Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A WET pack Trip!

Our camp before the rain hit!
Equines grazing in the field!
Shannon with Seven and Sadie crossing the creek.
Jane at one of the neat over looks with Pack mule Sadie Mae.
I started the weekend off with Seven tearing off his front shoe in the gate to the pasture! I was so mad at him I could hardly speak! I was not going to be able to get a farrier to put his shoe back on Friday night before Memorial Day weekend! After inspecting his foot I decided that he had not ripped any of the foot off and I would ride him anyway!
Jane and I loaded at 5:30AM and took off for South Mountains State Park! We made good time and arrived at about 9:30am. We took our time and got organized but Sadie still looked like she was carrying about a weeks worth of stuff. Really it was Jane's big sleeping bag on top that made the pack look so dramatic! Jane's horse Val was so funny he stood right next to Sadie as we loaded the pack but after he saw her walk with it and it move a little he had to think about it for a minute before he decied it was ok again! Off we went! Miracle upon miracle I must have balanced the pack just right as it stayed centered the whole ride. I only had to tighten the rope one time!
We rode out Rave Rock Trail and then turned on to Fox Fire trail. The Mountain Laurel was in full bloom and all over the sides of the trail! This is a neat winding trail that becomes a single track and goes along a rushing creek. We came to a tree that had fallen over the trail and with no way around it! I got off and took a look! Luck I had brought a folding saw and the limb, that was about 5-6 inches wide was made of soft wood. I was able to get it sawed and off to one side! Good Seven stood in the back and just watched! As we climbed out of the valley we hit a little rain shower. Stopped and got our rain coats our and covered the back! It soon stopped and as we arrived at the camp we actually saw some blue sky! It would be our last!
As we set up camp the mules got to graze with their hobbles on and Val, Jane's horse, got to be loose. He seems to have latched on to the mules and was not going to leave the green grass anyway. About an hour after we arrived a couple of hikers with their two dogs arrived also. They set up camp on the other side of the field. I was happy to see that they had two very well behaved dogs! After the mules and horse had their dinner in the feeding bags, (it is always fun to watch them toss the grain around in the bag) we watered the mules and tied them in the standing stalls for the night. Jane started a nice little fire with the box that held my pine cones called Amazing Blaze, not the fire starting pine cones, but the box and some TP! It was then it started to rain! We tried to haul up the pack with our food and grain in it but the rope would not pull on the branch we through it over and so we decided to let it lay!
I think my sleep number bed at home has ruined me! The bed I had that night was on number Zero! It was comfortable enough to fall asleep but I kept waking up with my back in a knot and needing to move!
That morning the rain had let up and it looked like a nice but cloudy day. Jane got the pack and announced that " Animals are a lot like people!" I asked, how so and she said, "Because they go straight for the chocolate!" A little mouse had gotten into our pack last night and the only thing he ate was some of Jane's chocolate!
It started pouring rain about 7:30 that morning. We just kept waiting and waiting thinking that it had to let up! I was not pleased at the idea of having to pack and tack up the mules in the pouring rain! We layed in the tent for about an hour and a 1/2 waiting! Finally Jane convinced me it was not going to get any better so we devised a plan and went into action! We got Sadie packed up first and left her to graze while we got Seven and Val tacked up. It went quicker than I thought and I was actually not at wet as I thought I would be by the time we hit the trail. It helped that the rain slowed to a light drizzle during the tacking up! It rained on and off on the ride in! We wisely took a shorter trail home but it still took about 3 1/2 hours of riding.
Of course by the time we rode in it was done raining for the day! We unpacked and just through everything into the trailer. We quickly got the mules and horse set up in their stalls and we took hot showers! I think the mules were happy to be in a dry clean stall!
As a reward for surviving I decided that we needed to go into town for a nice dinner! It was well worth it except for the most obnosious kid we have ever come across! At about 4 or 5 years old he was standing in the booth behind Jane and yelling about a toy train that would run through the restaurant every now and again. His mother was useless to do anything and the boy hardly listened to his father either. Oh yea and it started pouring rain again!
We decided that maybe Monday AM would be ok to ride if it was going to be just scattered showers, but no such lucky! It poured from about 3AM till morning. So we packed up and headed home!
My friend Ranger Cheryl Waltz came by to see us that morning and invited us to come up to the main welcome center. She gave us some bandannas with the parks map on it and we got to see the neat huge cabin like building. We also got to meet Park Superintendent Jonathan. Jane found some neat moths that had collected outside a porch door to get out of the rain. We tried to look them up but some where not even in the book. I decided that one looked like a Bat Mobile! It was the craziest looking moth I had ever seen!
We will have to go back another DRY weekend to go see the High Shoals Waterfall!
No Problem! South Mountains State Park is one of my favorite places!

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