Now I have a riding buddy....who boards her horse with me. Which isn't to say that I don't have other riding buddies, but this riding buddy is a cross country trail fanatic and I mean that in the most awesome way.
We had planned on heading up to Payson but I have a show to get ready for (to sell at, not compete in) and my time is really limited right now so I decided I could not really go for all day trek. We opted for the Picket Post which only took about 20 min to drive to and was, in a word, AWESOME!
It was every bit as awesome as I had hoped it would be and we really only explored the tip of the iceberg.
I took my "trusty" steed Trax, and she rode her Walker, Cody. I gained a lot of respect for her horse on this trip. He is as sure footed as any mule, and seems to have endless energy.
I will let the pics do most of the talking here in just a minute, but I want to tell a little bit about the trail. This is a very rocky ride. I would not recommend taking a barefoot horse up there without boots. Luckily Trax has shoes on now, and I was happy for it. I think he was too. It starts out with lots of little ups and downs, the trail is a two track and their are cows foraging around you as you ride. As you go the ups gradually become steeper, and there are less downs than ups. I cannot even begin to guess what the grade of the climb was and I was a little unsure of how my horse would handle it.
Once again I under estimated the magnificence of my pony. He rocked those rocks and climbed those hills pretty easily. I let him pick his pace going up the hills. If he wanted to trot or lope to get up them, who was I to argue, as long as once he got to the top he slowed down before vaulting over a cliff.
Those two were taken before the climbing started. The next 3 were taken at about the half way mark of the "up".
|If you follow that ridge down to the point and then imagine what lies below that...that is where we started out|
|We could have ridden over closer to that mountain but thought we chose a less steep hill. We were wrong.|
We pushed onward and the next climb was huge and very steep but the horses seemed ready to go for it, so up we went. About half way up poor Trax started puffing pretty hard, and then it seems as though he was limping. I thought maybe he had a rock so when we reached what we thought was the top we stopped and I checked his feet. No rocks, but perhaps a bruise.
Then we turned around and there was yet another very steep hill behind us. We opted not to go any further this time, simply because both our horses are out of shape. No sense killing them the first time around.
So we turned around and headed back down. God performed a miracle that day because suddenly Trax's limp was healed! This is at the bottom of the last hill we climbed. The pic doesn't accurately show how steep it was, or even that it goes on around the bend and then up another fifty feet or so.
Heading down we had a hard time keeping up with old 4WD Cody.
Coming down we found a second trail and followed it, but all it did was loop back around to the original trail that we had followed. But we passed this which in real life looks like someone left a giant pile of stone marbles laying.
At the trail head again we weren't quite ready to quit so we wandered over to the "Arizona Trail" which is more for hikers but horses are allowed. It is narrower though. We saw a cave which turned out to be a tree (LOL) and then we just kind of meandered and followed that little one lane trail.
It took us out to the US60 and we could have crossed under it through a large culvert, but opted not to. Instead we followed a wash for a bit then bushwhacked it up a hill and then we saw the coolest little "place" for lack of a better term. I assume it is there for the cows, but it had stone walls, a cistern, windmill, and a long water trough for livestock.
We had to get pics under the trees.
And then we saw Don Quixote tipping his hat to the windmill. (and I have had that song in my head ever since) I cannot explain to you why I thought of that except that when I think of Don Quixote I always imagine a drawing I saw of him which depicts him as being tall and scraggly and he is facing the windmill here.
After that we either had to go back the way we came or blaze another trail. We chose to blaze and Trax lead the way up a sheer rock face and never once took a misstep! I was pretty dang proud of my horse. He was a perfect gentleman the entire ride, he handled some pretty tough terrain and never once did I feel unsafe, or like he was going to go out of control. I do however think it is time to start looking for a different saddle for him. As much as I have loved my Circle Y, I noticed today that it is starting to put a lot of pressure on his left shoulder. Not sure why, but of course horses bodies change through out their lives, and saddles do get worn out. So maybe it is just time.
Of course every ride ends with the sweaty pony pic.
If you are ever in the area and looking for a good ride, I would recommend this trail, however it is not for the faint of heart. I cannot wait to go back and take one of the other trails!