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Camping Trips

Posted by greygelding , 27 September 2017 · 196 views

As time passed and the trail miles mounted on both horses, the urge to go on a pack it in camping trip came over me. I found horse camping sites at Point Reyes National Park on the coast. Of course, me being me, I just had to make it an adventure instead of a short enjoyable trip. Early on a Saturday morning we checked in at the ranger station and obtained our campsite permit. I decided it was a good idea to leave the rig at the ranger station, ride up the mountain, and ride the long trail down the other side all the way to the coast. It would have been a fun but long ride by itself but on horses fully packed it was a lot like work. As we came to the top of the mountain, Tess was a bit tired as was Pam, I was starting to feel like it was going to be a long day, and mayo came to an abrupt halt. Fascinated by the amazing view of the wilderness unfolding in front of us he was a statue frozen in time. The others were enjoying the rest as he alertly took in the view. Several miles later mayo was the only one really enjoying himself. I switched horses with Pam so I could walk Tess the last couple of miles to the campsite.
Whoever designed the campground obviously didn't own a horse. No horseman likes to tie his horse to the hitching post about 75 yards from the campsite. Each site had a picnic table, a wood stove, and a metal box to store food in. We led the horses to the campsite, unpacked and unsaddled them, watered them, and then led them to the hitching post. Placing the feed bags on the horses I returned to the campsite to prepare for our overnight stay. The tent was set up, sleeping bags in place, and preparations for dinner were underway. I took the feed bags off and took the horses to water, then let them graze. Everything must be completed before dark or we would be functioning by flashlight.
I secured the horses for the night, or so I thought and we went to use the restroom. As we both started toward our destination, I noticed motion from the bushes lining the camping area. "Oh look! A raccoon." "How cute is that?" A few steps more was all they needed as an army of about 10 raccoons descended on our campsite. We turned around and hurried back as they scurried away and disappeared into the brush. So it was decided that someone had to stay in camp at all times. We locked up everything edible then, after a small change of heart, we left a small offering to our bush guests.
I tend to sleep lightly when camping and seem to stay attuned to the horse sounds. They blow softly at the unknown but if they are concerned they will snort which I awake instantly to and go check on them. About 11 pm I was awakened by a "Ping!" sound. I lay there listening in the dark trying to identify the sound, I now became aware of the sound of a horse munching and the soft hoof falls near the tent. About then Tess called out and I was quickly up and out of the tent. There was Mayo, about 1/2 way to the tent from the tie rack, contentedly grazing. I called to him and he readily came to me with the lower tie ring on the halter broken. Taking him to the tie rack I improvised a repair to the halter and returned to my peaceful slumber. About 1 am I heard "Ping!" again. With a sigh I slowly crawled out of my sleeping bag and he was again grazing almost at the tent. This time I found the clip on the rope broken. I made another improvisation to the halter, walked partway back to the tent, and laid down to watch him. Shortly he approached the tie rail, then he lunged backwards trying to break loose again. On the second try the side ring on the halter broke and he was loose again, this time with no halter. What now? I really needed some sleep and I had a happy horse on my hands grazing contentedly next to me. Taking some spare rope I made another repair and this time I made it unbreakable. I laid down and waited. Soon, I wasn't disappointed and he made several lunging attempts but failed to escape.
The following morning, feeling like I didn't get much sleep last night because I hadn't, I arose, watered, and fed the horses. After breakfast we broke camp and prepared to hit the trail. First I wanted to take a ride down the beach. The path to the beach led through a gap in the sandy hills and we could hear the surf pounding all night. The horses also had been listening to that strange sound and weren't sure whether they were curious or really didn't want to see what it was. We saddled up and rode through the gap. One look at the ocean and Mayo wanted nothing to do with a large moving lake. There was no way I could get him to ride down the beach let alone approach the waves. From that moment on he never trusted a large body of water, even lakes which never bothered him in the past. Tess would at least ride down the beach as long as you didn't try to get those dainty hoofs wet.
It was time to pack them up and head for home. With empty packs and the knowledge that they were homeward bound there was a renewed energy in them that increased with each mile. The eager beavers arrived at the trailer early afternoon feeling a lot perkier than their riders.
My next camping trip was a solo affair with Mayo. The last trip was more than enough to last Pam for awhile so she stayed home. This time I went to check out Sky camp at Point Reyes. I was prepared for Mayo's halter breaking escapades. We rode into Sky Camp in the middle of the afternoon. Campsite #1 was located about 30 yards from the hitching post with the trail running down the middle. I tied Mayo to the tie rail and set up my camp. I led him down to the watering hole where I was reminded of the old adage, You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. After returning him to the tie rail he spent the rest of the day sightseeing and watching the passing hikers. After we both had dinner I took him down to water. Securing him for the night I gave him his goodnight carrot and turned in myself. I laid in my sleeping bag for awhile watching Mayo from the tent window. Shortly I was rewarded with an escape attempt. I had beefed up and modified the halter so it was unbreakable, and it proved to be. He lunged back expecting to break free but it was to no avail. On his second attempt the result was the same and over the following years he never tried again. Feeling pretty smug I went to sleep and was up with the sun the next morning. I took him to water, we both ate breakfast and I packed up camp. We were underway a short time later and he was a bundle of energy eager to be heading home. We made it back in time to join Pam for lunch.

July 2018

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