July 2, 2017
Wake up. It’s cold. Well, colder than a Texas summer.
Stumble around the tent to find your clothes.
Stuff sleeping bag and pad.
Pack up backpack and saddlebags.
Find the bear bag in the dark.
Feed Makani. Eat oatmeal.
Saddle up, help pack up camp, and help others get ready as well.
That’s the morning routine for the next 28 days.
It’s our second day out on trail
Today our goal was to finish up the 10.5 miles of Segment 2 and then ride 7.0 miles into segment 3 to set up camp near Buffalo Creek. Total mileage: 17.5 miles
The number one thing I was looking forward to was camping by water! On Day One, we had dry camped which I highly do not recommend. From my trail notes:
If I were to do this trail again, I would definitely do higher mileage on the first day to push through both Segment 1 and 2 to make sure that we camped near water. I would never suggest dry camping, unless you are able to carry in water for all the horses.(Read about our very first day on trail)
I hated starting the day knowing we had a few hours of riding before we would come across a place to water our horses. I know everyone felt the same about the situation. I even felt guilty knowing I had water left to drink while we asked our horses to work. But all the horses looked great and felt great.
Now, too much surprise –Segment 2 was actually one of my favorites! The way the lighting hit all of the rocks, casting our shadows a long way that morning as the sun rose – It was beautiful! This is not everyone’s choice of segment on trail knowing it’s the segment that was taken by fire in 1996. It has been left pretty bare which makes riding or hiking on this trail during the day very hot. Yet, to me, the morning was still extremely beautiful.
Riding was pretty uneventful for the day. Makani felt good leading out again. It started off nice and cool, but warmed up very fast especially since there were no trees to offer any shade.
In the middle of Segment 2, we came across a mother and son hiking. Unfortunately, they had not planned accordingly to hike the dry section and made a simple, yet common, mistake of not carrying enough water. They just simply did not realize how much they would need and were worried about making it to the South Platte River trailhead. Without hesitation, our whole group pitched in to share the water we had left. We filled up all of their bottles of water before heading back down the trail. I was very happy knowing that me hiking back down to the river the day before allowed us to help them. It made the extra effort worth it! If I had not hiked down, we may have not had any water left ourselves to be able to share.
The only possible water source after the South Platte River on Segment 2 is a water spigot at a fire station around 10 miles in. When we finally saw the fire station in the distance, we were all very relieved! We took full advantage of the water spigot and want to give a MILLION thanks to the fire station!
After a nice break allowing the horses to drink as much as they wanted, we started off to finish the segment and start the next.
This segment was a hot-spot for mountain bikers! Makani was getting used to seeing so many as they passed by. 99% of the mountain bikers were very kind and respectful to horseback riders!
The terrain in Segment 3 is very nice, and we were thankful (well.. at least I was!) for a tiny rain shower to cool us off in the afternoon. We found a nice place to set up camp near Buffalo Creek.
The sight of backpackers (hikers with HUGE monsters on their backs) can be a quite a – uh – “surprise” to some horses. A backpacker came walking down trail while a few of the horses were grazing. Zeus spooked at the sight of him and started running up the side of a mountain with Dazzle in close pursuit. Yes, horses can still run with hobbles on. The horses were caught, and we made sure to keep a close eye on them and any incoming scary hikers.
I took Makani out to hand graze her in a quiet spot which had some nice grass. Two deer walked up on us while in this small meadow. Beautiful sight to see!
It was quite typical for us to ride 15-20 miles a day and be finished with camp already set up by 2:00pm – just in time for any afternoon thunderstorms to come rolling in.
We would let the horses graze, relax, fix tack mishaps.
Talk. All the simple things.
Sleep. The next day we will repeat.