Healthy2aHundred and HikingwithMules! - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 36 Old 07-30-2018, 09:00 PM
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Great photo. I would like to see photos of the fairy houses. That was one of my daughter's favorite activities when she was young--building fairy houses. If you have not read Afternoon of the Elves by Janet Taylor Lisle, I highly recommend that book--about two young girls who build a complex fairy house and deal with a complex relationship.
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post #12 of 36 Old 07-31-2018, 01:45 PM Thread Starter
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Guess only got one picture of "fairy-house" creativity (son had only camera on trip.) Thanks for telling me about this book, as I’d now like to learn more about fairy houses and the complex sister relationship sounds informative, too.

I thought interesting the girls were doing these garden-like scenes, as my sister and I did something along the same lines when we were kids out camping, only ours was to make beautiful "landscape gardens" along the creeks with ponds and river rocks. There was a competitive element there, but seems the desire to create something beautiful to dream about having some day is in the DNA.
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post #13 of 36 Old 08-07-2018, 10:39 PM Thread Starter
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2nd Pack Trip — Want Fish, Fire Chases Out

Husband so disappointed at not getting any fish on first pack trip, that he quickly plans another. (Photo shows last years’ fish frying.) Will be just the two of us, so is quick to put together food and packs. All family will be coming for a niece’s wedding at the farm in mid-August. We find the only possible opening at end of July, load mules and big white dog into trailer and head out.

We’ve picked a short steep hike to a lake at 7,400 feet, which offered up delicious fish last year. Fires are burning in area, as is usual in summer, but several ridges away, so the trail we choose is open and seems likely that we will be able to pack in, camp, get out quickly if needed, as trail is in remote area, but only 4 miles to campsite, then 1/2 mile up even steeper trail to lake.

Things go well, trail is steep, will be about 3,400 vertical feet to our campsite. Mules love to be working. With two of them, packs are fairly light at only 80 or 100 lbs. on each mule. Nice that we can take table, camp chairs, bottles of wine, even extra therma-rests for better sleeping.

Big white dog is incredible, as she assigns herself to drag position and calmly follows with purpose. No crashing about, no spooking animals, no stirring up dust as dogs in past have done. Almost a year now, she’s not real affectionate at home, not listening to me except when suits her purpose, but I’m beginning to trust her instincts and steadiness for her job.

About two miles up the trail, we’re suddenly face-to-face with a horse packer, leading out a string of horses. He tells us the Forest Service has told him the fire is advancing quickly, winds have picked up, now on ridge behind our lake’s area, says entire drainage is being closed.

Disappointed again, we have no choice but to head home. Decide to leave all things packed and will head out in morning. Will go in opposite direction to the lake first tried at start of month. Has been four weeks of very hot weather, probably that lake now free of ice and fish will be ready to bite. Is nice to sleep in real bed at home.
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post #14 of 36 Old 08-08-2018, 03:56 PM Thread Starter
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Starting Out Again

Mules, me and dog ready to go! Post about trip will come later when time allows...
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post #15 of 36 Old 08-12-2018, 05:06 PM Thread Starter
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2nd Pack Trip — Meet Loose Horses on Trail

Good re-start to summer’s 2nd trip. Had seen on map that fire was several drainages away, so felt safe going in as our area had burned before (see trees behind me in last post’s photo for that evidence.)

Headed to same lake visited 4 weeks ago on 1st pack trip, so again brought chainsaw, but no downed trees on road this time. Arrived at trailhead and saw four HUGE horse trailers. Looks like big outfitter has group up ahead; wonder what will do if reach river camp area and too crowded?

Decide that most likely this group will be taking a turnoff to go on a longer mountain loop, as our 6-mile destination would not be near enough mileage for people on horses. Feel some relief and start out.

We’re pleased again, to see the big white dog take up the drag position. About 3 miles along the gentle trail, after successfully crossing streams that were much lower than on previous trip, husband decides will drop down to river, about 100 yards below through much tangled brush, to fish. I tie the mules at trail and wait with big dog.

After a short time waiting on trail, the big dog jumps up and heads forward. I look up and see a very tall mule heading towards me, followed by two tall horses. All have halters, clearly escapees from the pack outfitter group. The mule’s halter has a stud-chain, so easy to grab. He clearly the leader with a mission to get back to the trailers. “Hold it,” I tell him, “someone must be coming after you guys.”

