Monday, October 31, 2011

Horse Heaven

...or maybe rather horseback riders heaven....

Riding in Central Oregon

Two weeks ago I was fortunate enough to spend three days in my version of paradise, on the back of my horse!
I went up to Bend, in Central Oregon, to stay with my friend Kathy, and to hit the trails as long as our horses would carry us.
For all our trail rides we consulted:  Riding Central Oregon Horse Trails  by Kim McCarrel

The first day we rode along the Deschutes River, on the Lava Island Trail.

While this trail is swarmed by tourists and mosquitoes alike in summer, fall is the perfect time!

Great footing for the horses and a splendor of fall colors contrasting with the lava as well as with the green-blue river made this trail to one of my all time favorites.

The second day we had planned a longer and more strenuous ride, 13+ miles and over a 1000 feet elevation up to the Green Lakes plateau.

For a while we climbed up a rather steep single trail, but soon got rewarded by stunning views:

After crossing lots and lots of creeks,

a few plateaus and more climbing we finally reached Green Lakes:

The weather was not quite cooperating, overcast to a light drizzle, ideal material to play a bit with some filters...;-)

Here applied to South Sisters:

But nothing so serious, that it would keep me from shooting.

Taking photos while mounted on a horse is not the ideal starting point, getting down and back up every time one wants to take a picture is not really feasible either. So I apologize in advance if not all images are in the quality you would expect. This time capturing the spirit of a great time in the saddle was more important to me than the ultimate image quality.

After a short break, we left the Green Lakes area to start our descent, which seemed to be much faster than the way up...

The last day I pledged for a shorter ride, since my seat bones started to protest. But my request got simply denied. Luckily!

As long as the trail to Green Lakes, but no elevation, we started the Cultus Lake trail in the early afternoon. We did not plan to ride it all the way to the end, just two hours in and then back. We started off by letting the horses play a bit on the shallow shore of the lake.

After we passed our turning point, an old homestead shelter in Muskrat Lake,

we had so much fun, we decided to go just a little bit more, and more, and more...until we actually reached the end of the trail at Winopee Lake. We realized that we would have to do quite a bit of trotting on our way back, if we wanted to get back to the trailer in daylight.
But easier said than done, since the fun of this trail were the many obstacles we had to overcome:

But since our horses are real troopers, we made it back in time. After another quick stroll into Cultus Lake for a sip of cold water,

we loaded the horses in the last rays of yet another wonderful day spent in the saddle.

Thank you Kathy, Chyrise and Alyssa for showing Fin and me your gorgeous back country!

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