Joining 5 other members of the Santa Ynez Valley Riders, we followed a trail along Figueroa Mountain Road and headed up toward Grass Mountain.
These trails are open to the equestrian and hiking public by reservation, and used by students at the private school for training in cross-country running.
The school is a college prep institution for the children of the elite. Students can participate in horseback riding as well as growing food in a 10 acre garden, in addition to "innovative experiential learning." Their Latin motto translates to "THE STRENGTH OF POWER." More info can be found at www.midland-school.org
On the first part of the trail we walked through lovely oak meadows, with the scent of sage in the chaparral community around us.
The trails are maintained by the Santa Barbara Trails Council that I am proud to do volunteer work for, and we are grateful for their hard work keeping up the trails. I do wordsmithing, editing documents, while others are out with shovel and saw. All helping in the way we can to improve access for the public to the precious beauty of our area trails.
Sometimes that can mean blocking off a dangerous section of the trails and carving out another path. With the drought taking a hard toll on the oak trees this is a constant effort.
We saw a LOT of hikers on the trails, and without exception they were cheerful healthy people who looked like they were having a fine day walking in the woods.
I can't help but feel they secretly harbored a bit of envy when meeting the mighty Tobe Mule and seeing how easily I ascended the slopes on his back. He does all the work.
This man and his dog get my high praise for perfect trail etiquette. Many people have to be asked to pull their dog off the trail when a horse or mule is passing by. But he had his lovely companion trained to sit off trail facing away, so as not to meet the eye of the oncoming equine and appear a threat or challenge.
Good dog! Good owner!
And narrow it did!
But never a problem for the sure footed Kentucky mule. Sometimes a bit unnerving when he seemed wider than the trail, so that my foot appeared to dangle out over the edge and drop-off, but as we say "Worry is a poor counselor" and has no place on a trail ride. You must place faith in your equine.
Vandenberg Space Force Base.
Until, that is, we came across this downed tree that completely blocked the trail.
We made our way around it by descending a steep slope, and I have reported it to the trail angels of the SBTC to have the situation assessed and dealt with. The tree may be cut through, or a new trail created. They will know what to do.
My thanks for him and his four good legs that take me where my insufficient two cannot get me, and for the organizations and people that make my riding safer.