Sunday October 28 2007
Beware when your friends tell you they're going on an EXPLORING ride. Don't be afraid; just be prepared to get off and walk if you get in a pickle (we didn't), and bring a Goodie Bag (I didn't) : (, and bring plenty of clothing (I did).
Carol and I met Karen just outside of Murphy for an Exploring Ride to the petroglyph boulders along the Snake River. We got permission to drive through some private property to get onto BLM land, and we were going to try to make a beeline to the road-to-the-rim-to-the-trail that drops you down to the Snake and boulders.
It was just the perfect Owyhee day - not too hot, not too cold, no wind. The only bad thing was the bugs. Our horses came prepared, and Karen came prepared with a bug face hat (fits nicely under your helmet), but Carol and I got plenty of arm exercise waving bugs out of OUR faces. At least I had a bandana, which prevented the bastards from getting into my ears, like they do the horses. And those bugs do know exactly where ears are, on horses and humans.
We headed out in the right direction, toward the Snake, intending to hook up with the same road Steph had taken the endurance ride over a few years ago. We came to a row of telephone poles, where we knew we needed to take another road off in a northwesterly direction... but was this the right road? Funny how you may ride over this same trail once or twice every year (or, sometimes every day!), and think you know it, but you really don't know exactly where you are, because while the landscape of hills and washes and sand and sage and grass looks different, it still somehow looks the same. The differences can be subtle. Did the road usually turn west? Was that hill the one we always passed? Did the wash start here, or was it further on? I don't remember that slope of land. Or do I?
We took this road, but when it turned west we abandoned it and took another road-trail-cross-country north. And turns out we went about 3 miles the wrong direction. We still ended up on the rim of the Snake River - waaaaaaaaaaaay up high on the rim of the Snake River - but far from the trail down that we were seeking. So we cross-countried in the direction we should really have gone, and finally ran into our road, and trail. And went down to the petroglyphs, gave the horses a drink in the Snake, and climbed back out, taking the road all the way this time, knowing exactly where we were. In fact, I recognized the very hill where I'd seen a black wolf running very fast 2 years ago. It turns out we had been on the right road in the beginning, we just got fooled when it jogged to the west. As we crossed the marked Oregon Trail, it really made me think about how hard it must have been for those pioneers 150 years ago. We ride this land every day and can get lost - how must they have felt?
It was a long day - 5 1/2 hour ride, but the weather was still absolutely perfect when we got back to the trailers, and Carol had waiting in the truck the best gorp I'd ever eaten in my life.
Lesson learned: I've already packed my saddle bag with a Goodie Bag for the next long ride.