantastic shape - soft and kind but not dusty. The wildflowers are simply outrageous.

The Indian paintbrush

varies between pink, orange, and deep red. Sometimes many shades are growing right next to each other.

There's plenty of water in the creek crossings,

and neighbors Rick and Carol will be putting extra water tanks out.

Steph will be out marking trail all day again today, and I have some marking on foot to do and some trail to rake clear of rocks (just a short stretch!)

We're a bunch of tired puppies, but it will be worth it.

Photos from today's Hart Creek Homestead loop ride can be seen here.

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