Bill and Juanita, owners of Allenspark Lodge B&B, are living their dream...

running a successful business and riding as often as possible.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

GRV - Catalina State Park

October 17: Day 5
We’ve left Bucky’s about 7:30 am, after telling Andrea and their son, Jake, good-bye on their way to school. We are headed for Catalina State Park, 10 miles north of Tucson, AZ. We heard about this park from Carol Crisp ( who helped write “Riding Colorado”, books about riding the different trail networks in Colorado. She had stopped at the Lodge, looking for the Allenspark Trailhead a couple of weeks before we headed out. She said she and her husband wintered in Tucson so I asked about trails there and she told us about this park. She said it had really good horse camping facilities and one of the best trails she knew. I looked it up online and it did look nice, and was priced right.

We found the Park about 10:30 am and it was a really nice area. We paid $15 dollars and the horse area had 8 pipe corrals with running water, a manure disposal area complete with wheelbarrow and fork, and a newly built, concrete and solar outhouse. In the car camping area next door, they had a shower house with lots of hot water.

We got there and didn’t see any designated camp sites, so we parked and talked to the only other camper there, who was parked right next to the pipe corrals. He said they were packing up to leave and we could have their spot if we didn’t mind waiting for about an hour. What great luck. We put the horses in one of the spare corrals and talked with the couple while they packed up. They gave us lots of information about the area; they had been there 4 days. They lived in southern AZ, but were retired so they came up to the park a lot during the week when nobody was around. They were leaving because it was going to get busy according to them. She rode her horse and he rode his mountain bike. Quite a combination.

They had two dogs with them and a really nice horse trailer with full living quarters. He had made a dog run to fit under the awning from aluminum rails and orange snow fencing. The panels were even lighter than our PVC pipe panels. He could lift them to the top of the horse trailer with ease. Then they rolled up their outdoor carpet, tucked it into the trailer, loaded horse and bike and pulled out. We hadpulled into the slot and started unloading when several other vehicles started pulling in; some to camp and some to day-ride. We took the corral with the shade tree since we were willing to put all 3 horses in the same pen. I couldn’t believe how everyone thought they had to have one pen per horse, even the ones showing up with 2 horses in the same trailer! This meant some people had to leave their horses tied to their trailer.

Four different trailers showed up that turned out to be women friends camping and riding together for the weekend. One of them said she had gotten up at 2:00 am to leave by 3:30 with her husband to get dropped off here. It took them 8 hrs from their home in southern CA. He dropped her, the trailer and 2 horses off and headed for a men’s retreat in Socorro, NM. She said it was her first time at this camp; she usually stayed at a Paso Fino Ranch north of there, while he was at the retreat. Later her friends showed up. While she was waiting on her friends to setup, a trainer pulled up with 4 horses and a partner rider. They threw 2 of the horses into the 2 corrals next to ours and I thought we were going to have issues. The horses were really big Hanoverians and one was not particularly well behaved. Luckily they put her farthest away, but she was obviously a dominant mare and sensed Jesse right away, if the squealing and pawing meant anything. Then the two trainers just got on the other two horses and rode off, not saying when they would be back.

By that time we were settled and decided to go for a ride. We found the 50 Year Trail we had heard about and headed out. Bill and Ranger were towing Jesse and I was on Washoe. Jess was still pretty wound up about the other mare, and although she was behaving well, I didn’t want to chance another spill on my sore shoulder. All the horses took to the trail nicely and things were going smoothly until Ranger saw his first Saguaro cactus. Good heavens, what is that? It was a really big one, maybe 30 ft. tall, right at the edge of the trail, looking kind of like a very large man with his arms in the air. Bill said they looked a little too organic and threatening. We all figured it would not be a good thing to touch. Ranger was so interested in the Saguaro he almost backed into a cholla. I was laughing; Bill didn’t think it was so funny, being confronted by cactus from front and back, with everything in between covered with sharp rocks and prickly things that do not make for good unscheduled landings. Ranger did collect himself with dignity, snort at “the thing”, and continue on the path giving it as much space as possible. He got pretty good with them but preferred they be at a distance.

I had forgotten the map back at the trailer, so we just guessed at trail crossings and had lots of fun, knowing the horses could get us back if needed. We finally turned around and headed back since we didn’t know how to navigate the loop trail we had intended. By the time we got back, the “trainers” had packed up all their horses and disappeared, leaving dirty corrals behind. I just don’t get how they can be in the business of horses and be so rude as to not clean up after their horses. The other riders said it happened all the time. Maybe because it’s so hot, they figure manure dries up and blows away fast. It seems to be a desert thing.

We dug out the propane stove and had steak for dinner, finishing the evening off by setting up our own theater in the back of the horse trailer. After all the day riders left, we spread out into the pen next to ours, so the horses could at least roll or lay down for the night. They seem to really enjoy the hay cubes we have been feeding them on the trip. We watched/slept through MIB II and had a really good night’s sleep.

1 comment:

  1. Ugh! I hate people like those "trainers" who left a mess behind. They're the kind of people who let their dogs poop all over their neighbor's yards, too! I suppose I could understand if they weren't equipped to clean up after themselves (but a rake fits in a trailer), but the campground provided the clean-up equipment. Ugh!


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