Sunday, October 14, 2007

Connie in Wonderland

Sunday October 14 2007

"Hey, these fall colors look great through my goggles!" Connie's doesn't have sunglasses with her so she's wearing her racetrack goggles, which are tinted red.

On this spectacular fall day, Steph, Connie, Carol and I rode way up Pickett Creek Canyon toward the mountains, doing a bit of exploring on a loop. The first part we had to literally bushwhack our way through the creek in the narrow canyon, where the last two floods (2003 and 2006) tore through the canyon, ripping out some trees, washing out bridges and roads downstream. In fact Connie and I waited with the 4 horses while Steph and Carol sawed and dragged big limbs out of the way so the horses could get through. We still had plenty of close passages to duck under and big logs to step over.

We made our way through the creek bed to where the canyon opened up, rode above the creek bed on the cliffs above the gold mine, then back into the creek bed. Downstream near the town of Oreana (where the creek is dry now) the trees and bushes have already turned bright autumn colors. Up here it must not get quite as cold yet, because they are just now turning: the cottonwood trees yellow, the quail bush orange and red, dried up poison oak a beautiful maroon-red ground cover. Not a good place to get bucked off in the pretty, dead-looking poison oak, because they can still carry the active oil for 5 years, even if dead.

"Wow, these colors look even better without my goggles!"

We climbed out of the creek up onto the flats and cross-countried to Bates Creek road, followed the road back down through Pickett Creek, where a herd of cows were hanging out, on their instinctive annual fall trip down from the mountains. A rancher in Oreana breeds these cows, and every new generation follows their elders down from the mountains when the weather starts to turn.

Discoveries: possible new trails for next year's rides along some new washes and chalk cliffs, an unusual mysteriously positioned and uniquely female-anatomy-shaped rock formation, one big 4-point antler (heavy!) that Jose carried back home in his saddle pad (I always wondered what that short little pocket in the saddle pad was for - too small for a water bottle, but now I know it holds a deer antler just right!). Connie of course brought her Goodie Bag that we all snacked from, including the 4 horses. Rhett and Jose really liked Trader Joe's dried pineapples and strawberries.

Another great ride on a perfect fall day in Owyhee...

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