A windy day and a winding trail around the edge of Lake Cachuma in the mountains above Santa Barbara. Shown here, looking toward the coastal mountain range at Arrowhead Island.
A 3 hour ride covering 6.5 miles, wind and spirits high, warm sun and beautiful landscape. A trail I had not ridden in several years, splendid views and relaxing riding.
We have our access passes,
we are tacked up and ready, and the trail begins at this gate.
Every week we ride here the water level recedes. Soon it will be underground again until the next rain.
For now Tobe Mule can still get a cool drink before setting off on our adventure.
Just for variety, today we chose the chalk hill short cut.
Then we are tempted by a choice of different trails to explore.
We opt to head out to the Bee Hole Corral and then across the valley, with a goal of seeing the trail that winds around the edge of the lake. This lightning-blasted tree is just a shell now, graffitied with woodpecker holes.
Out across the valley floor we go, and it is remarkable how much more dried the grass is in just one more hot spring week.
The high wind was moving it around us like waves in the sea.
The blasted signs are tempting but hardly informative.
We wind back and forth, going up and down canyons and then up to elevations with lake views.
The lake is man-made and dates from 1956. It serves as the reservoir for the drinking water for the City of Santa Barbara, and is just half an hour above the city. To be able to drive up here and go for a stroll with friends on companionable equines is splendid, and the lake adds so much to the experience as it reveals itself in stages.
Just a few years ago in a drought phase this was all a mud expanse all the way out to Arrowhead Island. Now it is a real treat to see the sparkling water once again.
There are sight-seeing and fishing boats in the water, looking for eagles or hoping for a catch. I remember coming here as a little girl with my adopted father and catching crappie fish so tiny but so exciting on a Zebco reel. It seemed like Harley's goal was to get himself tangled up in the line and then sit back in the boat and enjoy the floating, while I caught our dinner. I think I loved most saying the naughty word crappy.
I know, many people like lush forests, but for me, this is MY landscape. To be able to travel through fragrant coastal sagebrush and look up and see the very bones of the land in the heights, centauring along on my sturdy mule. Not a bad way to sit out a pandemic.
Taking an iPhone panoramic on the back of a mule isn't easy!
Fortunately Tobe is a very indulgent creature, and knows he has a part to play in our blog, and holds his ears just right as I do the "photo ops."
Mules don't know or care about civil unrest, they don't pay attention to political parties, even though one does have as their symbol their half-relative the donkey. Mules are in the moment.
And I will acknowledge that our trail rides hold a rich buffet for him, much more of interest than any views. This yucca in full bloom could have provided delicious blossoms, but better to leave it for all to admire.
As I typed that a friggin' tick fell out of my hair onto the keyboard.
That's one small problem with going out into the woods.
Fortunately he had not yet begun to feed ..... and I guess I could have taken his photo before I squashed him, but NO. Just NO.
every tiny itch in my hair will have me scratching
like one of my Irish Wolfhounds with fleas.
Now, where were we.
The next thing that happened was the massive dead tree blocking the trail.
Here we are, at a conundrum.
And I include this photo because the view of Woody's big white quarter horse butt
is the sort of photo you'd see if you look at most trail riding blogs.
"If you're not the lead horse, the view never changes."
Woody says "Hey Tobe, what are we going to do now?"
We sauntered over to assess the situation.
There was a diversion that involved an extremely steep drop that the Charros among us went down no problema,
but Tobe and I looked at it, he balked, and I let him.
I called it, it just didn't seem like a day on which I needed to prove I could catapult down an incline like that.
So that was OK with everyone, we turned around and started back.
And as everyone who rides knows, nothing puts a spring in an equine's step like turning back toward the trailhead.
Back into the valley, following the yellow grass road.
But wait, we are not alone!
Rigo went off into the tall grass, off the trail, and next thing we knew a little group of does and fauns started darting across the road.
Can't take that guy anywhere. If he isn't at a rodeo chasing cows he'll make do with whatever is available.
So I guess that means it is time to introduce the cast of characters for the ride.
Rigo on his mare Mariposa.
and Noë on Rigo's horse Hurache. Usually on a ride Noë is a puff of trail dust way ahead, and this photo seemed a better representation of the energy than one standing posed.
Jamie on her solid citizen Woody.
Eric on his well behaved Renegade
Eric's wife Michelle riding with us for the first time, on Maximus
And last Tobe Mule and I.
And then off we went
back down the chalk hill
Back through the flowers and grasses
Back across the river
and settled in under an oak tree by the rigs for picnic lunch.
No animals got spooked, no one fell off, and a good time was had by all.
DEUS NOBIS HAEC OTIA FECIT
"God has granted us this respite."
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