Friday, April 28, 2017 – Fabulous First Ride Day at Owl Creek, AL-Bankhead NF

Woke up feeling very refreshed after a great night sleep, thank goodness! Waved good-bye to our neighbors as they drove off this morning, and shortly afterward, several day riders came in with their trailers. Guessing it's going to be busy this weekend! Anyway, after breakfast, we saddled up the horses, who seemed quite ready to take a ride, and headed out on the orange trail, an 11 mile loop, which we took in the clockwise direction. What a beautiful trail! Other than some patches where someone got a little carried away with putting large, sharp-edged gravel down, this was spectacular, a real gem of a trail! Entirely forested (though some areas had obviously experienced a burn, and others had been cut for timber a while back), most of it was near-virgin forest, with lots of rock outcroppings and caves and little streams and hills, single-track all the way, exactly the kind of trail we like the best! About 3 miles out there was a picnic area with several highline strings set up, and we stopped for a quick break there. Then halfway around there is a bridge over a nice little stream to another short loop (which also leads to another long 10+ mile loop) and next to the bridge, down a short trail, there is another picnic area that was even larger. What a lovely spot for lunch! We hadn't brought any this time, but we certainly will next time! After taking another break there, we headed out along the stream, but when the trail looked like it actually crossed it and headed away from the trail we came in on, I began to think we should have gone back up the short trail to the point where we started, so I headed uphill until I hit what I thought was the main trail. I started following flags, which seemed to be a newer trail, but that started heading us in the wrong direction. Eventually we found a trail that headed us back north again, and after a while, we were back on the orange trail. Nice to know there are more trails than just the one loop! That will require some more exploration! We saw several deer, and heard and saw lots of birds, which was a nice change. The last few rides, Hubby had been having problems with his legs, not being able to get them far enough out front, and his circulation (which isn't great anyway) was making his legs hurt, but he did a little modification on his saddle before this ride, and it made all the difference. He did the entire 11 miles and didn't have any pain at all! So I'm looking forward to longer rides, as we had been making them shorter for his benefit, but if he can handle it, we're going to do it! We got back to find one new camper parked near us, and within an hour several more had joined us. Also, we had met a couple on the trail toward the end of the ride who invited us to a charity lunch and auction the next day for a neighbor with breast cancer, and Hubby sounded enthusiastic, so we said we'd come along. I invited them to stop off at the camp if they were coming back in that direction, and sure enough, they did! We had a nice chat with them, as well as our other neighbors (one even brought a Weed-Eater to cut down the grass around their camper, which was quite long, with lots of yellow flowers in it, but a little prickly) and offered to whack our yard as well! So we've got a nice little weekend neighborhood going here. I love the South! Eventually we managed to get inside for dinner and a nice evening. What a great ride, a great day!

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