We both shed a layer before setting out under a blue sky for what we hoped would be a nice, long ride. We haven't ridden up here since last spring, and were surprised to see the new layer of rocky gravel (big round rocks more than gravel, really) on the 1 1/4 mile access road we use to reach the lovely ATV/snowmobile trails. The horses, even in their boots, did NOT like the footing and wanted to walk along the very edge. Most of the length of the road we were paralleling a *very* fresh set of moose tracks - so fresh that I think we must have pushed it out when we pulled in to park, not that we saw/heard anything. I was surprised to learn that Gesa has never seen a moose, despite living in northern Minnesota for some years now. I will have to do my best to remedy that situation - I love to see moose!
|The footing they didn't like.|
Once we hit good footing, the horses were fresh and eager, and we settled in to a nice forward trot, cruising along beneath the pines and thoroughly enjoying the ride. The frogs were singing madly (they are so loud, I always expect to *see* something for all that volume!) at the beaver-dammed pond, which has taken over a little bit of the trail - just enough for Kelso to cool off and the horses to have a drink. We continued on through the logging area, then turned around rather than complete the loop with gravel roads. We get enough road riding at home and felt like sticking to trails for this ride. That turned out to be a good choice, as Paco stepped on the gaiter of his right front boot shortly after we turned around, ripping it to shreds and causing the boot to come off. Gesa noticed right away, so we didn't lose the boot permanently, but Paco had to go boot-less the rest of the ride.
|Our magical piney trail!|
We thought we might go check out the Cloquet River - it's been so dry, perhaps it would be ford-able and we could go ride the ups and downs of the rolling hills in the clear cut area. Perched on top of the steep drop to the river, though, and considering, we decided not to chance it and turned around.
|Overlooking the Cloquet River.|
Heading back, we decided to explore a trail heading off to the left which we'd never ridden before. I love to explore! It started out wide and lovely, with excellent footing, as most of the rest of the trails in this area are, but soon became a trickle of trail through a lovely portion of forest above the river and we couldn't help ourselves but keep following it, ducking and weaving our way through the trees and brush. We lost heart at one point, considering turning around, but figured if the ATVs were using it, albeit infrequently, it had to go (or come from) somewhere. And we hadn't met an impassable obstacle yet, so onward we forged. Only moments later, we popped out onto the trail to the river! Oh - so that's where we are!
|Brave Paco leading the adventure - checking out new trail.|
The horses were totally cooled out and their sweaty, hairy coats were dry by the time we got back to the trailer, 2 1/2 hours and 11 1/2 miles later. Poor Berlin was barking to get out, but otherwise our parking spot was peaceful. We so rarely see anyone else out here that we do think of it as our "secret" place. We were basking in the warm sunshine and the pleasant tiredness after a good ride, so out came the lawn chairs and the cooler, and we sat down to enjoy snacks and beverages in the early evening light. I'll admit, we lost track of time in our conversation and post-ride relaxation, and it was 7 pm before we were loaded up to head home! Daylight savings time is a wonderful thing, but I had a lecture to write for Monday morning's 8 am class, and it would be at least 8:30 before I got home... oops!
|Berlin begging for carrot.|