Friday, May 03, 2013

Pardee, the Four-Hour Ride

The lady on the paint horse in the distance is Janine, who served as our guide when we rode the Coast to Crest Trail at Pardee Reservoir yesterday.

Pardee is off to the left and a hundred and some feet abruptly down from that track, which is why Janine rode on ahead and only stopped when she was by that tree ahead of her and she could no longer see the steepness of the drop.

At this point in the ride, we were two hours in, and still hadn't reached a spot where we could stop and eat sandwiches. I was already really tired, which is why I'm kind of slumped there, just glad to be resting.

Near my red shoes, there is a bulging saddlebag, stuffed full of ice-packed sandwiches and a couple oranges. On the other side of the horse, the companion saddlebag held semi-frozen bottles of water, and more water, and some chips and vinaigretted lettuce for on the sandwiches. Not to mention some serving utensils and napkins.

When we reached a shaded place with forage for the horses and a flat area for us to stand around gobbling food like we were starving, we'd traveled four miles over gentle hills and one slightly steep hairpin descent. Ideally, we'd have had a place to sit down and linger over a delicious gourmet sandwich (Bernie had baked the rolls from scratch that morning.) But it was not to be. We were too tired, and wanted only to refresh ourselves and get back, knowing we had to retrace the trail all the way home.

Also, the hills around Pardee being prime cattle-grazing land, the dried-up cow patty I stepped on turned out to be only dry about 1/4 inch in, and thus while I ate my sandwich and chips, I was dragging my lovely red sneaker through the grass, keeping moving to avoid the worst of the flies, which were truly grateful to me for breaking through that tough cowpie crust.

Dink was as good as gold all the way, except when we were going uphill, at which times he forgot he's a 23-year-old horse and decided he was Pegasus. I fought him on the way out, but on the way back, was just too tired. I gave in and let him trot, figuring he'd tire himself out. (He never did, which I guess is good, as it shows that he's mended after his very rough winter.)

There were gorgeous late wildflowers up there in the foothills; I recognized monkeyflowers and lupines, but there were many more that I have to research. That I enjoyed immensely. We saw mule deer, and huge wild turkeys. Coolness!

Cathy the Mad Horsewoman took these photos, by the way. This one is me on Dink, pausing on a side cowpath. We'd all just watered our horses and were glad we had only about an hour to go before we got back to the horse staging area. I refused to drop my veil, thinking Cathy would take the hint and NOT take a picture of me.

The veil is worn not out of modesty, but because on one insane outing last summer with Cathy the Mad, we were out longer than we expected to be, and my lips sunburned so badly they blistered. Now I wear a mask when I ride in the sun. Lillian thinks I look like a ninja; Bernie warned me I might be arrested as a potential terrorist. I certainly was a desperado -- desperate to get off that horse and take a cool shower.

Pardee was a great ride, and I would gladly go again ... in the Spring, at the height of wildflowers, or in the Fall, after the first rains. I would not, and will not, make this ride again when it's hot. The forecast for our home was 92 degrees, with a 10 mph breeze. Nice. Up at Pardee, in among the hills, there was no breeze, and I guarantee it was well over 92.

Dink and I are ready for Woodward Reservoir, a lowland ride during which we can actually get in the water and splash.

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