Sunday, March 24, 2013

Caballo del Sol

This past week we headed out with the folks we usually ride with and joined a bunch of other folks up near Cordes Junction, north of the valley, on a place called Arcosanti, in the photo below,

Arcosanti on the hillside

where a group from the Verde Valley was hosting their annual trailride. This was our first time there, but the ride was in its 21st year.

This ride is fully catered, so Brenda was off duty in the kitchen the whole week, a well deserved vacation. We left home here last Sunday and arrived there in time to get our camp set up and join the group for dinner, corned beef and cabbage, of course as it was St. Paddy’s day.


The camp was alongside the Aqua Fria River although as we have come to learn in this country just because they call it a River doesn’t mean it actually has any water in it. Surprisingly though this one did have sections that actually had water on the surface although in other sections it appeared that the flow was subterranean. There was signs of high water at certain times though as there was driftwood lodged high in the trees along the river bed. Many of the trails we rode followed along this picturesque valley for at least the start or the end of the rides.

Each day we headed out with a different ride leader and roamed across the high desert and down through some pretty creek valleys. Rumour has it that there are some antelope around the country but other than a few deer, a couple of rabbits and of course some horses and cattle we didn’t see a bunch of wildlife. Not surprisingly I guess seeing as how on any given day there was somewhere around 140 riders out and about in the countryside, and not all of them were catnapping along a creek bed.


The weather all week long was pretty good, a little windy, but shirtsleeve weather, although one day those clouds in the picture below did manage to work up one of those 3 inch rains that Arizona is famous for, you know the kind where the rain drops are about 3 inches apart.


Each evening there was music and dancing that went long into the night, well at least till 9:30PM or so before we all headed off to get a good nights sleep so we were ready for the next days adventure.


K & Teresa enjoying a dance in spite of her broken ankle

For those of you who like to pore over some maps here is a shot of our weeks riding, each day in a different colour. All tallied up it amounted to within a whisker of 60 miles of riding this week.

1-Fullscreen capture 3242013 64503 PM

And don’t worry even though I only marked a couple of our lunch spots we enjoy lunch each and every day including one day when the catering folks came out and cooked us up some burgers for lunch along the trail.

It was a great ride, well organized, and the food was unbeatable, well except maybe by Brenda but we’ll let those other 138 folks think they were eating the best.

There was one sad note though, a fellow who I only met briefly on Day one, Cotton Voight, had a heart attack while playing his bass up on the stage. Cotton had enjoyed a great ride earlier in the day and was in great spirits when he was called away from us here.

Cowboys Prayer

Enjoy that great ride Cotton, RIP Cowboy

Twice, you Say!

It has been a while since I sat down and put together an entry here. We have had a few things going on around Dogpound South and I guess the mood never struck me. Not sure what drives the creative juices that start me writing but I guess whatever it is has been subverted by the great weather we have been having. Not that we haven’t had our share of bad, but really, bad down here is kind of like a nice summer day back in that land just north of summer that we call Dogpound North.

Two weeks ago today we had a party here at DPS. Brenda decided since she really had never had a real party for her birthday, and it seemed unlikely that anyone was planning one this year, she would throw her own. She whipped up a myriad of appetizers, invited one and all on Facebook, and danged if a party didn’t happen. We had folks from all over the valley converging on our place, trail riding friends, Canadian friends and just folks we know from the great little community here around Dogpound South.

And the title of this entry, easily explained, last year Brenda celebrated her 50th birthday. So this year she decided to celebrate it again, not uncommon you’d think, lots of folks celebrate their 29th, 39th, and even 49th multiple times, but my girl actually just turned fifty this year so as usual she is unusual. No fear of getting old here, in fact she is welcoming the great years ahead. And when you look like her why wouldn’t you.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

YEEHAW!!!! Back in the Chiricahua`s

Our first time down these trails was just under a year ago and boy oh boy is it great to be back. Last year was Blue`s first mountain technical trip and he really didn`t have the footwork down pat yet, so I was pretty alert to his movements all the way around the circuit. This year he is a new horse and he watches the trail and deals with the footing and I am free to gawk around at the scenery. And trust me there is a lot of gawking to be done on these trails. The photo above is heading along the creek into the Chiricahua National Monument and you can see Wink is a little cavalier with Brenda`s bad knee.

Hey Wink! Watch that knee!

This was also Wink`s first trip through here but for the most part she handled everything like she always does, just like she has been there a thousand times.

The national monument was created in 1924 by Calvin Coolidge with a Presidential Proclamation and I thank Calvin for his foresight. It is a wonderful place and many of the improvements were done by Civilian Conservation Corps enrollees of NM-2-A, Company 828, who were stationed at Chiricahua National Monument from 1934-1940. The men improved the scenic drive, created the hiking trails, and built most of the structures in use today.

Many, but not all, of the trails in the park allowed horseback riders although there are a few guidelines that must be followed. They only allow twenty horses to use the park each day and they would like that to be broken down further into less than 10 head traverse a trail at one time. We numbered 19 riders so we headed in as two groups with about an hour of separation between the two bands.

