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A Ride to the Top of the World

October 2, 2011

I am well-trained by my horses.  This morning I woke up early to get some writing done on Pacheco Falls.  I do this every morning, but today I wanted a chance to have a cup of hot coffee before I went outside to feed.  I saw them out in the pasture, not even looking over.  Oh so quietly, I padded into the kitchen to flip the coffee maker switch.  While still undetected, I crept below the kitchen’s line of vision to reach the fridge for the cream.  The coffee brewed.  I did it.  They didn’t see me. I relished the steaming coffee, my little dog at my side (Tim is gone again, boo hoo).  Thirty minutes later, ready for my second cup, the girls were waiting patiently at the fence.  I knew that Two Feathers was going to work hard for me later, I just didn’t know how hard.

Two Feathers, ready to go

My neighbor Sally and I had planned a ride up Burnt Aspen, a steep climb with loads of switchbacks that takes you up to a grassy saddle with a fabulous view.  We already did this ride with a group earlier this summer, but this time, with our horses in great condition, we wanted to move out with some trotting.  We arrived and parked, basking in the glorious sight of changing leaves and majestic mountains all around us.  The canyon back in Kane is stunning.  As we saddled, uur dogs played, yes even Zephyr.  We warmed the horses up with a half mile of walking and then took off at the trot.  Soon we began to climb, slowed our gait and the horses hunkered down to work.  When we reached the fork in the trail, we decided to explore the way we didn’t know.  This was the beginning of our true adventure.

We followed along a babbling creek, through forest and meadow, past wide creek beds, and  along a narrow trail that crumbled away.  We climbed and climbed until the trail petered out at the foot of an enormous bowl that offered two choices for a sure view.  We studied each route. They both looked like elk trails, possibly sketchy, but also possibly doable.  We chose to go right, because it looked a bit closer.  As we

At the top, Devil's Bedstead in the backgroung

made our way along a faint game trail etched into some fine loose shale, Two Feathers lost her footing and began to slide down the draw.  She couldn’t quite figure out how to hold herself steady.  Once she was able to stop, I dismounted on trembling legs and immediately understood her problem.  I sunk my boots into the rock with each step and attempted to lead her back up to the trail.  She turned this way and that, but we made it.  We followed Sally and Jade (her bay mare that is almost Two Feather’s twin) until we came to a tricky, steep wash. I stayed back until Jade made the manuever.  Then it was our turn, but Two Feathers was afraid.  She scrambled and she fell to her knees twice.  We made a another attempt, but I couldn’t get in front of her and she went down on her belly.  When she got back to her feet, we paused and regrouped.  I stroked her neck and she calmed.  Sally tied Jade to a bush and came to help.  I tossed my lead up to Sally, so she could let Two Feathers make the jump.  It worked.

The climb was not yet over.  We reached a flatter area and remounted.  Meanwhile, Zephyr took off in full howl, the one that says I’ve found some game.  We wished the trees weren’t so thick, so we could see what she found. We decided on a final destination and soon the top was in sight, but not before another steep rocky section.  I dismounted again and led Two Feathers up the final ascent.  Sally rode to the top.  “How is it,” I asked from below.  We had no idea where we really were.  “I’m not going to say anything,” she said. “You have to see for yourself.”  I peered over the top and gulped.  We were looking just about eye to eye to the Devil’s Bedstead.  It is the closest to this massive  piece of rock that either of has ever been.  We could see the entire Kane Canyon, the mountains beyond.  We could see Mt. Borah and the Three Sisters to the east.  After drinking in the view, we found a sheltered place to tie up and have lunch.  The hot green tea my horse toted up for us was perfect.  I tried not to focus on my fear about how we would get off this mountain. Soon it was time to descend.  Our trusty dogs seemed to find the best route.  We both led our horses and picked our way down.  Two Feathers stayed right behind me.  She didn’t rush, didn’t push.  When we reached the tricky part, we found a better way down.  Soon we were at the bottom of the bowl, all smiles.  The rest of the trip back to the trailer was magical.  It was obvious that Two Feathers was a different horse.  She had more confidence on the downhills, she was attentive to my subtle requests, she seemed elated.  What surprised me the most, was how much energy she had.  We slow trotted some of the flats, on narrow soft trails, our horses moving with swishing tails on loose reins.  Our dogs scouted ahead, frequently dipping in the abundant water.  Once back at the trailer, the horses relaxed as we unsaddled.  They loaded up without hesitation.  As we drove the 10 miles back home, Sally and I knew we had better horses than we did in the morning.

Lunch at the top

Zephyr and Montana


Sally, Jade and Montana


Kane Canyon


Tired Zephyr back at home


Cooling off in the horse trough

4 Comments leave one →
  1. helen permalink
    October 2, 2011 5:34 pm

    What a great day you all had! It amazes me how much undiscovered wonder you continually seem to find within your back yard.

    • October 3, 2011 1:32 pm

      Just scratching the surface, really. There is so much open space out there. I’m heading off for another aventure this morning. Love you!

  2. October 2, 2011 6:17 pm

    Not that it matters, but I’m looking at all that loose shale. It sets me to wondering if John Wayne might have come to your rescue should Two Feathers suffer permanent ‘horse damage’ from a fall.

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