There were already several trailers in the lot when I arrived around 9 am. I debated on which trails to take and decided on my favorite long loop: head out the entrance road then dive into the woods on the right hand side, cross the river and meet up with the red loop I rode twice last weekend. That totals around 12 miles and then there is a small loop that comes off it where I could add 3 more if time was on my side. I had to be back by 3 pm for a Labor Day picnic.
Everything started out really well. Gem was spooky, but settled down after about 2 miles and realizing that I wasn't messing around. We did a lot of halting nicely and not walking off until I said to and worked on being straighter as well. She acted like she was going to die when I made her trot an entire mile without being a dork about it until I reminded her that she cantered 34 miles before. Trotting 1 wasn't going to kill her.
Then things went a little wonky.
I haven't done the long loop in a really, really long time and had only done it twice total. I knew the creek crossing was a pain - it basically goes over a large rock that is covered in slick moss and then heads through the woods on the other side. There is no sign saying to turn into the creek, but if you go straight you end up reaching a NO HORSES sign.
|Creek crossing with faint trail on the other side|
|I'm dying. Its been 2 miles. I can't go on,|
|My toes are wet. Seriously?|
I was just beginning to think about turning around when the trail came to a T intersection with a beautifully marked trail. Huh. I thought perhaps I had just missed something and turned left away from the creek and along our merry way.
|Wonderful to trot down|
|Shade, shade everywhere!|
The yellow marking is used for the Palmetto Trail. This trail runs something like 250 miles through the entire state with some sections horse friendly and others not. It was most certainly not a loop and I began to worry that I might not end up anywhere close to my trailer.
After another mile I finally turned back around. The trail was gorgeous and a lot of fun to ride on (I had come across a sign that confirmed horses were allowed) but then it hit me. The little trail I basically bush whacked in on would be near impossible to find again. The trail was so hard from the dry summer that Gem wasn't leaving prints either.
|At least I now knew I was permitted on the trail|
|A bridge I had not passed before which basically confirmed that I was unable to find my deer path.|
|I sent out an SOS to the hubby. He was oh so concerned.|
Gem's walk break was over and we moved into high gear to make up for lost time.
The trail continued to be gorgeous and well maintained and we flew over it heading to familiar territory. Eventually it ended on a double wide dirt road that I had traveled on before and I made a right turn. Shortly after that I saw two signs: to my left it said barn 3 miles and to my right it said barn 6 miles. My Garmin read just over 7 miles and it was just shy of 12. If we pushed it, we could finish the 6 miles and be back for the picnic. Plus the 6 mile trail was the one I meant to take and this way I could go backwards and figure out where I went wrong.
|I finally knew exactly where I was|
Gem kept up the pace and we finished in good time completing 13 miles. She looked good at the end and now I have found a new trail I could take although I need to find the correct way to access it as I am sure my deer trail was not official.
|Going down familiar trail once again|
|The real creek crossing. Much like the fake one I took, but deeper.|