Archives for June 2010

Tuesday, June 29, 2010 – First Ride Day in Platte River Wilderness

We both slept late this morning, which is very easy to do when you’re in the middle of nowhere (honestly, I don’t know how people sleep with all the noise of the city or suburbs-I have to wear earplugs whenever we are in a populated area), so by the time breakfast was done and we had saddled up, we were heading out about 10:30, under clear skies and perfect temps. We started off on what looked to be an ATV road right across from the corral, because we wanted something fairly easy our first time out. Well, that road quickly narrowed, got covered in water, almost disappeared, and had trees falling all over it. After half an hour, we decided to be wise and head back. We came past the corrals to the trail around the campground, which is the real trailhead for the area anyway. We headed through the pine forest, which is mostly dead because of the pine beetle infestation that is everywhere here (thanks to some zealous environmentalists who apparently sue the forest service every time they want to do anything to manage the forest, like prescribed burning – not allowed – or clear cutting breaks to prevent the spread of the pine beetle – not allowed – , etc.), picking up the Platte Ridge Trail a short ways up the trail. After crossing the creek, most of the trail was quite open, lots of grass, dandelions and clover (perhaps the weed-free certified hay scheme came in a little late?) and seemed relatively flat, or just a little grade upwards. We only wanted to take a short ride today, so we just followed the trail maybe a mile or two, just after we came out of the clearings and into the forest, which apparently was just before the peak of the ridge. We turned around, happy that our three hour jaunt was just what we wanted. We had done some trotting, and on the way back, on the road from the campground to the shortcut trail up to the corrals, we got a good canter in as well. Once the horses were settled in, we did a water run, both to the campground to fill up our numerous one-gallon bottles, and down to the creek to try out our new drill pump. At the campground, we spoke to Bob the host about trail maps, which apparently they had just restocked in anticipation of the big weekend coming up, and he showed us some of the idiosyncrasies of the map from the reality they tried to capture. We then headed to creek, where our attempts to get the drill pump to work were unsuccessful, and we ended up using the old fashioned method (one small portable bucket at a time, into three much larger tubs). It’s only a little battery operated drill, so Hubby thinks we need more power, so next time we’ll try his electric impact wrench with a generator, to see if that works better. Might be more effort than it’s worth, but then again, if it works, it should be easier in the long run, especially if we stay in more horse camps as primitive as this (and it seems as though we might from the research I did on the computer yesterday.) Despite that minor setback, it was a lovely day, a lovely ride, and looks to be a beautiful evening, though there are a few clouds building that look like we might have a thunderstorm, in which case I might just jump out and throw some soap on a sponge and wash down the pickup, which is well and truly filthy at this point!

Monday, June 28, 2010 – Drive to Walden, CO

Had to pick up some groceries and check my email, so I drove to the nearest town, Walden, CO, about 30 miles away. An easy drive into a town with a Main Street and little else. I think I saw a courthouse just off the main drag, pretty small to be the county seat, but then again, so is our little town at home in Tennessee. Drove from one end to the other to see what was there before deciding my agenda. First to the hardware store to try to solve a pump problem. As there is no water by the horse corrals except a creek about 200 feet away, and filling buckets was a pretty strenuous task, we thought we might be able to find something that would at least draw water from the creek up to the road so we could fill them up in the back of the pickup. I found a cute little “drill” pump, a small impeller that you put a drill into that theoretically could pump uphill for at least 20 feet. I thought it would be more practical than buying a big heavy electric pump that would need the generator to run, and it was much more affordable, so I gave that a try. Next, I found a handy little cafe in the middle of town with a wi-fi signal (the reason for the drive-by), so I went in, found the perfect booth in the back corner with an electrical outlet, ordered an ice tea, and later lunch, and went to work. Stayed there until about 4:00, then headed to the gas station (one of two, side by side, same prices) to fill up the small tanks for the generator, then off to the supermarket (appropriately called Supers). Surprisingly, I found everything on the list, despite being the only game in town. Headed back out to the campground, got there just after 5:30, then settled down for the evening. Hubby’s feeling better after having rested for most of the day, though he did do a couple of things on the honey-do list. We also decided to stay here until after the 4th of July weekend. Though we’re having to conserve big-time on water, at least we know what we face here, and we hate to move to a new location just before the biggest weekend of the year without knowing what we might be up against. Chances are, no matter where we go, it’ll be packed, and at least here, there’s a limit to how many neighbors we can have, though we’ve heard rumors we’ll be joined by a rather large group coming up from Leavenworth, KS. No matter, we’re settled in ow, and we’re looking forward to our first ride here tomorrow, now that Hubby seems to have acclimated and we’ve recovered from our first few days.

