By 2:00 we were in the saddle and headed out for our first adventure.
We both came equipped with trail maps and I had a compass hanging off my saddle (which never got used btw). There are 35 miles of marked bridle trails and they are really well marked at the majority of the intersections. We decided to stick to the perimeter trails to start out, which were wonderful wide sandy dirt roads. It made for riding side by side and being able to hold a conversation while riding....nice! It also doesn't hurt that we both ride gaited horses that just love gaiting on this type of terrain.
We rode for close to 2 hours and only covered about 6-7 miles in the lower east quadrant of the park. By the time we got back to camp, hubby had set everything else up, the fire was going and I was ready to get dinner going and sit in front of that fire!
Friday was a bit cooler seeing that the sun didn't make an appearance. Jill brought over some cupcakes and meat for the grill and we got to cooking. Oh my, these were good cupcakes. And then she says "they're made with zuccini". Surprisingly hubby ate a second one lol. The man who doesn't eat veggies. Anyway, while I was digging through our kitchen tote I came across a little bag that contained a bridle charm and a new horn bracelet/dee ring bling that I'd made for Jill. I said "presents" and with that she said "oh I forgot" and ran across the street to her site. I had ordered one of her beautiful hand painted browbands a couple weeks prior to our trip and said she could bring it along rather than ship it to me. The standard browband is in mostly turquoise colors and Jill was nice enough to ask me if I wanted her to customize the colors more in line with our saddle pads. She didn't have to ask twice and I sent her pictures of the pads. In the meantime, I ordered a new head net for G in hunter orange since hunting season is coming up. It was just perfect!
Isn't it gorgeous? Jill does really wonderful work on bridles. But the fun wasn't over, she handed a bag over to hubby and inside was a brown bridle with a v brow band and it had a rainbow trout theme for his future horse. How cool?!? I knew something was coming but hubby had no idea and he was floored. I really think this helped ease the pain of him not riding with us. So we had a little Christmas in September :) We sat around the fire talking for awhile and before we knew it the sun was going down. It was kind of a shock seeing how fast the sun goes down now, I think we were all tucked away for the night by 8:30 lol.
I'd forgotten how much I love camping. Being all snugged in a double wide sleeping bag with the cool coming in the window, snuggling with hubby. It just makes for perfect sleeping. Well, that is when your head isn't 10' away from your horse corral. Hubby can sleep through just about anything. Me? I heard him munching hay, heard him sigh, heard him drink, heard Sprite whinny "hey where is everyone?" and G hollering back "I'm over here in the dark!" I think Sprite whinnied once an hour and G answered every other time lol. I know I fell into a deep sleep at one point and when I woke up it was absolutely silent. I laid there quietly waiting for G to move or munch or something, but nothing. I lept out of bed, out the tent and look over and there's G standing with head over the rail looking toward Sprites site across the way. He nickered, I threw a couple more flakes of hay and went back to bed. When I opened my eyes next the tent was getting lighter and the birds were just starting to stir. We opened up the back window of the tent and laid there watching and listening as a flock of Chicadees invaded our campsite. It was so cool especially since they're my favorite birds. By 6:30 I was up and feeding G and by 7:30 I began breakfast consisting of scrambled eggs, turkey bacon and home fries. We invited Jill to join us but she had already had her breakfast. So she came over and hung out as we ate and we talked about where we wanted to go today. We decided to head out of one of the trails between #33 & 34 and head north to another section of the trail.
G patiently waiting to head out
As you can see G & Sprite were happy to see one another nose to nose.
Jill looking quite happy being out on the trails. They are a neat partnership. And having G and Sprite hit it off right off the bat was really great. They were well matched in gait as well. Friday night I added a teaspoon of lite salt to G's dinner as he usually won't drink on the trail. I was hoping it would work, and not only did he drink a bucket of water overnight, when Sprite stopped at a puddle and started "slurping" G lowered his head and did the same. This is a horse that rarely drinks from a stream or pond, yet here he is drinking out of a puddle. Granted the puddles were fresh from the rain the day before, but the tadpoles were already in residence. Jill said "Sprite likes his water with a tadpole chaser" this made us both giggle. Wouldn't you know that G stopped at every puddle after that to take a drink (lite salt works great!) Without further ado, the puddle sippers....
Just me & G
Along the trails we kept seeing small what appeared to be hiking trails scattered here and there. Since they weren't marked on the map as bridle trails we past them by. Though we did discuss trying one out. At one point we weren't quite sure which direction to take and wouldn't you know one of those trails just happened to be at that junction? :0) so we took it. It turned out to the the "heart healthy" trail that looped through the woods along the reservoir. We never saw any hikers, just a couple of people in kayaks on the pond. It was a nice little side trip!
We rode between 4-5 hours and to say it was grand was an understatement. We really enjoyed riding with Jill and Sprite. Jill has a similar mindset when it comes to riding and trail etiquette. It was a really good day on the trail. On the way home we past the Host Camp sites and our weekend hosts, Bob, Pat & Laurie were pretty much set up. They spend every weekend at the camp from May to Columbus Day and pretty much make sure things run smoothly and they take out groups on Sunday mornings to show riders the unmarked trails. They seemed like really nice folks and we agreed to meet up with them at 9:30 in the morning. One day tripper was coming in for the ride. Hubby had the fire going when we got back after a nice afternoon nap in the hammock (he went hiking in the am).
My sister Susie and brother in law Phil, were camping in the "people" campground just down the road from us so we planned on doing Saturday night dinner with everyone bringing steak for the grill. Jill brought redskin potatoes in olive oil wrapped in foil; with another pouch of peppers and and of onions in foil. I did grilled asparagus and rice pilaf, and Susie brought desert, which consisted of a variety of square cakes. Chocolate and pumpkin spice, very yummy. Dinner was awesome I didn't burn anyone's steaks and we all ended up with full bellys. (this pic was before dinner and the table was covered with food).
Saturday night we again were all tucked in before 9:00. Something about being in the fresh air all day. Okay and not sleeping well the night before :0 ) but I slept really really well. Sprite was also quieter so G only whinnied twice that I know of. All I know is it got pretty cold overnight and I wasn't so anxious to pop out of the sleeping bag and put on cold clothes. Oh, and what did I remember when I went to bed? The huge fruit salad I made for dinner. So breakfast consisted of chocolate donuts and fruit, so it was a much easier breakfast and clean up (thanks hon). Before I take a break from writing, I do want to add that I have the best most supportive husband in the world. I'm lucky that he's a horse person and understands. It's why I can't wait til we get to Tennessee so he can have his own horse and enjoy all of this with me. I'm a lucky lucky gal.
(Part Two - Sunday's ride to follow I need a break from typing!)