Thursday, September 30, 2010

What's Next? European Adventure!

People have been asking me about my future plans, and what is next on my adventure agenda, so here is the update on the exciting new developments.

First and foremost, my plan to ride long distance is still at the top of my list.  It's now up in the air whether I'll be able to cross into Mexico with my horses.  I have been hearing stories of horseriders not being allowed into the country, but I'm still planning at this point to try to get into Mexico sometime in January or February.  I hope to be able to do this safely and the best chance for accomplishing that seems to be by trucking across the border (rather than riding).  My plans for exactly where to cross are flexible and tentative depending on what is going on in Mexico closer to the time of my arrival.  Reports of violence and mayhem, especially on the border, continue to increase.  While I am not fearful, I am also not on a suicide mission, and need to feel that I have at least a good chance of safe passage.

In the meantime, my original plan to leave Fort Collins on horseback has changed.  My Texas friends Don and Sue convinced me that it makes more sense to trailer the horses to Texas, have them drive me over the border, and then take my trailer back to storage at their ranch in Texas.  That would allow me the opportunity to travel to some great places to ride (Bryce Canyon Utah for instance) on my way to Texas.

So that was sort of my evolving plan when I got off the Colorado Trail.

Arriving back in Fort Collins, my wonderful son Zak (19 years old), decided he would like to accompany me on the US drive/riding adventure and we were making plans to work our way to California via Utah and Arizona, stopping to camp and ride in incredible places along the way.

Then came an invitation from my old and dearest friend Rasmus, who I met 30 years ago in Palo Alto, California, while I was working as a nurse at Stanford University Hospital.  At the time, Rasmus was an electrical engineer working for Hewlit Packard in the Silicon Valley.  He has been working as an engineer ever since, mostly for Ericsson, a Swedish electronics company.  His career has taken him from California, back to Denmark, to China, to the Ukraine, to Germany, and finally now, he has retired to a "place on the Lake" near Zurich, Switzerland.  Years ago, he rode his BMW motorcycle all over the United States, down the West Coast, all the way to South America.  Over the years, we have always kept in touch, occasionally visiting each other.  I visited him in Denmark and China; he came to see me in Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Colorado. 

We're both feeling like it's time for a visit again.

So Zak and I are in the process of getting ticketed to fly to Zurich in October.  I'm excited to travel with Zak on his first trip to Europe.  My other two sons have already been several times, and it's Zak's turn now.  Their father, Denis, holds dual French citizenship, and my sons were eligible to get the same passports, allowing them opportunity to work and live in Europe if they desire.  So Zak has tremendous doors opening to him, and I get to be there when he steps through to those adventures on the other side of the ocean.

In summary, the answer to your question is --- YES!  I still plan to ride my horses to South America.  However if the door to Mexico slams shut before I get into the country in January, there are still many options available, including shipping the horses and riding in Europe, or maybe circumnavigating the perimeter of the United States.  Anything can happen when you're an "Equine Nomad".

A couple of days ago, I took Maggie in to the vet, Allan Landes, and she got a healthy report, except for being excessively thin. According to Dr. Landes, her teeth are not lining up with adequate grinding surface to give her the nutrition she needs just from grass or hay.  My plan is to up her food ration, including free grazing on rich pasture and lots of Purina Equine Senior diet, a predigested food that should help her to gain back the weight she lost on the Colorado Trail.

So stay tuned - I'll continue to blog my developing plans while the horses rest and rejuvenate on green pastures in Colorado. By the time I return from Europe,  the horses should be in top condition again and ready for action, and I will be too.

Thanks for reading and staying in touch.  I love hearing from you, and please let me know if you have questions or suggestions...

May we all live our dreams with healthy passion. 

Love, Trish, The Equine Nomad 

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Day in Denver Go Broncos!

Go Broncos!
Yesterday, I was invited to attend my first Denver Broncos Football game.  My friend George took me, and we had a blast!  The Broncos beat the Seahawks (Seattle) with a big margin, and each time Denver got a touchdown, a cowgirl dressed in Broncos colors would gallop down the field on her white horse.  Guess what part I liked the best...

Anyhow, we also consumed beer and brats and peanuts and burritos smothered in green chile, followed by fresh squeezed lemonade.  It was a hot day, but luckily, our seats were in the shade.  I think the folks sitting in the sunny bleachers were really suffering.


Union Station, Denver

Afterwards, we took the light rail back to where we parked (I'm back in civilization now!) and then walked to Jax fish house and had raw oysters (yum!) and salads and drinks.  What a great day!  Beautiful weather, good company, and our team won!  Thanks George!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

500 miles and the Colorado Trail Completed!

On the trail near Cascade Creek - photo by Pete Vogt
Yippee Yahooooo! I finished the 500 miles of the Colorado Trail yesterday, arriving at the trailhead early evening.  Not a soul around, and no phone to call Kelly for my ride, so I rode down the river valley, and found a lovely person out in his yard.  He not only offered me a beer - he gave me two, and then later brought me a wonderful meal which we ate by the trail.  Thanks to my new friend!!