Sunday, June 27, 2010 – Crash Day II

Slept late, and Hubby had a rough night, woke up coughing on many occasions, probably because dinner was a little salty and we’re at over 9000 feet, both of which constrict his breathing. We decided to stay in bed and rest, then later in the morning I sat outside in the sun, really luxuriating, can’t remember the last time I did that! Started a new book and really got into it, unlike I usually do, when I’m reading three sleepy pages before dropping off to sleep. Hubby stayed in bed, then went back to bed in the afternoon for another nap. By dinner he was feeling MUCH better, though still a bit tired with the thin air. We’re trying to decided whether we want to stay here through the July 4th weekend or to find someplace at a lower altitude. Problem is, there really is a shortage of horse camps along the southern tier of Wyoming, and we really don’t want to go north yet, it’s only going to be more crowded in the Yellowstone/Teton area. Still want to go to Antelope Island in Salt Lake, but not for the whole weekend. We’ll see how Hubby feels tomorrow, if he thinks he can tolerate the thin are for another week. We’ve been very scrimpy with water in order to make it last as long as possible, and we think we can make it until next Monday if necessary. To bed early, hoping that Hubby is even more fit tomorrow.

Saturday, June 26, 2010 – Crash Day

Slept pretty soundly, awakened at 8:30 by someone knocking at our door! (not what you’d usually expect out here in the middle of nowhere!) Threw on a shift and went to the door. By then, the knocker had gone on to the corral. I called out good morning, and noted that all of the horses the club had brought in were gone, apparently already off to do their thing. It amazed me that we slept through their entire preparation and departure. The man came back, asking if we knew which trail the group had gone out on, and of course, I had to explain we slept through it. He said he was part of that group but couldn’t make it last night. I suggested he speak to Bob at the campground, I was pretty sure that the trails that led out of the campground were the ones they were going to clear, but Bob would surely know if they passed him. As he prepared his horse, I fed and watered ours, then went back inside, debating whether to go back to bed or not. Yes, after nearly 12 hours of sleep, I still felt like I needed more! After a bit, Hubby and I decided to get up, but just to relax as much as possible today, so we had breakfast and spent the day reading (outside in the sun for a while, before thunderstorms rolled in nearby), then watching the World Cup as the United States to Ghana 2-1. Still feel terribly tired from all of yesterday’s activities, hoping to feel better by tomorrow so we can go riding.