They’re very nice well-mannered animals. I grab the halter of a 2nd horse. Think will keep them here until whoever is looking for them catches up. I hear a dog barking in the distance, so expect that someone following will soon be here. “Hello, hello,” I call loudly. I whistle to get attention of the dog that was heard.

Twenty minutes pass. No one comes. “Hello, hello,” I call again loudly. No one comes. I decide will allow the mule and horses to continue on and wait at trailers. Is only 3 miles, whoever comes can easily walk that distance.

My dun little molly is standing off the trail, I lead the big mule to go past her and she suddenly raises head up, snorts, tells him in no-uncertain-terms that he will not be going past her. He jerks back, I let him go and all three head back the way they came. Good, I think, better this way, as they will run into whomever is coming along looking for them. No, is not to be, they do not want to go that way, they wanted to get back to their trailers and go home, so here they come again.

I stop them again, decide this time will drag trees across the path to make a fence. Gives me something to do while I’m waiting. Is enjoyable to make the barrier. Nice to have them waiting here with us until either their owner comes along or husband comes back from fishing, then will decide what to do.

Eventually, husband comes up from stream. Is happy, has some fish in bag. He loves seeing the big mule and horses. We decide we cannot take them with us, as don’t have extra leads. Decide will allow them to go on past and they can wait at their trailers. We move our mules way off the trail, and shoo the horses on past.

Continue the last 3 miles, cross another creek, again easier as much lower than last time. Trail gets steeper. My mules are steady, the dun molly seems finally to be learning not to be so pushy, to walk at my slow pace. (She was tied previously on a pack string behind big mules, so think she learned to walk very fast to keep up with them. Even though “retired” now, it has been hard to get her to slow to my pace. Friend came earlier this summer and helped me learn how to be firm with her. I’m grateful for that help, as think less dangerous now for the hiker leading.)

The last miles are enjoyable. I think about Outward Bound programs and camps to help girls gain confidence. Could do that, I think; would be so much fun. Many good ideas; so little time. I give husband phone and ask him to go ahead on trail and make video as we pass through a sunny spot. He gets about 30 seconds, will post it to the Healthy2aHundred YouTube channel.

We arrive at smaller river which runs into the larger one we’ve been following, are very happy to see it looking completely empty. Find our favorite campsite. Unload the mules. I put up high-line for grazing. Set up the kitchen, break out the Happy Hour supplies, notice the big white dog has gone down river, whistle and am happy to notice she’s coming right back.

Behind her is a man in cowboy hat. “Didn’t hear y’all come in,” he says, “but saw this big white dog and followed her up here.” Turns out he and wife are waiting for the pack outfitters to pick them up. They were dropped off a few days ago, hiked up the steep trail to the lake to fish. They came down last night. Tells us the mule and horses had come down the side trail, stayed with them last night; moved on this morning as if they knew right where they were going.

“Can’t believe it, though,” he says, “first time time in 30 years and no fish at all in the lake. Don’t know what could’ve happened.”

Very bad news. A mystery. We tell him that when we were here 4 weeks ago, it seemed very odd to have no fish at all in lake. None even noticed near the outlet, where it is generally a bit warmer; no dead fish on sides of lake. We had attributed it to the lake still being very cold, still having patches of ice and snow on it. Clearly that is not the case. The fish are gone.

At 6:00 we see 5 big mules and 3 riding horses come to pick the couple up; enjoyable to see a real pack operation. We enjoy the evening, eat fish caught that day, but decide will head back tomorrow. No need to climb steep trail to lake, over the 28 downfalls still crossing trail; will catch more fish in river on way out. Will try to figure out what has happened to fish in lake.
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post #16 of 36 Old 08-21-2018, 01:30 PM Thread Starter
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Hiking with Mules

Blue Zones (those where greater rates of people live to 100) all include lots of low-intensity movement and exposure to nature. I'm lucky to get mine by hike trips with mules in summer months.
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post #17 of 36 Old 08-30-2018, 05:28 PM Thread Starter
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Weddings Bring New Family

“Love is in the air!” August was filled with weddings. Returned from pack trip and started welcoming and housing out-of-town family for niece’s wedding at our farm.

Although from another state, bride and her family had joined us for the annual “girls” llama pack trip for years while growing up and the groom had been able to join us for several trips in last few years; we had a very good opinion of him from those trips.

Bride and groom both determined a year ago that wedding at our beautiful farm would be the best start for their new life together — promised there would be almost no aggravation or work needed from us. Bit of anxiety at times, but mostly we enjoyed being in the midst of family and preparations all week.

