Monday, October 12, 2009

Done camped!

Yeah, yeah, I know, I'm late. I'm worn out!

For those of you who know the area, we didn't make it to Lahontan - we ended up at Washoe Lake. Anticlimactic, but at least we went! S had friends who were going to meet us at Lahontan, and as we pulled out of her driveway, loaded down with horses and food and everything we'd need, they called. Somebody had reserved the equestrian area there, and the friends couldn't find the other horse camping area. They were going to go to Pyramid Lake, because they didn't have horses with them.

We sure weren't going to turn around and unload the horses! But we couldn't go just anywhere, because the trailer water tank had sprung a leak last night. The only place S could think of that had water and was not way far away was Washoe Lake, which is just south of Reno. So we headed from north of Reno, through the city in early rush hour, to south of Reno to camp.

The facility was actually really nice. There was one pipe corral, so we didn't have to set up the hot tape corral - just S's pipe corral. There was plenty of water, some toilets, a fire pit, a bunch of picnic tables, and plenty of horse trails. We unloaded and went for a short ride along the lake.

Here's S, on Tempus, at the lakeshore:

Here's me! Sporting my awesome new Camelbak and my stylin' don't-shoot-me hat.
Me again

We rode about halfway up the lakeshore, then cut in behind the dunes and rode back to camp. It was real pretty in that desert-y way that I've grown to like.
Wind patterns

Dixie was clearly skeptical of her new living arrangements.
Do what?

A little dinner settled her down nicely, though. We got the horses settled in for the night, then ate and hung out by the fire pit. We did not, however, have a fire - the other people were bringing the firewood! It was cold, but a flask of Southern Comfort kept us warm for a couple hours. And I got to stare at the stars while we talked! God, there's so many stars out here. Even that close to Reno/Carson City, you could still see the Milky Way.

We got up not too early, let the horses have a couple hours to eat breakfast, and saddled up for a day of riding. S from Cali came out - I think I'll just call him Cali from now on! Here's where we rode in the mountains:
Washoe ride map

Almost all of it was on gravel roads, with just a little bushwhacking. The highest point was near 6000', up from about 5000' at the lake, so it was a lot of climbing. At least Dixie and I thought so!

DUDE. Nobody really communicated to me how HARD it is, physically, to ride up steep hills. I know to lean forward, and I did not hesitate to grab some mane to help myself stay balanced, but damn, what a core workout. Keeping my legs tucked forward out of the way of her rear legs was a challenge!

Anyway, here's S and Cali. S is sporting her don't-shoot-me t-shirt, and Cali is decked out in his full cowboy gear. Dixie and I were looking scraggly as usual, in our mismatched bits of tack. :)

If we'd kept going 5 or 10 more miles in the direction I'm facing, we could've ridden to Virginia City. There's an active mine in the distance to the right (the black area). We ended up cutting cross-country to my left, then picking up the straight road up the hill on the left.
Up the hill

The world's best graffiti enhanced the view of Washoe. Reno is just over the hills in the distance straight ahead, and if I turned around I could see Carson City to the south. The bright green in the valley is irrigated hayfields, and the dull green is sagey stuff in the Washoe Lake Park.
Best graffiti ever

We wound very gradually down some long switchbacks on a very rocky road and got back to camp about 3.5 hours after we left. Pitiful time to cover 5.5 miles, I know, but the terrain was rough and nobody was in a hurry.

Dixie did quite well. She was not at all sure this was a good idea, and she had to work very hard to get up and down the hills. But she didn't rush, either up or down. I got off and led her 3 separate times, I think - once when we cut off the road through the sagebrush across a steep hill, then twice more headed down when the road got stony. Her feet are getting some concavity already, but she's not comfortable walking on the rocks and I don't blame her. It's easier for her to pick her way following me than carrying me. I might look into booting her, but finding and fitting the right boots is such a can of worms - it's easier to give her a couple months on sand and pebbles, then re-evaluate her need for them.

We came across one guy with his dog quail hunting. He was WAY too far away to blammo us accidentally with birdshot, but we could hear him shoot. None of the horses cared - I didn't think Dixie would mind, and I was pleased that the other two didn't either. And we found a motorcycle frame, all that was left from a stolen stripped bike. Dixie was most intrigued by that and spent several minutes sniffing the whole frame very carefully. No wild stallions appeared to give Ms. In Heat what she thought she wanted, although she stopped to pose like every half mile. Sigh. I smelled like mare pee the rest of the day - thanks, wind!