Friday, June 25, 2010 – A Roller Coaster Change of Plans Day

Woke up an hour before the alarm, decided to get moving early. Packed up, stopped at the dump, then headed out before 8:00. Stopped in Laramie to pick up some fly spray and another saddle bag. Meanwhile, I called the BLM to find out about potable water at Encampment River. I had left a message more than a week ago and had never had the call returned. I had gotten the voicemail of the same man when I had called earlier, still no return call, so finally I had to insist on talking to someone who knew something. I wasn’t about to drive all the way there only to discover we needed to pick up water. Finally spoke to a woman who, after several minutes of conversation, determined that our rig wouldn’t fit into any of the sites at Encampment River, wasn’t sure about potable water, and thought the corrals were a long way from campground, all negatives, I realized based on that information, I just couldn’t see us spending the weekend there either. I spent another half hour on the phone trying to find alternatives, and finally decided on Pelton Creek Horse Camp. It was the only one within striking distance that seemed suitable, so after a discussion with Hubby, we set out to Pelton Creek, just about an hour away, which would get us in good and early, which we wanted to do as Friday are the day it becomes hard to find a decent spot. So off we went! Traveled on mostly flat prairie until just before we headed into the forest, then started slowing climbing. Had to stop at one point as the van approached overheating, than proceeded on after a few minutes of cooling. Finally reached the top, then started descending until we hit the Colorado border. Almost immediately after that we saw a hand painted sign that said Pelton Creek, so we turned down a dirt road, and soon saw real signs that indicated we were in the right place. We traveled the near 10 miles to the last campground on the road. Once again, Hubby went in to reconnoiter, he had a long discussion with Bob the campground host, then finally came out to fill me in. Apparently, horses weren’t allowed in the campground (despite many lodgepole pines that would have been perfect for a highline), only at the corrals, a sign for which we had passed about a half mile up the road. The only water was a hand pump (yes, a pump!), and that was in the campground, there was no water at the corrals, but it was near the creek so we figured we could get water there. Most of the sites at the campground were pretty small, but Bob said we could camp up at the corrals, for no fee at all. We decided that’s what we’d do. We spent the next hour at the hand pump filling up our tank, using a clever device consisting of a plastic soda bottle with the bottom cut out hooked to a hose that went into the tank. The pump was higher than our tank, so gravity worked. I must have pumped about 1500 times to get the tank full! It was coming out only in a pretty small dribble. Once done, we headed out to the corrals. The road was quite steep, and it was at an angle better for coming in the other direction, so I had a few scary moments trying to turn around using a trail next to the road. Finally managed it. Then I headed up the road to the corrals, giving it gas to try to make a run at it. I think I might have just dragged bottom on a high spot on the road, because I slowed to the point of not being able to go any further. The van just didn’t have the power. Maybe the extra weight of the water didn’t help either :-). Anyway, I radioed Hubby, who had gone up ahead of me and was chatting with another fellow who was preparing to leave, and he put the horses in their corrals, dropped the horse trailer, and backed down the road to me. I hooked up a tow strap (which doubles as our highline tree saver), and with the help of his pickup, we managed to get up to the top with no more problems. We got the horses settled, and the RV situated (with levels, because I was sick of being lopsided as we had been for weeks now), then decided to do a water run. We gathered every tub we had, loaded them in the back of the horse trailer, which was now reconnected to the pickup, and headed down to the creek below. Once again using the nylon strap, we looped in around the handles of one of the smaller tubs, threw it into the creek, pulled it out, carried it up to trailer and dumped it into one of the larger tubs. After a dozen or so throws we had two large tubs, two small tubs and a cooler full of water, which we brought back up to the horses. Once they were situated with water and hay, Hubby and I started getting the RV opened and settled in. It was a really good thing we got here early, by 11:00 or so, because it seemed to take the whole darn day to get settled. By 4:00 we were in, everything ready including the generator, but exhausted from all of the physical effort. We finally settled down to cocktail hour and dinner, settled in for the evening. When we put the horses to bed, we also put the tarp over the new hay (which the horses LOVED, by the way), because it looked like rain was coming in, which in fact it did later. In the evening, we were joined by a cadre of folks, who we learned were a horse club coming up to clear up the trails. Then, just before it got dark, we saw something neither of us had ever seen before, a (practically) night rainbow. The sun was almost down, the sky was mostly dark with a few streaks of red on the clouds, when we saw a beautiful dark rainbow off in the east, truly spectacular, more than the picture shows. Really gorgeous, seemed a darker shade of hues than a typical rainbow. We have to say, we LOVE our new back yard, it’s one of the prettiest we’ve had in a very long time. We’re considering staying longer than the weekend, but we’ll have to wait and see. Obviously no cell phone signal here, so it will require trips to the nearest town occasionally. Meanwhile, we went to bed just after 9:00, exhausted from our long and eventful day!

