The day dawned foggy and there looked to be a chance of rain, but knowing that summer heat will soon be upon us we were not deterred from the plan to MeetUp and ride out from Live Oak Camp. The group I rode with did 5 miles in 2 hours, and two of the number were more ambitious and headed off and stayed out for a third hour.
I loaded up Tobe mule and headed up the pass, climbing into dense fog. This curve normally gives a vista of the beautiful valley behind the coastal range, but today it was pea soup.
But Live Oak Camp was not drizzling, just a cooling fog resting above us.
So we all tacked up, mounted up, and set off.
The Santa Ynez river bed has a brief section we needed to wade through, but the masses of rounded stones give evidence to the eons of water drainage that have passed through this valley.
A beautiful sight to look back at the mountains we crossed to get here and see them wreathed in fog, yet we are in a bubble of perfect riding weather.
This slope has always been a favorite of mine, because once I was privileged to watch a bobcat bouncing through the flowers hunting mice. Today the mustard was in full bloom, but we saw no inhabitants.
Almost at the top I stopped to attempt a panoramic. Dang mule flopped his left year and doubled it!
It is from this vantage point that we always get our first glimpse of Lake Cachuma.
Because our route was going to be inland from the lakeshore, this is the only place where we can look at the lake and enjoy it on the horizon.
The trees we are traveling through are known as red oak,
and this gash in a recently cut trunk clearly shows why.
Whether clinging to a hillside or standing sentinel in a flat plateau,
the Live Oak is the most important flora here.
And wherever we ride in this magnificent preserve there are always mountain vistas on the horizon
that hint at what could be explored.
And of course all credit for being my legs and stalwart companion goes to my Kentucky Mule Tobe.
Today he made friends with Danessa, a little Peruvian Paso mare, and they enjoyed keeping up a lively stepping gait together.
But that potential romance was nipped in the bud when her owner and another rider decided they had more wanderlust than the rest of us, and so 2 left for parts unknown and 4 headed back to the trailers.
Back across the valley, that has the feel of the velde, as if a giraffe might be nibbling a tree just out of sight, or a pride of lions be resting beneath a tree.
But nothing more than exotic than cows crossed our path.
Then it was time to descend the chalk hill and head down to the river level, pleased to see the river still flowing in this area near the Camp.
And there are our rigs, safe and sound, waiting to ferry us back to civilization.
And through a splat of welcome rain we drove back to the real world lives we escape when adventuring in this welcoming place.
"The world is full of magic things,
patienty waiting for our senses to grow sharper."
-- W.B. Yeats
####### FIN ### Pat Fish #####