We watered the horses and let them chill out for a bit, then rode along the lake again til all the humans agreed we were old and sore and ready to go. Cali hauled away home, and S and I decided to head home too. S wasn't happy because she could hear the traffic, when at home she can't hear a bit of traffic, and I missed my husband!

It was a great trip, even if we didn't go very far or stay very long. Wonderful fun. I will definitely go camping again!


  1. What fun! And thanks for the great pictures! And you're right, riding up and down steep hills is really hard - we don't have any hills to speak of around here so I don't have that experience, but I've ridden in the mountains in Arizona and know exactly what you mean.

  2. Hooray for you and for camping! The pix are fabulous and it looks like y'all had lots of fun. Was your friend S from Cali expecting to see cows that need ropin'? I was a little curious about the lariat on his saddle!

    I laughed about hills being hard, because here in the Swampland, we don't have any flat places to ride--anything without slope becomes a lake here...most folks could stock fish in their outdoor arenas over the winter, although they do dry out in summer (usually).

    We are so accustomed to hills, that we get really tired when we ride on flat terrain! When you go on hills, you change muscle sets all day depending on whether you're going up- or down-hill. On flat ground, it's the same muscles all day, and that's hard work!


  3. Holy crap.... that is SO PRETTY. I am so jealous! And now that I've spent a year in New England, I've come to really appreciate the hills. We just don't have them in the areas of Michigan/Ohio that I'm from, so it's a whole new challanging level of conditioning work to be done.

  4. Nice pics! Looks like a really cool trip!

  5. Thank you guys!

    AareneX - I'm glad to hear riding in the hills gets easier! There's definitely a rhythm to it; it's just really unfamiliar. Cali always carries all of his gear. It's pretty cute. He bought everything he'd need to Be a Cowboy last year, then moved to Nevada early this year, and he is living his dream!

    Andrea - I am hoping she will develop really strong and sound stifles. They're a notorious problem in TWHs, and everybody recommends hill or deep ground work to condition - that's all I've got!

    Stacey - Thanks!

  6. That looks great! I'm glad that you had such a good time.

    It seems like you're so much happier there than in Ohio. :)

  7. AWESOME Funder! Your mare(+you) looks soooo great! I think I am NOT waiting for the next bestowing of the INTREPID RIDER'S FACTION Award~
    YOU definately are the EPITOME...Please accept!
    Actually, you always have been with how you care and love and learn with your steeds!(and Move around the countryside!)

    I think that though the trip got cut up into something else..what a fabulous place to ride! Looks sandy and wonderful with the lake there too. Loved the map and descriptions. You are the second one I have read from today that described HILLS! I am learning too.
    I have Plenty of those around Aarene said, just part of the ride for the area we have.

    You do seem much happier Funder, really glad that you are there - and with your "don't shoot me hat" to boot!

  8. Wow! I've got to check out that lake someday! Is the water OK for horses to drink or is it more of a salt lake?

    Definately got some hills there but it makes for a good workout (easy for me to say, sitting here in the office!). Definately a good fitness regimen for your horse.

    And there's nothing wrong with grabbing some mane when going uphill! :-)

  9. I flew into Reno on business last week. I always am on the lookout for stables, trails, or whatnot when coming in for the landing. I recall seeing roads in the hills (mountains?) like the picture you have on your blog - the one right above the grafitti picture - and wondering if you could ride those hills. Looks like a lovely place!

  10. Yall know you are jealous of my don't-shoot-me hat. :)

    I do love it out here, very much. Thank you Kaci! I will do an award post real soon, I promise.

    Adam - I think the lake water is potable, but less than a mile from the lake there's plenty of tanks and water hydrants. Dixie had never seen such a big body of water, and she was not going to let those evil waves touch her. She's used to puddles and creeks!

    Tammy - yup, most of the hills with roads on them are either Forest Service or BLM land, and anybody can ride them. BLM land is quintessential public land, and anybody can do anything legal there. Forest Service land has more rules - spark arrestors on dirt bikes, no activity after dark - but it's generally rideable too. Pretty neat!


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