Thursday, June 24, 2010 – Drive to Curt Gowdy State Park, WY-Another Disappointment!

Packed up and got out early again, anxious to get to our next location. We had arranged to stop near Loveland and get some fresh Weed-free hay that had just been baled, for $7/bale (vs. At the feed store at $9.50/bale for last year’s cut). Took 15 bales and left a check for Denny as instructed. Continued through Ft. Collins, a quick stop at Wal-mart and Lowes for a few things, then headed up to Curt Gowdy State Park west of Cheyenne, WY. Arrived at the park, which is next to a reservoir, and discovered that a lot of what was on the website wasn’t exacty true. The fee for non-residents was $17/night, but not per campsite, PER VEHICLE! No senior discount at all, no reduced second vehicle fee, nothing so we ended up paying $34 for the night. No water at the campground except one spigot and hose to water the horses (though the water already in the tank was so dirty and rusty looking, I dumped it out before we put the horses in the corral and used our own tubs to be safe. Hubby had to mess with the spigot for 10 minutes before he could get it to work. The horse “camp” was nothing more than a parking lot with a couple of picnic tables and fire rings, no water, no electricity, nothing at all to justify the exorbitant rates. We had planned to spend the weekend, but at these prices and with such poor facilities, not to mention the trails seemed to be overwhelmed by cyclists, we just couldn’t see ourselves doing it. So we decided to pack up in the morning and move on to our next stop, Encampment River Campground on the other side of the Medicine Bow National Forest.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 – Ride Day in Pike National Forest

Drove over to the non-equestrian campground to look for a kiosk with a trail map, didn’t find one, but did find a camp host who provided me with a map. We saddled up and headed out, planning on taking the shortest loop, about 7-8 miles, just to get back into the swing of things. The trail was mostly dirt, but had some sections of stones and rocks. Some areas were very narrow, with new spring growth practically overtaking the trail, while others were forest roads. One section was more like a creek bed, with water flowing down it almost the entire way, and some sections were pretty steep. A beautiful view at the top just before heading back down to the campground. A very pleasant 3-hour ride, trails were pretty well-marked, and we all enjoyed it very much. No crashes, no problems, always a good day when that happens! After we got back, we had a visit from the two girls, asking if we could spare some dog food for their puppy’s dinner. Apparently some critter had gotten into their stash and ate it all, so we gladly gave them a container full, which they returned, with leftovers, after dinner was done. Sweet girls, I hope they realize how lucky they are to be around horses and dogs in their young lives!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010 – Departure Day-Drive to Indian Creek Horse Camp