Beautiful vista's when you can take your eyes off the trail.

As you can imagine I have a lot of pictures of this place and will put a few in singly but the majority will be lumped together as an album. If you hover your cursor over some of the shots you can see my comments about them.

This is a truly spectacular trail which is on every trailriders bucket list, and Brenda and I are hoping to keep checking it off for years to come. I am sure each time you make the journey you find another great vista or neat spot along the way.

Hmmm, not where do we go?

Above Blue is looking over the edge and probably thinking this is a place where we need to watch our step or we will join the angels as I don`t have the wings of Pegasus to carry us on down there.

There are hundreds of steps and miles of ledges cut out of solid rock by the above mentioned CCC, as well as natural slot type canyons between the pinnacles of rock that have been carved out by the wind and water over the eons.


Once we finished the days ride we ran into a little excitement back at our trailers. Two of our local cowboys had brought a couple of borrowed stock trailers in to haul us all from camp to the trailhead, as there is very little parking on site here. When those of us in the first group got back to the trailers the Park Rangers were waiting for us and convinced that we had to be a commercial group. As is usual in these places commercial groups are only allowed to be brought in by approved concessionaires and Ranger Rick? was convinced that we were contravening the rules. He pounced on the fellow who had coordinated the trailers and tried valiantly to get him to confess to numerous crimes. Alas after interviewing a number of our fellow riders he had to go away with his tail between his legs as it appears we were doing nothing wrong and his ticket book would need to stay in his truck after all. Those folks who supplied the trailers were only rewarded by getting to fill their plates at our usual Saturday night potluck. Here is a link to all the shots I took Saturday.

Chiricahua Ride March 2013

Because of the long haul down here from the Phoenix area we decided as a group that we should travel down on Friday, ride the Chiricahua National Monument on Saturday, and then ride up the Pinery Canyon ride to Iron Springs on Sunday. Although this ride had a hard act to follow it was a nice little jaunt just to work the kinks out from the day before.


We did a little riding and a little relaxing,


so that we were ready for a campfire in the evening. The previous nights fire of course had the potluck and a birthday cake for both Katherine whose birthday it was and Brenda’s whose birthday is just around the corner, so Sunday we just had some appetizers and Ken rounded up a “Yukon Candle” for the evenings fire. We even had an impromptu dance demonstration put on by our new friend Darrell Brown.

Pretty colours1-IMG_98671-IMG_9834

That fire and the company of all of our friends sure managed to keep things warm this weekend. A map for those who like that sort of thing, the top trail was in the Chiricahau’s and the bottom one in Pinery Canyon.

1-Fullscreen capture 362013 44512 PM

Now what is up for the future, well we are planning a week long ride in about 10 days so our mounts were off today making sure they had the proper footwear.


And Brenda is having a birthday.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Boulder Creek

Well I have let myself get a little behind on the blog so here is at least an attempt of catching our readers up on our activities. The weekend of the 23rd of February we joined the Glendale Equestrian Club for their ride up Boulder Creek. It was just a day ride but because it was on the far side of Phoenix and “butts in the saddle” was at 9:00AM we decided that it was a good place to head to Friday night and enjoy the evening in the desert.

Visitor in Camp

Although there were a few hunters camped in the same location they like us were early to bed so it was a peaceful night. This fellow made an appearance as we were watching the sunset below while cooking our supper over a nice campfire.

Camp spot at Table Mesa


In the morning the rest of the group started to pull into camp around 7:30AM so we were all saddled and ready to ride on time. We headed down and across the Aqua Fria River and past the crested saguaro below and then up and over the ridge before we dropped down into


Boulder Creek. There was evidence of mining activity in the past and of course the usual detritus from our motorized friends. Why is it that whenever we share a trail with ATV’s or other motorized outfits we always find a wealth of broken bottles and tins strewn along the way. You’d think that if they could haul it all in, it would be easier to haul it out. It weighs less empty. As soon as we leave the two track and get back on single track trails that are only used by hikers, bikers and folks on horseback we seem to leave the garbage behind.

Rant aside it was a beautiful valley with more saguaro’s than we have ever seen with maybe the exception of the area around Usery Mountain Park north of Mesa and this may have been the granddaddy of them all.

Granddaddy of all Saguaro's

There were many creek crossings along the way,


and with Brenda’s fast walking Wink she managed to get out front and in one instance found a spot that was a little deeper than she expected. But with a quick sock wringing and a few minutes of sun at our lunch break she was ready to rock and roll again.


The album below capture some of the trail.

After the ride and a short visit with folks we joined the Modahl`s, the Roger`s, Shannon and her date, whose name escapes me, for dinner at Logan`s Roadhouse back down the road towards Phoenix. The company was stellar the food unmemorable although the wait staff were excellent. Now that catches me up to last weekend and that deserves a separate post so stay tuned for our southern Arizona adventure.