Our horses celebrate the imminent departure by rolling in the dirt--which they generously share with us. Jim's shirt was clean just moments before I snapped this picture....sigh.
It's just a quick trailer ride from Haiku Farm to the trailhead.
Jim and Hana will be leading our little parade into the woods.
Fiddle and I will pick up the tail. All our Virtual Visitors can make themselves comfortable on their Virtual Horses in the middle of the string.
Single file is only for the road from the parking lot. After that, we can spread out a bit and let the horses nibble on grass and leaves as we travel.
Summer in the Swamplands = nice, warm rain (as opposed to winter in the Swamplands, which is mostly cold, clammy rain). Unfortunately, the overcast skies also made things rather dark in the woods, so some of the photos turned out sort of dim and blurry.
Still, the trails have lovely footing, no dust, and there are lovely, fresh-washed huckleberries growing alongside for us to snack upon as we ride.
After a few minutes of forest trail, we come to a recent clear cut. The trees were taken out of this area about 3 years ago, and trails wind through the meadow.
When the timber is removed, the logging companies plant young trees, (theoretically) the same species that they harvest. Not all of them survive, of course, but this batch seems to be doing okay. The local deer population loves clearcuts, because once the trees are gone, the delicious leafy bushes get a lot more light. We didn't see any deer today--they usually burrow down under trees to stay out of the rain.
Back into the trees. The branches are really wet--I'm so glad it's warm today!
From the clearcut, we can follow an older logging road across the bridge. Because this is a Virtual Trail Ride, all the horses are perfectly well-behaved while crossing the bridge.
Once we cross the bridge, we go back into the woods for a while.
This area has been logged for nearly a century; this tree stump shows a "springboard cut". Before chainsaws were used to cut trees, lumberjacks would cut chunks out of the base of the tree and jam a diving-board-like thing into each side of the tree. Then two guys could stand on opposite sides of the tree to operate a two-man manual saw and cut it down. Manual logging is long gone, but stumps with springboard cuts last a long time and are a common sight in stands of thick old woods.
From the old woods, we emerge again into an older clearcut. The trees here were cleared and replanted about 20 years ago. Douglass Fir trees grow really fast--when I moved to this area 10 years ago, I could see over the top of these trees when I rode on this stretch of trail.
There is a solar-powered water pump here, and a water tank for the horses.
On hot days, that's important.
Today, not so much.
There's a porta-pottie near the water tank, so humans can refresh themselves too. Lots of room to hitch all the Virtual Trail Ride horses beside Fiddle and Hana--tie on up and take a break, everyone!
Before I remount, Fiddle will provide some entertainment by "dancing" for a cookie.
Mounting blocks. I just love those things.
Somebody (I'm not sure who) is studying the effects of keeping horses, deer, and other big mammals out of a recently clear-cut area.
Here's what I see: without the big mammals, the clearcut is completely commandeered by fireweed--a noxious weed. I'm not sure why, though, because horses and deers won't eat fireweed. Clearly, there's some other influence inside the fence that isn't so important outside the fence. It's pretty, though.
Returning to the trailhead, Fiddle's ears show rain spots. Only in the Swamplands could we have a rainy-day ride in July!
But no matter: once we finish our ride and return to the farm, we can feast on some nice hot soup that's been simmering all afternoon:
A creamy chowder broth, with lots of veggies that we got at a fresh market in Eastern Washington last week, including some lovely peppers and a yam the size of a basketball. I also sauteed onions, garlic, shrimp, and a big chunk of smoked salmon donated by neighbors who are commercial fishers in Naknek Alaska every summer.
Continue the Virtual Trail Ride by visiting Lytha's blog
and Leah Fry's blog
and Kate's blog
and the Eastern Washington leg of the journey, too!
Other Virtual Ride links can be added to the comments section. Thanks for riding, everyone!