Jun 21, 2008

Day 4

The good, the bad and the ugly….

A mixed day. After eight hours on the trail yesterday, we were looking forward to a shorter ride to Mt. Rushmore today. To make a long story short, we had only planned to ride TO Mt. Rushmore, have one of our trucks waiting for us in the overflow parking lot & then head out to our next destination, Deerfield Lake. However, we found out the parking lot we planned to park in was closed, so we would have another 8-hour day. We decided to load up early and head to Deerfield to ride.

The good. Woke up to a gorgeous, sunny day. Warm temps, no humidity. Fed horses and then tore down camp. Drove over to “the heads”; took pictures where we have taken them the two times we have visited before. It will be fun to see how the kids have grown since the last time we were here.

The bad. As we were loading up horses, noticed Windy was losing a rear shoe. (Have I mentioned how much I hate shoeing horses?) Decided there were enough nails in it to hold until we get to the next camp. Headed out for our 30-minute drive.

The ugly. As we left Hill City, we started to climb some monster hills. The Hi-Ho’s temp gauge started creeping up, but would return to normal on the decent. The last hill – 2 miles from our destination – seemed to take forever. The temperature gauge hit an all-time high with smoke coming out of the hood. We could only pull over. Kathy & Rich said they would go unhook and come back for us. But there was no way we could unhook the trailer on the incline that we were on. I was ready to saddle Blue, Ginger & Butter and ride them in; figured with less weight, we had a better chance of getting in. John added water and the temps started to drop. Decided to try to make the top without overheating & if we did, we were home free. We were. Coasted into camp at about 1:00, not sure if we will ever be able to leave!

Settled the horses in and had lunch. Kathy, Rich, McCain and I decided to explore the area while John worked on the truck and Windy’s shoe. What a sport that husband of mine is! I held Windy while John did a repair job on her shoe. Then saddled Butter and McCain took Blue and we headed out to the trails around Deerfield Lake. Beautiful trails, lots of pine trees. The trails weren’t well marked; never did find the one we were looking for, but found another one and we weren’t picky. Very easy riding and you could ride a barefoot horse here pretty easy. The owner said there are elk, deer and mountain lion (oh, my!) in the region. The only wildlife we saw was whitetail deer. Kathy steered me around a snake, thank heavens! There was a running creek along the trail; the sound of nature at its best.

Butter was pretty full of herself! Surprised she had any energy at all after an eight-hour ride yesterday! Such a different ride than Windy and she definitely made me work for it.

About an hour out, the sky started to turn dark and there was thunder in the distance. A few raindrops started coming down and we decided we had better head back. The rain started coming a little steadier, so we moved into a trot and Kathy and Rich into a fox trot behind us. Before long, we were on a nice surfaced lake road and moved into a fast-extended trot, which Kathy told me later, they had to canter occasionally to keep up. McCain and I quickly opened and closed the three gates we had come through. At the last gate, Kathy and Rich told us to ride on ahead and they would catch up, so we kept our trot going all the way into camp. I really don’t think I have ever trotted that long, but it felt good. Butter has a trot you can sit no matter what speed. I noticed McCain was trying to post with Blue. Wasn’t doing a bad job at it, but did say he had a side ache. Would have liked to have moved into a lope, but wasn’t sure how far we had to go and knew they could keep pace at a trot. Rich’s GPS said we did over 5 miles, so we figured we trotted close to two of those 5.

Blue is getting a lot of attention this trip. Many people have commented about the “big black horse” and surprised to find he is 100% quarter horse! I love watching McCain and Blue, together again! What a team. I can’t believe I almost didn’t bring Blue. Of all of our horses, he is just made for stuff like this!

Made it back to our trailer and sat under the awning as it rained and then spit out pea sized hail. There seems to be a theme here. But as I sit here now, the sky couldn’t be bluer. The boys and John are fishing in Deerfield Lake and I am enjoying the peace and quiet of the vacation.

I am still in a sweatshirt and coat. I wish I had brought more sweatshirts. I am trying to remember if we were here in June or July last time. I’m thinking late June and it wasn’t this chilly. I’m not complaining… prefer these cooler temps to heat and humidity!

Tomorrow, we are planning a longer ride around the lake. There are about 75 miles of trail, so we can eat on the ride. If Windy’s shoe doesn’t hold, we will pull off the backs and call it good. I can take the milder trails at Ft. Rob or ride Blue if I need to.

The campground here, Deerfield Lake Resort, is nice. Small grassy campsites with full hookups. Once again, I am surprised we are using them for heat instead of A/C! This place is privately owned and small; the wife is a horse person. There are only 2 other horse people camping. the rest are RV or tent campers here for a family reunion. The owner was very helpful, working with John on the truck repairs and letting him use his garage.

Prognosis of Hi-Ho? Who knows. We have an appointment at a repair shop in the morning. John is hopeful that minor repairs will get us out of South Dakota. Once we hit the flatlands, he is sure we can make it home. Hi-Ho is only used for recreational purposes – pulling a trailer. He has to do his job and I can’t afford a replacement recreational vehicle. So another tank of gas & back on the road again! (Name that song!).

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