The Serious Endurance Riders were there to ride 25 or 50 mile loops each day.
My Charro Compadres and I were completely happy to do the "Introductory Ride" of 10 miles. Or 9.2 miles. Whatever.
In order to do that, we loaded up our animals in the pre-dawn dark.
Tobe in the MuleBox, and the four horses split into two trailers.
And off we set to drive 110 miles to trail ride 10.
For the people who take this sport seriously I'd think this would be a real issue, they tally up their miles ridden each year and push themselves and their animals to ever greater distances and achievement.
We just went to see a new trail.
Tobe Mule and I looked and looked, but we didn't see any other mule teams.
Ah well, we like horses too.
And off we went.
Endurance rides like this, with 100+ participants on hot blooded Arabians and other competitive horses, require lots of planning and preparation to run smoothly. Hats off to Kathleen Phelps and the other organizers who worked so hard to secure the property permission and to make sure nothing untoward happened during the weekend.
Down the ranch road we went, and entered our first gate to begin our exploration.
Tobe and I know these guys and their horses well, so that made the day all the more special to be spending it in the company of friends.
Almost immediately we started to climb, climb, climb. If you scroll back to the third map at the start of this blog you can see a red elevation record, and see how we headed straight up and out of the valley where the competitors were camped.
Looking toward the West the chaparral and oak woodland is quite different than what we are accustomed to riding in the mountains near Santa Barbara.
But turning up the trail it looks like oak woodlands. Almost manicured, and still holding on to the last green of spring.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, not necessarily in that order.
The trail was really ranch roads, so nothing technical, and probably most frequently traveled by cowboys in pickups.
But easy to imagine the vaqueros who first tended cattle on these vast acres, moving across the land for work as we are now for pleasure.
We came to a nice view with the valley and mountains in the distance so I asked everyone to pose for a souvenir photo.
What a krewe!
And what a day, wending our way through stands of oaks, and coming upon new views.
Now, there WAS a reason I had TWO tracking apps running in my iPhone.
Usually I rely on GaiaGPS to make a nice map of where we went after the fact, unobtrusively humming along in the background communicating with a GPS satellite making the waypoints and map.
But for this ride I tried out RideWithGPS because the organizers had uploaded the Track for "Huasna Day 2 Loop D" and encouraged me to have it in my iPhone as well. And thank goodness I did. Three times our Trail Boss started to lead us off into the wilds, a wrong left instead of a right, and the magic app would bleat out an error sound, insisting we backtrack and get on the correct trail. Without it we might still be stumbling around the 30,000 acres!
Whether vernal pool or watering hole we could not tell, but the trail took us past this body of water.
One last gate that Gabriel dismounted to open and shut for us.
And the nice volunteers were there to check us off as we completed our trek, and compliment us on a ride well done.
And we were ready for a lunch and then load up and head for home.
A professional photographer who lives in the Huasna Valley named Angie Di Pietro took these last photos of us as we headed out, so I will finish up the blog with her wonderful portraits that certainly capture us.
Hasta La Vista, Huasna!
"Happiness is a choice that requires effort at times." - Aeschylus
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