This morn came all too soon it seemed. I didn't rest well during the night.
But Betsy and I had planned on driving an hour north to pick up her horse Tristana.
A friend was supposed to be conditioning Tristana for an endurance ride, but she works for FEMA and with all of the hurricaine mess, she just didnt have time to ride.
So Betsy had said "I don't know what to do with Tristana! I would LIKE to bring her to your place and then we could RIDE!
Well you have to know Betsy, can't help but like her, raspy smokers voice, and at times bad language and gruff, but yeah, ya just have to like her.
I said SURE, lets go get Tristana.
The FOG was thick as pea soup. Pea soup like my mom used to make when I was a child. NASTY STUFF, thick, had to CHOKE it down. Yeah, it was that kind of FOG!
3/4th's of the drive is along the Shenandoah river....so fog, fog and more fog. I was glad to reach the farm.
Tristana is a sweet little arab mare and we rounded her up and loaded without issues. Betsy drove home...and of COURSE there WASN't ANY fog when SHE was driving!
On the way, I called Karen W. and she met us at the house. It took me a bit to get motivated/ready, but still Falcon was saddled before Karen had Red Dog ready to go.
Then I tried to capture the Maremma's but they caught on and took off. Finally I rounded them up and got them in to the pasture, but we hadn't even ridden off the property before they escaped and caught up with us.
Oh well! They were gonna be SORRY!
At the neighbors place Cola went off to visit their dogs and we never saw him again until we returned home.
Gemma trotted right along with us as we struck out, albeit very slowly towards Skyline drive. The last time I had been there was about 6 years ago on Sinwaan, and we questioned ourselves a few times as to whether we were taking the right road to lead us to the Fire trail up the Mountain.
I wished I had had a camera AGAIN! I tried to take my little one (which now belongs to Alison) but she needed to use it so alas, some other time I spose.
In our travels we had to walk about 3/10th of a mile on a paved road along which was pastured the most beautiful black quarter horse stallion I have ever seen. He raced up and down the fence line...which was barely a fence. He could have STEPPED over it at one point....wow, I am glad Tristana wasn't in heat.
Soon after we arrived on the Fire Trail to Skyline Drive. The shady woods were a welcome respite from the hot sun. Up up up we climbed, mostly walking, some trotting. Up, up, and up.
This was a HARD trail. The history on the trail is that Tourists would come by train and stay at the Luray Hotel (which later burned) Then they would take a horse drawn carriage ride up to Skyland at the top of Skyline Drive.
It just boggles my mind that they did this. The trail climbs 2500-3000 feet out of the valley from Luray. There are very few switchbacks and very few level areas for a reprieve from the climb.
The trail is rarely used now and the rain has washed much of the topsoil down and thus we have our FAMOUS ROCKS! ROCKS ROCKS ROCKS. But we did come upon several mossy/grassy areas where we had a good gallop or two.
But even at a walk, the horses were huffing and puffing and dripping buckets of sweat by the time we came within a third of a mile from Skyland.
Betsy decided to use Gemma as a reason not to go all the way to the top. Gemma does not wear a collar, thus no tags and no method for with which to control her.
But the park is also sticky about having coggins papers with you or even a park pass while on park property...of course we didnt have any documents with us and I keep telling myself that I need to have some identification on me and the horse in the event that someone questions us or a mishap occurs.
So we rested a spell and I pulled out a granola bar for each of us and some carrot snacks for the horses.
Then we turned and headed down the mountain. Handwalking the horses. Man I was tired. I had only had water and 2 granola bars all day.
Down down down we went. Down, down, down. After dropping 2500 feet we attempted to remount.
Karen did ok getting on Red, but Falcon decided to act up after his saddle slipped.
And poor Betsy tried to haul herself up on Tris. but she was so sore and weak since she is on some new diet...I thought she was going to pass out when I saw her leaning on Tris with her head down.
Finally after snugging up Falcon's girth, I managed to drag myself up on him. Then Betsy found a root to climb up on and from there managed to board Tris.
Onward we went at a slow trot. At the paved Valleyburg Road, Karen and I hopped off and handwalked the boys until we reached Rosedale, a gravel road that takes us to Summers. Betsy said no way was she getting off again, because she just knew she wouldnt be able to get back on later.
Summers Road was a wonderful sight and we knew we were less than two miles from home.
But, what we had forgotten to do was to find and fill a water tank in the front pasture for Tris and Falcon....ohhhhhhh man we were tired when we did that. Then I took one of the cows 50lb salt blocks and threw that over the gate in to the pasture for the horses as well since they would be separated from Red and Dakota for a spell.
Red and Dakota were not happy to be separated from Falcon, but too bad for now.
After filling the water tanks for the cows and the two separate horse pastures, we drug ourselves up the hill. Karen and Betsy headed to their homes and I flopped in a chair with a Corona and a heating pad on my neck.
I think we over did it! AND I have no idea how far we went. Maybe 10 difficult miles!