Saturday, July 15, 2006

Seeing Stars on a Moonlight Ride

Saturday July 15 2006

Today we three girls and Gretchen’s horses got dropped off at 8 AM 2 miles from Bodie – a picturesque old mining ghost town, now a State Park; we were headed to Bridgeport on back roads, 20 miles away. It was a gorgeous morning, cool, slight breeze, no traffic. We trotted up the bumpy dirt road into and around Bodie, and headed for a cow trail we knew that would lead us to the Geiger Grade road, an old mining road that still connects Bodie with the old ghost mining town of Aurora.

To get to the cow trail, we had to walk to a gate, past a number of trailers and tents. No way Spice and Raffiq were going to pass those quietly (Buddy probably wouldn’t have minded), so, instead of trying to force them past and getting dumped on my head, I got off, as did Gretchen and Sue. Usually when you get off a horse when he is scared of something, he suddenly calms down, since now you are the one who will get eaten first by the Horse-Eating-Tents (or HE-Willows, Rocks, Chipmunks, etc). Spice and I followed Raffiq, who, since Gretchen would have gotten eaten first, was unconcerned with anything but trying to snitch grass along the way. Same with Spice.

And then – I saw stars. Spice spooked at I have-no-idea-what, suddenly jumped sideways, and when she landed on my left little toe, she used it as a springboard to throw her whole body backwards from the Horse-Eating-Whatever.

“Oh, ouch, fuzzbuckets, you darn silly female horse,” I commented, as I doubled over with my foot in the air. Well, that isn’t exactly what I said, and I didn’t exactly just comment. It was a doozy – I stood there for several minutes, couldn’t even put my foot down, I handed Spice off to Gretchen, and they continued on with the horses to the gate 50 yards away…

Fifty long yards… of course I was going to make it, because what else was I going to do? Our trailer was long gone, and I knew once I got on the horse I would be okay (hadn’t thought about the foot in the stirrup part yet). It was too nice a day not to ride! I put my foot on the ground… but could not put any weight on it for another few minutes. Then I tried, and, oh my, what a moaning groaning whining pathetic soul I was. Tears squeezed out of my eyes, as it felt like knives stabbing my toe, the pain running up my leg to my thigh. I had to stop several times and regroup.

Well anyway I finally made it, and managed to mount up (from the off-side, see why I like horses who accept this?) without too much problem. But then – oh yea, getting the foot in the stirrup. That wasn’t pretty, or fun, for the first hour, especially while trotting. More stabbing pains, grabbing the saddle horn, swallowing a cry, riding without stirrups (too bumpy – my legs aren’t that strong), riding Spice crookedly, with more weight on the right side. But – we couldn’t walk the whole way, we still had 20 miles to go! At least I wasn’t doing 75 miles today (like we were supposed to do today up north, but the ride got cancelled). That might have tested my mettle and my enthusiasm and seriousness for endurance riding.

We wove along the cow trails – minus the cows!! – through fields covered with purple lupines, and white lupine bushes, big as sagebrush, all of it smelling delightfully sweet. There were still snow patches around, and it was still deliciously cool. At about 9500’, we topped a little pass above the Geiger Grade road, and there was the big ¾ moon above and between Bodie Mountain and Potato Peak. “Well, here’s our moonlight ride!” said Sue.

We joined the Geiger Grade road and wound around above beautiful deep canyons (where do they go??) Spice taking a good deal of the lead willingly. After about 7 miles we hit Four Corners – four roads that lead to Bodie, Bridgeport, Aurora, and Masonic, another group of old mining sites and ruins. Turning left to Bridgeport, we had a 7 mile slow descent down Aurora Canyon to Bridgeport – and it got hotter the lower we went. Good thing we’d started at 8 AM! Once the horses reached the outskirts of Bridgeport, the heat didn’t slow them down. They were headed home!

Back home I was kind of dreading prying my shoe off – I sure hoped the little toe wasn’t smashed and bloody. Slipped the shoe off… hooray! No blood, it was only smashed! Smashed pretty good… normally I don’t bruise that easily, but this was already a fat angry purple. “Looks broken to me!” said Gretchen’s husband. Broken, bruised, smashed, makes no difference, it’s going to be sore for a while. You know, it could have been my right toe, since that foot hurts occasionally anyway, but no, now I’ll have two suspect feet. Good thing I have no hard hikes scheduled this week (we do have a 3-day pack trip into the wilderness end of the week!), and at least I don’t have to work till Tuesday. But the main thing is, will I be able to get a shoe on tomorrow so I can ride!?

Notable sightings today: 1 antelope, 1 big fat rattlesnake, big ¾ moon, stars.

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