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Wednesday, 30 September 2015

I'd Rather Be On Horseback - Maybe Somewhere Like Arroyo Seco, New Mexico

Our wrangler for the day, Blake, arrives at the trailhead with Blanco and Rio, our mounts.

I've travelled a great deal in the western States, and I've lived out a lot of my dreams. The one thing I had never done until today was ride a horse out in the back country. Now, thanks largely to the six riding lessons A bought me for my birthday, I was able to sign up for a three-hour ride in the mountains above Taos.

We climbed a narrow winding trail, rising from about 8000 to 9000 feet through pines and aspens, crossing a spring-fed creek several times. Our man Blake was not only a terrific teacher - how to steer, how to halt, how to stop the horses eating everything in sight - but also a mine of information on the landscape, its vegetation, and a whole raft of topics from feedlots (he detests them) to living off the land in the Hawaiian jungle, which he counts among his many achievements.

So far, neither of us is saddle-sore - but we haven't gone to bed yet. And in any case, we are confident that any pain suffered now, as our muscles adapt, will make the three-day trek we have lined up for Arizona in ten days' time a little easier.

After climbing for about 45 minutes to an hour we rested. While we ate our snacks the horses chewed on spruce branches - and our apple-cores. Then it was time to retrace our steps, sit back in the saddle, heels down, as the horses negotiated the steep downward path.

Tomorrow we're up at six, in preparation for the foot races up at Taos Pueblo, which begin around 7.15. This is the start of the Feast of San Geronimo, about the biggest event to which outsiders are invited. Sometime between then and our setting off for the Canyon de Chelly (0700h Thursday) I'll try to write up some notes on our two nights at Chaco Canyon, our visit to the Aztec Ruins in NW New Mexico and our stay in Albuquerque, where we had a delightful lunchtime visit with my old writing tutor, Rudy Anaya.

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