It seems like I'm always on some mission or other - driven by goals, by time lines, by events. I suspect my life is one big string of missions, and if I find myself with down time, nothing driving me, no mission I'll go and make one up.
But yesterday I had a real mission, simple and well defined: find a piece of trail across Browns Creek (actually a point where two drainages come together and empty into the real Browns Creek which comes down off the mountians. I needed to find another way to get up to Toy Mountain, and the section of beautiful trail and granitic boulders above Alder Creek. The road we usually use is so nasty rocky, and this alternate would be much nicer.
So - out comes Google Earth - I can see where I want to start, and where I want to end, but really don't know if there's a good passable trail through there. We rode through there years ago (John and Carol and I) and found a very cool corral made of rocks, and found our way through and out - but it was too long ago to remember if it would make a good trail for an Endurance ride. so - a mission!
Merri and I loaded Jose and Jaziret (Rhet) in our small trailer, printed out a picture off Google Earth of the terrain in case we needed a reference, and headed south. Perfect day, full spring here in the Owyhee front, fresh smelling desert from a recent rain, sun, ahh... And the cattle have just been turned out on the upper pastures, lots of mama's and baby's, looking pretty happy with all the grass.
It actually turned out to be ridiculously easy to find a way through. We fiddled around going out, looking for options, climbing up over the bluff and looking down into the creek, then meandered along another drainage. We were on a nice open hill where we could see down into the drainage, and also see the mountains to the north and west and south, Merri said - hmm... lots of obsidian. Lots of shavings! and when we started looking closer we found bits and pieces of arrow heads. It must have been a preferred location for obsidian knapping. Very cool.
We rode on down the hillside, to the flat where the two drainages came together. Merri noticed a big nest, and two red tailed hawks flush out of the tree as we approached. They both settled on the point of a big rock above and watched us.
And right below them was the old rock corral! bingo! somebody went to an amazing amount of effort - and time - to build this corral. It must have been a labor of love, because there are certainly easier ways to make a corral for your horses - or cows, or whatever. But it was very cool.
We then found a trail, and followed it wondering where it would go. It did exactly the right thing and a mile later we were at the road that I wanted to find. We picked out the granite bluff hills which would be part of the trail, surveyed all around getting oriented so that we could find it again from the other direction. An easy ride back following the trail, and then we cut up through the creek instead of on the bluffs above. Another trail (thank you mama cows) and a little bit of brush and creek crossing, and right back where we started. Perfect. A new little section of trail through a very pretty little drainage. Fandango day 1, it's all set now.
And tomorrow we have another mission: test a section of 'dicey' trail along the Snake River - that connects our often used trail along the petroglyphs to another section of river trail that leads to Guffy Bridge - an old rail bridge that is no longer in use, but goes up and over the river and drops back down onto the north side of the river. Carol and I hiked this section of trail years ago, and at the time we both thought it would never work for horses. There are some big boulders that are too close together for easy passage. but... Tom Noll said he's ridden it several times, you just have to get off and let the horses figure out how to get through. well ok, we'll give it a try. It would be a fantastic trail all the way down the river to the bridge. we'll see!
And in between these nice little mission packages, I'm unpacking, unwinding, marking trail for Regina's ride next weekend, getting things in order for the Fandango ride next month. Catching up on work after the incredible Andalusia trip (after which I got really sick with bronchitis or some horrible thing - after a day of hypothermia in the Sierra Nevada mountains (Spain) and a night of serious partying and dancing till the wee hours (Spain) - aahh... but it was worth it!)
Its so very good to be back home. Funky little place on Picket Creek, southern Idaho, the Owyhee country and it's very un-Scottsdale-like in appearance and attitude. (no Hummers and Mercedes here, just lots of beat up Chevys and cows). But it's all great, we're so lucky to be able to see the world beyond our home circle.
so tomorrow, the River!
more photos - http://www.endurance.net/international/USA/2010Fandango/gallery/brownscreek/