All in all we traveled 5.6 miles in 3 hours, and the animals and humans were all pleased to be out of the city.
The Santa Ynez River crossing just below the parking lot is usually merely rocks, so any time there is water we like to give the creatures a chance for a drink.
I spoke with the man who keeps the bucking horses on the property and he said he recently caught a hunter who had killed a buck at this spot. The very idea that a man was out here shooting a gun is a distressing report.
The traditional access point for the trails has been a locked gate, and each time anyone wanted to come to trail ride they had to call the Rangers at the Lake and register, and get that day's entry code. Now that has all changed, and with the gate left open all day the hunters are claiming a right of access. Legally there are issues, and signs saying NO HUNTING have been posted, and "the lessee" has been complaining to the Bureau of Reclamation to override the County's changes on access.
Jamie pointed out to me how beautiful the skies were, so I snapped a nice photo for her.
The single best thing is seeing distance.
Being able to look to a horizon and know it is just wild land, no civilization, no people angry about politics or afraid of each other.
Just creatures and nature.
Not that the plant life isn't suffering.
Lots of the trees, some hundreds of years old, are having a very hard time here.
Some places it feels like a ghost forest.
And sometimes it looks like a bone yard.
Trees exploded into a collapsed pile of wood, victim of a lower water table and too much drought time between rains.
Of course Tobe's eyesight being as acute as it is he tells me he's a bit concerned about something in those trees at the far side of the plateau.
Today Noe is riding Mariposa, the most reliable of borrowed horses. She is an Azteca, well trained and willing.
Which we can't always say of Jamie's Mosca, a retired racehorse with a boss mare mind of her own.
As the oaks struggle they drop limbs to try to preserve the core.
The marvelous texture of the ancient oaks' bark.
The stark beauty of the bare branches against the cloudy sky.
And the spooky hanging Spanish moss wafting in the breeze.
Finally there is just one more climb up a hill to get us on the path back to the rigs.
Back to the MuleMobile, and then home.
Another lovely day in the Live Oak Camp trails.
##### PAT FISH #####
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