In which we have lofty goals, sunshine...and a logging operation

With a blue sky like this, there's no way I could stay home today!

Fiddle and I are tentatively entered for the Limited Distance ride (25 miles) at Home on the Range this year, and we both need to spend more time on the trail. (I know, I'll be brave).

The goal today was 20 miles or 5 hours on the trail, whichever came first.

However, we reckoned without this:

In about a minute, the machine--which looks like a gigantic brush cutter--cut down 6 trees. I didn't get a photo of the cutting machine because there was no safe place to stand and take pictures of it. I shot the video of trees falling from about 1/2 mile away, and could feel the *thump* vibration through the ground...even though I was sitting on my horse!

Trees lay where they fall. We saw the next stage of tree processing a bit further down the trail:

We heard the processor working at the top of a hill, so we trotted up to see what was happening. At the end of the swinging arm is a motorized pencil sharpener--the machine picks up a raw tree and runs it through the sharpener once in each direction. The sharpener denudes the trunk of bark and branches, and then the tree (now a "pole") is stacked neatly with the others.

If you've ever seen the animated film "The Lorax", made from the book by Dr Seuss, you will remember the truffula tree cutters. This thing looks a lot like that thing.

Fiddle watched all the activity very calmly. The camera moves a bit in the processor video because we had just trotted up a pretty huge hill, so she was breathing hard while I was filming. Still, she wasn't worried about any of the machines, falling trees, or pungent smells of diesel fuel and tree sap...

She was waiting to spook at this:

Silly mare!

We trotted away from the timber harvest, and continued on our ride. First we passed through an area that was clearcut last year:

and then we went through an area that was cut about 10 years ago: The Pilchuck land managers try to harvest timber in patches, leaving some large trees in place to secure the soil and provide habitat (and trails). It's been a long time since the price of raw timber has been high enough to justify harvesting a lot of land, but I know that the lumber companies will harvest as many trees as they think they can sell. This year, it might be a lot.

We had several boot failures today. I am ready to call the farrier and ask to have her shoes put on a week earlier than we had planned, because I'm that fed up with boots. This one lost one of the screws that connect the cuff to the boot. It's repairable, but I didn't have the extra pieces with me on the trail. Argh.

Fortunately, I had an old-style boot in my pack as a spare tire. We lost it once, but I found it again. Fiddle is very patient with the whole process of booting and re-booting, but I'm sick of it.
I've also noticed that her gaits have changed because of the boots.

She has discovered that if she strides shorter in the back, she won't yank the boots off. Since she prefers boots to barefoot, she has adapted her way of going to preserve the boots. However, it's not her natural way of going, and sometimes she just opens up the engines and we fly--until one of the stupid boots gets bonked and comes off. Bah.

With steel shoes on, she can move at her natural gaits, and her tender soles are protected from the (often rocky) terrain. Apologies to all the barefoot fans among my readers, but boots are really not the best option for us at this time. We're going back to steel as soon as I can get the farrier out.

We took a lunch break after I stuck the lost-now-found boot back on. Fee was pretty sure that my spaghetti was tastier than her grass.

For the last leg of the journey, we headed down to one of the low-lying sections of the Tree Farm. There's a loop there about a mile long that I now call the Loud Frog Loop. Here's why:

The frogs were so loud, I could hardly hear Fiddle's hoofbeats. This video was shot around 2pm. I wonder how loud they get after dark?
The GPS read 18.6miles when we got back to the trailer after 4 hours and 37 minutes. I figure that we probably did closer to 20 miles because there is a lot of time that our satellite signal gets obscured by trees.
This was a remarkable day for Fiddle--the longest training ride she's done, and the longest time she has spent solo. She's had longer days carrying a rider or equipment, usually when we were building trails. But never this much trotting, and never so long without another horse to keep her company.

Her manners were excellent on the trail, even when we met people with dogs (Fiddle hates dogs, and will cheerfully stomp them--even her own Shelties are not safe).
She did great, all day.
Life = Good.


  1. Jeez, I was grateful for a mile or two. Silly, spooky pony.

  2. I love the photo-tours of the landscapes where you ride! Beautiful.

  3. Fiddle is a fantastic mare! I couldn't believe how calm she was about enormous horse-eating machines eating the trees.

    Do you have PURPLE FLAMES on your stirrups? ZOMG I love them!

    YAY for your LD! That's a week after RoM, and you're about where I'm at, training-wise, so that means my ride is probably doable. Do what you need to do to keep Fee comfy; I'm not such a rabid barefooter that I'm going to yell at you for shoeing! Your climate isn't the easiest for going bare.

    (What size are those boots? Are you gonna sell them? Keep your loyal readers in mind if you decide to sell!)

  4. Sounds like a lovely ride! I'm excited that you are going y
    to be doing a ride! You have todeal with a lot I don't...I'm not sure farley would have just stood there and dealt with it like fiddle.

    Sounds like you have given boots their fair chance! If I had the sort of boot failures you were having, I would probably go back to shoes to. I've been so fortunate on my mare.

    I think you've been pulling my leg about how much rain you get! Look at the beautiful weather in these pics! :)

  5. Funder: the boots are size 1.5 and 2 (easyboot gloves) and they are pretty bashed up--the rocks that we run around on are pretty tough on the rubber. Which, um, might be why my mare needs protection on her feet >g<

    I'll probably leave the bashed-up boots in the trailer as spare tires. Farrier is coming out next Friday, hooray!

    Mel: I may try the Renegade boots next year, I know you have had good experiences with those. My farrier really endorses leaving the horses barefoot during the soupy part of the winter, so if I don't want to stay home for 2 or 3 months, I need SOMETHING on her feet. But yes, steel is coming back soon, hurrah.

    Rain? We haven't had any for 5 day...but all that green stuff didn't sprout from blue skies. It's only February, and there's plenty of time for sogginess. Sigh.

  6. Wow, you weren't kidding about the equipment! What an adventure :^)


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