Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Ride

Finally, here's my chronicle of the horseback riding trip, which turned out be even more grueling than the hike with my sister.
I had a lot of firsts on this trip. I had my first time getting stepped on by a horse, my first time jumping a horse, my first time getting thrown from the saddle, and my first time almost falling down a mountain on a horse. We rode through the High Uintas Wilderness, which consisted of large valleys surrounded by big mountains. Most everyday we would ride through a mountain pass, which involved going up and down steep rocky slopes, and we would camp in the valleys. There were some really awesome views, and each place was different. Some mountain trails were large, solid rock steps, others were mostly gravel. The valleys ranged from thick forests to large plains, and often a mix of the two.

When we went down our first pass of the trip, Dad, his friend Kelli, and Kelli's daughter Zoe all got off their horses to lead them down. I rode mine all the way down the mountain. It was rather hair-raising, having Zip (the horse Kelli brought for me) ease his way down, stumbling seemingly every other step, with a very steep drop just over the edge. During another pass, though, we all got off to lead our horses down, me included, since the path was so gravelly, I felt a bit more anxious about having Zip fall and take me with him. So I led Zip down the mountainside, but being the novice equestrian handler that I am, didn’t stay in front at all times like I should have, and that’s when I had my right foot stepped on. The pain went away only a couple of days ago. At least I didn’t get a mark, unlike when Dad’s foot was stepped on!
To avoid another foot-crushing, I decided to ride down the next mountain pass, even as everyone else dismounted. I think I would have made it without incident, if I hadn’t been leading the way down. When we came to a switchback, and the horses behind us were in view, Zip took it into his head to try and join them, by trying to cut the switchback and climb up the steep, gravelly slope. I tried to get him under control, but for a minute the best I could do was to keep him going in circles on the very narrow trail, hoping he wouldn’t slip. Fortunately he didn’t, and I was able to steer him back in the right direction eventually (with my heart pounding).
In the valleys, the trails often weren’t much better than in the mountains. There were plenty of hills to go up and down, and occasionally the only way we could even see the trail was by watching for the rock cairns stacked at regular intervals. There were often huge rocks right on the path, as well as trees fallen over it. We often had to take detours around said trees. During one such detour, Zip stopped at a huge section of brush. I thought he could’ve just pushed right through it, but he just stood there. I leaned over to see if he was caught on something, and he picked that moment to jump over the obstacle. I came clear up out of my stirrups and over the saddle, landing on Zip’s neck. Fortunately I was able to get right back in the saddle and continue. We had to do a few more jumps since then, but I never got thrown again!

Didn’t see a ton of wildlife, but we did see a moose, which made the horses a bit edgy, even though it was moving away from us. We also came across a flock of sheep, which really made the horses flighty. I had to struggle to keep Zip under control until we got all the way past them. We also saw some animal bones in a couple of places. Going down one mountain slope we saw a horse's skull. If I remember right) the  place was called on the map “Dead Horse Pass”.

For breakfasts we had things like nine-grain cereal, toast, and even pancakes, for lunch we had fruit rolls, cheese sticks, sausage sticks, and peanut butter and jam tacos. For dinner we had things like soup, and rice tacos. Thursday night both Dad and I got really sick after dinner. We were throwing up pretty bad; I’m thinking it was something we ate, except that Kelli and Zoe weren’t sick, and they ate same things we did.
I had tried to prepare for the trip by exercising on the treadmill for half an hour each day, but apparently even that wasn’t enough; my knees would be sore at the end of each day, and I generally felt pretty exhausted (even Zoe seemed to keep up better than me). With some practice, though, I was able to get into the routine of setting up and breaking camp, and getting the saddle and saddlebags loaded and unloaded.

Overall, I’m glad I went. There were a couple of moments where I wasn’t sure I would live through the experience, but I did, and I feel like it was worth it to be able to do and see the things that I did.

1 comment:

  1. Holy crapola, sounds like quite the adventure! I took a horseback class combined w/ Field Biolgy in college and ANY time my horse bot skittish I had a small heart attack! Glad you're ok, and keep the stories coming. :)