For the past couple of months, Alan and I have been doing quite a bit of traveling. Our trips have been fun, but they have definitely cut into our riding time! We jumpstarted our new resolution to make more time for riding by hitting two beautiful trails last week.
The first day, we rode 8.5 miles on a 68 degree day in Arizona’s Dragoon mountains, up the Cochise Stronghold trail and back. The next day, we rode Turkey Creek in the Chiricahua Mountains. This was our second time riding the Turkey Creek trail.
Last year’s Turkey Creek ride
Our first time riding this trail was in December of 2020 and I wrote about it here. Directions can be found in that blog. Similar to what we found a year ago, there was very little water in Turkey Creek. A few spots had a puddle or two but until we hit the pond at the end, there was no water for the horses.
My cover photo in last year’s blog was taken at the same place as the cover photo for this one… only this time I was riding Sadie. Sadie is in need of a tune-up, and Alan and I have temporarily swapped horses. More on that next week…
Note the long dirt road in the photo collage below. This is the route to get into the Coronado National Forest. Last year, we put a pretty noticeable dent in the tailgate of our truck as we navigated this road. We were pulling the camp’s gooseneck trailer, not our bumper pull 2-horse. Consequently, we weren’t familiar with its clearance. So a word to the wise… DROP YOUR TAILGATE on this straight section as you are heading to the trailhead.
You might also notice the cattle in the photo above. We didn’t encounter any bovines last year. This year, we rounded a corner on the trail and came face-to-face with a couple of dozen cattle lying right across our path. Both Kadeen and Sadie have worked cattle. With a little extra urging, Kadeen walked into their midst and convinced them to move. Neither horse had a problem with the cows.
We had three dogs with us again, and I did have a moment of stress until all of the dogs made it through the cattle gauntlet. Several times, Leah gave some thought to trying to cross the cattle guard. Fortunately, she listens well and I discouraged that each time!
The trail follows a two-track the entire way. There is an 850 foot elevation climb. It is a fairly consistent uphill grade, with a brief push at the end. As I noted last year, it is rocky, but the Chiricahuas are a very rocky place!
After you push through that final climb (and go back down into a little dip), you encounter this really beautiful little pond. The horses were quite happy to get a drink. Of course, two of the three dogs, Kara and Finn, went swimming. Leah isn’t that fond of water.
We encountered one truck on the way out of the park. Other than that, we didn’t see another soul! There is a guest ranch in the area that apparently used to be a premier B & B. It was sold sometime around the middle of the last decade for nearly 3.5 million. Now is appears to be booked through VRBO.
We so enjoyed the beauty and solitude of this area that we are going to pursue boondocking there in the not-to-distant future. There are several sites that have rock fire rings and are pull-through places to park a rig. I did some preliminary research and we will do as this website suggests and stop at a ranger station to find out where we are allowed to park. We haven’t boondocked before but the idea is really taking root in our minds!
Should we sell our LQ and get a motorhome to pull the 2-horse?
Speaking of boondocking, we are giving some serious consideration to changing up our horse traveling rig. We own a beautiful and very functional LQ trailer. However, we find ourselves wanting to go camping and take the boat. Or go visit our kids and take dogs but not horses.
We are thinking that getting a motorhome and pulling the 2-horse might be a better way to go. We would have a house-on-wheels if we want to go boating. The major downside is no wheels in camp… but if we are boondocking in the middle of nowhere, where would we go? Alan thinks we’d put a little motorcycle in the motorhome to make quick grocery runs…
I would love to hear feedback from readers as to their favorite way to get horses to camp and enjoy their “glamping” at the same time. What are your thoughts?
Update on Leah
Last week, I wrote about my sweet little Border collie Leah who recently received a diagnosis of cancer. I was blown away and very appreciative of the hundreds of caring comments and well-wishes for both Leah and me. Clearly, we horse people are dog people as well, and animal people in general!
As of now, Leah is not clinically ill. Just this morning, she didn’t finish her breakfast. However, she’s been eating SO well of late and we have done SO much hiking that I have been feeding her more than normal. Yesterday, weird and finicky Kara didn’t finish her food, and Leah did. So… did she just not eat it all because I gave her extra this morning? Or was it because she wasn’t very hungry in general?
An hour after breakfast, we all walked 7 miles. Leah did fine, and I haven’t heard a peep from any of the dogs all afternoon. Nevertheless, I will now always be on alert for any weird behavior from Leah. The plan is to monitor monthly blood counts and watch for a dramatic increase in lymphocytes. There is a treatment if she becomes clinically ill. Many dogs have responded well to treatment and lived years longer. I am so hopeful that this is not what gets her in the end.
Next week I’m going to share a little bit about Alan’s mare, Sadie, and what behaviors need “tuning up”. She’s really a delightful little mare and she has come so far since we purchased her in November of 2019. Stay tuned for that!