Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Friday's Ride...Part Two

Okay, where were we??? Ah yes...heading towards the basin....
Notice how Waska still has one ear cocked towards the river and one ear on me and Amber?? Smart boy, I tell you! Just so you all know, we are not as close to the edge as we may look, and we are in fact about 10-15 feet (and sometimes more) away from it.
So as I mentioned in the last post, this area is known as the basin, and it is used to hold back excess water from the dam when there is large amounts of rainfall. Needless to say, it often floods, and is left with a rich mixture of sand, clay, and mud that contains lots of yummy nutrients; thus making an ideal feeding area for large herds of elk. (No we didn't see any, but their tracks and poo were all over the place)...And apparently, you may also find horses out grazing in this rich grass!!!! The trail winds alongside the river for about one mile, and the horses just couldn't help themselves. Even Waska, who normally never eats while he is being ridden, couldn't resist.

We finally stopped and let them graze for a few minutes, because I told Amber that this was akin to walking through a large room filled with your favorite food and not being able to take just one!!!

See the whitish/gray pile of dead trees (I know you can't tell what those are yet, but trust me, they are dead trees) that are to the left in the middle of the picture below? There were a couple of these areas down in the basin, and they are areas that trees/log jams were held back from the dam with large buoys. Here you can see them a little bit better, and the darker tree-looking things are the buoys ( picture below). So I wonder, what do they do with all of the dead trees??? I know it doesn't flood every year (like it did this past winter) but I have never thought about what they do with them. Hmmmm.....

Moving right along, we headed into the trees, and even in here you can see all of the debris. And in case you are wondering, there is actually a trail through all of this mess, we weren't just blindly picking our way through.

Also, while you have to be extremely careful of what a flood may have left behind in more urban or rural areas-think metal, glass and other sharp objects-it is pretty benign down here, because there are only a few cabins upstream on the river; otherwise there is nothing but forests and foothills.Still, we watched where we were going. Now we had both heard that this trail washed out the year before, so we weren't too optimistic about being able to get through, but we decided that we would go as far as we could, and as far as the others who had gone before us. (Like I said, there was a well-worn path)
Have you ever wondered how high water can get when it floods? I must admit that I have never particularly wondered this, and I assumed that the river had flooded up to the basin only, which is about 20-30 feet above the normal water level.

What I am trying to say is that we were riding 20-30 feet above the river, and we never suspected that it got any higher than that, until we looked up and saw this....
Yes, that is a small, uprooted tree, hanging from the limbs of a much larger tree. Amber and I looked at each other completely shocked, and then we started to look around at the other trees and noticed the same thing.
There were literally giant logs up there (up there being about 20-30 feet over our heads) and that means that the river was even higher than we imagined. It was really kind of creepy to think that this whole area was under water a few months ago. We kind of got the heebie-jeebies for a minute, but we kept on going.
Anyway, we made it about another 3/4 mile, and then we came to the area where the trail just vanished before our eyes in a sea of dead wood. So we turned around and headed back towards the trailer, which was a little over an hour away.

On our way back, we ran into a hiker, who also happens to be a horseback rider, and she said that she came down here to check the trail out, because she had been out here with a group of friends about three weeks ago, and the horses were sinking up to their bellies in mud. Good thing the sun has been shining, eh???
(Oh looky!!! A picture of me looking fab in my!!!!!)
All in all we had a great day, even though we only spent about three hours on horseback. I think that Amber and I will definitely wait a few weeks before we head back up to Buck Creek, and hopefully some of the trails will be cleared by then. We also feel kind of guilty, like we should help out with the trail clearing, so we may contact the local riding clubs and see when they are heading back up too.
Have a great day guys!!! I am going to do a bit of research now, as I have to meet with one of my professors tomorrow to discuss a class that I helping them design. :)
Also..Eric's baseball team is in the middle of their league playoffs, and he has been picked to try out for the All Stars team. Way to go Eric!!!!!!


steeni said...

Hi Mel! I can't believe your ride was so fasinating! I have never seen anything like that before EVER! That really is kinda creepy - I wish I could've gone with you guys....I'll have sitters in the summer with school being out. Talk soon,

Paint Girl said...

That is so amazing that waters can get so high. We are always so amazed with our river, how high it gets. Nature sure does interesting things!
Looks like a beautiful area to ride, and wonderful weather to ride in!

Grey Horse Matters said...

Looks like you had an interesting ride in some really pretty country.
Amazing how high water can go isn't it. Have fun researching stuff,and congratulations to Eric for being picked for the all star team. My son always played little league and had a great time.

Gail said...

Wonderful ride but do remember to watch the "hangers". These are the limbs or trees still hanging from ice, water, wind damage and can fall at any moment.

C-ingspots said...

Yikes!! That would make me a tad nervous riding under trees hanging precariously in the trees!! Just something wrong with that picture...but anyway, looks like you two had a good and interesting ride with your pony pals. And the weather was just perfect for doing just about anything!!
Buck Creek is the same creek that flows through one of our favorite camping spots at the base of Mt. Adams (where we were supposed to be last weekend). We camp in Buck Meadows and it's gorgeous. You think it's the same creek??
And...yes I do live in the Willamette Valley - northern part.

Anonymous said...


I'm sure you'll understand and forgive me when I say that I won't ever be coming riding with you at Mud Mtn. Although, I will say that it looked like you had an interesting ride!

C-inspots- I apparently live just south of you! lol Small, small world!

Stephanie said...

Wow those are some great shots you got of the trees in the air! Really neat!

You have some neat areas to ride at around there - more than I would have imagined.

I hope that I will have the footing situation corrected in the round pen soon, so I can do a little trail riding too!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Yikes, those trails look rough! I kept trying to see an actual trail and just couldn't through all that debris...and yikes!...trees hanging from the trees above you! Scary.
And to think if you would have been on the trails a few weeks ago, you guys and the horses could have been mired in thick mud.
Wow, I'm impressed that you still get out there anyway on such rogh and rugged trails.
I'm glad you had a beautiful sunny day to ride, though.

That photo of you is cute!
Interesting stuff about the class you're helping design. I can't wait to read more about it.
And way to go Eric!


Carolynn said...

That IS kinda creepy, the thought that you were basically walking along the bottom of an enormous lake. Sounds like a fabulous day though. Oh, and it's really nice to see your lovely face. :o)

Breathe said...

We've had quite a few floods along our river - which is a big tubing destination. When we went through the road after the last big flood there was everything from toilets to window thirty feet high. But it's a narrow canyon, so you can understand how it gets that high.

What a beautiful ride - here's to a summer filled with them!!!



Pony Girl said...

Wow, you guys are trailblazers! I feel like our trails are groomed park trails compared to those, LOL! I can't believe those trees in the trees....hmmmm, maybe the work of aliens? Just kiddin'! Aren't you excited for summer?? I am! This weekend I'm going to be doing a lot of work, but hopefully getting in a good ride, too!

Andrea said...

Super fab in that helmet! I think I look soooo bad in my helmet. That ride looks like it was an adventure. Water always has amazed me at how powerful it is. And horses up to their bellies in mud!!! Good thing the sun has been out! My goodness!