The ride was a completely inspiring experience, better than I could ever have imagined.  I have kept a handwritten daily journal every step of the way, and plan to write an article ASAP.  I'll keep you posted on that...

Spectacular vistas, incredible camping spots, and no major trouble, although several near misses.  I think the very best part was just being with my wonderful, affectionate, brave and beautiful horses, Magic, Midnight, and Maggie.

Wiley ended up leaving me for the 13th time in Breckinridge.  We took a wrong turn and ended up on the "Wheeler" trail, down the wrong side of the mountain, coming out on a closed Forest Service road.  I tried to get some insight by looking at my Colorado Trail Guidebook (which was not helpful).  When I looked up about 30 seconds later, Wiley had disappeared.  I called and called, and whistled and yelled, as I knew he was in earshot.  I looked for him for an hour, but he was gone gone gone, and I finally gave up.

I called George from town, who eventually heard from someone in Breck that found him, and that delivered Wiley to George in Denver.  Wiley has made his choice clear, and George will now keep Wiley safe at home while I continue my nomadic lifestyle on horseback.  Wiley is 12 now, and I guess he just couldn't do the mileage.  I'll be able to see him when I get to Denver, and George (who is a small animal vet) will take good care of him in his old age.  Wiley loves George and will have two other dogs to play with.  It seems the best choice for Wiley, although I sure will miss him on the trail.

I also lost the trail again near Lost Creek.  When I came out of a deep gulch, I missed the trail and ended up climbing out along a steep rocky stream, which got smaller and steeper as we went.  I always hate to retrace my steps, so we kept climbing, finally coming to a place where trees had fallen over the trail.  I tried to lead the horses around this roadblock, but it was worse.  In the end, those brave and powerful athletes each jumped the huge logs!  Magic went last, carrying the pack.  Wow.  I was impressed. 

But the worst was yet to come.  When we got to the top, we found ourselves above tree line, in a terrible boggy area.  I hate bogs, and so do the horses.  I was riding Midnight and let him pick his way through the maze of soft stuff, eventually clearing it.  We did see two lost rogue cows up there.

Finally, I had no idea where I was or which way to go, completely off the trail, with no trails in sight.  I just conjured up my intuition and chose to head for the top of the mountain.  It was beautiful up there, and luckily I was in good weather.  I passed over the top and decided to just keep heading in one direction, hoping to eventually cross a trail or a road or something!  No houses in sight - just mountain after mountain.

Eventually, we came down into a beautiful aspen glade (which were golden in the light of the afternoon sun).  I picked up a faint trail, which lead to another more disctinct trail, and finally merged with the Colorado Trail!  That made me so happy!  I found it!!!  We camped shortly after and I celebrated with hot Tang and rice/jerky mix for supper.  We found a lovely spot on the banks of Lost Creek.  There was lots of grass and water and the horses grazed all night.  I built a nice fire and watched the sunset, happy to be back on the trail again without having to backtrack.

The next day, I headed out mid-morning, after a breakfast of coffee and dry oatmeal (the way I like it).  I passed through the Lost Creek Wilderness area and it was lovely.  There are all kinds of stories about the notorious Roberts Gang who used the area as a hideout and hid their spoils from the many stagecoach and train robberies in South Park.  The money has never been found.  I looked, but didn't see any likely spots to dig, and just rode on, through aspen and fir, and pines.  Waterfalls and creeks provided refreshment for the horses all along the way.  It was a perfect day.

My last night in the wild, I camped by Buffalo creek, fast moving river a day's ride (almost 20 miles) from where I would end my journey.

I had a large, hard packed campsite under the huge trees I'm so fond of.  I built a fire, and the horses were tied to graze, with Magic at liberty.  After a meal of rice and jerky, I headed to my tent and my huge fluffy cozy warm sleeping bag.  (Thanks George).

I drifted into slumber to the music of elk bugling their love songs to each other. 

I woke in the deep of night, wide awake for no reason, and decided to check on the horses.

Horrors!!  They were all gone again.  How they manage to get those knots untied continues to escape me, but here I was, on my last night, with a repeat of my early days on the trail.

I was out of the treats I usually use to catch them, so I took the pan and filled it with pine cones, which make a similar sound.  I shook the pan and randomly started up the trail, having really no idea where to look for them in the forest.  About a quarter of a mile from camp (in the pitch black of the deep forest at night), I heard rustling in the woods to my left.  Somehow, I knew it was their sound, and sure enough, Magic and Midnight came to me out of the blackness.  Good good boys!  Maggie was easy to locate then, and pretty soon I had them all tied up in camp.  I treated them to trail mix which they love (nuts, berries, m&m's), and went back to bed.  I slept well the rest of the night, in thankfullness that I woke when I did.

The next day dawned a beauty and I rode the rest of the way in sunshine and happiness, the horses in good shape.  Well, Maggie is still thin, but has good energy and a light step.  Magic carried the load, and Midnight led the way.  I promised them water and green grass and that's what we found at the trail's end.  They even finished the trail mix, nickering their appreciation.

