Saturday, October 1, 2011

Las Caballeras Ten Miles Gaited 10-1-11

Tobe and I were really enjoying stepping out with the Rocky Mountain horses, their riders were great gals and ole Tobe did his level best to keep up with them. So when they proposed that we do a ten mile route, we were ready. The rest of the group had declared it a "free day" and many went to the Cowgirl Spa to get mani-pedis or went swimming. But I was there to RIDE!

Length: 10 miles
Duration: 3.5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate. Well defined trails and sandy roads, through canyons and along ridge crests with lots of great views.

Altitude gain: 1210 ft 

Grade: II

 We started out with vigor, feeling maybe just a bit smug that we were embarking on an ambitious route when so many of the cowgirls were taking a day off riding.
 The sea was compelling, but far more unique and wonderful was being back out on the trails and experiencing Catalina as it is meant to be seen.
 Distances can be deceiving on the island, because it is actually a quite tiny world but feels vast.
 This is a bridge that washed out in 1995 in a big storm, and has recently been repaired, reopening access to this area.
 The building behind Tobe is the Eagle's Rest, a hunting lodge that was built in the 1920's. The Conservancy just got a large grant from the State of California that will fund a full restoration, making it once again a welcoming hearth for travelers. We sat beneath the trees and ate sack lunches and rested up the animals.
 Then we headed up the Eagle Trail, up to this high vantage from which to look back down the valley we had just climbed.
 The opuntia cactus was heavy with fruit. Tobe does like to snack on the trail but thankfully he never got any cactus spines in his nose.
 The landscape changed and California live oaks made me feel quite at home, so similar to the flora I am used to in the coastal chaparral in Santa Barbara.
 This interesting stile built into a wall speaks of a time when this was part of the Arabian breeding ranch the Wrigleys ran for decades.
 At the ranch the weathered wood of a sorting chute and old painted gates are poignant, once part of a thriving endeavor and now silent and unused.
 A new enterprise has been developed, and this is a vineyard already producing a quality vintage of wine. The island continues to evolve.
And even though Tobe is pretty much a roll in the dust and shake it off kinda guy, we watched as every horse owner seemed to give their pal a daily bath. So today, ok, Tobe got a bath. He looks quite black and stayed this way for just a minute or two, then rolled in the dirt to make the point that he can dry-clean himself just fine, thankyou.