Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sonoran Desert National Monument

This weekend we headed west of Maricopa towards Gila Bend. Much of that stretch of road is bordered by the Sonoran Desert National Monument a piece of Arizona set aside to protect the unique ecosystem of the Sonoran desert from the incursions of the modern world. Further closures have limited the access to non-motorized uses only. Perfect! Scouting around the country though I managed to find a spot where we could get our rigs in and a few miles off the highway. That allowed us to saddle up and head into the wilderness area. Amazing how when the motorized access is restricted there seems to be a lot less garbage and empty beverage containers strewn around the country. It was a beautiful ride without the constant reminder that somebody who couldn’t give a damn for the beautiful surroundings was wandering around the countryside also.

Well enough of that rant and onto the ride. We left our camp in the morning and picked up the old trail across the desert just a little south of our site.


Although the new highway travels a little further south this area has been a highway of sorts for hundreds, and probably thousands of years. It was not hard to envision the Indians and settlers winding their way through the pass or the rattle and thunder of the Butterfield Overland Stage coach as it raced it’s way from St. Louis to San Francisco. Can you imagine bouncing your way over that 2800 mile route in 22 days. Those coaches were on the move night and day stopping only to change teams and grab a bite to eat.


Although we had a lot less ground to cover we also keep on the move except for a brief stop to break some bread with friends.


We covered 21 miles altogether on Saturday riding parts of the Butterfield Stage route and then back through another pass to meet up with the Rock Cairn trail and back down a wash to the flat desert. Once we hit the desert we used that modern GPS technology to run a beeline back to camp as Brenda’s knee was kicking up. That and we had some pretty fine eating to get done once we got unsaddled and got our fire lit. Well actually we had such a great bed of coals from the fire Friday night that tonight's fire started itself once we put the kindling on the pit.


“K” deserved his rest by the fire as he had a big rock to hold out of the way for the rest of us to scramble by as we came down the wash into the desert.

"K" holding the rock up while the rest of us scooted by!

Brenda’s new horse, Wink, had another great test and once again passed with flying colours. She has a couple of things to work on but that just makes it more interesting.


You can follow this link to see the pictures of our Sonoran ride.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Wink Goes to South Mountain

Over the last 8-10 days we have been busy doing what we do best, hmmmm, not sure what that is but the time is sure flying by while we do it. Brenda has been consulting with Taylor McKinney on the decorating of her new room, and doing some shopping and lunching with her. As well as heading in and doing some shopping with some of her local cronies. Lots of laughing and a little shopping I guess. Me, I have been doing the square root of nothing, but have actually accomplished a few things without even meaning to. We got our Irrigation Infrastructure Project completed, nothing to show, it is all underground now, so I was able to hook up all the automatic waterers we have gathered here over the last two years. So fresh clean water for the ponies without the clutter of hoses all over the place.

When we left you last we were looking for a new horse for Brenda and I am happy to announce that “Wink” has now come home to Dogpound South. She is good looking little bay mare from up in that Fort St John, BC country so she knows how good she has it down here in the sunny south.

We have been out to the wash here at Dogpound South with her a few times and have drug Kathy, the owner, along to give us some guidance on her training. That sure has been a great idea and the mysteries of a new horse are all revealed as the riding goes on.

Today we along with our friends Teresa and “K” Rogers headed towards South Mountain Park right smack in the middle of downtown Phoenix to give her a taste of some more technical trails. It is pretty important, on the trails we ride, that a horse is capable of thinking before reacting and you just never know until you take them into the fire. Let me tell you she passed with flying colours. One tight spot Brenda sent her on ahead by herself and she just picked her way through like a cat. She obviously understands that foot placement is pretty important when you are clinging to the side of a steep hill or navigating your way down through slick rock. I think we will keep her.

There are some pretty nice trails up here, not the usual haunts of horses but we managed to pick our way through most of the places although there were a few tight spots that had us searching for work arounds.

Hmmm, don't think we will fit there Boss!

As usual I got a lot of pictures some good and some not so good but if you want to have a look at them follow this Wink Goes to South Mountain link.

Here is a shot of the trail we followed today, and although this park is smack in the middle of town, you see nothing of the city except for a few overlooks.

