November 28, 2016

Big Changes Are A Commin'

Sometimes, if you are patient and open enough, The Universe gives you what you need just when you  need it the most.

Things have been odd around here. I've been in a major horse slump. The 40 minute drive has sucked my motivation away and now that it is dark before I get out of work, and there are no lights at the barn, I am limited to weekends only. Dusty has been working a lot of extra shifts at the emergency clinic on the weekends to help with some bills and get some Christmas money stored up, so even my weekend access has been severely limited. I did squeak in a really fun second ride with Zoe a few weekends ago on the only day it has rained in 3 months, but all that did was solidify the fact that all the driving was sucking the fun right out of riding.

Money has been too tight to afford the hunter paces this year as well, so I haven't even been making those.

With Wyatt getting to such an amazingly fun and interactive age, I just don't want to spend 4 hours driving to ride for 2. The benefit doesn't out weight my loss.

So I've been neglectful of the bay mare and I feel guilty for that, but then I feel guilty for the time spent away riding and then add on to it having a shitastic ride and get the hamster wheel that has been occurring.

But that is all about to change!!!

Through a bunch of perfectly timed events that I won't get into right now, but may expand upon at a later date, I found myself staring at a small red sign with the words FOR RENT hand printed across it sitting in front of a lush green pasture and small brick house.

I could barely contain my excitement as I dialed the number for more information. Unfortunately, it was a weekend and all I got was a machine on which I left a probably overly excited and breathy message. I then hit up google to find out that the house was for rent, pets were allowed and there was no mention of pasture use.

Over the course of the next 3 weeks, Dusty and I would look at the property once on our own and again with the home owner/next door neighbor and find out the details of the house and property. Turns out it is 16 acres but the back part already has an occupant in it (the owner's horse) and is really overgrown. The front was being used as hay for some cows down the road and was initially not available for use, but after spending some time with us and talking details she agreed to allow us to use it for our horses.

I was keeping it all pretty quiet until we actually signed the lease. I'm not typically superstitious, but I really didn't want anything to jinx it or have to explain why things didn't work out to anyone. We signed the lease today and I'm still shaking with excitement.

As of January 15, 2017, Gem and Pete will be coming home with us!!!!!! It has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember and more solidified after getting Gem nearly 7 years ago. We flirted with it for a year in WI when we rented a house on a boarding facility, but we weren't responsible for their care at all. Now they will be out front. I can sit on the lovely front porch and watch them graze, nap, or more likely, run away from me. I can see Gem, not twice a month, but twice a day - everyday.

When I met Zoe to show her the Clemson trails, I had to leave my house at 5 am to make it to the trail head for 9 am and then didn't get back home until nearly 4 pm even though we completed the 9 mile loop in 1 hour 20 minutes. That was a full 11 hours away from home for not even 90 minutes of ride time! It really took all the wind out of my riding sails.

But now??? Come January, if I want to meet Zoe at Clemson at 9 am I will have to leave my house at 8 am. Three hours later!!! And I will return 3 hours earlier given the same ride time. I AM SO INSANELY EXCITED RIGHT NOW!!!

I love riding, but I also just plain love being around Gem. I am really looking forward to the new challenges that keeping her at home will bring (currently it is finding good quality hay with the drought) and being able to watch her daily life to learn even more about her preferences and personality. Since Pete is basically retired it will also give us a chance to be with him more often and give him more attention.

This move also keeps up our tradition. Since getting married dn 2004, the only time we lived in one place for more than 2 years was when I went to podiatry school. While we lived in the same house all 4 years, my last year was spent all over the country on internships (I lived in 5 different states and visited many more cities) so really it was only like being there for 3. Since then we haven't made it over 2 years in any one house. At least this time we are staying in both the same mailing city and zip code.

Get ready to be flooded with Gemmie and Pete pictures :)

But first we have to figure out how to downsize from a 4 bed/3 bath 3000 sq ft monster house to a 2 bed/2 bath 1500 sq foot normal sized house. Anyone want to buy some junk? ;)

November 25, 2016

Waterfall Hunt 2016: Spooner Auger Falls

It's been a family tradition for three years now: every Thanksgiving morning we pick a new waterfall out of my hiking guide to NC/SC/GA and head out. It serves many purposes, but in general I just absolutely love the time spent in the woods.

This year the target was Spooner Auger Falls in Oconee County. The hiking book gives decent directions, but they all start from a junction of two main roads which makes us then have to hunt down a way to get to that point. Once there though the directions are pretty specific and include where to park and how to navigate the trails to get to the Falls.

It also gives a little information about the region. This waterfall is set in the Ellicott Rock Wilderness Region. Andrew Elliott explored this region in the early 1800s as he marked the borders of NC, SC, and GA. It is over 8,000 acres and somewhere amongst all that wonderfully wooded land there is a small rock placed where the three states intersect that Andrew Ellicott placed and carved a mark into. We did not find it, but will be back to look again!

We made it to the trail head with little incident, enjoying the magnificent views along the way. The leaves are really peaking right now and the reds, yellows and oranges filled the view out of the car windows.

Looking down the trail from the car

We pulled over as the book instructed and struck the trail. With Wyatt being too big for his pack and too small to hike anything more than about 2 miles, we are sticking to the easier to access Falls. This one was a 1.2 mile hike out and was on trail I would declare easy for all except the end which was up a winding trail with a cliff to the river side. Wyatt managed it all with ease climbing over rocks and roots, scaling up the hills and rock hopping over the several creek crossings.


The trail was really pretty with multiple places with trees bowing over the trail like an arch. Apparently it had rained that morning because everything was damp. It was a welcomed sight with all the wild fires raging around us and the severe drought we are in. In fact, I was worried the area would either be on fire or dried up.

We followed several switchbacks as we made our way through the woods. I was in heaven. The trees were close to us on all sides and there wasn't a road, house or even a sound outside those that belong in the forest. Well, except for the occasional discharge of a storm trooper gun.

We saw this small fall on our way up and thought it was the one, but we quickly figured out it wasn't

Eventually the trail went straight up as the book warned and we dead ended at the 100 ft Spooner Auger Falls. I was excited that there was still water flowing over it and tried to picture how it would look at full flow.

We played around at the falls for a long time. Learning from past years, we packed a book bag for Wyatt with a towel and change of clothes. He splashed and played in the icy water at the base of the falls and asked if he could "slide down them" multiple times. Sorry kiddo, no broken legs allowed! When hhe began to shiver, we dried him off and bundled him in his dry clothes to hike back out.

The real Spooner Auger Falls

We played around at the falls for a long time. Learning from past years, we packed a book bag for Wyatt with a towel and change of clothes. He splashed and played in the icy water at the base of the falls and asked if he could "slide down them" multiple times. Sorry kiddo, no broken legs allowed! When he began to shiver, we dried him off and bundled him in his dry clothes to hike back out.

The main trail follows the Chattooga River upstream from parking and I was dying to travel it and see where it went. Unfortunately, we were short on time so only managed about another half mile before we needed to turn around and go home to get ready for dinner. We vowed to return soon with a day pack and lunch.

Looking upstream

On our way back we ran into the first people we saw all morning. This is a husky corgi mix and he was adorable!