On a pleasant sunny Sunday three MeetUp gal riders met at La Purisima Mission just outside of Lompoc, CA, to go for a short ride.
All of us being mature ladies of a certain age we get the bargain price of $5 to park our rigs and ride whichever of the 25 miles of trails on the mission grounds we choose.
Today as you can see on the map we ambled off to the right of the mission buildings, then straight up the property boundary. Up as far as the base of the mesa, then down through a canyon and back along the central valley.
We were out for 1.5 hours and went 3.12 miles, with an altitude gain of about 300'.
This place is known for being largely sand, which makes it a favorite for riding in wet weather.
It is also used by competitive endurance riders, as going through the sand builds up the muscles on their mounts.
But at the top of the hill I chose to veer over to the slightly less traveled path, through eucalyptus trees and brush.
Easier for the animals, and shaded.
In every trail ride there are moments when the humans are humbled by how much more acute the senses of equines are.
WAY up on the horizon several deer were grazing in the trees.
Tobe will stop and alert by leveling his ears forward with interest, and we mere humans had to squint and look and finally see the deer, who had frozen still as camouflage.
The chaparral was extremely dry, and the trail very poorly maintained. For long stretches we were bashing through overgrown manzanita, toyon and chamise.
But up and up we went, following the sandy track up towards the mesa.
This vineyard has been planted since the last time I rode this trail.
But enough was enough of that hot sun. We stopped for a rest under some trees and I suggested we make a turn to go back toward the starting point.
All the animals, who were doing all the work, were happy to go down a shady canyon.
On some hillsides stands of opuntia cactus stood, filled with ripening fruits.
By this time Tobe was getting pretty thirsty, but what little water there was in the stone ditch was filled with larvae and tadpoles.
There is an eerie sense here on this property of all the lives lost and the culture destroyed. The land holdings once covered 470 square miles.
I think this is the ruin of a kiln.
Then it was time for a picnic lunch for the humans while the animals dried off and rested.
Then Tobe and I could load up in the Suburban and BrenderUp and head for home an hour south.
A successful ride in beautiful country, good companions, steady mounts, and just enough trail time to exercise the animals but not exhaust them. Tobe and I both are just happy to be out and about, and grateful for people and animals to share the experience with us.
“Stand Fast, Stand Firm, Stand Sure, Stand True.”