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And for those who are wondering Willow is getting better each day and we are hoping that with some rest she will be back on the trails in not to long. Not sure what was wrong in the end but I have been putting a sweat on her every second day and either that or just the support it gives seems to be helping her.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Lone Rangers Christmas Ride

We headed out on Friday morning to meet some friends up near Wickenburg. It is the annual Christmas Ride for a group we ride with here in Arizona, the Lone Rangers Single Riders Club, yep strange group for us old married folks to ride with, but we have friends who were members and they invited us along last fall for a ride. Since then we have frequented their rides so often that they have accepted us as pseudo members. These folks love to ride and show us newcomers the trails of Arizona and we love to follow them around. They ride once a month over the winter months and we manage to join them on a majority of their adventures. December is the Christmas ride and this year, as last, they gathered in Wickenburg and rode, ate, and exchanged gifts.


We sat around the fire, shared stories, most of them at least in part true, and a lot of laughs as well as great food. As I have said many times before “we are not part of a riding club, we are an eating club that rides.”

Saturday we rode out under the capable leadership of Dave Modahl and headed towards the “Wheel of Life”. a medicine wheel type of rock art in the desert,

1-DSCF1356I have no idea how this came to be built here in the desert but have no doubt that it was a labour of love and meant a great deal to someone as there is an incredible amount of work that went into it’s construction. On the way out to the Wheel of Life we had to pass a crested saguaro alongside the trail and as usual we got some pictures while we were there including this one of Linda Modahl and her mule Annabelle.


We had lunch at Pete’s Windmill, told a few more stories, then headed back to camp. Brenda and Meg were back in camp as Willow is still lame and we haven’t closed the deal on a replacement yet.



A fellow might not want to slip a little on that trail in the photo above, but Blue is pretty sure footed and getting better and better about watching where he puts those feet.

Here is a map of our ride on Saturday and although it shows some roads on it most of them are only in the mapmakers imagination so don’t try to drive there without a lot of investigation. Our trail is the red one and black trail that joins it is our ride track from last year.

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Sunday morning we were up bright and early and headed back to Dogpound South, had to check on Willow, while the rest of the group headed out on another ride before breaking camp and heading home.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Picket Post Mountain

Last weekend I loaded up Blue and headed out east of Apache Junction to the Picket Post Trailhead where a group of friends who are members of the Copper State Trail Riders were gathering for a couple of days of riding through some beautiful country. Of course as I have said many times we are not really a riding club but an eating club that happens to ride between meals. Brenda didn’t make the trip with us as Willow is still a little lame so Friday night I snuck up on ‘K’ and Teresa’s camp in the dark and helped myself to some green chili chili and some green chili cornbread that Linda brought along. Our good friend Dave Schmidt always says “It’s a damn poor bush ape who can’t feed himself”, I think Dave meant cooking for himself but I have found inviting myself to dinner with others works just as well, and the food tastes better. While we sat around the campfire after the meal the full moon was rising over the ridge to the east.


The next morning while I was cooking breakfast there was a full eclipse of the moon also but it didn’t photograph so well.

Saturday morning we headed off on the Picket Post trail, and Suzi, our leader, had found a great ride and even managed to make it into a loop so that for the most part we didn’t have to re-ride any portion, although on this ride that would have been no sacrifice as it was beautiful both coming and going.

There was a lot of gradual climbing on the way out from camp so the turn around point was high on the mountain SW of Superior, Arizona at a point where you could over look Superior and a little farther along see the whole Valley of the Sun.


The Valley of the Sun and its 3 million odd residents are behind me as I took this picture but the haze kind of made the photo useless.

Sunday we headed out on a ride going the other direction from camp along part of the Arizona Trail. Within a mile or two we had to cross through some concrete culverts underneath Highway 60 and then it was off into the desert.

Another great ride in the opposite direction of Saturdays adventure and seeing new country with every stride.


Yesterdays view point in the picture above was directly under the ‘t’ in Yesterday to give a little perspective of the amount of country we were covering. In total the two days of riding covered about 33 miles so old Blue was pretty happy to hop back in the trailer Sunday night and head back into the Valley for a week of leisure and loafing.

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Here is a map with our two days of riding on it for those who are curious.

This week we have Ray and Paul working around Dogpound South on an irrigation project so it is a world of trenches here. Almost anywhere you go you have to hop a trench to get there. But when it is finished it will be nice as we will be able to supply the horses with fresh water and plant a bunch more trees without having to run hoses every which way around the place. That will make Brenda a happy camper.

Along with the irrigation project we have been visiting with our friends and doing a little looking around for a new project to undertake, hint below, details to follow next week.


This weekend we are headed for the Constellation campground across from the Wickenburg Rodeo grounds to join another group that we ride with for a day in the desert up that way.