Sunday, January 30, 2011

First Ride!

Last Saturday was beautiful! Temps in the upper forties (F), sunshine and no wind!
But the ride that Pat tried to put together was thwarted by all the things folks (including yours truly) had to catch up on. (And then I blew that plan by taking the girls for their "fitting.") But it looked like Sunday would work for a few folks, so we made tentative plans to meet up in Kittitas--not even knowing for sure where we would head.

The day dawned gray and blustery and only about 39 degrees, and I had some hesitation about the venture...but Hey! The trailer was still hitched, so let's go!

View Larger Map
It's always a bit warmer over Ryegrass Pass and down by the Columbia River, so we headed east from Kittitas, turned south at Vantage, wound along the river past the Wanapum dam to the trailhead known as "Army East"--the eastern end of the section of the John Wayne Trail (set on the old Milwaukee Railroad bed) that runs through the Yakima National Guard Firing Range. From here, the railroad bed gains altitude with a wide sweep through the old town of Doris, then climbs slowly but steadily to the Boyleston Tunnel, where it then drops down to the "Army West" trailhead outside of Kittitas. (I have always been fascinated by railroads--if you are too, you can click on the above map, zoom in, and follow the RR grade from where it crosses the Columbia at Beverly, up over the pass.)
(By the way, see that finger of farmland at the left side of the map? That's where EvenSong Farm is!)

View Larger Map

By the time we got to the parking area, the clouds had cleared and it was pushing 53F!
Pat had expected to ride part of the trail to the west, but instead, seeing as how most of the horses and riders are in winter [lack of] fitness, we instead rode the sandy flats between the road and the river. A couple of intrepid souls even braved the shallows!
Although it wasn't an "official" Kittitas Valley Trail Riders outing, all eight of us that rode are members.
Here we are under the abutment of the trestle that you see in the distance, above.
We found this little "rock hut" at the base of a rock face above the river. Michelle lived right nearby as a kid, and doesn't remember it from then, and the group has ridden in this area many times, and no one remembers seeing it before. But the fact is that the dirt is well-settled between the rocks, and the "lintel" rock over the doorway has cracked due to freezing weather, it seems that it's been here at least a little while. There's another man-made rock structure to the right of the photo, in front of Keith that had fallen in, but we could see two distinct "rooms."

Heading back to the trailhead, we were walking directly into the wind which had now come up. Kate wasn't too happy with this, but she hunkered down and trudged along like a champ.

We were out about two hours, but maybe did only 5-6 miles, 'cause we just poked along.
It was a great first ride of the year, especially considering that it's still January!


  1. Looks great - wish I'd been there!

  2. Neat group and ride!!!
    Didn't that just feel so good!
    I'm glad that I'm not the only one trail rding these days..though it is still blustery and cold at times-at least the ground is not frozen.
    My mare would really love your OPEN terrains!

    Be well!

  3. Your pictures make me think about the Milwaukee Rail Trail ride coming up in April...maybe this year I'll actually *ride* it instead of just working at the vet check!

  4. Sounds like a fun ride! Man, that google map - look at the magic of irrigation!

  5. You have an award over on my blog - no obligation to pass it on unless you feel like it.

  6. It looks like you all had a lot of fun just poking along. Wish we had those nice temps here.

  7. I had my first rides of 2011 this weekend. It was almost 70 degrees on Saturday and 65 on Sunday. I didn't really have time to ride but I didn't care. I was not letting weather like that pass me by!

    That rock hut looks neat. The last picture certainly shows a beautiful setting for a trail ride!

  8. Kate and Grey Horse--I know you're currently buried in snow, but, if I remember right, you were both riding long after I had packed it in for the winter!

    All Horse and Melissa--I've said it before, and I'll say it again--I WISH I had some of your great deciduous trees! If I head west into the Cascades, I can find some evergreens, which is nice, but I love the forest canopy that only leaves can create.

    Funder--Yes, those early folks had great foresight in creating our irrigation systems. We'd be all desert (like Nevada!) without it!

    Aarene--come ahead! Hope we can get together this year.

  9. Funny how 53° can sound so warm this time of year. We were in the low 40s over here on that day. We are supposed to maybe hit 50° this weekend. WooHoooo!

    Glad you had a nice ride and a great group to go with. That's very cool! Isn't it usually windy over in that area? I know it seems the winds always just howling when I drive through Vantage.