Sunday, July 31, 2011
City of Rocks: Emigrant Canyon
Sunday July 31 2011
It just isn't every day you can follow a historic trail that tens of thousands of emigrants walked and rode and drove over 150 years ago, much less a trail in such a scenic area, in such good weather with such good footing.
It was another fantastic riding day in and around City of Rocks National Reserve - a 19 mile loop, up a Canyon on a soft 2-track road, skirting Smoky Mountain (at the base of which is our probable ride camp for Steph's probable new multi-day endurance ride), intersecting the California Emigrant Trail (and the main road through the CORNR), to the Twin Sisters landmark.
On down the road, riding on and paralleling the California Trail, we turned back down the Emigrant Canyon through which runs the old Salt Lake Alternate Emigrant Trail, and the old Boise-Kelton Stage Route.
This Salt Lake Alternate route was opened to wagon traffic in 1848. In 1869 the Boise-Kelton stage and freight traffic began using this route.
Half a mile down the canyon, you can see remnants of the old City of Rocks stage station. Stage stations were ideally located 10 to 15 miles apart on the emigrant trails, with water and grass for the horses. Our horses partook of both here. A smorgasbord of grass flanked our entire loop - Jose couldn't decide what he liked best, the rice grass, rye grass or crested wheat grass - and he could stuff his mouth full of all 3 in one bite in some places.
Footing was fantastic. We rolled at a good clip along most of the loop. When you're flying along one of these old trails, making time, you just can't help but think about those slow rolling wagon trains full of people laboring westward, heading to an unknown future and destination, other than "California" or "the West."
Jose enjoys the scenery as much as I do - while the other horses go on, he stops to look at things, and study and absorb what he's seeing. He's such a soulful horse, I sometimes wonder if he doesn't see into the past, things that happened at the historic places we pass.
[slide show here]