Monday, September 11, 2006

The Raven Rides Again

Monday September 11 2006

Another 100 miles for the Raven! Riding in my saddlebags on the 2-day Patriot’s Day ride in the northern Eastern Sierra mountains near Greenville, CA.

Patriot’s Day, we were reminded, was to honor those who lost their lives on September 11, and to honor patriots – patriots who speak out for and against their government, patriots who SPEAK OUT. Exercise your democratic rights, the ones we all have no matter your opinion. The ride also raised money for the Veterans Guest House in Reno, NV, which provides a home-away-from-home for families of veterans receiving medical care at the VA Hospital. A great idea, no?

Cold mornings, cool days (well, the second one came rather close to whiney-hot for me), climbing up and up logging roads (therefore, back down, down) scattered with lots of bear poop, through beautiful forests (well, where it wasn’t clear cut) of douglas firs, ponderosas, cedars, sugar pines, white firs, oak, with rays of sunlight streaming through the dust and leaves. I just knew for sure some of that was good spotted owl habitat, something I just know can’t be very popular in that area of logging communities! Great views from 6500’ over the surrounding valleys and big Lake Almanor. We passed a pretty reservoir in a meadow, a horse-eating waterfall, a great snack stop where the volunteer served the horses hay and humans cool thirst-quenching home-made lemonade and fruit.

Ride camp was a lovely private children’s summer camp, with complete horse facilities, dinners, big camping area, dining/meeting cabin, a ropes/climbing course, and a mini-petting zoo (they had a pig!).

Ride manager Kassandra led the group of riders out each morning on her patriotic horse - mane braided with red white and blue ribbons. Vet checks/lunch stops had plenty of food for the horses and treats for us humans. Awaiting us all after our days of riding: hoses to cool the horses (and real green grass to eat!), and showers!! And a swimming pool!!!!! Of course, the water was way too cold for me, but Gretchen enjoyed it so much she was hoping Raffiq would buck her off into the pool as we rode by it several times each day.

Gretchen and Jackie and I bombed right along the trail the first day. Day 2 we were all a bit more tired and slowed down. But that petite Fadrica I rode is a strong little thing – maybe 14.2 hands, and even small front to back so that she seems to have a smaller center of gravity to balance over. Meaning, I used my legs a lot to really hold my balance centered, and I felt it by the morning of day 2!

Alas, it was only 2 days of riding – would have been awesome to be a 4 or 5-day ride. (You’re also totally not-sore by the end of 4 or 5 days). It was a great time anyway, good riding, good horses, good time.

The Raven always has a good time, rain or shine, dust or wind, heat or cold. He’s got over 2000 endurance miles now. Maybe I should get him an AERC number…

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