Sunday, August 11, 2013

8/11/13 Chilcoot Day 3

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Day 3 of a Jerry Tindell riding clinic
Helmet on, triple bell tassles waving, I am sunblocked and eager to make an early start and climb to the heights.
Tobe likes to set the pace, he has a big stride and an easy gaited walk, and I am always deeply grateful that he is doing the walking and I get to go for the ride.

We kept an eye out for mule deer in the woodlands, pine forest thick with deadfalls and brush.
We left the private property owned by our hosts and headed UP into the much higher areas in the National Forest. The base camp was at 6,200 ft, but the summit we attained was at 7,000 ft.

 Underneath the pines was a charming plant known as "Mule Ears" and here we can compare Tobe's appendages with them.

Someone's keen eyes  saw a pile of bear poop on the trail, and all the horses and mules took a good look and a sniff. From then on we found ourselves encouraged to sing cowboy songs and let the bears know we were passing through.

It was extremely bright at the high altitude, but we'd dip back into the shade of the trees.

Then we turned a corner and there it was, a massive volcanic outcrop that was our destination. Until that moment we'd just been going up and down canyons and the horizon line was not visible.

Then we passed through more sparsely forested areas,
and made the push to the top.

 Once up on top the view was spectacular. This is looking out across dry ranchlands, very few people come to this area.

And that's the high point of my travels. After a break and photo op we carefully came back down, had one last grand meal, and the next morning we all dispersed back to the real world. Except that JT & I took a detour to Reno, Nevada to buy Vaquero tack for Tobe which is now going to be the next big learning curve. We have returned to adventuring!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

8/10/13 Chilcoot Day 2

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Day Two of Jerry Tindell Riding Clinic.

 Once again the day started with a lecture in this cathedral in the pines, with Jerry dispensing wisdom learned from decades of working with both animals and humans. 
He quoted his mentor Ray Hunt saying 
"Observe, remember, and compare."

All of us are here because we want to become more observant, more aware, and in turn to become more at ease with our animals so that we can experience places like this in safety and good company. Every attendee was different, from all walks of life, and all the mules and horses had quite different personalities. So while learning to work with our own animals we also got quite the education watching everyone else work theirs.

We went back out to the meadow, and once again loped around and did circles and had plenty of room to pretend we were herding beeves around in an old episode of Rawhide.

Then our host took us on a long meandering ride through the forest. He has ridden this property for decades, and forgoes following roads in favor of striking out across the wild acres and experiencing the mountain the way people did when they traveled here in past ages. We saw mule deer, listened to birds, and always my careful mule found safe footing for our passage.

Finally we turned back towards camp and were thrilled by the sight of Recon Mountain on the peaks above us, and learned that it was to be our goal to climb to the top of it tomorrow. With the thought of that challenge to inspire us we returned to another sumptuous meal and a bit of campfire conversation, and then everyone tuned in early to rest up and be ready for the big climb.

Friday, August 9, 2013

8/9/2013 Chilcoot Campout Day 1

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Day one of a Jerry Tindell riding clinic in the far reaches of Northern California.

The THRILL of getting back to riding General Tobe in the mountains began with a stop at the

Wiggin's Trading Post that pretty much constitutes all of beautiful downtown Chilcoot, California.
And if we needed worms, this was the place to go. But we didn't. We came to ride.

Followed a map and signs down roads getting smaller and smaller, to a secret hide-away, a family treasure, a camp compound on the edge of the National Forest where our host and hostess have entertained family and friends for many decades.
Tobe got his very own paddock made of pine poles, from which he could observe all the arrivals and the assortment of riders, mules and horses who gathered for the 3 day clinic.

Trail Boss and Trainer Jerry Tindell
started off our sessions with a stern talk about taking responsibility for your own safety as well of that of your stock and those around you.
This was my first time riding back out in the woods after a big wreck last summer, hence this resuming the blog after a long hiatus. 
I was scared, yes, but determined to be a good student, and Tobe and I were all ears.
We went out into a big meadow and starting warming up the animals. It was classic Californio country, pines on the horizon, scrubby grasses underfoot, and room to let the animals really move out and get a sense of rhythm. I was pretty scared, actually, although why I would expect Tobe the Mighty Mule to stumble and fall when mere horses were loping all around us I can't imagine. It took me a long time moving slow to get through some fear of getting hurt again.

Jerry kept whizzing by loping this paint mare, and finally Tobe and I loped too. That's JT in the front, and then that wee creature top right is Tobe and I doing our best to speed up and stay connected. There really never is any question in my mind that Tobe is up to anything I ask of him, and he certainly does it all for Jerry. NOW it is time for me to be back in the saddle, back in control, and back in the splendid dance that riding is.
And here we all are, catching our breaths, in our incredible classroom, survivors and good students, that's me waving hi over on the left.
For the very clever, can you spot the 3 mules?

Next we went for a trail ride and a view of Rabbit Mountain. It is way up on the horizon in the photo on the left, and on the right above is an enlargement of the rock outcropping that looks like a rabbit looking to the right with his ears laying back against his head.
Or maybe it looks like an angry mule pinning his ears?

Then slowly we worked our way back down through the forest, dappled light falling around us, everyone feeling pretty good that 14 animals and their riders from all over the state were getting acquainted and were all meeting with common intent, to learn and improve our riding, and experience the wonders of nature.
And I am happy to say that after a full year away from riding and a lot of angst, surgery, physical therapy and rehabilitation, I am back in the saddle and back in my equestrian path. I am deeply grateful to Jerry Tindell for making such an experience possible, and to the rest of the students who were unfailingly kind and generous and helped me with tacking up or anything else I was a bit clumsy with. This day was a great start to a fine vacation.