Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Gesa & I planned to ride together this morning, as our schedules coincided, and the weather & footing conditions would determine venue & type of ride.  So, when she arrived with Paco in tow, I proposed a quick trailer ride over to the snowmobile trail so we could put some miles on.  She was very skeptical that the footing would be good, but I had the ace in my pocket of having ridden out to the "closed" portion of a local road yesterday - it is frequently traversed by snowmobiles though it is not a groomed trail.  It was in fabulous condition and Rhio & I were able to trot/canter the whole length of the snow-covered portion of the road.  She tried to talk me out of it, but I prevailed - and boy were we happy we'd made that decision! It was not icy, but rather slightly too slushy/soft in a few spots and worn down to mud in several areas.  Overall, though, it was great footing for horses and we merrily trotted and cantered along enjoying the day.
Miles of open trail stretching ahead of us - the only thing limiting our ride is time and energy.  This feels like a real luxury to me because this trail crosses numerous swampy/boggy areas, as all our local snowmobile trails do, and the length of our rides here in the summer are correspondingly shortened. In the winter, when all is frozen, we have access to all of it!  This trail in particular is great because it is very hilly; I can tell Rhio is out of shape because he wanted to canter up the hills instead of trot.  
I should be completely truthful here, and mention the fact that it rained (yes, you read that correctly - I said rained) the entire ride.  March 17th, it was 43 degrees and raining, and we did 10 miles of the snowmobile trail, with happiness exuding out our pores & those of our horses (or was that sweat? hard to tell because we were all drenched with the steady light rain by the time we returned to the trailer).  For whatever reason, Gesa & I seem to have a proclivity for rainy rides.  Mind you, this is not our intent - we would prefer to ride on a sunny, calm, lovely weather day, of course.  But we are distance riders!  Once I'm in the saddle, and especially if I have the opportunity to be out on a trail & not just riding at home, there's not much in the weather department that's going to stop me.

It does help to be properly attired for whatever inclement weather is being offered up. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my lightly insulated gloves are indeed waterproof, and I was riding in my muck boots anyway because they're a little warmer than my Blundstones, so my extremities were toasty & dry.  I had my polarfleece beanie (completion award from our 50 miler last Oct) under my helmet, so my head stayed warm.  My jacket was water-resistant, and held up pretty well since we weren't getting drenched, but I was glad to have a polarfleece layer on beneath it.  I wore my Kerrits Windpro insulated winter tights, which shed rain for a while and are also polarfleece lined.  By the time we returned to the trailer, my legs were cold and if we slowed to a walk, I started to feel the chill creeping in - but, really, for not actually planning to be riding in the rain, I was pretty pleased!  I had also thrown a light polarfleece rump rug on Rhio, and was glad of that decision as well.  The boys were steaming pretty good when we stopped!

We saw two particularly interesting wildlife-related things, one of which I snapped a photo of & one of which I didn't.  The one I didn't get a shot of was a large dead pine that had been extensively remodeled by a woodpecker (or several), so that it looked like the beginnings of a totem pole.  The excavated tree bits littered the snow around the tree in quite an impressive circle.  I have been noting a lot of activity from Pileated woodpeckers recently; I hear them calling a lot and see them flying around.  I presume it is the beginning of mating/nesting season for these native, year-round residents and that one had an enthusiastic plan for this particular dead tree.

See the next photo for the one I did get a picture of:
Moose poo!  Pretty fresh looking, too :) 
There is a very small window of opportunity to ride the snowmobile trails in the spring.  Try to go too early and you run the risk of encounters with the snow machines.  Try to go too late and the poor horses will be slogging through fetlock-deep slush or mud or some nasty combination of the two.  Most years I get one day of perfect snowmobile trail riding - this year I've already had two days!


  1. Glad to know the polar fleece beanie worked as intended. :>)Got Queen on the trail for the first time since Pt. Chaser this weekend, and we walked a lot. We trotted some and she was very happy to move. But the trails down here were in similar condition and could have moved out faster, but are re-habbing. Theresa

  2. Theresa, I LOVE that beanie!!!! I've been warm all winter with it under my helmet :) Glad to hear you're starting to get out, too - it feels like it's been a particularly long winter this year, probably because we've had snow on the ground since October. Are you re-habbing Queen??? Or you? Hope whomever is recovering is doing so well & rapidly :) I'd love to ride the 50 with you again at Run for the Border!