Saturday, May 24, 2014

A Saturday Hike

I've been hiking every morning to get my exercise, to look for snakes, and to explore new trails to see if they are appropriate places to ride my horses.  I knew that with it being a three day holiday weekend there would be more traffic, so I purposefully hiked on the steepest, narrowest trails surrounded by dense shrubbery, figuring that most people would be on the wide open main trails.  Wrong.  Apparently, everyone else got the same idea that I did.

I walk quietly and listen for animal sounds, careful not to step anywhere until I've looked at the ground where I'm about to place my feet.  Hiking is like mindful meditation for me.  It's a place where I can find silence and just be in the moment, observing nature.  I especially wanted to get out into the desert this morning, because at 5:00 AM I was inundated with the sounds of my neighbors.  One was calling out to her husband repeatedly, and he was ignoring her, as usual.  One had his dogs out and they were all barking.  One was trimming his hedges.  Another was hammering and sawing.  Another was pushing dirt around with a tractor.  Lots of activity at an hour when most people are still in bed sleeping.  But here everyone has got to beat the heat.

At one point I heard a sound off to my left and I looked for the source only to get distracted by a louder sound behind me and to the right.  A horseback rider was approaching from behind and scaring animals out of the bushes around me.  I was looking for a specific trail.  My goal was to take a different trail down into and up out of the deepest arroyo each day to see if the horses could clear it.  I had tested out the first of six trails in this quadrant of the desert the previous morning, so now I was looking for trail number two.

I found it, but hesitated to take it if the horseback rider wanted to go that way.  But then I reminded myself that I was in front, so I got first pick.  She could either choose to follow me and have me step off to the side to let her pass, or she could take the next trail.  She chose to take the next trail.

Upon emerging up out of the arroyo I decided the horses could handle trail number two, but I wasn't ready to head back home yet, so I turned left to look for trail number three.  The idea was that as long as I had the energy, I was going to keep traversing the arroyo until I hit the road, then head for home.

Up ahead, I saw an elderly man with a white beard who looked like a 49er trying to keep two big dogs on leashes under control.  He was walking toward me.  We were going to meet up right at the head of the third trail I needed to take.  Just then the horseback rider emerged up out of the arroyo on the third trail.  She looked at me and started to turn away from me, only to run right into the 49er with the two dogs.  She halted her horse and was kind of sandwiched in between us on the trail.

I watched her horse for signs that I should stop walking toward it, but it seemed relaxed enough.  The 49er stopped and asked if her horse was okay with dogs.  She said it was and rode toward him.  They were deep in conversation, so I thought I'd slip past them down the third trail, but the 49er said his goodbyes and was headed on a collision course with me.  He asked if I was going "down that hill".  I said yes, and he said he would wait and let me go first.  I wasn't sure why he didn't just follow me, but I thought maybe he was trying to be polite and give me my space, or maybe he wanted his own space, or maybe his dogs might get too excited having a stranger nearby.

Then I got on the hill and realized why he said that.  It was a fairly steep drop off covered in loose rocks.  I slipped and slid part of the way down.  It was like surfing on rocks.  Had he followed me, he would have caused a little avalanche and knocked rocks on top of me.  Trail number three was no good for my horses, but I would have liked to have seen how that other horseback rider got her horse up it.  I'm sure it is easier going up than down.

I skipped trail number four, because I remembered taking it with my horses already sometime last year.  I had also taken trail number six, so I looked for trail number five.  It was a tight fit through all the bushes and trees, but I saw hoof prints on it, so some people do ride there.  I decided to avoid it when on horseback mainly because of all the low hanging branches that could take a rider off her horse or at least stab a rider.  If I have to duck down while hiking, I'd be a glutton for punishment to ride there.

While coming up out of the arroyo I heard a strange sound and saw this flying over my head...

Yup.  It's a holiday weekend.

I took some old, less traveled trails that were falling apart and wasn't quite sure where I was or where I would end up.  Once I got here, I knew where I was...

That's the old rusted out water tank or something that my horse trainer rode past to try to spook my horses.  To the horses, it looks like a large animal crouched down on the ground.  On the way back, I didn't see a single soul on those wide open main trails.  If my legs aren't still shaking and aching, I'll go out at sunset to see what kind of activities are going on.  It might be better to find snakes then too.


TeresaA said...

wow, 5 a.m. I guess I can see that with the heat. My daughter is in Phoenix right now (for a hockey tournament of all things). She says she loves the heat and wants to move there!

Crystal said...

Wow I think I would have to get used to early mornings to beat the heat but 5am seems so early!