Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hi There, from Cicely, Alaska!

On Wednesday, Kate and I were off to the wilds of "Alaska" with the Kittitas Valley Trail Riders.
Not really.
Any of you that were fans of the quirky little show "Northern Exposure" may be aware the outside shots were filmed in the mining town of Roslyn, Washington (hence the "Roslyn Cafe"). The fictional setting of the story was Alaska.
The Roslyn Riders Poker Ride that Maddie and I went on back in May followed, for a short while, anyway, the "Coal Mine Trail," part of an old railroad spur line that served the mines of the Cle Elum, Roslyn, and Ronald area.
Yesterday, Pat and I met up in Ellensburg and caravaned with 10 or 11 other trailers up to the trailhead at the west end of Cle Elum, and rode the full five and a half or six miles of the trail (depending on if you believe the trail markers, or Barry's GPS) through Roslyn, to it's "suburb" of Ronald, for lunch at the "Old #3 Tavern (named for a mine shaft). We started out with 13 riders, but one last couple, who didn't connect with the caravan in time, caught up to us on the trail. It was the biggest group of riders yet this summer, for one of their weekly rides.
It was a very pleasant ride up a fairly shallow grade, with lots of shade and a bit of a breeze. Which was good, because temperatures were pushing 100F by noon.
We actually rode on city streets through "Cicely" (Roslyn), though we were a couple of blocks away from the area of storefronts that folks would recognize from NE. Motorists were polite and accommodating to our little "parade." We stopped at the edge of town for a potty break, at this trailhead/city park restroom.
Chuck had claimed trail boss status, based on his bright yellow boots and green "glad rag."
Then back on the trail for the last stretch to Ronald, paralleling the highway. Normally, Pat rides drag anyway, but today, Kate was a little ouchy after one stretch of trail that was covered with bigger rocks (most of the trail was small, sandy gravel), so she was dragging along at the end of the group. I think I'll just have to start putting her Simple boots on for trails I'm not familiar with, just in case.
Arriving at the Old #3. With 15 horses, the issue became where to put them all. There was one small hitching post, to the right under the willow tree, where three horses went. Then the jeep and truck in the middle of the picture were moved, to give access to a short permanent "high line," between the two trees--five horses went there.
Finally, Walt--who, by merit of having a glad rag too, and for having brought along a long length of rope, got promoted to co-trail boss--set up another high line, outside this frame to the left, between a telephone pole and a small evergreen.
I had hoped to get a secure post or tree for Kate, seeing as how she's never been introduced to this type of tether (which is really quite safe, once they figure it out, because there's nothing solid for them to fight against if they get in trouble). But when I told one of the guys that she'd never been high-lined, his pragmatic response was "No time like the present!" She was actually less worried about it than Pat's 20-year-old veteran, Rusty. It helped that she was a bit tired from the ride.
So Pat moved Rusty to a branch of the tree. And it was time for lunch. We took turns popping up out of our seats to check out the window on everybody. At one such moment, it became apparent that someone had pulled back on the line, as it had stretched a bit, and was lowered to about chest height. So co-trail bosses Chuck (who easily tops six feet) and Walt (who ain't near that tall!) went out and tightened it up. When we went out after a delicious lunch (grilled pastrami on rye), I found that Kate's knot on the line was pulled considerably tighter; so it was either her who had created the problem, or she had reacted to someone else's misbehavior. But all in all, she stood quietly.
Then it was back down the trail to Cle Elum. We let the horses stand for a bit at the trailers, while we shot the breeze, then headed for home.
Once home, I hosed Kate down, which I truly think she appreciated.
She was actually drinking from the hose!
Afterwards, I stood her in a muddy spot for a while, to ease her dry hooves. (Today, I'll rasp off a couple of nicks that developed, and dress her hooves really goo-ily.)
She headed straight out to pasture with the other girls, and seemed none the worse for wear.


  1. Tonka LOVES to drink water right out of the hose. He will also come to ask for a shower when it's hot out. Looks like a great ride.

  2. Sounds like fun! I like it that you were successful high-lining her - you just got it done and, perhaps because you expected her to do fine, she did too.

  3. I love the picture of Kate drinking from the hose. I had never heard of high-lining. Lots to learn from reading your posts. 100F Wow!

  4. Wow! You are so lucky to have those fun riding opportunities. I've always wanted to do long back country trail rides, too. Hopefully one day. I got a late start in my horse ownership and riding.