Sunday, March 14, 2010

The West Side of the River

So yesterday, the KVTRs stayed a little closer to home, dropping down the old Vantage Highway and jumping off at "Recreation Road," in the Ginkgo State Park. This road leads to the old ferry crossing, from before the BIG bridge across the Columbia was built, just down river.

The trailhead is well marked, but not very "plush": no porta potty, no specific parking area, just a nice wide roadway (though on a fairly noticeable hill).
We again had six trailers and ten riders, plus two horses being ponied. (Pat says that only a few years ago this would have been considered a huge group for the club, but these days it seems to be somewhat the norm, as long as the weather is pleasant.)

Here's a new mapping feature I want to try out. It's similar to Funder's Garmin mapping, except I have to input the route by hand after the fact. Please let me know if the commercialism is too annoying.

It's based on Google Maps, but I can't figure out how to show the terrain image, so here's the Google version of the area (without spiffy route marking).

View Larger Map

I had worried so much about having the big camera with me last weekend (my cheap little one died over the winter--too much hay in the workings!), so today I took the video camera instead--still hoping to figure out THAT technology someday soon. But the wind was blowing so cold in our faces on the way up the canyon, that I stayed rather bundled up.

Kate did a really nice job climbing up the trail: calm, steady, and keeping up with the pace of the group well (unlike last year, when she always seemed to be dragging along a hundred yards or so behind everybody else). My goal today was to ride without contact on her mouth as much as possible, so I let Kate gauge her own pace. After checking her once or twice when she tried to shuffle-jog forward, she figured out that she was in charge and that she needed to keep her attention on where she was walking, and settled into a very nice energetic walk.

Another rider was having trouble keeping her horse's boots on, and each time we stopped, Kate stood patiently while the errant boot was retrieved and replaced. (KVTR president Walt had told us the jeep path had good footing, so I only put Kate's front boots on. It turned out much rockier than expected, and I wished I had put the backs on as well, though she really didn't have any problems.)

When we turned to start back the way we came (a loop trip is available, but would have added three or four more hours to the ride), I thought that having the wind behind us, and with the mid-day sun nicely warming the air, I could go glove-less long enough to shoot some video.
Shortly after turning downhill, a gust of wind blew something up the butts of three horses, including Kate, and we had a little bit of a crazy scramble. Kate jumped forward into Pat's horse, Rambler, who himself was already discombobulated, and the horse behind us likewise scooted into Kate! Kate half reared, and did some nasty head-shaking that is her way of telling me she's on the verge of losing it, so I decided that I'd best keep my focus on riding for a bit longer.

By the time she settled again, we found ourselves towards the front of the pack! I think Kate realized we were headed back to the trailers, and that was enough that she didn't need her trailer companion/ BFF Rambler for confidence. I thought this was a good exercise in confidence for her, so again, I let her pick her pace. (However, it meant there was not much of anyone in front of us to video, so the camera stayed in it's bag, and we just enjoyed the ride.)

After one more stop for boot replacement on Denise's horse, we were, uncharacteristically, the second horse in the line. John was in front, riding his little Tennessee Walker, and he likes to wander off the trail bunches, into the uneven terrain of the sagebrush surrounds. Each time he did, Kate found herself with no one to follow! She kept a sideways eye glued on John, to make sure she was still heading the right direction, but continued at a steady pace several yards ahead of the rest of the group.

About the fifth time John veered off, however, he and his horse (whose name I never got) dropped down into a little bit of a gully, where Kate could no longer see them! She down-shifted to second gear, then first, but not quite to "full stop" before Pat and Rambler caught up and joined us, about the same time John popped back up onto the track. Her buddies back in view, Kate returned the rest of the way to the trailhead in a pleasant and cooperative mood.


  1. Sounds like a great ride, and we'll forgive you for the lack of video.
    As a non-horse person, I keep getting an image of horses in Wellington-type rubber boots (in lovely brilliant colours of course!) slogging up the trail. I had to go back through your older posts to find a picture of a horse boot in order to get that hilarious image out of my head! LOL

  2. Good for Kate! She's gaining confidence with each ride. It always seems, both with dogs and with horses, that some are followers and some are leaders. It's great to be able to fit into either role comfortably.