But it is me who is thankful and appreciative.  Those wonderful beings carried me safely all the way, never complaining and staying strong until the end.  They have proven themselves worthy companions and stalwart carriers of my dreams. 

There will be many more adventures to come. 

For now, we are back in the Denver/Fort Collins area.  I plan to head to the "Fort" tonight to reunite with friends and check on shifts available for work at the hospital.  Now comes the time for rest, and gearing up for the next adventure!

I plan to be here for at least a couple of weeks, and eventually will head out, with the destination still South America.  So stay tuned and stay in touch!  And let me know you're out there.  It's so good to hear from old friends and new.  And if you have any photos for me - please email them so I can post them here...

Happy Trails!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Copper Mountain Ski Resort

On the ski run at Copper Mountain Resort - photo by Dick McKay
Hi Everyone!  I rolled in here two days ago, and was immediately welcomed by the sparse off season community at Copper Mountain, a ski resort where I have held a season pass in the past.  So strange to ride the horses under the American Eagle lift!  A very nice fellow, Dick, took photos for me, but the computer I'm using won't allow me to upload - so you'll have to wait for those until later. 

The trail has been incredible - I've met so many interesting and helpful people.  I've been keeping a written journal, and will provide more details when I get to a more user friendly computer.

Wiley is doing well, and keeps a close eye on us since his last episode at the animal shelter in Leadville.  We had an amazing crossing through the Holy Cross Wilderness.  I had a spiritual experience there and thought I might never leave, but the next morning blew in a freezing cold wind and my feeling was, "get me out of here!".  A wonderful gal named Maddy with her sweet dog came by during the freezing cold and let me use her cell phone.  She gifted me $20.00 and became a sponsor of my trip, so THANKS MADDY! 

My friend George came up today and brought me a sleeping bag.  I'd been complaining about mummy bags - too constricting!  So he brought four for me to choose from.  I picked the biggest one....Thanks George!

He also bought the horses some alfalfa cubes and a new collar for Wiley, and took me to Frisco for lunch in the pouring rain.  WHAT A TREAT!  He then stopped by a vet clinic (he's Wiley's favorite vet) and picked up some pain meds for Wiley (he's 12 and gets stiff and sore like me), and then took me to the sporting goods store for a new pair of gloves.

I keep losing things - they just fall off me...What's up with that!!!!  I hereby declare that I am a loser no more!

Anyway, I was out of cash (again) and George gave me some cash besides.  He also took with him one of my pack saddles and the orange plastic panniers that keep giving me trouble.  So I'm down to one pack saddle now, and looking forward to a lighter load.  The horses will be happier too I think.

Thanks for everything George!  You made my day!

Got back to the horses - standing in mud after the rain.  George left and I got organized for an early a.m. depart, and then went down to the Copper Mountain Athletic club and had one of the best showers of my life!  Even a hot wet sauna and a hot tub for $5.00.  Great deal, and nice girl at the desk besides.  I'm clean and warm and loving it!

I have been treated so well here - had a wonderful meal last night at Alpinista's, and met Cory, who wanted to ride a horse.  We went on a nice ride around the ski resort this morning, and he made me a delicious martini tonight!  Thanks Cory!  Can't wait to check out the Absinthe Bar in Boulder....

Love Copper in the off season - like a really friendly, very small town. 

Tomorrow I head over "Ten Mile Range".  I heard it was really steep and rocky, but Leslie, the owner of Copper Mountain Stables, assured me that the ride is easy to accomplish on horseback, if you can avoid the marrauding moose.  She told me the story of a woman who was hiking with her dog, and a moose attacked her dog, and then when she tried to intervene, attacked the woman too!

So Wiley will be "on leash", and I'll have my bear spray handy.  After all he's been through, and all the miles he's trotted, we can't have some crazy old moose giving him trouble!

Well, I better head up the hill - Maggie and Wiley are tied out front and the nice manager just let me know that it's probably time for moving on....

Thanks for reading and love to hear from you!


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Healing in the Holy Cross Wilderness

(This has been posted by proxy for Trish)

Hi Everyone!

I'm letting you know that Wiley has been returned to me (again!). He was at the Leadville Animal Shelter. Two very nice officers, under request from the Chief of Police, helped me retrieve him and gave us a ride back to the CO Trail at the west end of Turquoise Lake. I have ridden in and set up a beautiful camp along the trail a couple of miles into the Holy Cross Wilderness. I'm going to stay here a couple of days so I wanted to post something for the people who were concerned about Wiley and tried to help me find him.

I'll write more later when I get to Frisco later this week. Thanks and don't worry! We have everything we need and are doing well, just need a rest and meditation break.



P.S. It would be so cool if each one of you sent $1.00 to the Leadville Humane Shelter. Here's the address:

Leadville Lake County Animal Shelter
428 East 12th St.
Leadville, CO

They took care of Wiley for 2 days, and when I had no money said, "That's ok, just send a donation." If your reading this would you consider popping $1 in the mail? I think it would be a great surprise for them...