- Trail: Grouse Creek - Grouse Creek meanders through a patchwork of BLM and private land.
- Miles: 4.69
- Riders: Self
- Horses: J'Lo
- Dogs: Hank and Shade
Notes: I can't believe I'm just now exploring this area after 18 years. I think we get into a rut of sorts. Maybe we roam areas we are familiar and comfortable with. Earlier in the week I stepped outside the rut and headed down a trail I'd never ridden. I'm very glad I did.
For a while there I began to question the sanity of riding alone. There isn't much of a trail in some sections. One particularly harry section zigged-zagged back and forth across the creek numerous times. For once I was glad I had J'Lo on the trail and not Jack. I would have had to remove Jack's saddle to get through some of the places I led J through. There were times when J had the same look on her face as my mule would get: This human is insane. She never refused more than a split hesitation to follow me under, over and through a tangled web of desert jungle. I pulled on the lead as she shook her head in defiance: Human, you have got to be kidding. This is not terrain for a horse. This is terrain for pygmy mountain goats. Sorry girl - we are pretty much committed - I don't think either one of use could turn around and head back the way we came. J' complied with my urging, stuck her nose on the ground as we bush-whacked our way over rock, through willows, creek brush and washouts. Once in the clear - I spent several minutes brushing the weeds and brush covering horse and tack. Probably a good thing it's too cold for ticks.
I sincerely hoped I could find a way back without retracing the treacherous section of "trail." Somewhere up ahead lay Crawfords Place and Devils Hole, according to my GPS. I'd have to come back another time. It would be dark in less than two hours and it had taken nearly that long to come this far. I'm certain J'Lo was convinced the hole we just clawed our way out of was attributed to Satan in some fashion or other other.
I let J'lo and Hank take turns leading the way home. Shade followed close on J'Lo's heels. I'm amazed at how precise a horse is when following the trail back the way they come. Step for step she retraced the path. When we came to "Satan's crossing" - I had to take control to prevent her from bush-whacking back the way we came. I was relieved to find a MUCH easier path - crossing Grouse Creek twice and avoiding most of the thick willows and brush.
I had to look at the mileage on my GPS twice. Surely we had gone more than 4.69 miles. One thing is for certain - we worked for every one of those miles. I'm learning it's not the number of miles - it's the quality of those miles. Beautiful area that keeps your horse focused on where they place their feet.
Trail Rating: 3.2
Rocky terrain, lack of a visible trail in much of the area - washed out ravines, brush and severe washouts. Narrow, steep sections of trail with drop-offs.
Technical scale: on a scale from 1-5. 5 being the most technical.
1 = groomed path - level terrain. Good footing. Example: Roads and four-wheeler trails. "Paths" such as Eagle Island, Weiser River Trail...etc.
2 = Trails and Paths with some incline. Easy obstacles like bridges - easy water crossings.
3 = Trails not always easily defined. Some rocky terrain. Narrow trails or non-existent. Change in elevation more significant. Obstacles such as bridges - downed logs - sketchy water crossings)
4 = Trails/cross country travel. Significant elevation changes. Steep, rocky, ravines and canyons. Cliffs with major drops and sheer ledges. Major scary obstacles - bridges - dead-fall - rock/boulders - hang on, pray and hope you can swim water crossings. Possible adverse weather conditions (Snow, thunderstorms - high-winds)
5 = Just stay the hell home.