The first ride of what we all fervently hope will be a good New Year. This is looking West from the La Purisima Mission grounds toward Lompoc and the coastal mountains beyond.
A short ride, a gathering of the MeetUp, not making any mileage goal, just for the symbolism of the good intention to ride frequently in this 2021 year and starting it off right away.
Six lady riders, two mares, four geldings, five horses, one mule, no agenda, no worries.
Paying to park, I had made a point of asking what the State Park rules are here about horse and mule poo in the staging area. The helpful kiosk attendant said it was the State Park rule that it is OK to leave any poo in the horse parking area, but they want us to pick it up if it is in the day-use vehicle lot. Understandable.
But we always abide by the LNT: Leave no Trace protocol, to keep from giving non-riders something to step in and complain about.
So off we went onto the trail, deep sand and chaparral. Because we got intense winter rains just a few days ago this place was chosen for the sandy ground. Trails in the frontcountry mountains might still be boggy clay, but La Purisima has reliably quick drainage and is always passable.
Tobe really outdid himself on last weekend's ride to Gaviota Peak, so we really wanted just a stroll. He started out a bit stiff, but hey, so did I.
Once we got off the lower area where the Mission buildings are located we started to see the expanse of acres the Mission still has within its holdings.
And the trails were quite full of hikers and people with baby strollers and bicycles and dogs. These two lads leashed up their springer pup and chihuahua when they saw us coming, we always appreciate good trail etiquette.
This lovely cactus on the side of the trail presented an opportune backdrop for the archival portraits.
Jamie on Mosca
Maggie on Woody
Pat on Tobe
Susan on Teddy
Deborah on Carbon
And although Elizabeth on Maize started the ride with us she decided we were going too slow, so she wasn't with us for a portrait.
There is a short stretch of trail just off the main central valley that is lined with ancient oaks and follows the 200 year old stone aqueduct system that brought water down to the crops grown in the Mission valley.
The oaks are so timeless, they were here when the Mission padres gathered up as many of the surrounding Chumash Indians as they could and organized them to farm and create an approximation of Spanish civilization.
I see photos of people riding in other parts of the world right now and they are already slogging through deep snow on their equines. Here, in the Land of Climate, the only hint of the season are the deciduous trees in Fall colors.
The eternal views here are the streams of Spanish moss hanging in the oaks. They can be quite spooky on a windy day, but today it was crisp and warm and still, just right for the Mule Trail.
A trail which sometimes presents obstacles. This nitwit let her pit bull strain on the leash and get within 2 feet of Mosca. Typically these people say something like "My pittie just loves horses!" I explain that mules don't love dogs and they'd best take responsibility for keeping their K9 out of the kicking range..
As the afternoon light started to fade we followed the road back to the parking area.
Where we saw this totally James Bond sports car,
now THAT is some horsepower!
Once back in the lot Tobe helped himself to his post-ride bucket of carrots while the humans ate their lunches.
Then it was time to get back to the real world an hour south, after our brief interlude walking in the woods.
And here for those who recently accused the MeetUp of leaving poo at a trailhead..... is proof that we left our parking area as clean as we found it. As we always do. Good citizens all.
Onward into 2021.
My thanks to all the people who choose to join me on these MeetUp rides, without whom I would not be able to have the MuleTrail adventures I do so enjoy.
A New Year beckons !!!
“For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning."
##### PAT FISH #####