They both exceptionally hardworking and well-organized young people (age 24). With family and friends arriving from near and far, they arranged brunches and dinners while at same time getting together all food for wedding day dinner (prepared by bride who is a graduate of culinary college) and with friends’ help set up the gardens for a fabulous and beautiful evening wedding.

Both young people managing somehow to be relaxed and gracious to all during the whole week. Looks to me like a really good start to what we hope is a lifelong partnership. I’m looking forward to getting pictures soon.

Once that group gone, our good friends who’ve moved far away arrived for a short visit while they were attending another young person’s wedding in town. We got them settled in our house, caught up over glass of wine on patio and then next day we left to drive cross-country with kids and grandkids for wedding of husband’s youngest brother — a first marriage for him at age 65.

Very enjoyable to meet more “new” family from bride’s side at BBQ in park and then appreciate the energy and organization skills that resulted in another gorgeous garden wedding, this time for a mature bride and groom. (Their wedding cake shown with lovebirds and the photo looking like “roses” is a closeup of huge hanging lanterns over each round table which bride made by dying and shaping over 7,000 coffee filters! Said she’d seen it on Pinterest and been working on the lanterns for the last year. I am very impressed and delighted to have such a crafty person join the family!)

My favorite moment was when she reminded me that first time at our house, I’d rented the movie MUST LOVE DOGS, without even knowing that both of their on-line ads had specified dogs were important aspect of their lives. (The dog who served as her matron-of-honor is barely visible behind cake.)

Lovely to see marriages that feel right at each end of life and to increase size of my “family”, since before aerobics workout this week, was reading in THRIVE: FINDING HAPPINESS THE BLUE ZONES WAY (www.bluezones.com) how important social connections are to happiness and then saw later on my favorite blog Barking Up The Wrong Tree (https://www.bakadesuyo.com/) how important both friendships and good marriage can be for a successful long life.

Husband gave up lots of his time with my family during niece’s wedding; love him for that. Gives me incentive towards activities he loves that I might sometimes not want to do so often, such as again hiking with llamas and mules. We left a few days later on traditional “boys” trip with his family. Turned out to have big challenges on rocky trail due to fires causing last-minute route change; we were happy to get mules home safely.
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post #18 of 36 Old 09-07-2018, 05:24 PM Thread Starter
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Low-Intensity Interval Training

Nothing gets easier. I feel discouraged on snail’s-pace morning run up hill and across terraces. Proud of self for almost accomplishing 6 months now of added aerobics workout three times a week. Remember article just read called The New Old Age by Sandra Martin (https://thewalrus.ca/the-new-old-age/).

She saying that we need to re-think retirement. Should not expect it to be easy; instead look at it as a challenge to be healthy into advanced old age, taking work and effort similar to that needed in all other phases of life. She even adds (after readers wade through mind-numbing paragraphs about Canadian pension plans) this more interesting part: Doctors suggest, for example, that a cardio workout three times a week is essential if I want to guard against dementia.

I laughed to see that she added, “That’s my idea of torture.” Have to agree completely and wonder how long I will actually keep up this new practice of M-W-F aerobics. Have been fairly successful even with much company here this summer (was ecstatic to have husband’s brother join me on one of the difficult low-intensity interval training workouts, as all younger relatives have always declined the opportunity). Even managed on one pack trip to make the “hike” out include the slow-jog portions, which seemed to be same speed as the preferred stepped up mules’-walking-pace when heading towards home. (We were in a hurry to get out, so told husband would consider the 6-miles to be a 10K run and encouraged him to hustle along.)

I’m now calling the workouts Low-Intensity Interval Training and considering it as beneficial as High-Intensity, since reading in Blue Zones that none of the 100+ year-old people belonged to any sort of gym or regular workout programs, but all lives included a large amount of “low-intensity” movement throughout the day. One woman works in garden four hours a day.

My favorite Blue Zone example is from isle of Sardinia, Italy — only place in world where men outlive women. Is said the town studied is located inland, a very hilly region, where the men follow sheep every day. Being familiar with the dangers that animals get selves into, I’m quite sure that those men break into tiny jogs several times a day when they hear a mama bleating that lamb is in danger, hear a coyote yipping for others to join it, or some other imminent danger in the wilds. (My knowledge based on the intense moments of running that farm kids and I do when finding llamas, calves or goats have escaped their pens; seems inevitable on a farm.)

