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Heading Back Here in 2012; Looking forward to a Year of Horse Riding in Washington

As published in the January / February 2012 edition of BCHW’s The Trailhead News Magazine
As published in the January / February 2012 edition of BCHW’s The Trailhead News Magazine

Heading Back Here in 2012; Looking forward to a Year of Horse Riding in Washington

As published in the January / February 2012 edition of BCHW’s The Trailhead News Magazine

Happy New Year! I don’t know about you but winter has only just appeared, and I’m ready to store the skis for the season and anxious for spring and summer to arrive so we can ride into the backcountry. I’ve found that if I don’t write down my plans and at least set a tentative schedule, they have a way of disappearing like smoke from a camp fire. With that in mind, here are a few items that you’ll find on my list of places to ride within Washington’s 66,582 square miles during 2012. What are your riding resolutions for the New Year?

April 27-29 – Attend the Methow Valley Chapter’s Spring Ride.

This event has been going on for 28 years so it’s got to be good! The end of April comes pretty early in the riding season so this will most likely be the first camping trip of what I hope will be a year with a lot of time in the saddle. The annual Methow Valley Spring Trail Ride is based out of the Beaver Creek campground – a short eight miles from the town of Twisp. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) (Yep, DNR; gotta have the Discover Pass) campground has vault toilets so riders that don’t have self-contained rigs can camp in style, just bring your own potable water. Word has it that the Dutch oven pot luck is simply outstanding.

Ride the high desert.

I still find it amazing that the “Evergreen State” has much more dry land than what Tom Hanks’ Sleepless in Seattle would suggest. The beauty of the parched Washington desert beckons for more exploration. One of the areas that I hear pop up from time to time is “Odessa” and refers to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Pacific Lake area just north (riding distance actually) from the town of Odessa that is a couple hours from Spokane. Descriptions of the Pacific Lake area consistently portray it as a Burke Lake on a smaller scale. Sounds intriguing – count me in!

Pack into the Pasayten.

Situated just south of Canada, and east of Ross Lake and the North Cascades National Park is “The Pasayten”, and more than a half-million acres of pristine wilderness. Some 600 miles of trails access the area, and thankfully, roads, vehicles and further development are forbidden. Over 150 peaks tower above flat park-like meadows, plus lakes and streams galore account for the almost legendary appeal of the Pasayten. The northern location combined with the high elevation makes snow very possible at any time of the year so plan and pack accordingly.

Take my Father on a horse camping trip.

If only one item on this year’s bucket list comes to fruition, this needs to be it. After hearing countless times “you Photoshopped that picture; it can’t be that nice” from my Father and almost as many failed attempts in scheduling a trip for him, this year I’ll get Dad away from his mid-western trails and on a real mountain horse to see first-hand what an exquisite place Washington’s backcountry is to ride and camp. The Norse Peak wilderness north of Crystal Mountain fits all of my criteria for an outing worthy of lasting memories. The area has outstanding views of Washington’s iconic Mount Rainier, relatively easy trails, and enough high meadows and fishable lakes that we can easily spend a number of days riding, fishing, and camping. While it’s tempting to make my flatlander Father “pucker” a bit on some of the more “interesting” trails in the Cascade Range, we’ll take it easy with this trip so he’ll come back for more, and hey, I love the guy and want him around for a long time!

Well there you go; I’ve thrown my cards out on my biggest ride plans for the year. What’s on your calendar?