Contrary to our original plan, we didn’t go for a ride on Saturday, we just had too much to do in preparing for our departure today. Got up early, said good-bye to our client, and headed out before 9:00. We had many stops to make, starting with going to the vet so our dogs could get boosters for their flu vaccines, which the vet required before we could board them. Very unhappy with the final bill, charged the same for the booster as they did for the original vaccine, plus an (brief) office charge that’s more than my regular vet charges for a regular visit, especially considering that canine flu is isolate to just a few places in the country, Colorado being one of them. Most money I’ve ever had to pay just to board two dogs in the same cage for two nights! Next stop was at the RV store, which had promised to get us a door handle for our patio door, but once again, disappointment when they didn’t have it in, didn’t know where it was, didn’t know if it had been back-ordered, didn’t know if it was going to be arriving at all. Not a lot of enthusiasm to serve customers there. Next we drove to Pueblo, with stops at the gas station, the liquor store and Wal-Mart, then west 20 miles to Penrose to pick up some certified weed free hay, required in most Western National Forests and State Parks. After the feed store, we headed north again, along a lovely road toward I-25, then north to Sedalia where we headed west again to the Indian Creek Horse Camp (not to be confused with the Indian Creek Trailhead in the San Isabel National Forest near LaVeta where we went riding before). Started climbing about 3-4 miles from the campground, slow going but made it with no trouble. The campground is right off the state highway, so no dirt roads except the one into the campground. Hubby went into the campground first to reconnoiter, then I moved in. Once again, rather disappointing. We were told there was water in the campground, but of the three water pipes, only one had a spigot on it (the other two had no head, just caps), and the only functioning one had been cut in such a way as not to allow a hose to be fitted. When you turned it on, water went everywhere! Even with the huge tubs we use, we couldn’t get the stream just into the tub. What a waste! Fortunately, we still had some water in our tank, enough for the two days we planned to spend there, anyway. Almost no site was level, and almost no site was shaded, and no sites were both. We ended up on a site that at least provided some shade in one of the corrals, though we were really not at all level, both front to back and side to side. We felt like we were in a listing yacht! Quite disappointing, especially for $17/night (though with Hubby’s Golden Age Passport it was $17 for both nights)! There was one other family in the campground, with two young girls and a new golden lab puppy in tow. They had outfitted a livestock trailer with boards placed in the slots and a mattress on the boards, providing an interesting “tent” for the girls to sleep in. Anyway, we settled in after a long active day, looking forward to a ride day tomorrow, having moved my horse into the second corral once the hot sun had passed behind the trees.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 – Ride Day

It was such a beautiful day today, upper 70’s, sunny and a milder than usual breeze, so we decided to take advantage and go for a ride. Our hostess was originally going to be back today, but a change in plans postponed it until tomorrow, and since we knew we would be working with her the rest of the week, we decided today as the day! We’d been told there was over 2000 acres of state “trust” property very close by, so we got directions and headed out. We had to go out the neighbor’s driveway, as our hostess has a cattle guard and no alternative gate, but the neighbor has an electric gate with no cattle guard. So we left out her driveway, went only a few hundred yards to a turnoff, which was the road the went directly to the state property, just a mile or so away. It is mostly rangeland, with some fascinating “sentinels” at the end of the valley, rock carved by water and wind into a huge swath of monoliths, as if they were once mountains, but all that was left was what looked like a fence made by nature. There were cows grazing on the land, presumably they lease it from the state. Mostly wide open range with a road going through it. Only trouble is our horses tend to not understand what to do when there’s no definite trail to follow, they tend to wander, straying from one side to another, unable to keep a straight line. The other thing is, when he sees that much wide open space, my horse tends to get this overwhelming urge to run willy-nilly across it, often starting out with some bucking before he gets his stride. A couple of times I just had to let him go, to try to get it out of his system, particularly when they got close to the cows, those strange animals that they didn’t know what to do with. No crashes, fortunately, and no missteps, so all said and done it was a wonderful 3+ hour ride, though I have to say it’s not as interesting just riding across the range. I was always worried about holes and uneven terrain and rocks that just seemed prime to sprain an ankle. A good time nevertheless! When we arrived back to the ranch, we discovered four bighorn sheep in the pasture nearest the one where our horses have been staying in, and they came in quite close, curious about what was going on. I’d never seen bighorn sheep in the wild before, much less in our own backyard! Quite the adventure! Anyway, the rest of the day is dedicated to relaxing, tomorrow morning I’ll probably do some bushhogging with our hostess’ tractor just to tidy it up a bit, then dinner with her and her mother and a few others tomorrow night, then work the next few days. Probably will ride on Saturday, weather permitting. We’re thinking about the trail on Spanish Peaks, two very dominating fixtures in the landscape just south of here. Last trail we had planned to do while we were here, and considering we’re planning on leaving early next week, high time we did it!

Saturday, June 12, 2010 – Crash Day

Our hostess left early from some appointments, so we slept in, very late, then spent the day laying back in our recliners watching TV all day. It was dinnertime before we mustered enough energy to go see the horses. We had only seen them from afar at that point, as tired as we were! Looking forward to a relaxing Sunday, then back to our normal routine on Monday.