Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Catalina State Park

Yesterday we headed to Catalina Satate Park, which is close to Tucson. This is the ride we set off to do last week, but it was snowing, hailing, sleeting, ect over there.

I played bus driver, and after loading Santana up, I drove to Vicki;s and got her and Dakota, and then we went off to Suzie's to fetch her and Tommy.

This was Santana's longest trailer ride since I brought him down from Payson. An hour and a half, more if you count the time we spent picking up our friends.

We got to the park around 10:30. It was overcast and cool, but not cold. 55, according to my truck. We saddled up and off we went.

You will note there aren't any pictures....this is because I had my hands full with my little boy. He wasn't awful, but, he wasn't listening to me very well. I don't know if it was the long trailer ride, being in a new place, all the activity going on around us (the park was REALLY busy) the cool air or all of the above!

It was very dry there. I guess usually the washes are flowing. They were bone dry. We were expecting to do several water crossings, but, it wasn't to be. Once the snow pack melts off Mt. Lemmon, we will have to go back to play in the water.... But Santana did get to climb up and down his first real stair steps. He did very well, never missed a step. So, while his mind was NOT with me most of the ride, he never did take one bad step. And he managed to con a poor hiker out of their apple.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Santana's First Water Crossing!!!

Soooo, the three of us, Suzie, Vickie and I , were supposed to go to Catalina State Park yesterday. IT is about 1 1/2 hours drive. I picked up Vickie at 8:00, and we were to meet Suzie at another location at 8:15. All is well. We meet Suzie and start our "mini-caravan" towards Tucson. About 1/2 mile in Suzie realizes that she forgot her trailer keys. So, we wait for her to go back and get them at a Wal-MArt parking lot. She gets back, and we start off again. Again, Suzie pulls over. Her friend who lives close to where we were headed, calls to say, it is POURING rain with mixed snow and sleet. We were prepared for a little rain. Snow and sleet?? You're joking, right? We decide to try this ride again next week. We observe that it is sunny and nice here in the valley, so, we decide to detour, and head up to the Salt River to ride. Santana had never seen water, this would be good for him. Now I am leading the caravan, as I know the way. I decided to try a new area that I had heard about but never ridden called "Coon's Bluff." I knew there were trails that went to the river, but that was about all I knew. We saddled up and took off. I marked the trailer on my GPS and was careful to pay attention to my GPS as none of knew where we were going, or, possibly, how to get back! There were many cattle and wild horse trails in this area. WE tried to follow them, but, this was a really thick treee area with lots of low prickly, thorny branches. I could barely get by on Punkalicious, and he is only 14.1H. Suzie's Tommy is 17H. Get the picture?? So, off we went, bushwhacking our way through, trying to find a real trail to the river. We never did find that trail. Vicky's horse Dakota stepped on a rein and broke it. But, me with my trusty fishing vest, I had cable ties (zip ties) in a pocket and we made a great repair in about 5 seconds! We forged our way through, and eventually, we found the river. Getting down to it was another adventure. Keep in mind EVERYTHING in this desert has nasty thorns and prickers, and you cant just push through the thick vegitation. Eventually, we fpound a way into the water. We had to get off and lead them down as the branches were just too low to try and ride through. Santana walked carefully overt hte slick, moss covered river rock into the water. He put his head down and drank. And Drank. And drank. That water must have tasted really good, like Kool-Aid, or something, because it wasn't hot out, he hadn't worked very hard on this ride, and yet he LOVED that water. Aftr a few minutes, I decided to mount up and see if he would walk around with me on his back in the river. Of course he did, just fine too, I might add. He was a little concerned that he couldn't see where he was putting his feet, and that where he was putting his feet was on big, round, slick rocks, not good footing. So he was careful, but not scared. He never tripped or took one mis-step. I was a very proud momma. After playing in the water for a few minutes, we headed back to the trailer.
Once at the trailer, we tied up the horses and had ourselves a little snack. WE had various junk food (which is allowed as free calories after any bushwhacking expedition) and a ham and cheese roll with sesame crackers. While munching, Tommy alerts us to danger. Sure enough, a band of wild horses was moving through, on their way on doubt, to the water. We were able to get some amazing pictures. I have some posted here, enjoy!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Die Hard....

So, Suzie and I had set up rides last week for this week. This week started today. The National Weather Service had issued a severe weather alert, more specifically, a flash flood warning for all of our county and a blizzard warning for the high country just north of us. They were to get 12-18" of snow, which meant rain for us...and lots of it by desert standards....

Did you really think a silly little flash flood warning would keep us from riding??? Hell no. 43 degrees, cold wind,and yes, it was raining just a little at the mountain. I picked Vickie and her horse Dakota up on the way, and we met Suzie at the mountain at 9am. Afterall, if we were going to ride NATRC and AERC, the ponies had to learn to ride in crappy conditions.

It was dark, and gloomy, cold, windy and wet. But, horse people that we are, we rationalized this with the realization that we probably wouldn't run into any mountain bikers or hikers out there. Nobody else besides us would be crazy enough to want to be out in this weather when we normally have so many perfectly beautiful days to go out and play. So, we would have the whole place to ourselves, and wouldn't that be nice! As horse people, we can rationalize any condition to go out and go riding. A blizzard? Sure! "but the snow is sooooo pretty on the pine tree limbs. We wouldn't get to see this in town..." Any excuse to ride.

So, off we went. And we were alone out there. The ponies all behaved really well, as usual. Vickie and I had raingear on with warm clothing on underneath. Suzie only had on a fleece type jacket, not wind or rain proof. As we got over the first ridge and down into a canyon, the weather really got worse, and the skies really looked bad to the southwest. We opted to take the "shorter " ride as flash floods are not to be taken lightly (hey, they weren't due till 5pm) and, Vickie and I knew Suzie had to be freezing. So, we did a shorter 7.5mile loop, and then opted to have lunch at a local cowboy joint. )Lots of room for trailer parking.)

Interesting find on the trail... we took the trail that that horse got kicked on. The ranger and I had kicked dirt over the pools of blood afterthe vet took the horse. WEll, the rain and wind must have washed that dirt and sand away, because today we saw the pools of blood on the trail from that horse. Lots of blood is very sticky, and it must have really gobbed up.

It is supposed to rain all night tonight....Suzie and I are supposed to go out again tomorrow....she was buying rain gear this afternoon after lunch.....