I still think this might be the best perspective from which to view the world:
Monday, July 21, 2014
Our last day in the White Mountains of Arizona, for this trip at least, began with a granola bar breakfast, and then a quick run out to Hannagan Meadow Lodge. I was going to meet up with Wild Bill McClain so we could have a nice trail horse ride before I had to go back to the hot, dirty city.
Hal and I made it in plenty of time. We were greeted by a couple of enormous, but lazy, dogs. They could hardly be bothered to raise their heads, and when one of them did, he treated us to an enormous yawn. Some watchdogs.
“You woke me up for that??”
Bill and I did the final preparations before hitting the trail, things like tying the raincoats to the backs of the saddles, and putting the bridles on the horses. I was on Smoke today, a pretty mahogany-colored mare, and Bill was on Bailey, the paint mare I’d ridden at the beginning of June when I was there for our BMW motorcycle rally.
We rode slowly down into the forest. Smoke wasn’t too excited about leaving the lodge, and she stumbled a few times because her hooves are getting too long. It had also been a long time since I’d ridden a horse with a hackamore, and I had to delve into the deep recesses of memory to remember how to do it.
Wild Bill McClain:
Bill led the way, of course, and Smoke was right on Bailey’s tail. Bill and I were talking anyway, and it didn’t seem to bother Bailey, so I let Smoke get closer than I probably would have if biting had been a concern. We rode on a small section of Fish Creek Trail #60. There were some steep spots, and also a lot of branches at horse rider eye level, so Bill snapped them off as he went. He said he hadn’t been on this trail for a while and wanted to check it out before he brought others out on it. I’m privileged to be the rider that he doesn’t have to worry about and he can “preview” trails before taking other people on them.
Bailey was kind of “spooky” this time out, which surprised me as I hadn’t had any trouble with her when I rode her at the beginning of June. That’s what happens when you get a lot of people riding her who don’t know what they are doing. Bill was working with Bailey to not be so unsettled. You never know how horses will see things.
It was an overcast, cool day, and the forest was deep green and lush where we rode. There were areas of fire damage, of course, but the low plants like aspens and ferns made a lush carpet. Bill and I rode along companionably, chatting about everything imaginable. It was a relaxing ride.
Me, at the end of the ride:
All too soon, our lovely ride was over, and I had to get in the car for the six-hour drive back home. The drive was not uneventful, however. About one mile down the road, we saw two deer in one of the meadows next to the road. They immediately spun around and went into the forest, but I managed to get a blurry photo of them.
Farther up the road, we saw logging trucks and machinery at work. It was unusual to see them in action, but this was Monday, and people were at work. Happily, I was not! 🙂
Logging action; at least they are saving what wood they can:
Then, as we were going north out of Alpine, the big truck in front of us slowed suddenly, almost to a halt. There, in the middle of the road was an animal that at first I thought was a deer. It turned out to be a goat! He was an unusual looking goat, and he was wearing one of those tracking collars. Perhaps he wanders often!
I am surprised that truck driver was able to stop in time because he was carrying a full load of gravel, on the way to FR249, as I’d speculated. As we slowly passed, the goat continued to walk nonchalantly down the center of the road. I saw everyone slowing and maneuvering around him as I watched in my rear view mirror. I hope he made it home alive!
After that, we made a quick stop at Western Drug and General Store in Springerville, just to look around, and then we settled in for the long drive. As we neared Payson, we saw what looked like clouds, but then I said it looked like wildfire smoke. We drove up to the airport and looked across at the Mogollon Rim. Trees were definitely burning up there. I have not been able to find information about it yet, but I will keep looking. My fear is that another beautiful area is being destroyed.
It would have been a tragic and depressing trip home if I hadn’t known I’d be back up in the White Mountains next weekend for more dual sport exploring! Sadly, that will be the “last fling” of summer. Then it is back to the drudgery of work, a screamingly hot environment, and impossible expectations. But I don’t want to think about that yet.