Since I get mostly computer sitting during day, and extensive research tells us more now about healthy hearts, decided must make mine a regular habit of morning aerobics workout three times a week; with winter coming most likely need more mental effort to accomplish.

Will wrap it up for this morning, as time now to leave those more peaceful thoughts of rural country life and start on my own society’s stresses. To figure out if I.R.S. penalty notices must now be paid, since worked down finally to much smaller amounts and saying due to “Failure to make a proper federal tax deposit.” Penalties seem extremely high at 10%, but probably not worth contesting any further. The deposits were all made, but I suppose they would successfully argue that it was not made “properly”. As time grows shorter in life, it seems less worthwhile to spend it on stressful things. Will make a decision and take care of it on Monday.
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post #19 of 36 Old 09-08-2018, 01:52 PM Thread Starter
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Cougars Sighted Near Top of Farm

Neighbor above called yesterday, tells us two young cougars sighted. They will probably come lower, as I see deer everyday on walks. I keep big white dog (Great Pyrenees) close this morning as we hike up hill. Remember story in May of mountain bikers encounter with cougar, one killed, one seriously injured. Hope by this time breed called Livestock Guard Dog considers me one of her herd to protect. Think will get pepper spray at hardware store later, as she sometimes gone chasing coyotes. Walk a bit more exciting than usual, views seem more gorgeous with smoke cleared by rain last night.
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post #20 of 36 Old 10-06-2018, 03:18 PM Thread Starter
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2nd Pack Trip Wrap Up

Climbed the hill with a heavy heart, as was reminded by a friend about suicide in our small town a few weeks back. That friend couldn’t seem to fathom how someone with children could feel that was even possible to do, so I told her she’s lucky, but said many have critical voices in head that seem to offer that as only solution; told her people must learn to challenge the mind’s criticisms.

Of course, my tendency to tell about books that help, to want to write about those books here, but would definitely be time-consuming and a post required to sit overnight, so instead am posting today the final write-up of 2nd Pack Trip, which was done earlier but never got a chance to go up with August wedding activity taking priority and then one thing after another until now summer is over.

Had realized I want to have my mule-hiking journal complete, so am lucky that previously wrote this, as still have not put down even one word on computer regarding the calamitous last-August trip. Will hope to get that written as darker days bring more inside time.

For end of 2nd Trip, we had been disappointed to find out that upper lake had no fish in it, so did not climb up there. Thought perhaps would get back in September to clear more trees from upper trail to lake and recheck for fish, but now is October, snow has started in mountains, so probably not going to happen until next year.

We had a pleasant 6-mile walk out along easy grade. Husband interested in catching fish in the small river, which was at least a hundred yards below the trail in most places, so he and dog turned off to follow a trail down when we about two miles along and had just started crossing the first of two moraine meadows made beautiful with wild flowers (purple lupine, red indian paintbrush, white queen anne’s lace, tiny yellow daisies, blue brodia.)

After 50 yards, he turned back, “Horses ahead,” he said, “get the dog!” I started down the trail, saw dog quietly check out the horses and people at campsite, then turn back towards me. She again stealthy, not announcing her presence with barking, as most dogs would do. I like her more each day. Looked like a nice campsite on the small river; maybe will try it next year if fish do not return to the lake.

We continued about a mile, saw the river 50 yards below, so husband climbed through brush and fished along. I patiently waited and moved mules along trail above, about 50 yards each time, keeping an eye on him below. Thought was probably similar to what ancient ancestors’ hunter-gather lifestyles had been like. Men getting game, women moving camp, gathering huckleberries along way. Perhaps one reason that being in nature seems good for an ancient part of my soul.

Finally called down to him after about hour and a half that he must certainly have enough fish. He agreed to come up at small bend ahead where trail dipped closer to river. We continued out.

Loaded mules, but big white dog indicated clearly that she did not want to ride in stock trailer and started heading down the road. I got into truck thinking we’ll have to follow her, but she finally turned back with reluctance and we got her loaded. I realized later that on 100-degree days the trailer floor might get too hot for her to comfortably lay down; will cross-tie her in back of pickup on next trip.

Traveled four miles of primitive road, came upon a Forest Service worker clearing one downed tree from road; he told us the area was being evacuated due to fire across canyon becoming more intense. Upon entering the paved road, we passed again a favorite little waterfall (in photo), headed towards home and into denser smoke.
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