I'll use this post to introduce myself and show some pictures of ride I took in November. I live in Utah which has a large diversity of landscapes. Forest to desert. These pictures are from the San Rafael Swell area of Utah.
The San Rafael Swell is a large area. It was a favorite hide out for Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch. After riding it, I can see why the possee's of the time rarely pursued the Wild Bunch into this area.
We trailered the horses down to Ferron Utah after work one evening. Stayed in a cheap motel and got up, ate breakfast and headed out. The trail head is about 20 mile east of the town of Ferron.
You basically just drive out into the desert and stop and ride your horses off a steep hill. No wide spot in the road., No trail markers and anything to indicate where the trail starts.
Trail heading out.
About 15 minutes into our ride we crossed the stream bed. Three of the horses stepped into quicksand and sank. Here we are cleaning the mud out of the eyes and nose of one of the horses that stepped in the quicksand. Notice the horses that are standing in the water drinking, They are just 10 feet away from the quicksand.
We rode up MaCarty canyon a favorite hide out of the Wild Bunch. It had a sandy bottom and lots of grass. We cantered through a lot of this area. The horses where fresh and eager to go.
Part way up the canyon we turned up a side canyon and started to work our way up to higher elevations. This side canyon was pretty much pure rock. Very little soil or plant matter. Water from recent rains collected in depressions in the rock floor that are called Indian Bathtubs. Here our horses drink from one of these depressions.
Here the horses are climbing over steps or ledges in the canyon floor. See the difference in elevation between the 2nd and 3rd horse. There is about a 30 inch vertical step in the canyon floor. The horses just rear back and jump up on the higher level. Which is scary being on sheer rock.
We continued to climb and eventually came out of the narrow canyon and began to see more of the Mesa tops.
Here we have reached the top of the mesa and are enjoying the view.
We had to cross a narrow neck of land between two large mesa's. It was only 10-12 feet wide and dropped off hundreds of feet on both sides. Notice the woman rider leader her horse. She has climbed down off a ledge and is coaching her horse to step off it. The horses feet are as high as her shoulders. It was about a 4 foot drop off.
One of the riders enjoying the view as we wait for the others to cross the narrow neck of land. Notice the sheer drop off of the canyon walls.
The view of Saddle Horse Canyon from on top of the mesa
We stopped on top of the mesa and ate lunch. Here the horses stand tied getting a rest.
After lunch we worked our way down off the mesa top. We often had to cross ledges and steep hills.
We rode along this Rimrock and worked our way down the point you can see in the upper left of the picture.
Desert Bighorn sheep frequent this are. We found a skull from a large ram
There were 12 riders. It took us about 8 hours including lunch and covered about 22 miles ( measured by the GPS) . I was riding a 3 year old colt with about 30 rides on him. I didn't realize how rough a ride this was going to be or I would never have brought such a young inexperienced horse. I was really worried about him crossing many of the ledges, But he did great. A few more rides like this and he will be a real trail pro.