I had a great start to my trip last week -- with the exception of a few monstrous thunderstorms -- one of which found me on a mountain with a woman who was attempting to show me a shortcut, who instead got us quite lost. The weather was clear and the riding was fabulous. Along the west side of Vermont, paralleling Lake Champlain is a beautiful expanse of farmland bisected by wonderful dirt roads, old stage coach roads and trails. Early in the week it was hot, so I got started each morning around 4:30 and was able to pull up for the
day by early afternoon.
For the first few days I rode with various people who took me on trails I never would have found myself, and who kindly put me up and supplied accommodation for my horse as well. Because we got lost on the aforementioned mountain one day, riding on deeply muddy trails, my horse was exhausted and my schedule was set back a bit. I was hoping to reach Manchester on Wednesday-having started from Burlington on Saturday. Instead I found my way down to the small town of Wells on Thursday-with two loose shoes and a tired horse, wondering what my chance of finding a farrier were on short notice at the end of the day, and wondering also where I would find a place for the two of us for the night.
In the midst of mulling these thoughts I passed a house with a wonderful pair of people who called out to me -"Hey ,where are you going? Do you need water? Does your horse need water?..." Needless to say, they absorbed us into their backyard, put me up in their camper, found me a place for my horse, and most amazing of all had a neighbor who was a farrier...who upon seeing my horse's feet, went home to get his equipment and turned up with another farrier in tow. So not one but two farriers went to work...unheard of anywhere. Finally in Manchester the next day, I gave Jolie, my horse, a few days off and then hit the trail again on Monday with another friend.
We headed down to East Arlington and then turned to the east and headed into the mountains where the rains began...and only got stronger and wilder as we climbed. We rode for about 12 hours all the while looking for a suitable campsite (it being the forest and without much meadow) and finally found one where Daniel Webster addressed a crowd of 15,000 back in the 1800's. What? we asked ourselves. Why here in the middle of nowhere? We found out later that the road we were traveling used to be the main road to Boston. It was a wild night of rain on the mountaintop, coyotes calling, a bear hooting and water everywhere. The horses were fine in their little speed fence and seemed alright with the wild animal ruckus. We were not particularly happy with our soggy selves, but yesterday (Tuesday) was beautiful, and we rode down to Jamaica to stay with a friend until the weather decides to clear a bit.
I have to say I seem to have picked a bad summer to be riding like this. It's been raining constantly in the east, farmers haven't been able to plant corn or cut hay. The volume of precipitation has been setting records. All the equipment has been working fine.
Hope all is well in the west,
We don't have a lot of background information on Wendy just yet, but she told us that she likes to do distance rides every now and again because, as she described it, she "needs a little adventure in her life." We aren't sure how old Wendy's mare is, but she is a Canadian and apparently well-suited to the task at hand. If you are not familiar with this breed, you can find more information on the Canadian Horse home page. Like Bernice, Wendy does not have a pack animal and is carrying everything she needs on Jolie. And also like Bernice, Wendy chose our TrailMax Original Saddlebag System to carry her gear. We will certainly keep you posted on Wendy's progress as we receive updates.