As a graduation gift from my Mom, I got a GPS; something I was saving to purchase this summer so we could ‘track’ the trails across from us in Roosevelt National Forest. I finally figured out how to use it well enough (I thought) to try tracking with it, so Bill and I saddled up Jesse and Ranger, headed out and started wandering around the local trails.
We were only out about 20 minutes when we spotted 3 young deer just off the main trail, who thoughtfully watched us ride by. Love being on horseback so the animals don’t spook and run away!
We thought we would first just follow Trail 932, as it was the only marked trail, but we sort of got carried away, wandering off to the beaver ponds.
After circling them, we decided to have lunch at the confluence of Rock Creek and Fox Creek, which also happens to be at the base of the goat trail.
On our way along that very heavily overgrown trail along Rock Creek, we spotted a herd of 10 Rocky Mt. Big Horn Sheep on the side of the cliff, watching us. They weren’t bothered by our passing and Jesse was quite interested in what they were.
I’m sure glad we ride barefoot ‘mountain goats’, because these particular trails are really rough and overgrown from last year.
After lunch by the waterfall, we decided to go on over the goat trail, a real workout for horses and riders alike, climbing boulders and scrambling up steep sections. While crossing the creek confluence, we were ducking low trees at the same time as our horses were picking their way through and over downed limbs in the water! I started laughing as I remembered an article I just read in a horse magazine about teaching your horse to step over logs while trail riding. I told Bill we had forgotten to do that lesson before we started and he said that was OK because these logs were under water. No pictures of this; our hands were too busy hanging onto mane and controlling reins, plus Jesse really likes to off-road on sections of this trail. She will choose rock over shale on the trail every time, so I am glad she is barefoot so I don’t have to worry about slippery metal shoes on the rock slopes. This horse will caterpillar up or through almost anything; Bill calls her the bulldozer!
Enlarge this picture. The spot of water you see towards the upper left quadrant is the beaver pond we rode through. On the other side, at the base of this cliff face we are on top of, is the waterfall we were just at, probably 500 ft. below us. The trail up is just off the picture on the bottom left.
The trail to the picnic area was also very overgrown and a lot of ducking and dodging was in order, but riding along Fox Creek is so pretty, it’s worth the extra effort.
After coming out of that area and passing by the regular Fox Creek crossing, we spotted the fattest Marmot next to the trail. It was a great day for wildlife. He scooted under a bush before I could get the camera turned on.
We continued to the farthest west end of the trail and headed up to the little lake, where we couldn’t resist a nap. Just so happens we had brought our picnic blanket along and the horses picked a really nice spot right next to the lake, nestled in the aspen grove there. They had a great snack and we got sunburned! I guess when you fall asleep, you should make sure the shade from the trees will still be in that spot an hour later.
I had turned off the GPS while napping, to save battery power, then turned it back on when we started riding again. I had also done this while we ate lunch. After uploading the tracking to my computer, I discovered that it worked great the first time, but not the second. I did it the same way both times, but the GPS had added a really different route to our path, then picked it back up again correctly, so I think it added a couple of miles to our trip. My guess is that when I turned it back on after an hour, it picked up a different satellite and the coordinates were slightly different until we got back to the same spot…unless of course, the horses stole it off my hip and went for a walk-about while we were napping. I just can’t see them leaving that luscious grass to do that, though.
Anyway, after I found a good stump to mount from (stiffened up immensely laying on the ground), we finished the loop around the little lake, and went back down the same trail, after Bill had rolled up some downed barbed wire crossing one of the other trails.
We then re-crossed Fox Creek on the west end, headed up Pinkie’s gulch trail, down to the meadow and back across to Trail 932 again.
Umm, I guess we sort of followed it for a while longer, then veered off on another tangent toward Alpine Mt. Ranch and finally home. We were gone 6 hours (one of which was sleeping) and covered more than 8 miles on some very steep and tangled stuff. The horses did great and I sure hope they weren’t as sore as we were the next day! We didn’t win any endurance ride stuff but I would challenge any horse to follow our course. It would make a great trail challenge course.