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November 2, 2017: Bushwacking

I’m the sort of rider who is happiest when she has a nice trail to ride, which is one that is flat, hard packed, on unquestionable terrain. My best ride ever was in Farragut State Park, in Idaho. They have 20 miles of freshly mown trails that make their way through forested areas and up and down gently rolling hills. Pete and I rode there in 2013, when we were on our second trip. We cantered a good portion of the way. By then, Signy and Raudi, our two remaining horses, were in excellent condition.

Here we have none of that. Our trails are uneven, boggy, have roots and stumps. And there are swampy areas. I suppose that this has made me a better and more fearless trail rider. But if I had my druthers, I’d live on the edge of Farragut State Park.

I am not a big fan of bushwacking – Pete enjoys this more than I do. My sole purpose in going off the beaten path is get onto another beaten path. This is what I did today. I took Tinni out and we rode Pat and Ray’s trail up to Raudi’s Bridge. I figured that since it was there, may as well use it. I was alone, so I walked Tinni across. We then headed uphill. I rode him about a quarter-mile and then got off and walked. I figured that my hitting a bog first would be far better than his hitting a bog first.

It was getting late, most likely a little after 4 p.m. I was keeping my eye on the sun, which was starting to set low in the sky. It was below the cloud line. Rather than turn around a few hundred yards into it, I instead kept going. We stumbled across a moose hide, way out there. I wondered how the hunter got the moose meat out.

There came (I thought) a point of no return – I was prepared to keep going, turn left at a bench-like ridge, head downhill, and return to Jim’s Road. I soon came to a wet swampy area, and that put an end to that. I was wearing running shoes and had nothing with me other than a lead rope. I had no phone, no headlight, no water – in other words, I was unequipped for staying out after dark.

It was dusky when I did finally turn back. I headed downhill, hit a swampy area. Headed to the right, kept going, came to a gully. I would not have been able to get Tinni across it. I went right for a while longer than realized that if I was to cross the swamp at the bottom of the gully that I’d need to go to the left. I didn’t want to do this, but I did it – by now I was a little concerned. The thought crossed my mind that if I didn’t find the bridge before dark, I’d have to end up staying put until tomorrow morning. Not a pleasant thought.

I wound my way downhill, avoiding the swampiest of the swampy areas. I finally came to the bridge and celebrated by giving Ryder and Tinni treats. After all, these two were the ones who had remained the most level headed.

An uneventful ride the rest of the way home. I learned my lesson. I am going to start leaving a note for Pete on his school days, saying where I’m going. And I’m going to take a cellphone, hoof pick, headlight, water, and snacks with me. Nope, I am no longer going to leave anything to chance.

A great ride nevertheless. After, took Tyra for a romp in the woods and Hrimmi for a walk around the loop. Once again, all I could think was – what great horses they all are. And Ryder is a great dog.

Next: 304. 11/3/17: At Loose Ends, Again

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