Monday, March 8, 2010

Ancient Lakes Trail Ride: No Swimming Allowed

The Kittitas Valley Trail Riders have started their spring rides way early this year. I missed out on a nice one a couple of weeks ago (I just had too much to do around here), but I got all my weekend chores and a few small projects done Saturday, so I could justify going along Sunday.
We were to venture across the mighty Columbia River to the Quincy Lakes wildlife area, and ride to the Ancient Lakes, between two levels of coulees--cliffs scoured by the release of glacial Lake Missoula as the glaciers receded-- where Columbia Basin farms and wineries give way to the river gorge.
We would park just south of the small farm patch to the far north west in this map. Our destination was Ancient Lake in the south east corner. That's the edge of the Columbia to the west. From straight up one can't really appreciate the height of the cliff surrounding this group of lakes...

Pat offered to haul Kate and I (it's my turn next ride) and we met up with four other trailers in Kittitas. We headed over Ryegrass Pass...
...and down to the bridge at Vantage.
On the way up the other side of the gorge, we passed these larger-than-life steel sculptures, called
based on the Native American legend of how the horse came to the plains.Picked up another trailer on the way, and headed down the first level of the coulee. This small herd of buffalo watched our caravan's progress.I wanted to get Kate a little settled before I pulled out the camera--she had done a little of her "airs-above-the-ground" when I pulled her out of the barn. So we just ambled along for the first couple of miles. But she was much better behaved than a couple of the other horses, who were feeling the effects of brisk night temperatures (25f.) and spring-like days. So I pulled out the Nikon.
Looking south-east towards the lake.We stopped for a rest overlooking the lake, and a hiker offered to take our picture. The lake is just to the left of my shoulder, here, but because it was reflecting the cliff above, it looks much like the rest of the surrounding terrain in this photo. Note the little waterfall tucked in under the shadowed rock face.The rest of the group. There were ten riders in all, but several other smaller groups of horses left the parking area as well (though we didn't see any of them during our 2 1/2 hour ride).Mounted up again and ready to move out.Headed northwest along the base of the coulee. The Columbia is straight ahead, but down a very rocky path through a cut in another cliff...Another day...Back at the trailer. Kate is still wearing most of her winter coat, so she looks soggy here, but she really only worked hard climbing a few of the hilly spots. Pat had suggested that I put her boots on all around, and I glad I did: much of the trail was soft dirt, but a few places at the base of the cliffs were covered with jagged basalt (volcanic) rock. We bush-whacked through a lot of sage as well.Crossing the mighty Columbia on the way home.

I was definitely pleased with Kate's behavior and effort. She kept up with the group, and didn't buy into any of the shenannigans of the other horses. We crossed several large muddy puddles, with only a slight hesitation. After the first mile or so, she would stand quietly when we waited for others to adjust their gear, or stragglers to catch up.

All in all, a great ride!


  1. What a beautiful unique place to ride. I love the wide open spaces. My weekend trail rides were in and among dense trees, bushwacking up steep hills through narrow openings. What an adventure. lol!

    I would have loved to have been able to hike up to look at the horse sculptures. wow!

    I'm glad you and Kate had a great ride together.


  2. Wow, those pictures bring back memories! I used to be married to a guy who flew gliders in Ephrata most weekends from spring until fall, and I've travelled them thar hills many, many times both on the ground and in the air! I've always loved those steel sculptures of the horses, and frequently stopped to admire them.

  3. Oh, that's a lovely place to ride! Glad Kate behaved herself, too.

  4. Oh wow, it's funny just last year Serena (of the Roxie blog) and I were wondering where the heck you ride in that area. I had no idea it was so beautiful! From the car it just looks like flat desert. It must be a scorcher in the summer...

  5. WOW!!!
    Firstly...loved the sculpture of the Wild stallions~ Really COOL!!!
    There is a similar sculpture, coming into Sisters, Bend..though I do not think it has the neat history as that one.

    Though the trees of my area are fantastically beautiful...I think my mare would LOVE that wide- open- space of your ride... She dislikes so anything touching her and slipping and mudd.(everywhere we ride!)I am gonna come visit when I finally get my truck, What a Cool ride!

    Kate is such a cutie face!!!Yea..airs above the ground when -On- is a bit much for camera wielding!You did good to wait. I loved your ride and to be an a trailer caravan, is too cool.
    She is coming along so nicely, that Kate..good thinking head on her.
    Thanks for giving me the heads up to come over!

  6. Just an excellent post, EvenSong. What a great experience for you and Kate! I loved the tour - all new territory for me. You really gave us a good feeling for the magnificence of the landscape, and you sure do get out there and enjoy it with Kate. When I had Sam, a few of us in our stable used to go to the local shows (Laurentian Mountains - Quebec), but boy, was I ever nervous following him when he was in the horse trailer. Like Kate, he traveled well, but I wonder if you feel as relieved as I used to be when you see your horse step out of the trailer.

  7. what great views of my homestate: ) i sure do miss it.

    have you climbed up to the wild horse sculpture? they are two dimensional when you get up close. i simply love that sculpture.


  8. I have ever tried the climb--I took up horses to avoid walking! But the Trail Riders are trying to figure out a way to ride up there from the east side...