Sunday, February 22, 2015

The last PNW ride for now

I had the best last hurrah ride with Cortney and Blaine today. We got a later start than we planned but it ended up working out anyway. Cortney picked Blaine and I up at Shadows. Gwyn loaded with minimal issues, and honestly rather quickly considering she hadn't been off property since August. We used a 3 horse slant this time, instead of the usual 4 horse stock from her mom. Gwyn went in front. (3 horse slant, check! On the wishlist!)

Cosmo hopped up beside her, ever the chill dude and they settled down to their remaining breakfast hay. Blaine also brought her golden retriever, Murphy.

Murphy is excited for adventures. 

It was really cute, when we arrived at Cortney's house in Snoqualmie, Murphy saw Cortney's dogs and got SUPER excited. Then he got to play zoomy zoomy with two cattle dogs, Minnie and Mandy. They loved each other. 

Gwyn unloaded explosively. She snapped her trailer tie (it was nylon) and just went backwards in a panic. We reloaded her and made her stand in the trailer without closing it, then had her back up. She still went too quickly and banged her head. Dang. However, the dogs were barking and racing around and Splendid and Amira were raising a ruckus too.
Getting tacked up at Cortney's house.

Many many more photos! Click below!
Cortney lives up a steep hill of dirt/gravel road that backs up to Weyerhauser land (logging land).  There is an access trail a mile from her house and that's where she led us to.  The trails are logging road and some is dirt, the majority is smaller gravel, some is big gravel meant for the semi trucks that carry the logs out. Generally the older the road is, the softer and less rocky. Our access trail popped us out onto an old road with several downed trees. We let the horses trot out here as they all had excess energy. The dogs surged ahead, checking back in with us on their own or when we called. Only Splendid, Cortney's horse, rated herself, but she's been doing endurance for over a year now and trains specifically for it. These are her training grounds.

Blaine on Cosmo and Cortney on Splendid

In the sun it was nice and warm and we were pulling layers off.

The old road opened out onto a clear cut area and the road became more gravely. Cosmo demonstrated his unflappable demeanor and walked through small saplings without a care in the world. Because of the clear cut, the views were pretty good, despite us not being in any elevated spot. 

Gwyn hasn't been out with dogs in quite a while (not since Florida). This was a great positive experience for her!

Mount Si coming around the bend. Well known from its appearance in exterior shots in "Twin Peaks"

Ear shot! Happy Goober.

We wound in and out of clear cut areas and stands of trees, not yet grown enough for the logging company to come back and cut them down. The area is replanted and all of this is new growth, not original.

Cortney led us on a what seemed like a random path through the maze of logging roads. She's had lots of time to explore them and get familiar but has barely touched a fraction of what she has access to. She pays $45/yr for access on horseback. To get vehicle access you have to pay $500 and she does see hunters during hunting season. She showed us a map when we got back that she has on her wall. She's highlighted the roads that she's been on. She's covered maybe 3-5% of what's out there. She could ride all the way to Sultan, up by me, potentially, and she can ride to her mother's house two towns north with minimal road travel just on these lands.

Best friends since I moved Gwyn here May 2011.

I found this stand of trees amusing. It's on a rocky outcropping, there's a cliff on the other side so the loggers didn't bother to get those trees. So they're there, all alone among stumps, trying to grow on rock.

Views east. All of this is logging land and you can see more bare parts that are slowly growing back. Far enough east and you get to National Forest and National Park. 

Looking South into Snoqualmie and North Bend with Mount Si to the left. 

Gwyn is checking the views out too.

You can see a waterfall on the left side, a white trickle. The Cascades deserve their name. Waterfalls are in abundance. 

Me on Gwyn, a rare shot! Cortney was on the ground and offered to take the photo for me.

Blaine and I!

Selfie :D 

Gravel pit we traveled through. I told Kaylee about it because there was a 'rock collection as big as a house'   She was impressed.

We also had to cross this stream. It was gravely and rocky coming down and Gwyn decided to leap over it. 

This is peaceful for me. I only feel joy when I'm out in the woods.

Best view ever.

There are two abandoned sheds randomly in the clear cut field. They were skeevy.

This is on a side road heading back to Cortney's house. There's a lot of moss on that piece of machinery...

Cortney's home!

We encountered some heavy pieces of machinery parked along one of the logging roads and I made Gwyn touch it with her nose. No longer a problem. She was worried at first with the dogs off leash and racing in and out of the forest and undergrowth but by the end of the ride she was pretty chill about it. 

We had one section where we let loose and galloped. Gwyn and Splendid raced and Cosmo just went at his own speed. Unflappable. I was trying to hold Gwyn back (she was ignoring me) and we still hit 17 mph. I kind of wish I had let her go but I was so unfamiliar with the path that I didn't want her to hit a bad spot and I go flying. Ah well. It was still great and our split time for that mile was 10 minutes faster, LOL.

Gwyn got back on the trailer with minimal fuss. We didn't tie her this time, or bother to replace the trailer tie. On the drive back to Snohomish we talked about trucks. Love it, I'm going to miss these two ladies. We also discussed strategy for unloading Gwyn this time to avoid the explosive backing out. We got Cosmo out, then I got into the trailer and Cortney shut and latched the door. I unhooked the divider and Gwyn turned her head, saw that the trailer was closed.... and just relaxed. I asked her to back up a bit toward the door which she did very calmly. Then we stood there a few seconds and I gave her scratches. Then I asked Cortney to open the door. Gwyn didn't move. I asked her to back and slowly AND CALMLY she stepped off the trailer to immediate praise, hugs and scratches. We unloaded our tack and said goodbyes.

Goodbyes forever are hard. Facebook makes it easier to keep in touch but you can't just say "See you later"

I might not see Cortney again in person for a very long time though we're hoping to get together for dinner at her moms before I go. I told her if she makes it to Tevis with Amira (her younger horse) that I will fly out and crew for her. And if she's ever in Chicago for her husband's train convention she's going to try and take the train to see us.

It wasn't this hard to leave Florida and we have awesome friends there that we've gone back and seen. I don't know why it's so hard this time. Maybe because the friendships change. It's subtle and you can still pick up where you left off but the distance does change things. I don't want that to happen again. 

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